NC Bar Learning Objectives: Google My Business w/ Gyi Tsakalakis

NC Bar Learning Objectives: Google My Business w/ Gyi Tsakalakis

– [Catherine] Okay, so welcome everyone to the learning objectives program today which is on Google My Business, and our guest presenter is Gyi Tsakalakis. Gyi is with AttorneySync, which is a law firm internet
marketing company in Chicago, and I have asked Gyi
here today to help us out because he’s one of the
smartest people I know. So, Gyi, I’m gonna let you take it away. – [Gyi] Well that’s a
very kind introduction, and I appreciate that
and thanks for everybody for tuning in as Catherine mentioned. We will have some time to take questions, but please feel free to
enter questions in the chat as we go along. I try to balance this with
some basics, intermediate, and some more advanced Google
My Business information, and so yep, we’re talking
Google My Business. I’m Gyi. I was a trial attorney,
founded AttorneySync. Here’s some more stuff about me. We have some podcasts, Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, Clienting. I’m a co-chair of the ABA’s
online development committee, and I do some advising to legal tech so I’m fully immersed at the intersection of law practice and technology. And if you have additional questions, you can find me at
Twitter, or at my website. So I’m going to do some
live demonstrations today as opposed to slides. And so, as we talk about
Google My Business, let’s start with, who cares? Why do we care about
Google My Business at all? And the answer is, is
that Google My Business is likely to be the instance
of first impression, for anybody that looks you up online. So whether they get referred
to you, a friend refers them, a family member refers them, a
colleague refers them to you, they’re going to likely
look you up online. So here’s a Google
search engine result page for my friend Steve Gursten
who’s an attorney in Michigan. And this big box on the right, that has a picture of Steve and his name, and reviews and his address,
and his appointments, that’s generated by Google My Business. And so you can see that
takes up a lot of real estate on a search engine result page and so this is a important component to your web marketing strategy for visibility for searches on your name and in a variety of other
searches that we’ll talk about. Here’s an example for Levinson and Stefani, it’s a firm here in Chicago. Again, search on the firm’s
name, this big box on the right, all of that information is generated from the firm’s Google
My Business listing. Here’s an attorney at the firm. So again, another example,
a lot of real estate for searches on the firm name. So the point here that I
try to make with people is that people say well,
you know my clients, I don’t really rely on the internet. What I’m trying to impress upon you is is that even if it’s not
the unbranded search, it’s not the category search
like personal injury lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, DUI
lawyer, searches on your name and your firm name, which
we would call brand search, those searches, the
instance of first impression is likely going to be a
Google My Business listing in one form or another. Just some quick other examples
of Google My Business. This is what we would
call an unbranded search for personal injury lawyer in Raleigh, and so this whole box with the map here, and these little local pack
listings we’ll talk more about, that’s also Google My Business. Again, a lot of real estate. If you have your phone with you, you pop open a search on your phone, and you’ll see if you do one
of these types of searches, or search on a lawyers’ name
or some kind of legal search, it commands like the
whole screen on your phone because there’s just not that much room, and so right, you got ads to start, but after the ads you’ve got usually for these types of searches, you got these local pack listings. Here’s another example of some searches in for lawyers that show up primarily for those types of
searches in North Carolina. So I tried to give you a local example. And so as you look at these results, and you ask yourself you know, if you’re searching on your
own name or your firm name, are you generating a one box? Are you seeing this information? Sometimes we’ll see lawyers
that the pictures that, the images that they use, or the reviews, or there’s missing
information, that kind of stuff plays some role in the
mind of your next client because they’re thinking,
you know, either the lawyer’s just not on the ball with
what’s going on online, or if it’s a negative review, obviously that becomes
an online reputation kind of liability issue,
or there might be images or videos that don’t
best reflect your firm. And so, that’s what we
want to talk about today, is how to use Google My Business to really put your best foot forward for these types of searches. So here’s an example for an attorney. There’s no one box, and so again you’re not getting the same kind of rich information and making it easier for your potential clients
to find that information about you online. And just one more final example and we’ll get into the meat and potatoes, but this is if you’re a multi-location. So one of the questions
that always comes up is what can you actually
have in terms of listings? And per Google’s guidelines,
you get a listing for every physical office location, and you also get one
for every practitioner. So you can’t create listings for every different practice
area that your firm does, but for physical office
locations and practitioners, being the number of the
actual lawyers at your firm, you can have a listing for each of those, and so there are a variety
of strategies you can do. Talk a little bit about that. But, you know, for this type, this firm has got multiple office locations, and you can see them on this
map, and that’s permissible. So again, it’s just a great way to highlight the different locations and information about each of
those locations at your firm. So in the final example here, you can see, not the same kind of experience as we saw with some of the lawyers that are including images of themselves and client testimonials in that one box. Just a different experience for them. Okay, so if you want to get
started with Google My Business, the easiest way to do it is just to go to search for Google My Business. You will see it lives
at It’ll pop up this page, and
if you’re already on it, this will give you, you can sign in and then we’ll talk about
