Converting Local Search Traffic Into New Business
- Hey everybody. My name is John with client Chat Live. I'm excited to have Gyi Tsakalakis. I said that correctly hopefully with us today.
And we're going to be talking about Converting Local Search Traffic Into New Business. Gyi is the President and co-founder of AttorneySync a very well-known and reputable digital marketing agency. And I'll let him do a little more detailed introduction here in a second, but I'm looking forward to talking about Local Search and how law firms can utilize that to get new clients. So if you have any questions, feel free to use the chat or the Q&A and we'll address those as they come in. And we'll make sure we have, time for questions at the end as well.
So Gyi, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and take it away - Awesome Jon, thanks so much. Thanks for having me, folks that are tuning in live, thank you so much for tuning in. So we're going to talk Local Search really a focus on Organic Local Search. I'll make that distinction as we go through this but tying that back to actually new business versus some of these indirect marketing metrics that marketing people love to talk about. So who is talking? That's me, Gyi Tsakalakis, founder of AttorneySync.
I'm a product advisor to Lawmattics and Gideon. I'm on the American Bar Association's Techshow Planning Board. And I also host a podcast called Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. So if you like legal marketing stuff please do feel free to check that out. What is local search traffic? So the short version is we always go back for folks just in case anybody is all brand new looking at a search result page, right? So here's a search result for lawyers near me.
The red, those are Google ads. You pay Google for listings there. The next, the blue section here is the local pack and you don't pay Google mostly.
There are some ads in that local pack, but that's that blue part's really where we're going to focus our conversation today. Those are that's that local organic search traffic that we want to talk about. Very prominent on search result pages and the good news is you don't pay Google for that visibility. People also ask, those tend to come up in search results as well and in the traditional organic results.
And I think the big thing here especially when you're talking about a lawyer searches Google is getting really good at understanding where the searcher is and what they're looking for. And so when we got these lawyers searches, these local pack results tend to show up fairly prominently under the ads, much more so than traditional organic results and some of the other results. So that's really why we spend most of our focus.
Here's an example of Google search for family lawyers near me. I want to call out these local services ads. I think that's an important thing to be considering. We're not going to talk a ton about those today but obviously those are the top of the page. But the local pack we still see for our clients, they generate a lot of visibility a lot of phone calls, a lot of clicks.
And as you can see, they also highlight a lot of relevant business information like hours of operation phone number, address, reviews, questions, and answers. And so again, the examples I've shown so far they are modified by near me but even just non-modified queries. So things like personal injury lawyers. There is no geo modifier, there is no location modifier, it's just show me personal injury lawyers.
Google's still getting very good at understanding that there's a local intent. And so they're still showing local pack even for non geographically modified or location modified queries. And so again, I just wanted to kind of point that out. This is brand new to you. This is the world we're talking about.
People searching online for lawyers, some kind of legal search and increasing our visibility in those local pack. And then trying to connect those local pack searches and clicks all the way back to fees. One more example, chicago divorce lawyer. Again, you can see in this particular case, a very prominent on the page, personal injury lawyers, again, all free. Another thing I think is worth noting if this is brand new to you is this idea of the mobile device versus the desktop.
So this is formatted for an iPhone. And as you can see, it's a much different experience. There's not as much real estate. Local Packs are even more prominent and they have these filters. So things like ratings and hours of operation and distance from the searcher become very important because these are the types of things that your potential clients are likely to want to filter on.
They want to see who are the top rated lawyers. Who's got the most five star reviews? Who's closest to me? Who's actually open now? Okay. So that's kind of a primer on local search results. Which begs the question, how do we actually improve organic local search traffic? And how do we get into those local packs and show up when people are looking and the starting place there is Google My Business. Again, this is all free. So that's the good news. I included the link and I'll make sure that everybody's got the deck and circulate it.
And Jon can get it out to folks. But I included links in here to Google's documentation in their support cause they really lay out if this is brand new, how to claim your profile, update your profile, the information you want to include. And then they also give good documentation on the factors that they use to make decisions about who they show for various searches. And the three big factors if you take nothing else away from all of this are these ideas of relevance, distance and prominence. And if you click in all units repeated here, but relevance is basically how well your business profile matches what someone's searching for. It's the business information stuff.
So it's the business name, it's information that you can include that might be contextually relevant in your listing, but they're basically looking for matches. You know, it's hey, this person is looking for personal injury firm. Is this a personal injury firm? They check the category, they check the location. That's the kind of matching we're talking about. The second thing that they focus on is distance.
