When we talk to our customers in the ‘small law’ segment, we hear about the many challenges that you face in all parts of your business. One of the many questions we get asked is… how can I grow my practice and make it easy for clients to find us online? Having a better understanding of how online citations work, through online directories and other websites, is a great starting point.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider that there are approximately 60,000 practising lawyers in Australia, all vying for clients in a very competitive business environment. With that in mind, separating yourself from the competition is essential, and it begins with your digital citation footprint. The obvious question is: what is a citation footprint? Quite simply, it’s any external citation of your firm outside of your own website, such as a business listing on Google+ or a listing on a directory. It’s important for the online visibility of your firm to have a wide network of external citations and we’ll explain why.
Citations have become crucial in light of the way local search results are now served up on both desktop and mobile when conducting a search on Google. Previously seven businesses (7-packs) were featured in the top local search results, but now 7-packs have been replaced with three results (3-packs).
Here’s how results now appear on a desktop using the search term “pizza Sydney”.
With the 3-packs now an element on Google search results, citations are now crucial for firms trying to reach local clients.
How can citations help increase the visibility of my firm?
Citations help establish a law firm’s authority, credibility and visibility as a local business. The changes to how search results appear on Google means that having links from external sites pointing back to your site is essential as a means of attracting referral traffic, while also helping with your firm’s branding.
For law firms that don’t have their own website, citations are particularly important because if search engines can’t crawl data from the official site of a firm, they then look for information from third party sources. Therefore, if your firm currently doesn’t have an online presence, it’s extremely important that your firm is featured on third party sites, such as directories, in order to reach potential clients. Furthermore, you should always ensure that any directory listing you have is complete and accurate.
The biggest takeaway for lawyers is that citation building which utilises a local strategy can assist with growing your firm’s online presence, and if done properly, can separate your firm from the competition.