the actual dashboard. If you’re not, the first
step would be to search for your business in there. So, what you don’t wanna do
is create a duplicate listing. So when you click on the
add new location button, you will see it’ll prompt you to search for your business name and so, you know, I’ll just use my business as an example. When it finds it, you wanna
use the existing business. So this might be a little bit confusing, but Google pulls data in
from all sorts of sources, offline data, online data, other websites. So even if you’ve never created a Google My Business listing, Google might have information
about your firm already there. And this is important because if you just create a new business and you create a duplicate, that can create problems
for you down the road. So it’s really important that you start by searching for existing listings of your firm, and of you as
an individual practitioner, before you create a new one. If nothing shows up, then it’s fine. You can create a new one, and you can go through the process of creating it, but I always like to start that off when you’re for people that
have never used this before, you’ll create more headaches for yourself if you start creating duplicate listings, by not checking to see
if it already exists. Another thing I just wanted to bring up because again this is
gonna be an hour long and I can’t teach you everything. But I want to make sure that
you have some resources here to do some additional learning. Google My Business has really
extensive documentation on how to actually use
it, problem solving. They also have a really
robust community of experts that will walk you through problems. ‘Cause it’s not as
intuitive and easy to use as we’d like it to be,
and so getting some help from the community, this a
great place to go to get that. The other thing that I want to bring up, and we’ll walk through each of these as part of this conversation, are the guidelines for
representing your business. So these are basically the
Google My Business guidelines. These are the rules, and if
you break Google’s rules, they can slap you pretty hard. In fact you know, we’ve seen
listings hard suspensions soft suspensions, they don’t show up for, listings won’t show up for
searches on the firm’s name. So I’m a very like follow the
guidelines the best you can. They’re not always super clear, and there are some things you can do to work around some of them. The most common example of
that is people say oh well, I’m using keywords in my business name. If you do that, and it
gets reported as spam, it can get filtered. On the other hand, if you
actually change your firm name to include keywords, and
that’s what it’s registered with the state, and that’s
what it’s registered with the bar, then that’s okay. So for example if you wanted to be, you know if it’s, just talk about me, I’d say it’s like Gyi’s Injury Law Firm, and I’m using injury in the keyword. If that’s the actual trade name, and you can correct me if I’m wrong ’cause it you know, varies state by state. I’m actually not off the top my head, can’t remember of North
Carolina permits trade names. But if they did, then
that might be something you can consider. If they don’t, then just
stick to the actual name of your firm. So let’s get into the actual dashboard. so after you actually
created your listing, and again, I’m gonna use
my listing as an example, you get this nice interface. This is the behind the scenes of how you can actually add information to your My Google Business listing. So a couple things. One is the first, we’re gonna
start with the basic info. The basic info is the most important piece because this is going to dictate how Google understands
information about your business and where they show your listing. So the business name field,
again, use your firm name, or if it’s, you know, if
it’s practitioner listing just use your name. Then next is the category field. They suggest, Google suggests
using as few categories that most accurately
represent your business. We’ve played around with this. I tend to say stick to
one primary category. Some issues that happen here are that say you have a practice that you do personal
injury, criminal defense, and bankruptcy, and family law, so it’s maybe a more
general practice firm, and you wanna include all those categories in your listing. The challenge becomes when people, when consumers do searches,
the category that shows up might not be the category that reflects the search that they did. So what happens is,
someone, say personal injury is like 80% of your practice, and someone does a search
for personal injury lawyer in your location, and then
in the local pack box, it’ll actually show one
of your other categories. And then the consumer is going to say, well, okay, then that, this doesn’t match what I’m searching for. So I try to really stay
stick to a primary category, whatever the most bang
for your marketing buck is online that you
practice, use that category. And maybe use, you know,
if it’s personal injury maybe also add trial lawyer, but you want it to be the
most specific category that is the majority of your practice. And unfortunately, it’s Google’s world so, I know lawyers get frustrated,
and they say well I, you know, I’m 30-30-30% of
these three practice areas, so what should I do? And my answer usually still
is focus on one category for the location, and then maybe
you try something different like a different category
for practitioner page so you can get some coverage on other categories, but the
more that you add in here, the more confusion
issues that you’re likely to run into from category perspective. Okay, next is your address. Just a note here, this
should be intuitive, but use your correct business address. Unfortunately, if you are
a completely virtual firm, you’re not eligible
for Google My Business, so, you know, Google is really trying to reflect businesses
in Google My Business in the local pack that
have physical locations that customers, in our case clients, actually can come in to the location. So if you’re in a co-working space like a WeWork or something like that, those tend to be okay. It’s hit or miss. If you try to use like a
Regis, really hit or miss, whether or not they’ll
show in the local pack. You can’t use a PO box. It’s gotta be a physical office. And I know a lot of lawyers, too, will do like the sharing
’cause they want more coverage across the state. Again that’s hit or miss, too, because say you’re
