Local intent is a vital part of your law firm’s search engine optimization strategy. But how does it work, and how can your law firm implement it successfully?
What is Local Intent?
Let’s break it down:
- Intent refers to what the searcher means to do in the moment they’re using a search engine. What is their goal?
- The local part comes in when the user specifies a location in their search, whether by typing it manually or by enabling location services on their mobile device.
So, when we talk about local intent, there’s a myriad of questions we could be asking about a particular user’s search.
For example, are they looking for specific locations or businesses? Are they going to head to one of them right away, or are they filing away this information for later? Maybe they’re using their cell phone to tell them what’s nearby, or perhaps they’re looking up things to do in a city they’re planning to visit.
As you can see, there are several reasons someone would search with a locational specifier. But where do law firms fit into local intent searches, and why are they so important?
Local Intent for Law Firms
Local intent is a straightforward concept for industries such as hospitality and retail, but it’s a bit more difficult for lawyers because the law is a high-research industry. In other words, the odds are very slim that someone is going to search “attorney near me” and immediately drive to the one Google, Siri, or Alexa tells them is closest.
So what does happen when someone realizes they need a lawyer? They begin to check their options online. They want to know…
- Is there a law firm near me?
- Is there one that handles the type of case I have?
- Is it reviewed well?
- Do the attorneys seem competent and trustworthy?
- Can I contact them?
All of that knowledge starts with either a “near me” search or one with a location modifier—each of which is a search with local intent. And when someone searches with local intent, they’re automatically further down the sales funnel—meaning, they’re that much closer to making the decision to call your firm.
How to Optimize Your Law Firm for Local Intent Searches
On Your Website
To optimize your law firm’s website for local intent searches, the first thing you’ll need to do is some keyword research.
Not only does a solid keyword strategy help you properly measure your success, but it also empowers you to concentrate your efforts on the searches that are most likely to benefit your law firm. Any solid SEO strategy will need content, landing pages, campaigns, and more centered around your chosen keywords.
Keep in mind that the way consumers search is probably different from the way that you think about your business. For example, you may call yourself a private criminal defense attorney, but that isn’t typically what people search for when they need representation—they’re far more likely to use search terms like “Little Rock DUI lawyer” or “defense lawyer near me.”
Find out the terms that people actually search for and construct your digital advertising efforts around them. Otherwise, you may find yourself fighting the all-too-common uphill battle of trying to rank for keywords that simply don’t benefit your firm.
Once you’ve done your keyword research, you can start optimizing your law firm’s website for local intent. Optimizing the pages of your firm’s website goes far beyond just using location-specific keywords, however.
One of the best ways to associate your practice with the area you serve is by creating content that references where you are. Some examples include:
- Publishing press releases on your website
- Updating your firm’s blog with stories about local activities your attorneys take part in
- Including attorneys’ favorite local spots in their About Me pages
- Sharing case studies that reference locational info
You’re probably already aware that a steady stream of quality content boosts your law firm’s search results. Take it a step further by creating content (or repurposing old content) with geographic specifiers to start snagging searchers using local intent.
Other Places on the Web
Optimizing for local intent doesn’t only happen on your law firm’s website: there are several other places you can implement this strategy, too. And even if you aren’t optimizing for local intent, the simple fact of your firm being discoverable on various websites is important for your search engine rankings.
“The more Google and other search engines can find and validate you online, the better,” says Stephanie Newton of BrightLocal. “Brands that have a stronger online prominence seem more credible and trustworthy to the Google local algorithm.”
So where else on the internet can you establish your law firm’s presence?
When it comes to local intent, your firm needs to be on the radar of websites that serve your area. For example, it’s important to take part in community outreach (sponsorships, events, etc.) so you can be mentioned in press releases, news pieces, and other media that mention your firm. This signals to Google that your firm is worthy of being pulled up in a law-related search in your area.
“A citation is any place your business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information appears together online, typically in an online directory or business listings website,” Newton explains. “While building citations alone won’t get you ranking #1, you do need at least some accurate and consistent citations to compete effectively in the local SEO game.”
Finally, your law firm’s reviews contribute to your placement in search engine results. While you don’t have much control over the reviews your firm gets—after all, you can’t exactly tell reviewers which words are best for your SEO—they’re an important ranking factor for search engines, especially when it comes to local intent.
Optimize Your Law Firm for Local Intent Today
Optimizing for local intent has the power to boost your law firm’s search results—but only if you research keywords, create relevant content, establish your presence online, and much more.
Start taking advantage of local intent searches to improve your firm’s search engine rankings and increase traffic to your website. Kirkpatrick Creative has been handling content, SEO, and digital advertising for law firms in Arkansas and beyond for years, and we know how to create advertising that’s engineered to work. If you’re ready to get started, contact Kirkpatrick Creative today.