You are looking for the nearest ATM for your bank, so you pull out your phone and perform a Google search for the name of the bank and the phrase “near me.” The map graph that appears on the search engine results page (SERP) after you hit “enter” shows a branch a few blocks away from you, so you start walking.
When you finally arrive at your intended location, however, you find that the bank is no longer there. In its place is a vacant building, a shadow on the front facade where a sign for the bank had once been.
According to Moz’s George Freitag, this type of scenario (which may not be foreign to everyone reading this post) is “Google’s greatest fear.” That’s because, if anything will cause a user to stop using Google in favor of another search engine or map service, it is repeat experiences of this nature.
Consider your course of action following such an experience. Do you try a second Google search, or do you turn to another service for information? And, if you do give Google another shot, how would you react if it led you astray a second time? Or a third? How long before you finally gave up on the search engine in favor of an alternative? If you lose your trust in a search engine’s ability to provide you with valuable, useful information for your searches, chances are you won’t continue to use it for very long.
Make Google Trust Your Law Firm’s Information
When returning local search results, Google and other search engines need to be able to trust that the information they offer to users is relevant, up-to-date, and accurate. Thus, in order for your law firm to appear on Google’s Map result (including the list of three results that often appears along with that map, known as a “local pack”) or its local organic search results for relevant queries, you need to make sure that the information about your law firm that is available online is accurate, consistent, and complete, including on sites that you may have never even heard of.
This is because Google uses the accuracy of information it finds about your law firm from mainstream, authoritative sources like Google My Business and Facebook, as well as information found in dustier corners of the internet, as a ranking signal. That signal has a direct impact on your law firm website’s chances of appearing in local search results.
According to local SEO expert, Mary Bowling, ensuring that the name, address, phone number (NAP data) and URL information about your law firm is accurate and consistent everywhere that it appears online is “a really critical local search ranking factor, and having mismatched NAP out there…is a really big negative ranking factor.”
In fact, working to make sure that your firm’s NAP and other data is consistent across listings sites, review sites, and social media platforms (also known as “listing management”) “has been and continues to be the required foundation for a successful local SEO program” according to Search Engine Watch.
Send Search Engines the Right Signals
According to those surveyed for Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors report, between 63 and 68 percent of your firm’s performance in relevant local searches is related to having consistent and correct information on your own website and across the web.
Both search engines and your potential clients consider your law firm website to be the most authoritative online source of information about your law firm. But, as web crawlers find information that appears to be about your law firm on other sources, whether that data is correct or not, the software bots will check that information against all other available data points referencing your firm in order to determine how reliable and consistent information about your firm tends to be, generally speaking.
If Google’s crawlers find matching contact information for your firm everywhere online, that sends a signal to the search engine that contact information about your firm tends to be reliable. If, on the other hand, the bots find multiple conflicting pieces of information across the web, it can be difficult for the search engine to determine which piece of information is correct and which is not, and that sends the search engine a negative signal.
If a search engine determines that information about your firm is unreliable, it will likely devalue your listing for local searches, rather than risk returning unreliable information to a search engine user. And, if there is more mismatched data about your firm online than correct data, some sources may even replace correct data about your firm with incorrect information, further compounding your local SEO issues.
Find Your Law Firm’s Information Online and Make It All Match
It is possible to methodically and manually track down much of the online data about your firm by performing exact searches for variations on your business name, address, and phone number. The sheer number of places online that may feature your data, however, makes this process time consuming and tedious. And, as third-party online sources are continually updated based on knowledge they find about your firm throughout the web, the task of finding, correcting, and updating mismatched data is never-ending.
It may make sense, therefore, to delegate the responsibility of listings management for your law firm to a third-party service like the one now offered by LawLytics to its members. Using the LawLytics Listings service is as simple as providing accurate information about your law firm to a representative in our support department. That representative will then enter your information into a central data hub and perform a scan for your firm’s information across the more than five-dozen sites and apps in our listings network. After comparing the data available on those external entities, LawLytics will then check the accuracy of that information against the information you provided.
As soon as we have information about your firm entered correctly into the LawLytics Listings hub, that information can be instantaneously served to the sites in our network, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, YellowPages, Yelp, Dex, and many more.
LawLytics Listings eliminates the need for tedious and time-consuming manual entry, minimizes the occurrence of incorrect information and duplicate listings for your firm, and cuts out the wait time associated with necessary corrections, which can take as long as six months to take effect following a manual submission.
Listings services like the one offered by LawLytics can also alert you whenever conflicting information appears online so that incorrect data can be updated and/or suppressed quickly — a step that is difficult to accomplish manually. As soon as our network receives correct information from LawLytics Listings, those listings are locked in place so that it cannot be “corrected” with conflicting data from another online source later.
This ability to make changes to multiple databases instantaneously and simultaneously also enables easy changes to your data, such as temporary adjustments for holiday hours and travel-related office closures. Such updates can be made across our network with a single entry. That way, you’ll never have to track down and change dozens of listings one-at-a-time when your information changes. And, with LawLytics Listings on your side, it’s just as easy to change that information back whenever you are ready to do so.
Take the Stress out of Online Listings Management For Your Law Firm
Management of your law firm’s online listings is an important piece of your law firm website’s local SEO efforts. And your firm’s ability to appear in local search results can have a direct effect on the amount of traffic to your law firm website and, therefore, on your ability to attract potential clients to your firm. But, as the number of sites containing your firm’s information continues to grow, it is becoming more and more difficult to manage that information effectively without some way to look at and correct multiple data points at the same time.
LawLytics Listings makes this process painless and easy. You supply the information you want your potential clients to see online, and we make sure it displays correctly across dozens of online entities while protecting against the appearance of incorrect data on those listings moving forward. That way, not only can you begin improving your firm’s local search rankings and attracting more potential clients to your law firm website, but you’ll also have more time to focus on what matters most — your clients.
Follow this link for more information about LawLytics Listings, or schedule a call with us to learn more about the current state of your law firm’s online information with a free scan of your firm’s information online.