Geographical convenience is one of the top factors for how an individual selects an attorney or any other local business. A Google study discovered 43% of people said law firm location was their primary selection criterion in selecting a lawyer.
One way to increase the likelihood that your site will appear in searches with local intent is optimizing the on-page elements of your site. This means choosing the right local keywords and implementing them throughout your content in a manner that is natural and not spammy – i.e. adding a block of zip codes to the bottom of every page or awkwardly throwing your city name into every sentence.
In this article, we will discuss how to optimize your landing pages to make your location clear to users and search engines, helping you rank locally.
Finding the Right Keywords
Keywords are some of the most commonly misunderstood features of local SEO. The first thought with keywords is often along the lines of “If having my keyword appear in my header is good, it must be even better to have my keywords frequently throughout my content!” This is keyword stuffing. Don’t do it.
The goal of keywords is to let the search engine know what’s on the page. In the early days of the internet, people would trick the system by covering pages in keywords and then providing content that was in no way relevant to the keywords. Thankfully, Google has gotten smarter than that.
Knowing which keywords to use means knowing your target audience’s geographical area. Where are the majority of your clients coming from? Are they searching by city, state, or neighborhood? The answer to this question is highly dependent on where your business is located. Are you in a population dense metropolitan area, a sprawling town with residents spread out for miles, or somewhere in between?
In a dense city like Seattle, using neighborhood names in your content might make more sense than using the name of the state, or even the city. Whereas using the name of your town might make the most sense for a sparsely populated area where individuals are more likely to drive miles for a service.
The next step is selecting the right practice area keywords for your location. To make the process of selecting keywords a bit more scientific, you can use tools such as Moz and Google’s Keyword Planner.
The Moz Keyword Research tool lets you see what search phrases you are ranking for and compare yourself against your competitors. Using Moz, you can find out which searches your competitor is ranking higher for, and respond by implementing the search keywords into your landing page.
You can also test out keywords to see how competitive they are, their monthly search volume, and their organic clickthrough rates. This can help you identify opportunities for ranking.
Another helpful tool is Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s run through Google Ads, but is useful for organic traffic as well as paid. With this tool, you can have Google search your entire site and provide all potential keyword possibilities along with statistics on those keywords.
As far as which specific keywords are best, you probably want keywords that accurately describe your service while also aligning with what people are searching for. Think “Motorcycle accident lawyer Virginia Beach.” Of course, keywords like that are highly competitive, which is why many firms go for long-tail keywords, more in the style of “rear-end Harley Davidson intersection accident Bayside Virginia.” These often rank higher on specific searches, but have a much smaller audience.
Where to Use Keywords
I’ve already warned about keyword stuffing, and I’ll do it again. Don’t keyword stuff. It leads to sloppy copy and potential deindexing. There are various calculations out there about how many times you should use your keywords depending on how long your copy is, but none of them are strict rules. Generally, use your keywords in your headers and at least once in your copy. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t forget that you’re trying to rank.
Images are great tools for ranking, as they provide further detail of what might be on the page as well as some variety in media.
Ideally, you should be using original photography. Stock images are great in certain circumstances, but shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your visual content. If you can afford it, custom photography is a worthy investment. During these photography sessions, make sure to have the photographer take photos of your office and the surrounding neighborhood. These images can be tagged with alt text to further engrain your site with location information.
Alt text is used by screen readers to allow visually impaired users to understand the content of an image. Alt text is also used by search engines for the same purpose. If you have images of your office with the alt text “personal injury law office in Atlanta” you suddenly have those keywords without awkwardly stuffing them in your copy, while also remaining fully compliant with ADA laws.
Images on Landing Pages
Depending on what your landing pages are for, whether they’re location pages or for a certain practice area, you may have to adjust your images. It makes sense to use an image of the exterior of your building on a location landing page, but not on an informational page. Just make sure the images stay relevant to the topic.
Why Your Location Matters
You might be wondering what your location has to do with your website’s traffic volume. We have already established that locality is a huge factor in choosing an attorney, along with many other services. Search engines like Google are aware of this, and have factored locality into search algorithms.
If you search for a service, Google will likely provide you with services that are close by before showing services that are further away. Of course, your Google My Business (GMB) profile is the number one way to tell Google where you are located, but this profile should be backed by a consistent presence across the web. Have location pages that match your GMB. Get links from local newspapers. List your address in directories. I can’t emphasize enough how important your local presence is for organic rankings.
Location Landing Pages
What exactly is a location landing page? A location landing page is where users might go if they search for lawyers in your area. It is optimized to rank for location-based searches, and then directs the user to other parts of the site. Notice how I didn’t say “redirect.” Never create a page with the sole purpose of redirecting it to a different page. That’s a practice that is very much frowned upon and can land you a de-index. What you’re trying to do with your location landing pages is to convince searchers who land on your page that they should explore your website more.
One very strong driver of performance for local queries are the links pointing to the website by other local firms and organizations. Simply put – a link from the Downtown Boise Association of Businesses helps Google understand that your law firm really is in downtown Boise. Most linkbuilding efforts focus on the Domain Rank (i.e. score for links that point to that site). However, for localized searches, geographic proximity of business or organization that links to you can have dramatic impacts on ranking for local searches.
Now that you know the basics of optimizing landing pages, you can go out and either write or update your own. Local SEO is a brutal business, especially in legal marketing, but every page you optimize gets you a slightly better website. And soon, you’ll start showing up for those now ubiquitous, “near me” searches.