There has long been a push for law firms to train their online marketing efforts on their local area. By focusing on local SEO, law firms can concentrate their marketing dollars on the potential clients in their vicinity, rather than those who are far away and are less likely to pick up the phone and call.
However, local SEO is less important for the legal industry than it is for, say, restaurants or clothing stores. Investing in better performance for so-called “hyper local searches” is, in our opinion, a poor use of resources. With that said, though, there are certain hyper local SEO techniques that are still worth pursuing.
A Refresher: Local SEO
Local SEO is the online marketing technique of concentrating your online advertising efforts on a particular geographical area – often the one surrounding your business or law firm’s practice. It consists of, again and again, telling search engines where you are located and which areas of your state you serve. Common local SEO techniques include:
- Prominently displaying your law firm’s office address on the firm’s website
- Choosing a contact phone number with the area code in your targeted locale
- Making sure that your firm’s listings on other legal directories and on social media all have accurate addresses and phone numbers
- Filling out a Google My Business page
A key goal of local SEO is to get in the “local box” – the SERP feature that lists a few nearby businesses that are relevant and important for the search query.
Hyper Local Searches
Local SEO has been around for a while – we first wrote about it four years ago. However, online marketers have recently turned to the concept of “hyper local” search queries – searches that are:
- Primarily centered on finding a business nearby,
- Generally done on mobile devices, and
- Often done straight in Google Maps or another map application.
Examples of “hyper local searches” include:
- Gas station near me
- Shoe store nearby
- Thai food restaurant
As you can see, many hyper local searches include the phrase “near me” or its equivalent, though that is increasingly unnecessary as search engines use the searcher’s location – often through the mobile device’s GPS – to infer where they are.
Hyper local marketing aims to create and optimize online assets to gain prominence in these types of searches in order to score this web traffic and hopefully convert them into customers and clients.
Hyper Local SEO is a Red Herring for Most Law Firms
Hyper local SEO is crucial for many local companies that rely on foot traffic for business or that can see their competitors out their front windows. For these businesses, customers are concerned primarily with where the business is located: They are searching for a place “near me” because that’s what is important to them.
While this can be a concern for businesses like gas stations, grocery stores, and even libraries that offer largely the same services as their competitors, law firms are a different story. As we discussed in an earlier post on the intersection of local SEO and mobile searches, that’s just not how people find lawyers. Proximity to a law firm may be one factor, but it is hardly ever going to be the factor.
Google My Business is Still Worth Optimizing
That does not necessarily mean that law firms can safely eschew all of the elements of hyper local marketing, though. It just means that spending money on paid advertisements for targeted searches or on social media is probably not in your best interests and won’t net the best results.
Taking the time to create and optimize your law firm’s Google My Business listing, though, does not just net results in hyper local SEO. It can also increase your firm’s prominence in the local box, can help in branded searches, and provides an opportunity to score more SEO points with Google My Business posts.