sharing a office location with another lawyer. There’s some filtering that can go on where your listing just will never show up in the local pack. It will show up for searches on your name, but for those non-brand category searches, it’s very difficult to have them show up. Service area, don’t add service areas. That’s for a different type. That’s for if you’re actually
like a local service business with a service area where
you actually go to customers. So think more like a home
improvement contractor, that would be a service area. Don’t add service area. If you do that, you can run into problems with actually showing up in the packs. Hours of operation, you want
that to reflect the times that you’re actually
able to answer the phone and respond to customers. Google really wants that to
be a reflection of the time that you actually have
clients come to your office. But we found that you,
you can really go with, as long as someone’s answering the phone for verification purposes, you can really open up the hours, and so that’s an important
one to think about in terms of when clients
are likely to call you or potential clients
are likely to call you. So, you know, and this
is a business decision that every lawyer’s gotta think about, but if you have nine to five
and you are a DUI lawyer or a lawyer that tends to get clients who need their help or potential clients who are gonna call them in
the evening, those searches, it’s going to reflect in a local pack that your office is closed
outside of those hours, and so for people that
don’t know you, new clients, they’re gonna be less likely to call you during the office, your
office being closed, especially for those more
urgent types of practices where they actually need you. So that’s really important to think about, what you, maximizing the hours that you can actually
respond to the phone. And then you can do, there’s
special holiday hours and things like that. Okay, the next thing is your phone number. This is really important. Historically, the local SEO community has been pushing this idea of, you have to have consistent
name, address, phone. They call it NAP if you search for this. You’ll see people talking about NAP, but that just means name, address, phone, and it’s gotta be
consistent across the web. That’s one of the things,
that consistency Google uses as a factor in how they
show your listings. However, recently, maybe
in the last year or two, Google has allowed, or at
least seemingly allowed, for a tracking number to go into your Google My Business profile. So what I recommend is a primary
toll free tracking number as your main domain number in your Google My Business listing, and as an alternative number
your actual local phone number. It’s important that your
actual local phone number is in there because that will
help with the consistency. But the real advantage here is if you use a tracking
number, especially toll free, that you can actually see calls that are dedicated to that listing. So if that tracking number only existed in your Google My Business profile, when you’re, if you use
some software like Call Real or some other call tracking, you can actually measure how many calls you’re getting specifically from your Google My Business listing, and now you can hold your Google My Business
listing accountable for actually generating, you know, new potential client calls. The reason I recommend
the toll free number versus the local number, and
there’s different viewpoints on this as well, is
because some consumers, legal for most consumers in
the primary practice areas like personal injury,
bankruptcy, criminal defense, and that kind of stuff, they,
proximity matters a lot, and so proximity of your office to where they’re searching matters, and so if they see an area code
that seems foreign to them, they’re going to be less likely to call, so that’s why I say toll free. On the other hand, if you have a area code that matches where they are, that’s going to be very compelling to them because it’s very local, and
so some lawyers will say, oh, I’d rather have the local area code because that’s going to
attract my local clients. But just keep in mind
that for those people that might not be sure of the area code, they’re going to be less
inclined to call you than they might be if
it’s a toll free number. And so it really depends on
your geographic location, the area that you wanna serve, you know, how area codes are laid out in your area. Okay, next issue is the short name. You can update your short name. Make it simple. Don’t make it super long. You should reflect your
actual business name or your name if it’s a
practitioner listing, not a lot of fanciness there. Next is the website. Actually, I’ve got some
questions rolling in I’m just gonna try to
jump on real quick here ’cause they’re relevant
in this context here. So first yes, there’s
been, it was confirmed that we can use a trade name, but it has to be submitted to
the state bar for approval. Can we control the outside photo on GMB? My firm’s pic has a
ridiculous parking lot pic. The answer is you can’t
control it-control it, but you can certainly influence it by adding more pictures of the attorneys. So, I would, my suggestion is, and we’ll go through this in
the actual photos section, but you can add different
sections of photos, and you really can
influence it a lot there versus just having, if you
don’t have any pictures like Google’s pulling a Google Map. That’s probably why you’re
seeing the parking lot. For hours, can you do by appointment? So the real issue there
is, is it, so it depends on what the question is. If you’re saying that
your office is closed except for by appointment,
then I would say that’s not gonna be great
for Google My Business. You really want to have the hour, like a steady hours of operation because otherwise, anytime
that you put, anything that, anytime it’s closed it’s going
to show your office closed during that time period
on Google My Business, and so for me, an acquisition strategy, it’s not a great way to do that because you want your offices to show open so people are actually
more inclined to call you. Okay, what about using
Google phone number? Google number is a primary
number, actual number secondary. So Google, you can use
a Google phone number, but it needs to be your, that needs to be your local number that
you’re using everywhere, so back to this idea of NAP consistency. If you use a Google number in one place, but you have a different
number on your website, and a different number
