Law firms must face the constant challenge of finding ways to get in front of potential clients. Effective search engine optimization requires ongoing effort and utilization of all potential avenues. Among the avenues that should not be overlooked are local or niche directories.
Following are five ways that directory listings can help law firms with their SEO efforts:
1. Local SEO is Largely Off-Page
When it comes to local search, more than 80% of the signals that Google takes into account are from places other than websites. This makes any mention of a firm on other parts of the web highly important, including local directories. In addition, locality specifically was identified as one of the top local search ranking factors in 2014.
2. The Right Kind of Links
Every directory listing provides a link to a firm website and, as long as the information and the directory are of good quality, these are the links that every attorney should seek. They are natural, logical and relevant to the business and the client needs. These are the links that search engines reward for.
3. The Complete Client Journey
Most clients perform a decent amount of research before selecting an attorney. In order to be a frontrunner in the selection process, a law firm should show up as often as possible. Local directories are important touch points in this process. Also, the pendulum today has shifted dramatically back to an emphasis on local businesses and clients want to find attorneys with the right expertise but also in specific locales. Many directories by nature are location-based and even those that are not always include location data, helping firms to show up in appropriate searches.
4. Usability Matters
The algorithms used to determine ultimate search ranking placements puts a heavy emphasis on the usability of information that is found online about a particular business. Directories offer nothing but usable information—name, address, phone number, areas of practice and directions just for starters. Giving information that clients and potential clients can really use will come back to help in many ways.
5. Penalties Hurt
This may be the one fact that people don’t want to hear but it is true—incomplete or inaccurate information about a business can hurt SEO efforts as much or more than complete, accurate information can help. Your law firm no doubt shows up on some directories already but if you are not taking ownership of those listings, you risk having the wrong information published. It can take several months to recover from penalties associated with this.
When making the commitment to focus on local and niche directory listings, perhaps the cardinal rule is to ensure consistency. Wherever a client looks and wherever a search engine looks, your information should tell the same story at all times.
Claiming directory listings, completing them in full and managing them on an ongoing basis can often feel like a tedious and unnecessary task. While tedious it may be at times, unnecessary it never is. Law firms that take the time to control their directory listings will be glad they did.