Google Maps is More Than Just Your Firm’s Address
Imagine someone sitting on the side of the road. Their car was just hit by a delivery van, they’re waiting for emergency responders to arrive and all they can think is “how much is this going to cost me?”
Typically, that’s when the person becomes a legal consumer, and they’re not waiting until they get home to start researching attorneys. No, they’re turning to their phone, and the apps they use every day.
For years, we’ve been preaching the importance of a mobile-optimized digital marketing presence for attorneys, and it’s because situations like the one above happen every day. The thing is, when that person reaches into their pocket to start a search, they’re no longer relying solely on their web browser.
While there are many places legal consumers are looking, they are turning to one app in particular, and it’s the same place they look for how to get from here to there—Google Maps.
Why you need an optimized Google Maps presence
There’s a professionalism to a Google My Business page that gives consumers a detailed overview of a law firm. Nowhere is that more apparent than Google Maps. Searchers see pictures of your firm and reviews from former clients. They see where you’re located, your hours of operation and how many miles you are from their location. They can even visit your website or call your office directly from the app. In other words, the app can act as a replacement for browser searches when someone is using their phone.
So how do you make sure your Google Maps presence is optimized to reach the most legal consumers? Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Do your research
The big question that your law firm should ask is “how and where do I show up on Google Maps?” It’ll take you a little time to fully answer the question because Google Maps results are often dependent on the location of a person when they search the app. Say you’re a PI attorney in Charlotte, NC. A searcher located on the south side of downtown may find you near the top of the rankings for a search like “personal injury attorneys near me” if that’s where your office is physically located. But, if the searcher is located on the north side of town, you may not appear as high in the rankings for the exact same search.
When you have the time, take a drive around town and use Google Maps to search for firms in your practice. Start with a general search like “family attorney near me.” Then, if you specialize in any niche practice areas, start using keywords that apply to your area of expertise. If you’re not showing up in the “local pack” or the top search results on Google Maps, you may need to optimize your website content to reflect the niche markets you represent.
Think Beyond the Traditional Browser
The Connecting the Dots playbook looks at how prospects research and hire an attorney using the most popular mobile apps, including Google Maps.
2. Keep it consistent
If you’re creating your own web pages and content, then you may need to look at the consistency of your URL links and contact information. Every page that has your firm name, address, phone number and even practice area should be listed the same way. If the address on your Google My Business listing says your downtown office is at Center Street, but your website’s landing page for that location features a former address on 3rd Street, you’re sending mixed signals to Google. This inconsistency can confuse search engines, contributing to lower rankings, as well as your potential clients.
3. Get more reviews
It’s difficult to overestimate how important local reviews are to Google’s search engine, especially on mobile apps. Reviews have a drastic impact on a searcher’s choice in local businesses, no matter if it’s an auto repair shop, a restaurant or an attorney. For that reason, Google uses your average rating and the number of reviews you have as a differentiator between you and the attorney down the street.
Think of reviews as an extension of customer service and a core seat of your practice’s reputation. It’s worth the investment to create an infrastructure for gathering reviews. Most platforms allow you to ask former clients to review your firm as long as you’re not requesting or incentivizing positive ratings. All it takes is a personalized email sent after you’ve closed a case. It’s also worthwhile to actively monitor reviews weekly or even daily, offering thanks for positive sentiment and accountable, professional responses when negative reviews arise.
The power of apps
Successful companies now understand that app-based mobile searches are just as important to a consumer as their browser. Whether it’s Google Maps for directions, Facebook for validation or Chrome for websites, optimizing your marketing presence for the mobile, app-based world should be fully underway.
FindLaw’s playbook, Connecting the Dots, examines how people use mobile apps to find businesses and how you can start using them to better market to legal consumers.