Use These Tips to Gain the Greatest Visibility and Avoid Suspension on Google
So what is Google My Business seo? By claiming and optimizing your listing correctly, you have the opportunity to show up in the local pack (map) results when someone is searching for a nearby lawyer or law firm. Your information will also appear on the right side of the page in the knowledge panel when someone does a branded search.
However, there are best practices to follow, as over-optimization can actually hurt your listing. In what follows, we’ll discuss nine common mistakes that almost every business owner makes on their listing and how to correct them.
If you take nothing else away from this, just remember that you should always optimize for your customers —not to manipulate rankings.
Mistake #1: You have a spammy business name.
This is by far the most common mistake law firms make with their GMB listing. Having the wrong business name on your listing is bad for Google and even worse for your clients. Everyone tries to add their city, location, or even their legal area of practice into their business name, thinking it will benefit them for “SEO reasons.” While it may work in the short term, it will have negative long-term effects. For example, a firm who wants people to know they are located in New York might add “Midtown” or “NYC” to their GMB name.
These directly violate Google’s guidelines on how you should represent your business online. Your business name on Google should be your actual real-world business name that is registered with the state, not a keyword-stuffed name that will flag your listing as spam. If your listing is flagged more than once, it can be suspended, and then you’ll lose all visibility for your firm.
That additional information that you’re trying to squeeze into your GMB name — city, location, locality, area of practice — should be placed in the appropriate “business” and “address” fields.
Make sure your business name is correct and consistent throughout your GMB listing, your website, and your other local listings. Consistency and accuracy are important.
Mistake #2: You have a virtual office.
In theory, a virtual office for your business can be extremely helpful. By sharing space with other attorneys and/or businesses, you get “visibility” within a city for a fraction of the price. Even better, you only have to show up when you have client appointments.
However, if you want to have a business listing on Google, you cannot claim this type of location. In fact, it goes directly against their guidelines: “If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.”
This is the second most common mistake made by law firms today. In recent years, Google wasn’t so strict on this “rule” but over the last few months, they have really cracked down, and businesses who have these locations verified are falling off the map. Also, PO boxes and/or mailboxes located at remote locations are not eligible for GMB listings.
Make sure you are claiming and verifying your actual physical location on Google — not the remote location 45 minutes across town that you go to once a month to pick up mail and meet clients by appointment only.
Mistake #3: You’re listed as being open 24/7.
Another common mistake that we see with firms is that they claim to be “open 24 hours.” Just because you have a chat operator on your website or have an overnight answering service does not mean you are open 24/7.
On GMB, your listed hours should be those hours you are able to see clients at the office. They are the hours someone can walk into your office and speak with you or a staff member. Having misleading hours violates Google’s guidelines, and even worse, can mislead a potential client.
Do you really want someone showing up at your office at 10:00 PM if no one is there?
Tip: Google also gives you the option to list “special hours.” So if you’re closed on Martin Luther King Day or closing the office early on the Friday leading into Memorial Day weekend, you can list those hours specifically for those days. Make sure to do this so your clients (or potential clients) don’t show up when the office is vacant.
Mistake #4: You don’t have your website listed or it’s incorrect.
One of the main benefits of claiming your GMB listing is that you’re able to add your website to it. This allows customers to easily navigate to your site and read more about your firm.
You should provide a website that represents your individual business location: It must be your actual website for your actual business in that location. Redirecting the user to another website or social platform can cause your listing to get suspended, and then no one will find you.
Mistake #5: Your phone number is incorrect.
Your phone number cannot redirect to another number; it must connect to your individual business location. When you include a phone number on your GMB listing, the user is expecting to connect with your business and speak to a real person. Make
sure this is the case. This also means that you should be using your local phone number on your GMB listing, not a call tracking number.
If you’re interested in tracking when and how many times customers called your business via your GMB listing, those insights are available via the GMB dashboard. For the date dimension, you are able to toggle between the days of the week and the time of day. For date range, you are able to toggle between “last week,” “last 4 weeks,” and “last 12 weeks.” This solves the issues of call tracking.
Mistake #6: You’re not adding photos to your listing.
People want to know who you are, where you’re located, and what you’re all about. By adding photos to your GMB listing, you begin to build trust with someone even before meeting them. In addition to adding your logo, include photos of:
By doing that, however, their business becomes misrepresented. You should only add the appropriate categories for your business. If you are a sole practitioner, you should drill down to the “attorney” categories. If you are a law firm with multiple areas of practice, than you should be listed as either “Law Firm” or “Legal Service.”
As Google suggests: Select categories that complete the statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a.” The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.
Another mistake is having the wrong category on your GMB listing. If you’re a divorce lawyer, you don’t want to be listed as “Divorce Service,” unless you provide mediation.
Google already has a ton of information about your business, and for the most part, knows what you do. Not following the category guidelines can raise a red flag, get you suspended, and harm your business. Think of categories as a way to reinforce what your business does; they let the searcher know that right away.
Mistake #8: You’re not getting reviews.
Google won’t penalize you for NOT having reviews, but Google will reward you FOR having reviews. The reason people search for attorneys online is because they obviously need legal help, and they don’t already have someone to turn to. So, how are they going to trust you? Or more importantly, how are they going to choose you over the attorney down the street?
It all comes down to reviews. Consumers want to know what people who’ve used your services think of you: Are you reasonably priced? Do you offer personalized attention? Do you return calls promptly?
Mistake #9: You haven’t added in your location attributes.
Last month, Google enabled business owners to add attributes to their GMB listing via the dashboard. These attributes tell customers even more about your business. Things like “has wi-fi” or “family-friendly” are examples of local attributes. However, those don’t apply in the legal vertical, and aren’t even available yet to you.
One of the first things you should do is to claim your GMB listing. After that, make sure it’s optimized properly and is attractive to potential customers. Add your correct hours, plenty of photos, and get reviews. All of these things will help convert searchers into clients. Don’t overthink it, and don’t spam out your listing! Follow the guidelines so that your listing offers you the greatest possible advantage in marketing your firm.