How to Win at Local Search: The Nifty Guide to Online Marketing for Lawyers

If you’re a lawyer, you know how important it can be to find clients in your local area. After all, who is more likely to need your services — those living nearby or those located far away? Obviously, the latter is the case, so if you want to establish yourself as a reputable lawyer, you’ll need to ensure that your name is brought to the attention of people who are nearby.

Thankfully, the internet makes this much easier. Thanks to the proliferation of Google Maps and other similar tools, businesses can now target potential customers and enhance their reach to people in their area. The catch is that, to reap the benefits of maps and geo-targeting, you’re going to need to know how to use them effectively.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the steps to effectively use maps and geo-targeting for your legal practice.

Step one: Figure out what you’ll need.

To start, you’re going to need a Google account. Make sure you have the appropriate perms to publish to Google Maps (e.g., Places for Work, Directory, and Blogger).

Next, you need to decide what you’ll need for the geographical area that you want to target. Bear in mind, you can always add more locations later on. For example, if you’re a New York City-based lawyer, but also represent clients in Los Angeles and other major cities, you might want to include those areas in your targeted geographical area.

The best approach is to figure out exactly what you need for each area. That way, you can be sure that you have the appropriate information for each area and don’t have to worry about including too much irrelevant data. With maps and geo-targeting, too much data can throw off the algorithm and result in inappropriate results.

Step two: Set your targets.

Once you have your Google account set up, you need to log in and set your targets. To do this, visit the Google Maps website and select the location that you’re interested in targeting. Then, click on the pencil icon next to the map and select the area that you want to target. As you can see from the screenshot below, I’ve selected Brooklyn, New York, as my target area.

Next, you’ll want to create custom search filters and strategies to organize your research. The filters determine how your search results are displayed. For example, I’ve used the “nearby” filter to display local businesses that are within a certain distance of where I am located.

Step three: Start researching and collecting data.

With your target area set, you can now start researching and collecting data for your local market analysis. You can use a variety of tools and methods to gather this data, but you’re going to want to make sure that you use the most reputable and effective sources possible. Below, I’ve listed a few suggestions, ranging from free databases to paid subscription services.

  • Free databases: Check the Help section of your Google account to see if your Google Drive or Gmail is equipped with a free database. If so, explore the database and see if there is any client information that you can use. You can also sign up for a free trial at a subscription service, like Legal Zoom, to see if their database is available for free.
  • Paid databases: Many law firms have a paying client base, and the accounts can get rather pricey. However, there are also a variety of paid databases that you can explore. Make sure you look for a reputable source and avoid using free databases if you want to keep your client information secure.
  • Reputable directories: If you want to find other lawyers in your area, one option is to explore public records and directories. If you’re looking for a more systematic approach, you can also subscribe to a directory that will notify you of new listings and business changes. For example, if you’re looking for a divorce lawyer in Brooklyn, you can explore the Brooklyn directory and see if there are any entries that catch your eye. If not, you can explore the rest of the directories and see if there are any other options available.
  • Search engines: If you’ve never used search engines to find legal information, you’re really missing out. One of the best things that can happen to your legal practice is to enter key words into the search bar and see what comes up. For example, if you want to find information on the best divorce attorneys in Brooklyn, enter “Brooklyn divorce attorney” into the search bar. Without getting too technical, search engines like Google work on the principle of “organizing the web”. Essentially, they find webpages that are relevant to your search terms and present them in a helpful format. In the screenshot below, you can see some of the results that my search engine unearthed for me. You can click on any of these links to be taken to the particular webpage that the search engine found.
  • Social media: If you’ve got a large following on social media, you can use that to your advantage. One of the simplest ways to find and connect with lawyers in your area is to visit their social media accounts and see what’s being posted. You can also sign up for a free trial at a subscription service like SurveyMonkey to see if they’ve got any data available for you to utilize.
  • Other options: If you’ve got another option other than the ones listed above, which one you should you choose? That’s up to you. The key is to find what works best for your particular needs.

Step four: Use the data that you collected.

Once you collected the data, you can start using it. To do this, you need to log back in to your Google account and click on the Maps icon. Then, select the location that you’re interested in and click on the “i” (information) icon next to the map. You’ll see a list of various data points relating to your target area. You can use this information to your advantage. For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer in Brooklyn, you can use the marital property analysis tool to examine the assets and income of individuals and families in your area. This could prove to be a useful tool in determining what kind of settlement you suggest to your clients. Or if you’re a criminal defense lawyer, you can use the crime stats to see how likely it is that your clients will be convicted in their cases.

There are a variety of tools and information that you can get from your Google account, and making the most of them can prove to be rather useful for your legal practice. As you can see above, the options are rather vast. Just remember, you don’t need to do this all at once. Take it easy, explore what’s available, and see what you can find that’s useful.

Step five: Review your work and determine the next step.

Once you started using the tools and information that you collected, it’s time to review your work and determine the next step. Are you satisfied with what you’ve discovered? Are there any areas that you feel could be improved upon? This is the stage where you make a conscious decision about what you’re going to do next. It’s important to have a clear idea of where you’re headed, so you can set your course and not get sidetracked by many different options that could prove to be fruitful.

Whether you’re a solo practitioner or partner in a law firm, knowing how to use online marketing tools effectively could prove to be a valuable asset. It takes time to build a brand for yourself, and with the right planning and strategy, you could certainly make the most of online marketing tools to reach more potential clients and make more money.