Legal Search Marketing – The Rise of Local Search for Attorneys

The way consumers look for anything and everything has changed in the last ten years, including how we find an attorney. While we used to rely on the recommendation of a friend or relative, or start our search in the Yellow Pages, now we head to our computers. Search engines, social media, and smart phones have dramatically affected the way consumers find legal representation. According to a recent study, last year most people looking for an attorney — three out of four — used online resources at some point in the process, according to The Research Intelligence Group.

It just makes sense. Not only are we used to “Googling” for information, advice, products and services, but also when someone needs an attorney, it’s usually a sensitive matter that they’re less likely to ask a friend about. If you are selling a business, divorcing, injured, or accused of a crime, it’s much easier to spend time researching online in the privacy of your home or on your phone than it is to dig through the Yellow Pages or ask a neighbor or relative.

The Rise of Local Search

When people search for an attorney, they tend to look for one that’s close to them, generally within thirty miles. Along with the rise in Internet use, searches are becoming increasingly more location-specific as people become more sophisticated search engine users, with 73 percent of online activity related to local information (according to Google).

Over the past five years we have seen dramatic shifts in how consumers select businesses in the local marketplace. For example, as recently as 2007 the printed Yellow Pages were the number one source of information used by consumers to select businesses, but no longer. In April, AT&T sold its Yellow Page division “as part of an effort to dispose of units that are holding back revenue growth” in the face of increasing competition from online rivals Google, Groupon, and Yelp.

Local searching – searches that contain a geographic term – delivers highly relevant search results to the consumer. Relevancy means users can find the products and services they seek in a specific location and businesses gain consumers who are ready to buy. [Read more…]

Question – What’s up with Google Places?

Google Places, the online directory of businesses around the world, has been entirely replaced by a new feature, Google+ Local. As of April 30, 2012 roughly 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages. It’s a dramatic change though it will undoubtedly disorient some users and business owners.

Google+ now contains a “Local” tab and static Google Places pages now give way to more dynamic Google+ Local pages. The Zagat 30-point rating scale is also replacing Google’s star ratings. Users will be able to discover the new Google+ Local pages in several ways: through a search on Google.com or Google Maps, in mobile apps or through a search on Google+.

Google+ Local pages are much more visually interesting. They also enable the presentation of a wider variety of information types than Google Places allowed. They will permit local businesses to develop followers and message them, and to have the kinds of social interactions now available on Facebook and Twitter. As a result, Google+ becomes another local search destination within Google, arguably with richer content and more functionality than Google.com offers at the results page level.

The conversion of Google Places pages to Google+ Local pages is taking place regardless of whether Places pages were claimed by business owners or not.
Google says there will be many more merchant features to come.

Get Found! Search Engine Optimization Demystified

Excellent article by John Kruger of Initiate Demand  in this month’s GPSolo, the American Bar Association’s journal geared for General Practice solo practitioners and small law firms. The article is John’s take on SEO (search engine optimization) and how attorneys can leverage it. Read John’s article and learn!

By John M. Kruger

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the effort to modify a website or web page so that it will appear on the first page of results from search engines such as Google and Bing. Why would a law firm want to perform SEO on its website? For the same reason that a car mechanic in the days of the Yellow Pages might have named his shop “AAA Auto Repair”: to be listed first.

SEO is not complicated. It relies on common sense and simplicity. You do not need to know programming, search algorithms, or taxonomy—you only need a basic understanding of how a search engine works.

For search engines to be useful, they must provide good results. The basic premise is to reveal links that have provided quality content with past clicks and that are considered relevant. So, if you click on a link, consider it a vote for that content as being relevant. [Read more…]