It would not be completely hyperbolic to say that Google “owns” the internet. If a person needs a particular service, they use Google. If they want to find a restaurant, they use Google.
Most importantly for you, if they want to find a lawyer or a barrister, they use Google.
When it comes to being an online search “directory”, no one comes even close to them – in New Zealand, they have 96% of the market!
So, when a potential client fails to get the information they need about your firm from Google they will often just skip to the next lawyer they can find (unless someone gave you a really good referral).
When framed this way, it quickly becomes clear that having a Google listing, specifically a completely free Google My Business listing, is pretty much a necessity for any law firm in 2019.
In this article, I’ll fully explain how to set up a Google My Business Page for your law firm, but first of all, let’s dive a little bit deeper into how important having one of these listings is.
The Importance of Having a Google My Business (“GMB”) Listing for Your Law Firm
In the old days of Google, when a potential client made a search for a term like “Auckland Central Lawyer”, they would usually get a page of results similar to this:
However, a lot has changed since then – our phones got smarter, the internet became a busier place, and in response, Google introduced features like the local 3-pack and page cards.
Now, when I do a Google search for “Auckland Central Lawyer”, this is what I see:
Google understands that when someone searches for a specific service in a specific location, that person wants to see the businesses providing that specific service, in that specific location, preferably on a map.
For most search terms like this, or ones like “lawyer near me”, Google will return this local 3-pack.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing you are highly unlikely to appear in the local 3-pack at the top of the search results unless:
- You’re in an area of really low competition, and
- Google’s AI has deduced your business details and location independently,
And if you’re not in the local 3-pack, potential clients are unlikely to scroll down far enough to find you.
Google My Business is also one of the easiest ways for your firm to interact with and provide information to current clients.
If you have a My Business listing, whenever a client searches for your firm, Google will show them your contact details, address, and reviews in a prominent page card on the right-hand side of the page. For Turner Hopkins Lawyers, it looks like this:
As you can see, it’s a really simple and user-friendly way to provide correct and relevant information about your practice to your clients.
Furthermore, it acts as an easy gateway to Google Maps.
Clients no longer have to click through multiple pages on your website to find out where you’re located and how they can get there – with a My Business listing it’s just a single click:
Given the benefits for existing clients, potential clients, and your firm – there really is no reason to not have a Google My Business page set up – especially when you consider that it’s incredibly easy and completely free to do so.
How to Set Up Your Law Firm’s Google My Business Listing:
First, do a quick Google search of your firm’s name to see if a Google My Business listing already exists for your firm or not. Often, Google will automatically create listings using the information they gather from other pages on the web. If a business page does already exist for your firm, then just click the button that says “claim listing” and follow from Step 2 onwards.
Step 1: Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click on ‘Start Now’ in the top right to begin the process.
Step 2: Sign in to the Google account that you would like to use to manage your listing.
Step 3: Provide the name and address of your firm. Make sure it’s correct and matches the information present on your website. You don’t want to make any mistakes or have any inconsistencies – Google really doesn’t like them!
Step 4: Check that the location shown on the presented map matches your practice’s real location. If it doesn’t, move the map pin so that it’s pointing to the correct location. Click on ‘next’ once you have confirmed this.
Step 5: Indicate your service category (“Law Firm” or “Legal Services”) and add the contact details that you want clients to see when they look you up on Google.
Step 6: Click “finish”. Now all you need to do is verify your listing and you’ll be up and running – yes it’s really that easy.
Verifying your GMB Listing:
After you have created your listing you will need to verify it so that Google knows it’s authentic. Google has a number of options for verification, you just need to follow the instructions they provide to you.
In New Zealand, Google usually requires postcard verification to verify your address and this takes about 15 days.
Optimising your GMB Listing:
Once you’ve successfully created and verified your My Business page, you can start optimising it to ensure it gets seen by as many potential and existing clients as possible.
The most important piece of advice I have here is that you should ensure that all information provided is correct and consistent with the information available on your website.
As mentioned above – Google doesn’t like being confused and they can penalise you for it.
Beyond that, here are two other easy ways you can make your listing the best it can be:
Upload Good Photos of Your Firm and its Branding
Professional and polished photos of your firm’s interior, exterior, and lawyers will take you a long way.
I know it sounds obvious, but if you present yourself as professional, trustworthy, and competent (especially online), clients are much more likely to engage your services.
Encourage Client Reviews on Google Maps
Now, I’m not saying start directly asking clients for Google reviews – it will probably come off as tacky.
A more passive way to encourage client reviews is simply by responding to reviews that have already been left by existing clients – people feel a lot better about leaving reviews once they know they actually get read!
The reason this is important is the simple truth that potential clients do read reviews – most potential clients will want to do research before they engage your services.
If you have many good reviews, both Google and potential clients will reward you for this.
So, here were all the things that you needed to know about how to set up a Google My Business listing and all the steps to follow to successfully create one for your law firm. Considering the great benefits it can have for your traffic and reputation, and considering the ease with which it can be set up, there really is no reason not to have one in 2019.