Google uses three factors to determine authority in local searches: relevancy, proximity, authority. Google must be able to determine which websites are worthy to rank higher than others.

  • Relevance (Is the domain’s content relevant to the searcher?) );
  • Proximity (Is your business in the same city as the searcher?
  • Authority (Your overall website authority is measured by many factors including site speed, content quality, and links from other sites).

Google actually uses thousands of ranking signals. Each one has a different weight. Although factors related to user experience such as site speed and relevance are important, you won’t rank well for personal injury keywords that are competitive without links.
Google considers links back to your website from other websites a vote for confidence. This can boost your ranking over other law firms if a trusted authority website links to you, such as a hospital or news site.
You will rank for key keywords if you do things right and gain authority. Let’s now look at which keywords you can rank for.

How Potential Clients Find Your Law Firm

A keyword is what someone types into Google to search for something. A keyword can be a single word, several words, or even a sentence. These keywords are also known as key-phrases.
These are two types of keywords potential clients might enter into a search engine. This is how we will refer them in this book.

A sample Google search for the keyword: Car Accident Lawyers“ (GJEL) 

Car Accident Lawyer This is a transactional key where potential clients are likely to be looking for a car accident lawyer. These keywords are also known as “money keywords” and “head keywords”.
What do I need to do if my car is damaged in an accident? This is a question-based keyword which is higher up the marketing funnel. The potential client is still researching and has not decided whether they should hire a lawyer. These are often called “long tail keywords”.

How Your Law Firm Can Be Ranked in Search Results

Google Search Results can use a variety of jargon.
I ran a Google search for the keyword “Personal injury lawyer”. These are some of the results we get:
Local Services Ads: This is a new service for attorneys. It’s available through Google’s Product, which is a pay-per-lead service.

Paid Ads (also known as Google Ads [PPC], Search Engine Marketing [SEM], or Pay Per Click [PPC]) are indicated by the green “ad text” shown below. These ads appear at the top of Google Search Results pages.

An example of paid ads in Google Search Results

The local package (also known as the local pack or local results). Sometimes, four results will be displayed here if an advertisement is in the 3-pack. The “advertisement” text will mark it.
These ads are usually displayed underneath paid ads when a query has local intent. Some keyword searches won’t contain a 3-pack. A 3-pack might not be displayed in search results if you search for a long tail keyword or non-transactional keywords.

Organic Results (these are the blue hyperlinks) – these organic results usually display under the 3-pack. These results will usually show up in a Google search. The majority of search real estate is taken up by organic search results.
Based on where you search, many results that rank high in organic search results will be displayed. If I search for “Personal Injury Lawyer” in Houston or Boston, I will see results that are closest to me mixed with national rankings (firms that rank all over the country).

A typical example of organic results on the search engines results page

Google Maps If you click on a listing for a local pack, you will be taken to a larger list of law firms. This is the local searcher. It displays all relevant local results and ads. Below is an example of ads placed in top two companies in the local searcher.

Potential clients can search using the Google Maps website and phone app. The display of results may vary from the 3-pack or local finder, even though all data is connected through your Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business).

An example of the maps on a computer 

FAQ Formatting – This is another piece of code that you can add to pages to make more search space.
There are many more features available, but the ones listed here are the most important. It is possible to rank organically within the local pack by using a featured snippet or FAQ/Review Schema.