on your ABA listing, and different number somewhere else, that’s gonna create NAP inconsistency and it’s going to make your
Google My Business listing less likely to show up in the local pack. So again, if you’re going to use a local, whether it’s a Google
number or a tracking number or whatever, that local
number has to be the number that lives in the what they would call the quote-unquote local search ecosystem. You wanna use that number everywhere. Okay that covers those questions. Feel free to keep sending ’em in. Appreciate that. Let’s move on to website. So the two fields for website that they’re currently
listed in the dashboard, are your websites, the actual,
it’s just the homepage, and then an appointment URL. And so you can either use a, you know, we use a contact page on our site, but you could also use
some kind of scheduling, use Calendly, or if you use
Acuity or something like that, you can use that appointment URL. That will show up in the listing. And you’ll notice on our listing, we’ve got these UTM parameters. So this is a little bit
kind of a pro tip here. If you track, if you add UTM
parameters to your listing, it’ll show these visits in
both your search console data. That’s probably topic for another day, but search console basically
tracks organic data from Google so you can
see like the queries that people use and the number of times a search was performed and the clicks on that particular URL. We can also see the Google Analytics, and so this is again one of my big things is attribution and tracking. You know, all this stuff
is marketing gobbledygook unless you’re actually tracking this back to qualify potential clients who are turning into actual clients. And so, adding UTM
parameters is a great way to hold your Google My Business listing, or your agency or marketing vendor people, accountable for actually
generating phone calls and potential clients because you can see in your search console and analytics data clicks and conversions
and analytics, at least, specifically from your
Google My Business listing. So if UTM parameters is new to you, you can go read about those, but I recommend at least trying to add a GMB campaign
parameter to both your website and your appointment URL
so you can track those. You can also add, when
we talk about posts, you can add those to post URLs so you can track the clicks
that are specifically generated by Google My Business post URLs through Google My Business listing. Services is a newish feature. You can add different services in here. I haven’t seen a ton of them popping up. They sometimes will pop
up in the local finder in a local pack results,
so if you add like, you know, free consultation
or things like that. You can, sometimes you can generate those in the local finder listing. I think it’s a clever thing to do, but it’s not, I don’t think
it’s imperative at this stage. I think it’s likely Google will make that a little bit more robust in the future, but right now, not a huge issue. Highlights, you can
call certain things out if you have, again, free
consultation lawyer. This is really intended for businesses that have more like discount codes or special offers, stuff like that. If you have those at your firm, if you’re offering different things besides just consultations, that might be an area to
highlight those things. And then the description, description, you want to try to fill
out as best you can in terms of both eloquently
positioning yourself as an expert, as well as using keywords in the description field
because those types of things will help Google understand
what it is you do, so again, category keywords
like practice, practice area, plus lawyer, plus location, those are kind of
essential to have in there. But you can also add
some additional things that are likely to be good descriptors for the types of questions
that people have. But really we’ll get
into the Q and A section of the Google My Business listing. That’s a better place to do that. And then date open, and then photos. Okay, so that’s the basic info. That’s like the main kind of point of getting your business
information correct. And again, make sure that it’s consistent. It has to be, the addresses and the phone and the business name
have to be the same here as they are on your website and a variety of other places across the web. That’s really, really important. Okay, the next big section
that we’re gonna talk about right now is reviews. And so, finding ways to
motivate happy clients to leave reviews on
Google My Business is key because those are going to show up again on that instance of first impression of searches on your name,
you’re going to see the reviews populate right in the one box, and they’re also gonna
populate in the local pack. And so after you do the basic information, this is probably the most
important thing to focus on. You’ve gotta get, think it’s a five stars. I don’t know if this is still true as they’ve been, Google’s
been playing around with this, but it used to be that you
had to get at least five stars for them to start showing, or five reviews to start showing reviews. And so focus on getting happy clients to leave reviews on your website. That’s a whole other conversation, too, but it should be a priority in terms of searches on your name. People expect to be able
to see what it’s like to work with you, and that’s going to be primarily through clients that
you’ve had experience with, other colleagues. Google has guidelines on who, what reviews are actually okay. You know, you don’t want to
get into the swapping thing. I see lawyers that will be like,
well I’ll give you a review if you give me a review. I wouldn’t do quid pro quo swapping, but it’s okay, in my view of it, it’s okay if you have colleagues leave reviews, but you don’t want it to just be purely quid pro quo like that. Th other thing that I would suggest is if you do seminars or if you teach or if you take leadership positions, those are also ways that
people can leave you a review. So you know, if someone watches
your seminar or teaching, or maybe you have a, excuse me, a prompt in your email signature that says hey, if you had a a great experience with our firm, you know, click here to let the world
know, stuff like that. That’ll help people leave more reviews that aren’t necessarily
clients retained in fact. You know, we have
attorneys that have reviews on their Google My Business listing that will say things
like, although, you know, this lawyer didn’t
