The Google Local 3 Pack is valuable real estate for local businesses. It’s the first place many consumers look on a Google search and it’s become more competitive to get on the map in recent years.
Before the summer of 2016, the 3 pack was a 7 pack. It was a lot easier to show up at the top of search results.
We have seen considerable ‘3 pack angst’ since that change. But before you go out and buy expensive ads, you should be aware of the ways of increasing your chances of getting on the 3 pack.
This article assumes you have correctly verified your listing and you have an actual bricks and mortar office. Google has become increasingly adept at striking out virtual offices or meeting locations that lack signage and staff.
In late 2017, Local SEO Guide carried out research based on 200 ranking factors impacting100,000 businesses.
The importance of reviews is no surprise but the new info here is how businesses can use keywords in Google reviews to improve their ranking.
Reviews will help the business show up in the greatly valued ‘Three pack.’ However, it’s worth noting that your organic strength is the number 1 factor in how likely you will show in the three pack. In other words, good website content is as important as ever before if not more so. The study states:
“If you are winning in local organic search, you are most likely winning in local pack searches also. In fact, ranking in local organic searches was the #1 high correlating factor with ranking in packs … If you want to be in local packs, the best thing you can do is crush it in organic search.”
Reviews are a very important driving factor of ranking in Google My Business pack results. Google sees reviews as easier to trust than backlinks. Number of reviews with keywords followed by cities are the most important ranking factor.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR A LAW FIRM OR ANOTHER BUSINESS?
If you are working with clients or customers on a review, it’s better to link it to a location and suggest certain keywords connected to your business rather than a general view in which the client says he or she was happy with your service.
Engagement is also important with Google My Business. Google clearly uses engagement to order search results, and local packs are no different. So features like photos are content for your users to engage with. It’s important to reply to Google reviews.
The number of reviews businesses receive is increasingly important. If your business has a number of locations, make sure to concentrate most of the reviews on the main office.
You should resist the temptation to go crazy with your review strategy and to send out a mass mailing asking your client base to review you. If you have 30 Google reviews that have been accrued over two years, and you get another 30 in a month, it will send out a red flag to Google. Google that may note the review as spam, remove reviews and threaten the listing itself.
If Google suspends your Google My Business listing, this can be hard to retrieve and may severely impact your online presence.
We have been living in the new digital landscape of SEO for more than a decade but many small business owners remain clueless about the world of Search Engine Optimization. It can be challenging to know where to start and where to turn for quick and easy SEO tips.
Faced with this bewildering new normal, it’s hardly surprising that many smaller enterprises avoid tackling their SEO problems or outsource them. Many businesses are fighting every day to grow or even to make ends meet. They may have little time to even add valuable website content, let alone to optimize it for search engines to improve their chances of being found online.
A coherent SEO strategy can go a long way and you don’t have to hire an expensive consultant. These quick and easy SEO tips will help you set up basecamp.
It’s important to realize SEO is a long-term strategy. Don’t think you can flood your site with content for two months and then post nothing on it. It takes time for search engines to notice your web presence.
It’s important to know what SEO is from the outset. Think first of all about the role of the search engines. The search engines will analyze all of the web pages they have ever visited and give you the most relevant results. Seach engines are clever at understanding the relevance of results to the search query.
Here are seven quick and easy SEO tips.
1 Realize the Real Audience is Human
People drive your bottom lines and the search engines know this. If you build your website so as it’s user-friendly, the search engines will reward you. A few years ago, website writers would try to game the system by stuffing their copy with the keywords they wanted to show up for.
Now the search engines will look for user-friendly content that makes the experience easy and entertaining for your visitors. Consider using a range of media and answering the questions that people are asking on your website. Keyword research is an important way to do this.
2 Find Keywords that are Relevant and Profitable
Before providing content for your site, you should consider the keywords that you want your potential clients to search for. The expression ‘keyword’ can be misleading. Keywords are usually more than one word. Seek out keywords that will ensure your site is found and is not over-utilized elsewhere.
