local searchFormer House speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics are local,” meaning that a politician’s success is directly tied to his or her ability to appeal to the concerns of their local constituency.   And the same can be said for law firm marketing:  local influence is key to obtaining qualified leads.

To realize the importance of being proficient at Local Search, all you have to do is search for your area of practice on Google.  Without even typing in a city or state, Google will serve up law firms that match your search query that are geographically closest to you.   Google knows that if you are in Chicago and are looking for a personal injury lawyer, it is highly likely you want one that is close to you.  Hence the importance of Local Search.

Here are some tips law firms can use to rank better in local search results:

Use the proper keywords.  You have to use the same words in your content and tags that your prospects are using when they search online.  List 20-30 keywords you believe prospects use and then research them further using the Google Keyword Tool and WordTracker.com.

Use local terms in your content.  Be sure you are using geographically specific words on your website.  Include your company name and address as well as a geo sitemap on your site.

Beef up your law firm listings.  Be sure to list your law firm on Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Bing, Citysearch, Avvo and review sites like Yelp.  You must ensure your listings on each of these sites are consistent — they must be exactly the same everywhere on the Internet in order for your website to earn citations, which is key to being found in Local Search.

Obtain reviews.  Google has decided that reviews of local businesses are important, which means that you need to encourage clients who are happy with your services to review you on sites like Google and Yelp.

Optimize social network pages.  Wherever your law firm is visible on social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. — be sure you have posted your firm’s name and address information on those sites.  Remember to keep it consistent with all your online listings!

Optimize your site for mobile.  More than half of website visits are now made on a mobile device — tablet or smartphone — so your website must be optimized for mobile.  The best way to do this is to use responsive web design for your main website, which guarantees that it will perform well no matter what size screen a prospect is using to find you.

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