So this is how far you are from either what the searcher is looking for or where the searcher is. This factor is a little bit more difficult to influence unless you're willing to move your business because people ask me all the time well, you know, I want to rank and all of these different cities that I don't have a physical location there. It's very difficult to do that in a local pack. Google is getting very good at especially major metros of tightening down that distance factor to only showing listings right around either where the searcher is searching or how they've modified the search. And, you know, again, you can imagine and probably in your area, you might have like very hyper-local queries that people might use like, intersections or neighborhoods or zip codes. And so again, Google wants to try to show those most relevant and close in proximity results.
And so that distance factor plays a very significant role in showing up in local packs. And then the third one's prominence - Gyi can I interrupt here real quick? - Please, - On the relevant side, when they fill out kind of their information and they use the term personal injury lawyer, does Google know that that's also car accident, a slip and fall pedestrian accident, motorcycle? Does it kind of encompass all that? Or is that something that should be more detailed as well in that? - So I always say, give Google as much information as you possibly can without spamming them right? So, you know, if you're talking about the business name field for example, if your firm is actually Blank personal injury lawyers, you're giving Google a lot more information than if your firm name is just like Gyi lawyers, right? And everyone knows what that is. Same thing with categories. So I always say, list your primary category first and then subsequent, sub categories I think are also useful there.
And then it's things about, you know, it's like getting people to leave reviews that include information that talk about the practice area. And then of course, including all that stuff on your site. So on your site, you can go really deep, right? You can cover every subject that you want to cover On your Google My business listing, you're kind of limited in terms of categories, business name, the description field, reviews, the questions and answers. But essentially yes, and Google is getting much, much better at understanding the connectedness of different practices. So you don't have to worry about, you know, I certainly wouldn't encourage you to spam your business listing name, to cover every practice area that you do just to get to squeeze it in there. In fact, that's a good way to get your listing suspended.
In the links provided, Google has guidelines for how to represent your business and what information to include. So the short answer is yes, essentially that is what they want you to see in there but you don't have to cover every permutation synonym, plural, yada, yada, yada. Google's just gonna get a lot smarter about understanding that.
The third factor, and this is really the one that you can move the dial the most on is this idea of prominence. And so it's kind of two big buckets of prominence. One is prominence in the offline world are well-known store brands. And so in the legal context, that might be like a big a TV buyer or a long-time firm that's really built a brand in a particular market. If you remember years ago, if you can search on this.
The former chair, Eric Schmidt. I don't know what his role is now currently at Google. But a long time ago, he was the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. He had said that, brand is what sorts out the cesspool online.
So the idea was that brands, if you build a brand, a brand is trusted. Google wants to surface brands. And so we see this even in local pack results where brands that have a more well-known presence in the real world tend to do better and local pack results, even all other things being equal.
So there's not tons you can do there except to build your brand, right? You can gain recognition, you get people searching on your brand queries. You maybe do offline media buys, traditional networking. But it's Google's trying to get those signals to understand what, you know, the quality of your brand. The more traditional kind of SEO play here for prominence are these things like links, articles, directories, Google review counts and reviews, scores, you know, traditional SEO stuff.
So things you had mentioned including topical information on your site about your practice and your page titles, those traditional SEO best practices. That's really where you can have the most impact beyond just the relevant stuff to actually get in the results. And you know, I've been pressing for years that, well, from what I see, the firms that win in the local pack tend to be the ones that are able to earn a quantity of quality local, locally relevant and topically relevant links back to their sites. You know, personal injury context that might be getting links from local rehabilitation centers, or you know, if it's location if you're just talking location, might be other local businesses local schools, local newspapers. But getting other sites to talk about you and link to you is really really powerful in terms of the prominence factor. And we have seen, I would say that a lot of SEO's would agree that recently the review count and sentiment so positive reviews for your firm, that's also playing a more significant role in the prominence factor.
So, you know, it's allowed to traditional SEO. I think the major difference between traditional SEO and local pack is this idea of location matters a lot more, it's the context we're talking about. And so, you know, marketers for years, SEO people for years. We'll talk about things like domain authority or getting links from Forbes or CNN. I think those still have their place but in a local context, it's those local and topically relevant links that really make much more of a difference.
But you don't have to take my word for it. WhiteSpark has taken over the local search ranking factors survey. So these are a bunch of people that do this for a living, come together once a year and share some of their findings. I listed a link there. You can see kind of the breakdown here, links makes up a big portion of these factors.
There's some on-page factors. So some of the traditional SEO stuff, you know, for the local pack and the local finder GMB. So that's the Google My Business listing. Information there, I think engagement there is going to make more of a difference as we go forward. But if you really think about it, I always put myself and Google's a publicly traded company. They've got shareholders.