For instance, if you own a personal injury practice in Chicago, there will be massive competition for the keyword “Chicago personal injury lawyer.’ The trick is to find a keyword that fewer people are searching for and fewer of your competitors have thought of. If, for example, accidents in elevators is one of your practice areas, instead consider a keyword like ‘Chicago elevator accident lawyer.’ Although fewer people will be searching for this term, a potential client who has been injured in an elevator accident may be and your site is more likely to top a Google search.
Use a tool to research keywords that you want to rank for. Google Keyword planner is a great tool and it’s free. To access it, you need a Google Adwords account. You can set up an Adwords account free without doing paid search. You can find the Keyword planner under the Tools tab. This guide on Backlinko tells you how to get the most out of the tool.
Although Google Keyword planner is aimed at paid search and tells you how much to bid for on keywords in paid search, it’s useful because you can find the demand for certain keywords and the search volume. Seeking out keywords with less competition but lots of searches will help you get ahead of your competitors.
There are other great keyword research tools you can use like Moz Keyword Explorer, but you will have to pay for these services.
If you are building out a new website, every page on your website should be optimized for a keyword. Even if your website is well established, you can utilize keywords in blog posts and new pages. However, make sure not to detract from the pages that are optimized by using the same keywords in subsequent writing.
Although developing a keyword strategy may not seem like it should be included in a list of easy SEO tips, keywords are a bit like the foundation of a house. Once it’s solid, it easier to build.
3 Build Keywords into Your Content
If you find a host of great keywords but don’t know how to use them, it’s like buying an expensive new camera without reading the manual. Make sure your web pages are aligned around the keywords.
The search engines want to see unique keywords that are optimized on each page. Draw up an Excel spreadsheet from the outset that highlights the keyword that’s slated for each page of your website.
Once you have this, write your copy around that keyword. Don’t overstuff the page with the keyword. Your pages should be written with the reader in mind with the hope he or she will become a client or a customer. Make sure to include the keyword in the title and the SEO title as well as a handful of times in the copy. If you are working in WordPress an SEO tool like Yoast can help you optimize your pages for their allocated keywords.
4 Don’t Forget About Images
Images will break up your copy and make it more user-friendly for the reader. However, you need to guide search engines to tell them what information is contained in the images.
Make sure to rename images so as the search engines know what they are about. Use your keyword in captions and alt tags. These boxes are visible when you upload images. Too many people leave them blank.
5 Use a Range of Media
Variety will keep visitors to your website more engaged. The longer they spend on your website the more favorable the ‘bounce rate’ of your site will be. Google prefers sites with a lower bounce rate because it indicates visitors find more value and interest in your site and are more engaged if they are not clicking away.
Adding variety to your website is one of the quick and easy SEO tips that doesn’t take much technical know-how. Embed videos from your YouTube channel, use polls to engage people, reply to comments and consider adding features like infographics and memes.
More than half of all searches are now on mobile devices, making it vital that your content is not too text-heavy and ideally features elements like video and other graphics.
6 Wok on Getting Good Quality Links Your Domain
Backlinks are links to your site from another website. They are important because search engines like Google and Bing see them as endorsements. If someone else is linking to you, they must like something about your site.
Think of a link to your website as a vote for your page. The search engines pick up on links to your website. But not all links are good links. In the past, Google moved to outlaw practices such as link exchanges and the buying of links.
The search engines place value on the relevance of the links. Some links are better than others in casting votes for your website. If you work as an insurance attorney, for example, a link from a trade association or a professional body will be worth more than a link from the website of a pet supply store that opened up a week ago.
Generally, good quality backlinks include links from government entities, charities, educational institutions, and the mainstream media. If your work is being featured by a local TV station, ask if you can get a link from their website to yours. Often non-profits will provide a backlink if you agree to be a sponsor.
