Two Key Approaches for Building a Robust Citation Footprint

467806339-300x255First question: What is a “citation”? It’s simply an online listing of your firm outside of your own website.

So why is a citation important? Actually, the question should be posed: Why are many citations important? Having a broad network of external citations to your business helps establish your firm’s authority and credibility as a local business. The more citations you have—that is, the bigger your online “footprint”—the more likely it is that potential clients will find you. You can think of citations being similar to inbound links. In large enough quantities, both can profoundly influence your firm’s visibility.

Citations take many forms, but are most commonly business or directory listings on sites such as Google+, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Facebook Places. Citations include your firm name, address and phone number, as well as other descriptive information about your law firm. Such citations validate your firm as a local business in the eyes of search engines—particularly Google, the most widely used.

So how do you build a useful citation footprint? Here are two general approaches to follow:

Be consistent
All of your business listings must match exactly across every site on which they appear, specifically your firm’s name, address and phone number. Failing to do so can dilute the power of citations.

For example, here are three business name variations for the same firm:

  • The Law Firm of Larry Brown
  • Larry Brown, PC
  • Larry Brown, Attorney at Law

A search engine would consider each of these names a different law firm. To keep this from happening to you, be vigilant about how your firm’s name is rendered wherever it is published.

Be local
If you have both local and toll-free phone numbers for your firm, use the local number in your business listings. If your firm has more than one location and you want to set up business listings for each, use the associated local destination phone number for each listing. For firms using virtual office spaces, read Virtual Offices, Real Challenges Two Choices Law Firms Must Make before diving into your business listing.

Why is this useful? As our recent white paper has discovered, more and more people are using mobile devices to find attorneys—attorneys that work near where they live. In order to be found by these “local-mobile searches,” firms need to build their local credibility. That means having a base of citations that directly address your firm’s local presence.

It’s also important to follow the same consistent approaches when using a logo (or not) and choosing a business category for your listings. Inconsistencies confuse search engines and decrease the likelihood of your listings performing well in mobile, local and desktop organic searches.

Bottom line: Citation building is about using a consistent, local strategy to grow your online presence. When done properly, you’ll leave online footprints for potential clients to follow to your website—and hopefully to your office door.

Keeping a firm grip on your brand identity is more important than you might think. To brush up on the basics of branding your law firm, download our free playbook, Legal Marketing 101.

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