handle the types of cases that I needed help with, they referred me to a lawyer who did, and
I really appreciate that. That’s a totally fine
review in my view of it. You know, the people that
actually work at Google might take slightly different review, but go read the guideline. It’s open to some interpretation there. My view of it is, if
they have an experience with your firm or staff
experience with you that was positive, then
that’s okay for a review. Okay, next section, the section
is the messaging section. So this is actually,
you can prompt a message right from your Google
My Business dashboard so that people can contact you. It won’t show your phone number. It’ll show a prompt for a messaging. It’s kinda like a chat
through Google My Business, but again this is a great
way to reduce the friction for people that are
looking for information about your firm to contact you. You also want to make
sure that whatever number this goes to, if it’s your cell phone, or if it’s some other
number that’s regular, it’s gotta be regularly monitored because you don’t want people thinking they’re able to contact you, and then you’re not responding to it. That creates all sorts of problems. But, and you can turn messaging off. If you don’t wanna receive messages through Google My Business,
you can turn it off, but it is a very frictionless way for people to actually
just connect with you right from the search on
your name, immediately. Okay, so those are the big
ones that I wanted to cover. There are a couple of, oh, may as well cover post real quick. So post allows you to
basically generate a post in your Google My Business listing. So we do a lot of different things like the marketer,
marketing people would call like top of funnel, bottom of funnel tests in your post, so you might do things like community service outreach, advocacy. You can include client
testimonials in here, and they’ll pop up in your one box. Again, Google tests these
things all the time, so the position of them is moving a lot, but you can add buttons to them, so if you’ve got pages
or posts on your website that you wanna highlight, drive
people back to your website, this is a great way to do that. You can also add UTM parameters to this so you can track the actual performance of your Google posts. Really, really popular way to do that, if you do events, or again
if you have a have some kind of offer at your firm,
these are great ways to highlight these things in your actual one box listing or your Google My Business
local pack finder listing. So I encourage you to
explore those, as well. Okay, I wanted to say a word
on this website builder thing. So if you don’t have a website, you might consider using
Google’s Website Builder. It’s built right into Google My Business. There are debates about how Google might give some preference to using their website builder tool. It’s very basic. It’s not that easy to use, in my opinion, and there was all sorts of other problems, so this should really
be like the fallback, fallback, fallback website builder. You know I’m a big WordPress person. If you’re not using WordPress and you wanna just do something simple, I would suggest checking out Squarespace. But if you can’t, if you’re not, don’t wanna use either of those, you can check out the website builder that’s built into Google My Business. But it is pretty limited, but it will highlight
your basic information and integrates directly
with Google My Business. So that’s nice. Okay, so this is the frequently
asked questions section of the Google My Business documentation. I’m not gonna cover all of these, but I thought I would just
highlight a few of them. One is that Google My Business is free. If I didn’t mention
that, that’s a big one, and I know that comes out is like, how much does all of this
cost, which is really nice. And then the other big one
is the eligibility issue. And I’ll just reiterate that you have to have a physical office. Google My Business is not intended for online virtual offices, and so if you don’t
have a physical office, you really can’t do anything
with Google My Business. And, you know, people
will try to get around it with a PO box or some kind
of temporary virtual office, and PO boxes won’t work at all. I’ve seen it hit or miss
with the virtual offices like a Regis, but really your best bet is just find other ways to get visibility for
searches on your name besides Google My Business if you are a purely virtual office. And I thought it would
be worth mentioning, Google has support for Google My Business. It’s not great, but if
you’re running into problems and you get a suspension, or
if there’s an edit to your site or to your listing that you don’t want, this is an avenue to try to
make an update or contact them. So, just wanted to point that out. There is some support. It could be improved, but
it’s better than none. So, just wanted to point that out. Okay, so now that we’ve
kind of covered the basics, let’s talk about some of
the more advanced things for folks that have, they’ve
already claimed their profiles on Google My Business. They kinda got a sense,
but they really came here to see how do I get my
business, my listing, to show up in the local pack. So this is their, the most important page from Google’s perspective on
ranking in the local pack. If you just search for
improve your local ranking on Google, you’ll see it. You can see obviously the
URL in the browser here, but there are three major factors that go into how Google
shows your business, and I’m gonna skip down to these, and they’re relevance,
distance, and prominence. So relevance is basically
matching the search. So when someone’s, based on their location and the type of search
query that they enter, it needs to match, and so
how do you impact relevance? Well, it’s things like
does your business name match the practice area
that they searched on? Does your, do your categories match? Is there information and
keywords in the reviews that are left on your
Google My Business listing that match the searcher’s query, both location as well
as topic information? So the more that you can
get the relevance factor to match what the searcher’s doing, the more likely Google’s
gonna make that connection, and so including keyword information, frequently asked question information, both on your website and in
your Google My Business listing where appropriate, that’s gonna help improve your relevance factor. The second is distance. Distance can’t do, there’s
not much you can do about distance unless you’re
