Now that you’ve got a Google Places listing, you’re probably wondering what the heck to do with it. Is it the online equivalent of a Yellow Pages ad, or is there something else to it? Of course there’s more stuff you can do with it, but what’s the point? After all, you want to know the key factors to making the most of this thing – right?
Google Places is just about the easiest, fastest, way to market your law firm online. It gives your law firm awesome exposure, a spot above the organic search engine results, and free (unless you do a modest upgrade, which we’ll chat about later). We’ve talked about setting up your listing but, as with many other things, just being there isn’t enough. Remember, this is a way for your law firm to achieve a marketing goal, not just to be sitting there like a wet noodle.
So you’ve got to jazz up your listing. If you don’t then you’re not going very far.
The fact is that most lawyers are buried in the middle of pages and pages of other similar listings. For example, a bankruptcy lawyer may find himself surrounded by debt settlement companies. Divorce lawyers may be listed below marriage counselors. Such poor positioning makes marketing a law firm online a tough proposition. Your firm may be one of the best in your area, but unless you can effectively optimize your Google Places listing, few people who check local listings will ever know it. In fact, few will ever even take the time to find out you exist.
The good news is that by consistently following a few simple techniques, you’ll make it much more likely that your law firm will appear at the top of the Google Places search. It can be time-intensive, but it’s free marketing for your law firm. So you’ll trade a little time for some more exposure at the top of the search engines – definitely a fair trade.
- Research keywords, using local filters. The Google AdWords keyword search tool, which is free, can help you find the most relevant keywords. There are other free and paid services out there, but if you’re looking for the “quick and dirty” solution then just head here. Once you’ve done your research, use the most relevant keywords throughout your Google Places listing: in your title next to your firm’s name (unless your firm name already includes them), in your company details, and in your categories. For example, let’s say you’re a Denver divorce lawyer; perhaps the title for your listing would be “Denver Divorce Lawyer John Smith.” Of course, if your name isn’t John Smith then you’re going to want to adjust accordingly.
- Complete all parts of your listing to maximize your opportunities for showing up in local business searches. The more information you offer about your law firm the more likely you’ll be to show up in the searches of those seeking your services. Load it up with your law firm business hours, phone numbers, website information, description of your services (using your keywords, of course) and as much else as they will let you squeeze into the listing. Remember, marketing encompasses all forms of communication with your prospective clients – use this as a marketing opportunity.
- Use tags. For a limited time, you’ll be able to activate tags for free and cancel anytime. Tags will allow you to highlight the information you want to stand out. For the same monthly fee, you’ll be able to change your tags as often as you’d like.
- Add photos and videos to your listing. Got a few photos of members of your law firm? Maybe a shot of the building itself? How about videos you’ve done in connection with your marketing efforts? Load ‘em up! These videos and images will show up on their own in Google search results, directing people to your Google Places listing. They’ll also make your listing more interesting to searchers. Videos can make people feel you’ve gone the extra mile to present relevant information, making them more likely to consider using your services.
- Link to your website or blog. Come on – if you’re marketing, doesn’t it all come back to your law firm home online?
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews. Reviews are the heart of your Google Places listing. Express your appreciation for especially positive reviews. If any are negative, show your willingness to resolve the matter by offering to discuss it with the writer. Don’t remove negative reviews, as this can adversely affect your Google Places status. Keep the entire picture in perspective: One negative review among many positive ones isn’t nearly as damaging as a consistent pattern of negative reviews. At the same time, don’t pretend the negative review isn’t there. Since both positive and negative feedback are so easy to post on the Internet, marketing a law firm online must include a strategy for responding to the negative and showing both present and potential clients that you care about what they think.