How To Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Make Certain Your Law Firm Gets The Most Visibility On Google
The majority of consumer searches for an attorney include local intent. Consumers want legal counsel close by, so they search for things like: “attorney near me”, “Chicago bankruptcy law firm”, or “best divorce lawyer in NYC.” To be found in those searches, attorneys must claim and optimize their Google My Business (GMB) listing. An optimized and active GMB listing increases the chances of your firm showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, and Google Maps, in addition to showing up in organic search engine rankings.
GMB is a free service that Google provides to all business owners; all you need is an email account to sign up. It does not replace your law firm’s website, but instead compliments it by giving your firm an official presence on Google.
Claiming Your Google My Business Listing
The first step in claiming your GMB listing is to make sure you have a Google account. You can register by visiting www.google.com/accounts. You can use any email address to create a Google account. Once your Google account is established, go to https://www.google.com/business/.
From there, conduct a search inside the dashboard to see if your firm is already listed. Start by typing in the name of your firm.
- If your listing is already found on Google Maps, it will populate for you as you type. When you see your listing, click on it, then click “Next"
a) If this listing is already managed by someone, Google will let you know that “this listing has already been claimed”, and give you instructions on how to get access:
b) If this listing is not already managed by someone else, and is available to be claimed, Google will now ask you to confirm the details that they already have for your business. Go through the five steps and confirm your business information. Once you confirm your business details, Google will send out a postcard to your address to verify your business. You'll get that postcard in about five to seven business days. Once you get the postcard, open it to find the PIN number. Log back into your GMB dashboard and enter that PIN number. That’s how you will get access to the listing and become the verified owner.
2. If your listing is not on Google Maps yet, Google will prompt you to enter the following business information: address, business category, phone number, and your website. Once you’re done filling out this information, Google will send a postcard to your business for verification. Once you get the postcard, find the PIN number, enter into your dashboard, and then voilà, you are now the verified owner of this business!
Once you’re verified on GMB, you can optimize your listing to position the firm as the best candidate to address the consumer’s legal concerns.
Creating a Strong GMB Foundation
Whether you’re claiming a profile that Google has started for you or building one from scratch, you need to enter six key pieces of information on your GMB correctly.
- Your Firm Name. This should be your real-world business name. It's how you answer the phone and what's on your company letterhead. The firm name should not read something like, "New Jersey personal injury and car accident lawyer in Bergen County." Don't spam out your listing by stuffing in those extra keywords and not portraying your business information correctly - you could get penalized by Google.
- Select Your Category. Don't overthink this. Be specific and don't pick too many. If you're a divorce attorney, then your category should be 'divorce lawyer'. If you handle car accident cases, then you should be listed as a 'personal injury attorney'. You shouldn't be listed as a personal injury attorney, and a law firm, and legal services, and lawyer, and trial attorney. Google wants you to be as specific as possible.
- Enter the physical location of your brick and mortar business. A quick side note on this: According to Google's guidelines, to be eligible for a GMB you cannot operate out of a virtual office or a P.O. box. Likewise, renting a room in a high-rise that you visit once a month is not your office. Google wants to make certain that a potential client can walk up to your business address during hours and speak with someone, which is why they put preference on it being a physical location.
- This ties into your firm's hours as well. Enter the actual hours of operation that someone could walk into your office and speak with someone. If your office closes at 6 pm, then that's what needs to be reflected on your GMB. Just because you have a website or an overnight answering service, doesn’t mean that you are open 24/7. Keep thinking of the end user. You wouldn’t want someone showing up at 10 pm if no one is there - and neither does Google.
- Enter your phone number. Use a unique local phone number, not a generic toll-free number that you have distributed across a bunch of other listings or locations. A local number will resonate with prospective clients more than an 800 number. Right away they can identify, "Oh, this is a 212 number, I know where these guys are in New York." Also, if you have multiple locations, you want to make sure you are not using the same phone number on each listing. It needs to be unique to that location.
- Add your website. Make sure this is your actual website and, just like your phone number, doesn't redirect anywhere else. We've seen people have a Facebook page, or some other social media profile there, which goes against Google’s guidelines. Users expect to be navigating to your website, so take them there. Also, remember that your GMB information needs to match what's found on your website; if not, it will confuse users. Which phone number is right? What street are the actually located on? Are they open right now? These are the questions they will be asking when you have inaccurate information. Also, Google uses this information to build your authority, so if your information is inconsistent, Google won’t trust your data, and you'll be less likely to show up in local search results.
Here's a great example of a well optimized Google Business listing, that follows all the guidelines:
Stay tuned for our blog describing best practices to make your GMB shine.
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