gonna open a new office, and so, you know, that’s
another business decision. But distance is basically
Google’s calculation of both the intent of the searcher, so that might be if the
searcher used a city or state or neighborhood, or
some kind of location modifier in their query, and how far that is from where your actual office is or where your particular practitioner
page listing address is. It’s a calculation that they’re doing based on a variety of factors. There’s not much you can do about it except for considering
where you have your office, and I know lawyers who have moved because they wanted to have
an office in a particular area to serve a particular location of clients, and the closer that, the
more that you’re able to limit that proximity, the
more likely it is to show up. And again, I know this is
frustrating for a lot of lawyers, and they’ll say well,
you know, I would take, I’m a personal injury lawyer,
and for the right case I would take clients anywhere in my state. And unfortunately that’s just not how Google My Business works. If you’re focused on doing that, while there are some things
you can do to influence it, you’re better off thinking
about running ads. Ads, you can have a lot
of control of location. Your organic listings, you just
don’t have that much impact. And in fact, when we talk about it, I’m gonna show you what tool you can use to actually show an overlay of a map of how well you rank in a particular area, you’ll see that it changes,
the local packs will change, especially in major markets. Like I’m in Chicago. I’ll walk across the street, and I’ll get a different local pack as I walk downtown, and so
there’s just not a lot you can do to influence a distance metric, except for the third
thing, which is prominence. So the more prominence that you have, you can influence the area in
which your listing shows up. So that might be a little bit confusing, but what you’re really
doing is just saying, hey, we’re really well-known law firm that deserves a lot of visibility, and so Google will show you
in a wider geographic area. And so if you’ve got firms that are kind of dominating the area, it’s mostly because of
this prominence factor. The biggest prominence factor is that, you know, the traditional SEO
type stuff, are like links. And so that’s a whole
conversation for another day, but I wanted to at least
touch upon the interplay between traditional notions of SEO and Google My Business because
for competitive practices in competitive locations, the
prominence factor is the one that you really need to focus on. That’s gonna move the dial
in terms of showing up for, you know, queries that are outside of just your business name, so you know, if you think about like the practice area plus location plus lawyer type of search, it’s going to be this prominence factor that makes the biggest difference in how well you show up in those listings. So a question, Google verifies
your address via postcard. Yes, there’s a couple different ways that they do verification,
and it’s really important. Actually that’s great question. I’m glad you brought that up because you have to verify your address, or you have to verify your listing in order for it to
actually start populating. And so, you know, I see
lawyers run into problems where they, you know the address is wrong, or they got a suite number wrong and they never get the postcard, and it takes some time to do that. So you wanna be aware that you actually have
to verify your listing. But I think, and I apologize because I haven’t done
this in a little while, but they also had a phone
verification option. So there’re two, or at
least in historical, they’ve been two, but
the postcard verification is the most common way that that happens. Okay, so I wanted to make a point and point out this Local Falcon tool. It’s a really valuable forum,
a local SEO perspective. I’m just gonna log in here to my account, but essentially what happens here is, you can run a scan to see
a particular visibility for a firm. So in here you just enter your name, the primary keyword
that you want to focus. You can set a radius and a grid size, and it will populate. And so a couple points
I want to make here. Number one is, if you search for, in your area or on your phone
for your category query, it’s not gonna be a reflection of what other people might see. And so the point being
that results are really, really personalized now,
and really localized. And so this tool basically just pulls in from Google’s Maps API. So if this doesn’t include all
the personalization aspects that you might get if you’re
searching on your phone, but it gives you a good
sense of your visibility, and so what I really
wanna point out here is, again for lawyers that, you know, this is a search around
the San Francisco area. You can see that this
firm does really, really, has great visibility in San Francisco, but as you zoom out, it
becomes much more difficult to rank without actually
opening those offices, and this tool also, if you click into it, you can see the specific other listings that are populating
for Google My Business. One thing that I really
like to look at in here is this is good for competitor research. So you can actually
see, how does this firm, what is this firm doing
that’s causing them to have such great visibility? And then you can look and,
you know, do all the analysis on their sites and backlink profile and all that kind of stuff. So that’s a really helpful way to understand like who’s
actually the market share leader for Google My Business
in your particular area. The other thing I wanted to point out just to demonstrate the value
of adding the UTM parameters, so this is search console
data for our firm, and if you have, so now
I’ve isolated, that these. These are the impressions and clicks that came through my
Google My Business listing and the appointment URL. And so if you filter by this
and you just look at these, you can actually also see the queries, and so this becomes really important. A query is just another
term for the search, so obviously you can see
people that are searched on by the company name, but then all these other
non category searches. So the same thing you can do for your firm if you have the UTM parameters, and this becomes very helpful because you can see what types of volume there are for different search queries that are local to you. It might impact if you buy
those keywords on AdWords, or Google Ads now, it might impact how you create content on your site or optimize your pages. It also is a good reflection
