Expert tips to dominate the Local 3 Pack | Twelve Three Media

Expert Tips for Lawyers to Dominate the Local 3 Pack

10 Minute Read

If your SEO company isn’t taking the steps below, they’re taking you for a ride. Your Google Business Profile is one of your most important marketing tactics, and it’s time to look for a partner who can drive local search success.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that ranking in the Local 3 Pack is critical for your law firm’s SEO strategy. Potential clients often skip the organic search listings and zero in on the firms that Google says are closest to them.

At a glance, someone searching for a lawyer can find:

  • The name of your firm
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Your average star rating
  • How many client reviews you have
  • Key selling points about your firm

First impressions are crucial, as the people who see the Local Pack results might try to contact you from the listing without even visiting your website.

Getting your law firm to rank in the Local 3 Pack doesn’t happen by accident. You can travel across the country for overhyped marketing “master classes” on the subject, or you can get insights from expert marketers who routinely get law firms worldwide to rank in the top of the  Google Local Pack—and keep them there.

At Twelve Three Media, we pride ourselves on sharing our expertise. SEO success is an ongoing process, not something you can learn one time at a seminar that claims to “unlock the secrets” to boosting your online presence.

Google Business Profile: The Key to Dominating the Local 3 Pack

Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a free tool provided by Google that allows businesses and organizations to manage their online presence in local search. Your Google Business Profile is the key to nabbing a spot in the Local 3 Pack.

Screenshot of Google Business Profile listings for the keyword 'personal injury lawyer' | Twelve Three Media

But other firms have a Google Business Profile, and there are only three spots in the Local Pack. How can you make your firm rise above the competition?

Our SEO team has developed a tried-and-true strategy for garnering the greatest visibility for lawyers and law firms in local search results.

12 Tips for Ranking in the Local Pack

The results in the Local 3 Pack are determined in large part by the user’s location. Relevance to the query and the prominence of the business in the market are also major factors.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, Google’s algorithm is updated all the time to deliver searchers the best results. The changes happen in the background, which can lead to significant upheaval in the Local Pack.

Thankfully, you can adopt strategies that cater to both potential clients and Google. To enhance their visibility in local search, all law firms should undertake the following actions: 

1. Manage Your Listings

We’ve written before about how to claim and optimize your Google Business Profile. If you haven’t taken these simple first steps already, you’re way behind the curve when it comes to local SEO. You need to claim a Google Business Profile and optimize it to have any shot of ranking in the Local 3 pack.

Law firms with multiple offices need to have a Google Business Profile for each location. Each city or town is effectively a separate market when it comes to search, so optimizing the profile means ensuring that any and all details that may differ from location to location (e.g., business hours, legal services, etc.) are accurate.

You also need to stay active across all of your Google Business Profile listings. Add regular posts on relevant and local topics, update the hours for individual offices if they change with weekends and holidays, etc.

2. Get Positive Reviews—And Lots of Them

Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. People need to know that they are making the right choice, which is why they pay close attention to reviews. Instead of going to law firm websites one-by-one, Google Business Profile displays reviews for multiple firms.

Screenshot of personal injury lawyer reviews in Google Local Pack | Twelve Three Media

We usually don’t see businesses with an average review score under 4.0 listed in the Local 3 Pack (really, anything below 4.5 is a rarity). If you want to dominate your competitors, you need to get as close to 5.0 as you can.

Google reviews need to be genuine; you’re not going to top the local search results by buying a bunch of 5-star reviews from some slack-jawed huckster online. (Besides, people can sniff out the fake reviews.)

No, you need actual reviews from actual clients telling people exactly why your firm is the best. The more reviews you have and the higher your star rating, the more likely you are to be in the Local Pack.

Read More: How Reviews Positively Impact SEO

On the flip side, negative reviews should be removed as soon as possible. It can take time and effort to get a review removed from your Google Business Profile, so diligence and swift action are a must.

