Yesterday we worked to help prospective referrals understand your prominence in the legal community by working on your Avvo profile. If you worked on the extra credit, you may have filled out your free Findlaw and Lawyers.com profiles too.
Not only does this help prospective referrals who search your name learn more about you before they call, it also sends some positive signals to Google to help them categorize your website as one that belongs to a lawyer and law firm. Even though this is a challenge about protecting your referrals not search engine optimization (SEO), I thought I would mention the double benefit you are getting.
Remember, we are working on dominating page one of Google for searches on your law firms name or your name. With your Google and Facebook profiles claimed, those will likely show up on the first page, either Avvo, Findlaw, or Lawyers.com will also likely show up, and you have those claimed now too. The more work you put into your Avvo profile by getting reviews and endorsements and a strong description will also help Google move it to the first page. Out of all the legal-specific directories, Avvo allows you to control the most information for free and that is why we focus on it first over the other directories.
The other directories that Google will often try to show on page 1 of a search for your law firm are directories that have a decent authority in Google’s algorithm, but also are specific to your local city, town, or region.
Once Google understands the type of business that a searcher is looking for, they quickly categorize that type of search as a local or national search. For most professions, legal, accounting, medical, etc., Google, correctly in my opinion, believes that the searcher wants to see professionals that are local to them. Depending on the size of the city and volume of searches, local may mean within fifty miles or within a few blocks.
Today we want to help influence the local part of this algorithm by focusing on directory listings that really show you are a part of the local community.
Armed with your “NAP and more” template from the spreadsheet, visit the following sites in your local community and update your listing. Some of these may require paying for a membership and that may be worth the investment to help dominate the local search for your name.
- Local Bar Association: If you belong to the local bar association in your city or town, make sure the information they have available in their directory is correct and as complete as possible. Sometimes it will take a phone call or a few emails to get the information matching your template.
- Chamber of Commerce: Depending on the size of your city you may have the overall ‘city’ chamber of commerce and then your local town or region’s chamber of commerce that you can belong to. In many cities, I have seen them offer a discount if you belong to both. This is one of those listings that may require an investment. However, the local chamber of commerce website is usually a strong directory listing in most cities. Furthermore, taking the time to utilize your membership and attend the luncheon and networking event will only help the very referral efforts we are trying to protect online.
- Better Business Bureau: If your city or town has a better business bureau, you may already have a listing here. Sometimes, you can update minimal information for free. We like the BBB and what they stand for in terms of business ethics and it is a good organization with which you should be associated. We usually recommend our clients pay the money for membership, so they can create a more complete profile. Plus, if you have been in business for more than 5 years and have never had a complaint, you start with a BBB “A” rating at a minimum. Because of what the BBB stands for, having an “A” or “A+” rating carries a lot of weight still in your prospective client’s mind. In fact, we recently had one client tell us that someone said they found them online and called their firm over others because they also had a BBB A+ rating. For a few dollars and the effort of completing your profile that is an easy win.
- Business journals, local newspapers, or local news stations: Some regional business journals and newspapers offer a business directory section. Also, with the competition of consumers attention online, even local TV stations are creating a lot of written content now. Unless you get press mentions occasionally, these don’t come up on the first page of search that often. But, if you are featured in the press, make sure that mentions of your firm include the right name, address, and phone number. If they do not have it correct, most news organizations are willing to correct the information they have online.
- Political Office and Organizations: Were you voted into the school board, are you on the board of your local United Way? Because of the strength of the website, if your name, address, and phone number are listed, these also send positive signals to Google and may show up in search, but not as often as the above mentions.
Clean and optimize as many of these listings on the above websites as you can today. If you need to renew or join the membership, this may take you a few extra days.
Just a reminder, don’t forget to update your spreadsheet of listings you have claimed and optimized and the status if you need to go back and finish something or are waiting on membership to be confirmed.
Tomorrow, and the next four days, we will start to get much more targeted on the specific searches for your law firm’s name and cleaning up any incorrect information that could be confusing the referral or even Google.