if you do offline advertising. So if you’re not, if you’re
doing a lot of TV or billboards, you should see more searches on your name and your firm name showing
up in search console because again, when people are watching those advertisements, they are, they’re sitting
their with their phone, and so they’re gonna start
searching on your name and your firm name. So this is a good way to track
that kind of brand search through your local pack listing. So that’s a really, really
important thing to think about. And then the same thing. This is the Google Analytics data. So this is filtered for,
because we’ve tagged it with, we had the parameter
GMB, so this is filtered for campaign GMP Google organic. You can actually see the
visits that come through from your Google My Business
listing in your analytics data. And again, you can in analytics,
you’ve got goals set up, you can actually track this to phone calls and form fills and live chats, and now you’re doing
specific source attribution from Google My Business, all the way through to your CRM. Now you can do return on ad spending and return on investment calculation specifically for your
Google My Business listing, which is really, really powerful and important in terms of
allocating resources of time and money to online marketing in general. You can also do it for Google My Business, and so I thought it’s
worth pointing that out. Question. So advice for posting
address for law firms that share office space. Yeah, this is a tough one. So I’ll just read the whole thing. So a law firm shares a historic house with several other firms. Google gets confused,
and multiple law firms have the same address Would you recommend adding suite A or some other mediation,
or will that confuse Google more than the suite, doesn’t
really officially exist. This is a tough one. So, I’ve seen it work a variety of ways. If the firms, so let’s just
kind of lay of the land here. They’re all in a historic building, multiple firms in a historic building. If those firms are all
in the same category, you got, it’s gonna be very
difficult for multiple firms to rank for those
category terms in Google, and so I would honestly
in those situations, if Google My Business is
going to be a priority for you from an acquisition standpoint, I would consider a different location. I know people hate to hear that, but it’s just, to get
two of the same practices at the same address to
show up at the same, in the same practice
area, same categories, is very, very difficult to do, and you’re more likely
that one is gonna appear and the other one’s gonna get filtered. Now, if they’re different practices, they’re different categories,
so you got, you know, we’ll say firm one is personal injury and firm two is criminal defense, and you have different categories in your Google My Business listing, and you have different suite numbers, then yes, I think that you can probably get around that problem. And so creating a, an
artificial suite number at the office I think is fine. But the bigger issue is
the categorization stuff. So if it’s the same practice area, it’s gonna be very difficult, and of course you don’t
wanna share a phone number, and obviously you don’t
wanna share a firm name. But the same category,
same practice areas, in the same location,
one of those listings is likely to get filtered, so
that’s a major issue there. And then the follow up question is, well can we focus on a
practitioner listing? And the answer is yes, but the problem is is like to Google, they
don’t care about practitioner versus physical office from a, like they don’t distinguish those. They’re just listings to Google, and so one is still probably
going to become the one that shows, and the other
one’s gonna get filtered whether it’s a office listing
or a practitioner listing. But what you could do is, is you don’t, you could go to a co-working space and pay the couple hundred bucks a month for the address, and then
use your practitioner listing over there, and that way
now you’ve got separation between the addresses, but
the shared office space is a really thorny issue. And I know it’s frustrating, but if you’ve got the
same type of practice and you’re in the same address, one is gonna, one firm
is gonna be the winner, and most of the other ones
are gonna get filtered out. It’s not always the case,
but most of the time that’s what we tend to see. Another thing that I wanted to point out in the actual interface
is the insights section, and people get a little
bit misled about this. So, this is queries. This is Google’s Google My Business data. And it’s important recognize
that your insights data from Google My Business,
your search console data, and your Google Analytics data are totally different data sets, and so they’re not gonna match. And so you’ll say, oh I don’t understand why this I’m getting
this traffic over here in Google Analytics, and it’s
different in search console, different in insights, and the answer is, that data has been
generated a different way. But it is a, they’re
useful data points to look for directional trends, so
we should hopefully over time you’re seeing is that
people are showing up both for discovery and direct. Discovery is people that are searching on like the practice area type terms, and direct are people that are searching for your business, business name. This is not super accurate data, so don’t conclude that when you see, oh, this is total of 377 views
that that’s how many times your listing showed up. It’s just, they don’t
match apples to apples. The other big one that
I want to point out here is the call tracking issue. So keep in mind that when
you, this call you data that’s generated by Google My Business typically under-reports,
and the reason is that is because the only way that
Google can track the call is on a mobile click to call, right? so this data is not tracking
if someone’s actually looking at your Google My Business
listing on a desktop, and they call your
number from their phone. That will not be reported in here. And so that’s why it’s so important to use a call tracking number and something like Call Rail
or call tracking metrics or the millions of other
call tracking tools. So you can actually track calls that are to that dedicated
number in Google My Business. Don’t rely on this as an indicator of how many calls you’re getting for your Google My Business message, Google My Business call data. It’s just not, it’s