3. Optimize for the Right Keywords

When you named your firm, you likely went the easy route and just used your name and the names of your partners. Farragut, Upton, Clark & Kleinfeldt sure sounds like the name of a law firm, but it pays to make the connection between your name and what you do crystal clear.

Lead generation companies are taking liberties with Google Business Profile and adding “Personal Injury Lawyers” and the like to the name of the business. It might not be your DBA, but who cares? There’s no law against it, and it works.

Screenshot of Local 3 Pack results for keyword 'Denver personal injury lawyers' | Twelve Three Media

Take a look at your keyword list and identify a few of the terms that you want to rank for on the first page. Integrate these keywords into your business name and the description of your law.

For additional proximity and relevance, you should also ensure that the city you’re targeting in your marketing is included in this aspect of optimization. Geo-modifiers (e.g. “Denver personal injury lawyer”, “personal injury lawyer in Denver”, etc.) provide optimization for the location and the type of clients you want to attract.

You may receive periodic suggestions from Google on the name of your firm. These suggestions should be approached with the utmost trepidation—if it doesn’t (a) accurately reflect the name of your firm or (b) advance your organic SEO goals, you shouldn’t take the suggestion.

4. Leverage Proximity: Is Your Firm in the Right Place?

People search for businesses in the immediate area. Generally, they’re not going to drive to visit a lawyer. If your firm is trying to market to clients in a specific, competitive market, you need to be located in that market.

Ideally, you will have an office in the city center (as defined by Google). Having an optimal location and optimizing your profile for local search can get you ranking in the Google 3 Pack overnight.

Screenshot of Google Maps showing the city center of Johnson City | Twelve Three Media

Want to open a new office in the target city to improve your local rankings? Get as close to the center of the city as you can, and make sure your Google Business Profile for the new office is fully optimized!

5. Ensure Your NAP Data Is Accurate

NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. These are the three building blocks of local SEO. Any time you are filling in NAP data, it needs to be written exactly the same.

Google Business Profile is no exception. Every word and punctuation mark; how you write the street name, city, state, and ZIP code; and the formatting of the phone number should precisely match any and all online listings for your firm.

And to clear up any confusion: You can only claim a brick-and-mortar office where your firm actually does business. Google does not allow verification for remote or shared offices.

6. Optimize Your Hours

Accurate business hours are a huge ranking factor in Google local search. You can also take advantage of services such as chatbots and call agents to provide 24-hour customer service.

Screenshot of business hours in Google Business Profile | Twelve Three Media

Law firms that are available to serve clients 24/7 are a major draw. And yet, many so-called experts are only now realizing that this availability tends to translate into better Google Business Profile rankings.

7. Align Local & On-Page SEO

You can spend all the time in the world optimizing your Google Business Profile to make it the best it can be. But if your website sucks, you’re not going to gain traction in the Local Pack.

Both your Google Business Profile and your website need to be optimized for the services you offer and the cases you want. Google lets businesses select categories that are reflected on the local listings.

Screenshot of business category field with suggestions for attorneys and law firms in Google Business Profile | Twelve Three Media

You want to rank in Google organic search as well, so you also need to make sure the content on your website targets the same or similar categories. If you are a personal injury law firm, for example, you need strong, authoritative pages on personal injury services , blog posts supporting those pages, and more.

All the content on your site should be optimized for your target keywords (ideally using both general and local variations). This will complement the categories you choose on Google Business Profile.

8. PAY ATTENTION to Your Google Business Profile

If some marketing consultant tells you that Google Business Profile is “set it and forget it,” run. That person’s no expert, and your local search performance will suffer if you’re not paying attention to your Google Business Profile.

Google will make changes without your approval, and you need to stay on top of them. Many of the suggested edits come from crowdsourcing (any Google user can suggest an edit) and/or AI suggestions. These edits are often unreliable, and some of them may come from your competitors in an effort to sabotage your search marketing efforts.