7 Create Unique and New Content
It has become a cliche, but content remains king in the world of SEO. You should add new content to your website as often as possible, whether blogs, new pages, pictures or videos. Google prefers lengthy content that’s optimized for SEO. Daily blogs are ideal. If you are not able to add to your website every day, hire a writer. Also look to feature guest bloggers and contributors. Encourage comments but also be careful to moderate them. Maximize that content by posting links to it on your social media sites. The idea of the storefront is becoming unfashionable but your website is really little more than a virtual storefront. If nobody is coming through your door, you’ll be living a lonely and unprofitable existence.
David Macaulay is a writer who has been working on SEO with law firms and other businesses for more than six years.
I am often asked by small businesses or attorneys about blog length, and how long the optimum blog post should be. This is an important question because many business owners believe that their pages and blog posts will rank well if they look attractive.
In reality, if a blog post is too short, it won’t rank well. Fashion may be obsessed with skinny models, but Google doesn’t have much time for skinny blog posts. That’s because the search engines assume under weight posts are starved of substance and less than useful to the consumer of information.
What’s the Minimum Length for a Blog Post?
A recent post by the SEO company Yoast states that blog posts should be at least 300 words. Many legal writing firms work to a minimum of 350 words, and that doesn’t include a call to action at the end of a post.
Long posts rank better than short posts with search engines, but there is an important caveat. You have to be a good writer who is imparting useful information. The search engines are fairly adept now at picking up on instances in which writers don’t have much to say but are stretching things out for the search engines.
It wasn’t always this way. When I started writing business and legal blogs more than six years ago, pepping copy with phrases such as “experienced Florida personal injury lawyers” could help you be found by someone who was searching for an injury lawyer in Florida. These days, writing for search engines r human beings is more likely to get you penalized.
Having a journalistic background helps immensely with blog writing. Being a journalist used to be all about what publication you worked for. Now every business needs to adopt journalistic techniques to punch their weight online. Given the rapid growth of blogging, social media and visual sites such as Instagram, we all have to run our small, in-house multi-media empires.
While good writing can help with those long blog posts, the search engines don’t like vast typographic forests like New York Times editorials. The internet likes the product to reflect the labelling. Google doesn’t want long articles that keep the reader guessing until the fourth paragraph. Reflect the headline and its key word in the first paragraph and say exactly what the article is about.
So, for instance, the key word or phrase for this article would be “blog length.” The phrase “blog length” should be used a number of times in the body of the text.
Make blogs considerably longer than 300 words if you can. A blog of 1,000 words is likely to score well with the search engines as long as it’s broken down. There is an even stronger case for blogs of more than 2,500 words.
The downside here is the sheer time they can take you to write and the challenge of keeping them eye-catching and interesting. Your site will also benefit from regularly posted blogs. However, churning out blogs of 2,500 words is considerably more time consuming and may impact the number of blogs you can post.
Text structure is key to keeping those long blogs readable. See this article from Yoast about text structure.
Readers (and thus search engines) are likely to reward you if you make lists. The advantage of numbering or bullet points include:
They break up vast areas of text;
People like lists;
You can rank points in their order of importance;
They are popular on social media when you share your blogs;
It makes for a catchy headline to say you are imparting a list such as ‘Seven Secrets About Contested Divorces.”
When it comes to blogging length, I like to vary it up with a few longer blogs. The world of SEO is a rapidly changing one but as a general rule of thumb, you can’t go wrong with blogs of 400-500 words and web pages of at least 800 words.
Contact me at email@example.com for more information.
Lawyers tend to be fastidious people. They would not be successful in what they do without a keen attention to detail. Appearance is also important to attorneys. When you show up in court, you want to look your best. How can a judge or jury respect your expert opinion, if you don’t respect your own wardrobe?
In saying that many law firms fail to take the same approach to their websites. I still find websites out there that are the equivalent of 1974 in fashion sense. They are wearing facial hair and flairs and look dated. Of course, in terms of web technology you don’t need to look like 1974 to be dated. Looking like 2008 will do the trick.
I’m still struck by the number of lawyers I meet who are not putting new content on their websites. They may have paid a company such as FindLaw a large sum of money to develop their website two years ago and it’s now just out there gathering dust. And they are wondering why the leads are falling off.
