What You Can Do to Rank High in Local SEO
In a previous post, I discussed the finer points of local SEO and why attorneys need to understand its importance and relevance to their business. More specifically, how search engines like Google and Bing present results based on geographic location.
In this post, we’ll address the first step of how you go about ranking higher in local search results. The foundation of improving your local SEO is to get your Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) listed correctly across multiple directories on the internet, as this consistency is the foundation of a relevant local search result.
Consistent NAP - Directories & Citations
Local SEO experts are in agreement that search engines such as Google and Bing cross-reference NAP information across various websites to validate whether a business is legitimate.
Many attorneys have their practices listed in multiple locations across the Internet. Your own site, Yelp, Yellow Pages, as well as a variety of legal referral and listing sites will all have your NAP information. If even the smallest detail of this information is inconsistent, search engines will be less likely to include them in search results because search engines like Google take NAP data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted (local) searches.
The marketing and analytics firm “Moz” conducted a survey in 2015 to determine the influence of key factors in search results. The study found that the presence of NAP was one of the more significant factors when it came to ranking businesses in local SEO results. With that in mind, the more you build up a consistent NAP presence on the Internet, the better.
Steps to Assure Your NAP is Listed Correctly and Consistently
Google My Business
The first step in your quest for consistent NAP is to find or create your Google My Business page (formerly Google Places). If your business is not currently listed, follow the steps after clicking on the Start Now button on the page from the previous link. If it is listed, make sure all of the information is correct and that there are no duplicate listings. Also be sure to list your business in the correct category (there are many specific attorney sub-categories). Note that you will have to verify your business with Google by one of several methods to prove that you are the owner.
Local and Legal Directories
Start with the general directories like Bing, Superpages, Citysearch, Infogroup, BBB, local chambers of commerce, and Foursquare. You should consider some more recommendations from a larger list at “Local SEO Guide.” Next go to attorney-specific directories like FindLaw, Avvo, Martindale & Nolo. (See recommendations from BrightLocal).
When Google is scanning the web, they like to have confidence that their results are correct so when Google sees the same information on multiple sites, they are more apt to show your business in the results.
Another benefit of being correctly listed on Google, Yelp, Avvo, etc. is that these directories typically rank high in the search results and if someone Googles your name, you want them to see the correct information.
On-page Meta Data
You need to make sure that you display the correct address and phone number on your site and that it exactly matches what the directories have. If you abbreviate part of your address in the listings, abbreviate it on your site or vice versa. If you have more than one location, create a page for each one, with a different schema markup. As an aside, you can also indicate your hours of operation by correctly using the proper schema markup. While words on the pages give the search engines content, schema tells the search engines what your words and data mean.
Depending on how many social media profiles and pages you have along with the multiple directories you’re listed in, it’s very possible that your NAP is not consistent. Business owners tend to brush off the importance of consistent NAP listings, assuming that potential clients and search engines will “figure it out.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. To a search engine, in particular, there’s a big difference between the three listings shown below:
The Correct listing
John Doe Attorneys, LLC
123 Main Street
Anytown, MI 12345
The Close-But-Not-Quite listing
John Doe, Attorney at Law
123 Main St.
The Casual Listing
John the Awesome Lawyer
Across from the 7-11
When multiple listings such as these are floating around, as is generally the case, not only can potential clients get confused, but so can search engines. When a potential client sees your business listed with multiple names, differently formatted addresses and inconsistent phone numbers and web addresses, they get confused and move on to the next listing whose information is consistent. And since users think and act that way, so do search engines.
If you want to show up in the local search results for relevant information, you’ll need to make sure that your NAP information is consistent first.
The other ways to rank higher in local search results are similar to what you need to do to rank higher in organic SEO, which we will cover in future posts.