Improve Your Firm's Search Ranking Using Google Places

Steve Matthews Stem LegalSteve Matthews published a concise article "Think Global, Search Local: Claiming Your Spot on Google Places" in the ABA's Law Practice magazine. 

“Google merged its natural search results—the non-sponsored listings that usually appear on the left-side of the page, also known as ‘organic listings’—with its local search results,” writes Matthews, president of Stem Legal Web Enterprises.

“This new, combined approach means that for some local searches, 80 percent of the page-one listings now belong to local businesses. As a result, law firms without a Google Places account face the real possibility that they may fall from the number-one position to the bottom of the first page in a search result—or even off the page entirely.”

He sets out nine steps that will enable you to take advantage of the power of local search and respond to Google’s latest algorithmic changes.

  1. Go to add to set up your Google Places account. Complete the registration form as thoroughly as possible.
  2. Ensure that the key contact information on your Google Places account is the same as on your firm Web site, particularly your business name, phone numbers, site address and physical address.
  3. Carefully choose the categories under which your firm is listed, and use no more than five categories. Larger firms will want to cover service areas that match their brand and promote their most profitable practices, while solos and smaller firms can identify unique practice areas that may help them stand out.
  4. Upload photos and videos to enhance your listing.
  5. Keep your firm’s site involved in the effort. Include local terms in the title tag, acquire links that embed regional search terms, and embed Google’s map widget in your firm’s contact page (with the location exactly matched to your business’s marker in Google Maps).
  6. Register your site outside of Google as well. Bing and Yahoo Maps are good places to start. Again, ensure that everything matches and that the formatting of the firm name and contact information is replicated perfectly.
  7. Register your site with both generic local business directories and law-specific directories that feed Google Places and Google’s local searches.
  8. Use Google’s keyword research tool to maximize your exposure for searches with the highest monthly volumes.
  9. If your firm has multiple offices, each should jump on the opportunity to have its own Google Places listing (again, replicating the foregoing tactics for each office).

To read the full article, visit Think Global, Search Local: Claiming Your Spot on Google Places.

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