The goal for Google is to sell clicks, right? They use a click-through rate as a primary indicator. The engagement of impressions versus clicks on the paid side of things. It's a very strong signal to them to the quality of the asset. It goes into your ad rank and the score they give you I'm in the camp and there's a kind of, for the lawyers out there that's a split and authority on this, but I'm in the camp that why wouldn't they use engagement metrics on the organic side might not be quite as straightforward as organic click through rate but getting people to interact with your Google My Business listing, I think is very valuable in terms of Google surfacing your listing for a variety of other searches. And then the nice thing about the Whitespark survey is that he breaks it down into the top 50 ranking factors.
So you know, I'll have all these survey respondents. Here are the top 10 both for Local Pack and Finder ranking factors and Localized Organic Ranking Factors. So a local pack we've been talking about, I've been talking a lot about.
The localized organic ranking, those are those traditional rankings that are localized even without the geo modifier that shows up below the local pack. So traditional SEO rankings. But again, Google is getting a lot better saying, even if I just searched personal injury lawyer in those traditional organic rankings, they're showing localized ranking. So if I search a personal injury lawyers here outside Detroit, I'm gonna get a much different set of results than in Chicago or Seattle or Florida or wherever. But again links in there, you can check that out more in depth like.
So that's really just the first part, right? So we get into the local pack, great but what's it really doing? And why is it valuable? And how do we actually measure if this has any meaning for our firms in our business. And that's why we want to move on to next. And so the first thing here I like to talk about is direct calls from Google My Business. And this is one that really to be frank with you kind of astonished me.
You know, I'm a non-practicing lawyer. I know a lot of lawyers. This is not the way that I would particularly search for a lawyer, but I can tell you that the data reflects that a lot of people especially in categories like personal injury, some of the direct consumer categories, people will call right from the searcher results. They never even clicked through to your website. So I encourage folks to use a call tracking number here right in your GMB. Again, on a mobile device, it's literally search call.
There is no click through to a landing page. They're not getting back to your website. They're seeing your reviews. They're seeing if you're open, they're clicking call. How to do that, if there are any SEO people listening, the SEO people would say, oh, well, what about NAP consistency? Which essentially is you want your name address, and phone number to be consistent across the web.
That is true. However, in Google My Business you can. And I think a lot of other SEOs, local SEOs have come to the same conclusion that you can use a tracking number in your primary phone number, in Google My Business. So long as you're using your real local business number as an additional number, kinda get the best of both worlds there. You get the tracking numbers, you can track phone calls that are dedicated to Google My Business as well as keep that NAP consistency so you're not harming your SEO, you know, quote unquote local SEO relevance factor by having inconsistent NAP.
And then, so the nice thing is once you get a call tracking number in there, you can track specifically calls generated from Google My Business. So again, that's a dedicated phone call tracking number and you go, my business listing doesn't exist anywhere else. And now you can see, these are people. This is the number of calls I'm getting right from my Google My Business listing. This isn't people that clicked through to my site, this isn't people that found an ad or anything else. This is just Google My Business.
Again, high visibility, lower funnel type of searches especially when you're talking about non-brand search, like you know, practice area, plus city plus lawyer. And again, these are the things that we should be measuring right? Because you know, the next step of this is take these phone calls qualify them whether or not they're leads and then connect them back ultimately to a fee. So anyway, that's the first step. The next thing that we would do is we'd want to make sure that we're measuring calls from local search clicks. So in addition to just calling directly from the results, some folks will click through.
Whether they click through with a website button or they click through your listing. This is just an example for a search on our business. And so we like to use a UTM parameter in your Google My Business website listing so that it will fire both in Google Analytics and Search Console to tell you that that click specifically came from your Google My Business listing.
And so what that does is enables you to isolate click traffic directly from your Google My Business listing, from your homepage traditional organic results or other places that you might have links around the web. So how do you do that? Fortunately, Google offers a free tool called the Campaign URL Builder. There's a lot of different ways you could mark up your source and medium. I like to do Google organic so that it still shows those local results as Google organic traffic. Cause technically they show up on a Google result and they're organic.
But really all you really need there is the campaign name of GMB. And then you can filter things in both in Search Console and Google Analytics by campaign. And then you can actually see the click traffic that comes through specifically from that listing. So here's what that looks like when you plug all that into your main business listing.
In Google My Business, you just add that parameter and that allows you to start segmenting inside. This is an example from CallRail. You like, CallRail for people that came from your Google My Business through to your website. They're tagged as campaign GMB. You can see the specific calls that originated from your website, but people click through from your Google My Business listing as opposed to a variety of other ways that they might find your website. - And if you've got multiple locations, would you recommend multiple tracking numbers? Cause you're going to have different GMB accounts for each one of those.
- 100%. Dedicate tracking number for each listing. So per the guidelines, Google says, you get a Google My Business listing for every physical office location you have and you get one for every practitioner. So you can theoretically, and then, we could talk about this all day too. There's some reasons not to actually have practitioner pages in certain contexts. But if you're just like, hey, what's my maximum coverage. You can have a Google My Business listing for every location, every lawyer.
