It’s a new year, and your local SEO strategy needs some dusting off. Google My Business has made updates for 2020 that will affect the way people find your law firm and interact with your profile. When users search for a “personal injury lawyer”, “estate planning attorney”, or whatever your practice area(s) may be, you’ll want to know how to appear high on the list, and you’ll want to look good when you do. For that to happen, you need to know what’s new in Google My Business and how your law firm can take advantage of these new features.
Google’s machine learning is only getting more advanced, which helps it improve relevance and auto-generated content. This is also making local mobile search results more visual, implementing pictures and user-focused content to help users find what they’re looking for. So, what does this mean for your law firm?
Here are new features and tips for how to optimize you Google My Business for 2020:
1. New Q&A feature.
Q&As will now be featured above your profile’s basic information, such as phone number and address. This makes it especially important that you engage with your question-asking-audience and leave solid, helpful answers. Google’s Q&A features allow users to ask questions directly to businesses, meaning you can interact more with users by responding directly on the Google Maps app. You’re also able to flag questions or complaints that you deem inappropriate or irrelevant to your practice. You will want to be sure to respond to these questions, as this will help users see that you’re active, invested, and knowledgeable, and more interactions on your Google My Business will help Google’s Algorithms see your firm as a trustworthy resource.
2. Customer Reviews
Reviews will also be featured above your profile’s basic information, too. Not only that, but reviews will now be used to answer questions in the Q&A panel.
Since the reviews panel is such a visible component to your profile, it should receive plenty of attention this year. Just as you should respond to questions in the Q&A panel, you should reply to reviews, as this indicates that you’re responsive. Remember that online reviews, especially those on Google, are both important for your SEO and for getting your phones to ring. Reviews are the equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations, which makes them wield more power than you might think.
3. Booking appointments
Now, Google My Business routes users directly to a landing page to book an appointment. This means that you should link an appointment page to your Google My Business profile to help users book a consultation almost instantly by selecting an available time on your schedule. This is great news, because now there are fewer steps between a potential client reaching you, which will encourage them to act.
4. Claim a Short Name URL
People have an easier time remembering short names than long, complicated ones. And sometimes, law firms have long, complicated names that are hard to remember. If that’s the case (or even if it isn’t), you now have the ability to create a short name URL in your Business profile that people can use to find you with more ease. Users can enter the short name URL in the search bar to go directly to your Business profile. One helpful tip: when creating your short name, consider using your law firm name plus the name of your city or neighborhood.
5. Photos tell users more than you might think
Since users respond better to visual content than text, it makes sense that Google has put special emphasis on better displaying queries visually. Be sure that you’ve freshened up your law firm’s photos if the ones you have are outdated, and update the photo on your Business profile. When users search for you on mobile, the first thing they see is your cover photo. You’ll also need a good profile picture, as this is your logo that will appear beside any activity, such as a response to a client review. But it doesn’t stop there: users will want to see any other image that will help them get a sense of who you are. If you have photos of your premises (interior or exterior), or photos of your other partners, you will want to upload those to your Business profile.
6. Always keep your information updated
While not a new feature for 2020, it is solid advice. If you’ve made any changes to your hours of operation, including holiday schedule, or if you’re changing offices, you should reflect that in your information section in your Business profile. Your name, address, phone number and business hours, need to be exactly the same as detailed on your website. Similarly, you should review your description. Ensure you’re covering main keyword topics, but avoid keyword-stuffing.
Make local SEO a priority in 2020. If you need help, your partners at CLM will always make it a priority for you by staying up to date with Google’s changes, and reacting to those changes before you realize you needed them.
Cristina Fríes is a MA in English/Creative Writing from UC Davis (2019), and is a legal marketing strategist and content developer for CLM. Her interests include creating compelling marketing content, writing books, and traveling the world.