When we talk to our customers in the ‘small law’ segment, with whom we work through solutions such as Softdocs, Infinitylaw and Firm Central, we hear about the challenges that face you in all parts of your business. Important among these is how to grow your practice and make it easy for clients to find you first when they are looking for a lawyer. Understanding how online citations work, through directories (like Thomson Reuters product FindLaw Australia) and other websites, helps address this important issue.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider that there are approximately 60,000 practising lawyers in Australia, all vying for clients in a very competitive business environment. With that in mind, separating yourself from the competition is essential, and it begins with your digital citation footprint. The obvious question is: What is a citation footprint? Quite simply, it’s any external citation of your firm outside of your own website, such as a business listing on Google+ or a listing on a directory. It’s important for the online visibility of your firm to have a wide network of external citations and we’ll explain why.
Citations have become crucial in light of the way local search results are now served up on both desktop and mobile when conducting a search on Google. Previously, seven businesses (7-packs) were featured as the top local search results, but now, it has been replaced with three results (3-packs) for local search.
Here is how results now appear on the desktop using the search terms, “pizza Sydney”.
With the 3-packs now an element on Google search results, citations are now crucial for firms trying to reach local clients.
How will citations help with the visibility of my law firm?
Citations help establish a law firm’s authority, credibility, and visibility as a local business. The changes to how search results appear on Google means that having links from external sites, pointing back to your firm is essential as a means of attracting referral traffic, while also helping with branding.
For law firms that do not have their own website, citations are particularly important because if search engines cannot crawl data from an official site of a firm, they then look for information from third party sources. Therefore, if your firm currently does not have an online presence, it’s extremely important that your firm is featured on third party sites such as directories, in order to reach potential clients. Furthermore, ensure that any listing on a directory is complete and accurate.
The biggest takeaway for lawyers is that citation building which utilises a local strategy can assist with growing your firm’s online presence, and if done properly, can separate your firm from the competition.