Going local – Understanding the importance of local search optimization

Android smartphone with map app open on screen sits on a dark wood-grain background

The last time you were looking for a local business, where did you go to find them?

More and more, the answer is online. Your potential clients are doing the same.

Now is the time to think about how consumers are looking for legal help, how search engines are serving up results, and just what your firm can do to make sure it stands out in the crowd. To start, it’s time to think local.

Thinking local = getting found

The first thing to understand about local search optimization is just how search engines are verifying who you are, where you are, and how you can help potential clients. They utilize the E.A.T. model in order to assess who you are and what your practice has to offer its searchers.

E.A.T. – or Expertise, Authority, Trust – was something that Google started using around August of 2018 to assess business validity and help identify that they’re serving up relevant information a searcher is looking for. How do you prove the content of your site provides this validity?

  • Expertise: What is your firm putting online that is really demonstrating expertise? This is all about quality content. Make sure your firm’s website includes pages with important information on the different practice areas you serve, and perhaps some common FAQs.
  • Authority: What sort of signals are there online that demonstrate the authority your law firm has in both the eyes of the search engines and potential consumers? Here, you can think about online reviews and ratings from past clients, and even social media sites.
  • Trust: Do other websites link to your law firm site? Think about it, if you were going to link to another site on your own page, it’s because you trust the content and the author. Getting your firm listed in quality directories and on business profiles create these links that Google and other search engines will pick up on as cues of trust.

What makes the biggest difference in this E.A.T. model, though, is content that uses natural language. Search engines want to ensure that the content of your law firm’s website is written for people, not just for bots. Keep your customer in mind when writing content for your website, and you’ll be rewarded with potential inquiries and greater search results.

Hyper-local = mobile optimization

Today, online consumers aren’t just looking local when they search online – they’re looking hyper-local. They’re using phrases in their search such as “closest to” and “near me” as they shop around for almost anything, attorneys included. And sometimes, they’re not looking on the main search engine results page (SERP) – instead, they’re bypassing the list view and going directly to the map, looking at who is REALLY local to serve their immediate need.

This hyper-focused search makes it more important than ever to ensure that your law firm’s website is mobile-optimized. Because these map viewers are looking local, and they’re looking on the go.

In fact, in FindLaw’s 2019 U.S. Legal Consumer Needs Survey, we found that 62% of all legal consumers that learned about an attorney online, used a search engine. And 85% of legal consumers used a mobile device or tablet to search for an attorney online.

It’s more important than ever that your law firm’s website provides a streamlined experience for a potential client, no matter what device they’re finding you on. Google’s search algorithm also takes into account sites that do and do not have mobile optimization and rewards the ones that have thought through this user experience.

Tools for local optimization

Have more questions about how your firm can utilize search optimization?

Whether you’re up for tangible community involvement – consider sponsoring a local sports team! – or understanding what steps you can further take online to get your firm found, we’ve got answers. Google and other search engines provide a variety of different platforms for your firm to set up and start establishing the Expertise, Authority, and Trust that’s needed.

Hear directly from FindLaw’s digital experts and watch our on-demand webcast, Why being friendly in the eyes of Google means more to your firm now than ever before, to learn more about how your firm can set itself up for success using local optimization.

Schedule Your Appointment

An accurate Zip Code ensures your appointment is set with the correct local marketing consultant.


Learn how to work smarter, not harder.
Schedule a coaching session with our legal marketing experts and receive a gourmet coffee gift card absolutely free! No sales pitches. No Games. Just great advice.