If 100 people who are Google Local Guides come together and suggest that you are no longer a law firm, but a pizzeria, Google is likely to accept that change. The best way to overcome such a malicious strategy is to remain vigilant and address edits and changes proactively.

Read More: Beyond White and Black Hats – Take Control With Cop Hat SEO

9. Responding to Users Who Message the Business

Google Business Profile is a great tool for customers to obtain more information about and connect with a business before making a purchase or using its services. Questions posed to the business are displayed publicly. This is an excellent opportunity for lawyers to interact with the public and display their expertise.

Respond promptly to any messages you receive via Google Business Profile. Be compassionate and service-minded, but don’t be afraid to demonstrate your authority and expertise on particular legal matters. And, whenever possible, try to integrate high-value keywords in your responses to add extra optimization.

10. Upload Photos

Seeing is believing, right? Treat your Google Business Profile as an extension of your website, your social media presence, and all other aspects of marketing where strong visuals are key. Show off the sign and exterior and interior of your office, your team members, events you participate in, and more.

11. Game the Algorithm

Proximity to the user, relevance to the user’s query, and prominence are the three major components of ranking in the Local 3 Pack. Unlike organic search rankings—which are determined by more than 200 distinct ranking factors—not a lot of factors are at play when it comes to being one of the top 3 businesses in Google SERPs.

Click-through manipulation is still a viable strategy for getting in the Local 3 Pack, especially when it’s done well. The best way to do this is to get local users on mobile devices to click on the “Website” icon for your Google Business Profile.

Mobile searches happen on the go, instantly establishing the user’s proximity. Any click from a search signals to Google that a particular result is relevant. The more clicks you get, the more prominent your firm will seem.

12. Make Your Firm Inescapable

Prominence (the third pillar of ranking in the Local 3 Pack) is perhaps the most nebulous. Ultimately, it’s about making your law firm a household name.

That comes down to aggressively marketing your firm. Fortunately, there are a plethora of options for getting your name in front of prospective clients. These include:

  • Google Local Services Ads: Local Services Ads are a separate product offering from Google, but they are similar to Google Business Profile in one key respect: both leverage local search to connect customers with businesses in the area.
  • Maximizing ad spend: Whether digital, offline, or—preferably—a combination of the two, it is critical to determine where prospective clients are and create ad campaigns that connect with their needs. You have to spend money to make money, and investing in a multifaceted marketing and advertising strategy will elevate your law firm.
  • Brand positioning: Set yourself apart from the crowd by investing in a unique, compelling brand identity.

It’s like we’ve been saying for years: You can’t dominate your market with only one tactic. Just like having a Google Business Profile isn’t enough to dominate  the search results, you need to amplify your message through any and all available means.

Just the Facts: What It Takes to Win with Google Business Profile 

Marketing your law firm via Google Business Profile is unique in that it’s all-or-nothing. You can take the basic steps and get nowhere, or you can follow the recommendations above and claim your spot in the Local 3 Pack. This is what it takes to succeed, period.

SEO Experts at Twelve Three Media handle these tasks every single day for law firms and other clients. We know they work because we see the results in the local SERPs all the time, and our clients are always in the top three spots.

Are you confident in your current SEO provider’s strategy? Let’s find out. At Twelve Three Media, we offer a comprehensive audit of your existing SEO efforts to ensure you’re on the path to success. Your Google Business Profile is a cornerstone of your digital presence, and it’s vital to work with a partner who’s genuinely invested in mastering your local search landscape. Don’t settle for subpar performance. Contact us today for an in-depth analysis of your current SEO approach and discover how we can steer you toward real results.

Google has set the rules of the game. Are you prepared to win? Don’t just play the game; dominate it. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with us and discover how Twelve Three Media can land you more cases and elevate your online presence. Let’s turn strategies into victories. Contact us today to learn more!

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