usually under-reporting, and so keep that in mind. Now messages, messages is
a more accurate reflection ’cause the only way that you
can actually generate a message through here is to actually click into the message interface, and so those are actually more accurate, and driving directions requests
are also rather accurate. Visits is not that accurate. So again, keep this in mind directionally, but don’t use this to be like, oh, I got this many phone calls from my Google My Business listing ’cause it’s just usually not accurate. And then there’s some
more information in there. Let’s go back to the photos section just to bring up a couple points because one of, just some strategic things that we’ve seen that are good
from a photos perspective. So, it was brought up earlier, can you influence the actual photos? And so that’s going to be
under the identity tab, and so they have a logo
section and a cover section. That’s, those are those are your best ways to influence the identity,
but I would also add team pictures, pictures at work. You can also add videos here at work. You can add outside pictures. So if you have, like, if your
office is a selling point for your practice, that’s
a good place to do that. It also gives people like
geographic landmarks, so they can actually tell if
they were trying to find you. Interior pictures, videos are
really compelling, as well, especially if you’re, if
it’s permissible to use, if you have clients that
are willing to do video, get their consent, and they are happy to do the video testimonial, video testimonials in Google My Business are really powerful because, again, that first impression that pops up is a client speaking on your behalf before they even get to your website. That’s a really powerful tool. You can have them do, you
can actually add 360 videos or 360 renderings of your office. That’s a little bit
overkill in my opinion. But, and then obviously
if you have clients that can come, that come to
you that are posting pictures, this is not as common for law firms. You know, most practices,
people aren’t coming to actually share pictures, but if you put a sign up and
say hey, share your picture, that might be something, but,
again, the big thing here is that all of your ethical obligations apply to Google My
Business just like they do in the real world, and
so client confidences and all that kind of
stuff, you gotta think about the systems that you put in place and the prompts you put in place if you’re gonna have people
actually share information through Google My Business,
because you don’t want them to blow confidences and stuff like that. Okay, that covers the photos section. That’s probably one of
the most important things because again when you go
back to the actual listing, the photos is one of the first things that people are gonna click on. And so, you know, you can
do branding, messaging, showing lawyers at work is a good idea, putting client testimonials in here. So for example in this firm,
they actually load some video, you know, speaking engagements,
but also video testimonials. There’s a tab for video. And so the layer’s speaking,
as well as client testimonials in there, that’s a very
powerful thing to include to let people know what
it’s like to work with you, the types of problems that you help with, why you’re uniquely qualified to actually address those issues. It puts a face to the practice, and most people that don’t
have a lot of experience with lawyers, it’s scary, you know, can be a scary thing to even
start to engage with a lawyer, and they’re dealing with something that could be very, one of
the most difficult times in their life. And so personalizing it through that is a really, really powerful thing to do from a marketing standpoint. The final thing here,
and then we’ll open it up for questions, is the
questions and answers section of the Google My Business listing. So you can populate your own questions. So this is a great place to
use frequently asked questions like, especially if you
got, if it’s difficult to find your office and you want to include directions there, or if you wanna include, you know, think, put yourself in the consumer’s, your client’s mindset. What are the types of things that they would ask you
that you hear all the time? Put those questions right in there because if someone asked it, it’s likely that other people are
gonna have that question, and then this reduces that friction. So whether it’s driving directions, or if it’s free consultation,
or what you charge for initial consultation,
there are business questions to ask here. This is not, I can’t
make a blanket statement that’s gonna work for everybody, but the more information
that you provide here, the less likely you’re gonna get calls with those types of questions, so it makes it more
efficient for your practice. It also again, for the consumer, you’re making it very easy for them to get the kind of answers they need, which is gonna make them more
likely to give you a call and to consider hiring you if that, if you’re answering the types of questions they have in advance. Not a place to give legal advice, but talking about your processes for communication, how you
keep clients up to date, the types of practice areas
that you actually handle, I mentioned driving directions, those are great things
to use in the Q and A, and you can see those questions in here, and then respond to them. So for example, if this firm had typed in, you know, they can ask the question and then answer the question, and it will show the answer as the owner, but it anonymizes the
actual question aspect so you can, like I said,
seed it with questions that come up a lot, then of
course you can encourage people to go there and ask questions, and you can respond in there, as well. So that’s, that’s the gist
of Google My Business. I hope that this was helpful and you’ve learned something new. I will, we do have some
time for some questions now, so if there are any other
additional questions, feel free to ask them in chat, and of course, you can
always follow up with me. I’ll try to pull up, yep, there it is. So you can, we have tips and email tips, and all sorts of stuff on our website. Check out the Lunch Hour
Legal Marketing podcast and the Clienting podcast if
you have additional questions, and of course you can just
send me direct messages on Twitter or anywhere else online. I really appreciate you tuning in, and I hope that you found this valuable.

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