Many lawyers are suspicious about blogging and the addition of new content to their website. Attorneys are busy people who have little time to blog and when they do they can make the mistake of writing the kind of ‘insider’ content that would interest other lawyers like themselves, but be of little interest to potential clients or the general public. They may also be suspicious of hiring writers and researchers to help them, even though it’s a lot quicker and easier for them to review content and make additions than to write it from scratch. There are many reasons why your law firm or any other small business will benefit from regularly posted blog content.
A law firm blog is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote your business. If it’s done right it can drive traffic to your website at a fraction of the cost of a pay-per-click campaign, it can increase your client base and establish you as an authority in your field. Occasionally, blogs can have a direct result. In any given year a small number of blogs I write about auto accidents, have led directly to sign ups from people who have searched for the name or the name of a family member. The same can be true with crime blogs.
Here are 10 tips for an effective law firm blog.
1Write your Blog to Meet your Customer’s Needs. You may be very happy about the fact you have just received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, but your potential clients won’t. Not only have they probably never heard of Martindale Hubbell but they are more interested in finding out how long their bankruptcy proceedings will take, whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation, whether they will lose their home in their divorce or whether they can make a claim against a trucking company for their injuries.
2Answer the Question. If your potential client wants to know how long he has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in North Carolina, write a blog titled ‘How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in North Carolina?’ However, you should vary up the FAQs. The more you have out there on your website, the more likely you will get an exact match with a potential client’s question. If he or she likes your answer, you are more likely to get a call.
3 Be Local. There are a number of outsourced cookie-cutter writing services there that will deliver generic blogs for you. Some of them may be written by services in places such as India which will deliver vanity phrases and links that can harm your website. A few years ago, it was easier to get onto the first page of a Google search by stuffing your content with phrases such as “Atlanta personal injury lawyer.” Today a series of complex algorithm changes means Google will penalize this kind of writing. You need to be writing about real issues and events in your local community in the way your community newspaper would have done in years gone by. It will resonate with the local people you want to get as clients as well as the search engines. If you are supporting a charity or doing community work, blog it.
4 Develop a Blogging Style. You should develop a consist form of writingthat’s not overly formal. A blog is the human face of your business and you may develop a fan base among people who know you. If you are hiring a writer, he or she should get to know you and your style and write accordingly. Throttle back on the sales pitch. I usually find a subtle call to action at the foot of a blog will suffice for the sales pitch.
5 Be Substantial. A word count of about 400 will help your blog to be found online. If it’s longer than this, you should consider breaking it up into categories.
6Post Regularly. It stands to reason that the more content you have out there, the more likely potential clients will find your blogs. There’s not a lot of consensus about how often you should blog but you should post blogs regularly because if you are creating a steady stream of writing and it stops, it will look as if you are out of date or don’t care about your online appearance. Aim for at least one blog a week but two or three is better.
7 Use Visuals. It’s an increasingly visual age so why are we still inundating people with blocks of text? As a former newspaper reporter, I’m painfully aware of how the younger generation gets its media in a different way than we used to. Many people in the younger generation will watch the video of a news story rather than reading the text. So embed a video in your blog. There’s nothing wrong with a video of the attorney saying almost the same thing as he is saying in the blog. And use original photographs and illustrations too. There are also a number of infographic services that can give you a different kind of blog.
8Plan your Content. Consider planning content six months or even a year ahead. This will allow you to blog for seasonal trends or events and to ensure you don’t run out of ideas.
9 Share. Putting your blog on your website is just the first step. This is useful and unique content that can also go on social media as well as blogs for legal directories to get your name out there. Make sure you have sharing buttons under your content and use a service such as HootSuite to send out content to a number of social media sites.
10. Monitor performance. Sites such as Google Analytics will allow you to check on which blog posts and terms are the most popular. This can guide you on what sort of blogs you should be writing in the future. You can also get an idea of the popularity of your content if it is shared on sites such as Facebook by the number of likes it receives.
Contact Veritas Legal Media at firstname.lastname@example.org