And then I would recommend having dedicated tracking numbers for each of those if you want to track performance by listing. This does become very important, especially I think as you're alluding for the office locations because a lot of firms, especially if they've got one very long-term established office and they open a new office, you want to be able to segment those because the performance is gonna be much different especially early on between those different locations. That's a very good question. The next thing that you want to do is you want to configure Google Analytics to measure, essentially Google Analytics calls them goals. We tend to focus on event goals but this will give you a report now in Google Analytics that will show you, you can filter by campaign. So Google my GMB campaign, show you the visitors and show you the goal completions.
And you can have a variety of goal completions. We like to use a first-time callers from CallRail because that filters out a repeat caller. So example, if a opposing counsel or a court or whatever is calling you regularly, this will help filter some of that out. CallRail has got great documentation on that.
This is just to show you an example of that. And so at the end of the day, now you can do Google My Business clicks through to your website and you know, in this I was just showing an example of emails here, but chat, chat same thing, right? You have chat on your site, you can actually track chat. And Jon, I think you and I have talked about this in the past. Years ago, maybe like eight or nine years ago, I was very skeptical about chat. In general, I thought, you know, people aren't gonna really want to use it.
And it's going to cannibalize phone calls and web forums. And it really doesn't and people love it. People want to engage with it.
If you think about it, it's very frictionless. You don't have to actually get on the phone with somebody. You know, I'm not one really to quote Gary V a lot, but he does make a really good point that we screen calls from the people we love. Of course, we're screening calls from business vendors and potential clients and that kind of thing. And the same thing for the potential client.
If you go look at the Clio Legal Trends Report, people want efficient ways to be able to communicate with you. They want ways to communicate with you beyond just a phone call. And so even if your intake process is just stopped the search to set the appointment through chat, that's great. Because again, you've started set the expectation that you're going to follow up with them in a different way and people love it. So, and the great thing is that you configure Google Analytics for goals. You can build, you can track chats, the same performance of chats, just the same way as you do every other kind of conversion event on your site.
So really powerful stuff. And then, so this is from Search Console. So now we're switching from Google Analytics to search console. The real powerful thing here is, so Search Console is our window into the organic world of Google with search queries. So years ago, Google Analytics used to also show search queries, the words that people would use to find your site. They took that away, they claim privacy.
It's a whole thing. I could talk about that in a separate conversation, but they give it back to us. They give us the query data back in Search Console. And so by adding that UTM parameter that we talked about, you can actually see the visibility, the clicks impressions. That's the number of times that your listing showed up in a search result and your average position for your Google My Business listing in Search Console for organic results.
Really, really powerful. Now you segment that Google My Business listing from your, just your regular homepage or whatever the page you're using, on your Google My Business listing. And so again, now you can look at, you filter by pages and just include just those links that include that GMB campaign.
And you can really get granular with the types of queries that people are using, that are clicking through to your site specifically from the local pack. And so this really helps to inform your content strategy. It helps to inform your on-page optimizations. It can help inform your link building optimization. It can help inform Google ads too because you you can get a good sense of which queries are converting organically and then apply that same thinking over to your Google ads campaigns.
Very, very useful to isolate those local pack queries to that page. Okay. So we talked about how to improve our visibility in the local pack, we talked about some of the ways you might want to measure that. The next kind of big thing here is this idea of conversion rates. So marketing people talk about conversion all the time.
You know, lawyers have a totally different idea of what conversion is from torts but here's what we're gonna talk about today. Conversion rates are calculated simply by the number of conversions by the total interaction. The two most common conversion rates that we talk about are impressions to clicks. That's kind of a loose one though, right? Cause who really cares if we have impressions to clicks. We want clicks to either phone calls or impressions to phone calls or clicks to live chat requests or clicks to web form fills.
So those are really the ones that we focus on. And so we want to increase the number of interactions to the number of conversion events whether that be a phone call, live chat or maybe it's a download your guide, subscribed to your blog. Whatever that event is that you want people to take to convert. That's really what we're talking about. How do we improve the ratio of the number of interactions to the number of actual conversion events? And so come back to our good friend chicago divorce lawyer here. You don't have to be an internet marketing expert to kind of get a sense of how this works.
What are the types of things that would cause you to call all these firms. Right? So reviews, that's a no brainer. And so I always talk about this too because people always say, oh, you know I've got you know, whether it's 25 reviews or it's really hard for me to get reviews, I'm like you know, DUI lawyer.
No one wants to leave me a review and we can talk, we can spend a whole session talking about how to get reviews and other ways that don't speak to the actual representation whether it's taking leadership roles or having seminars or there's a variety of ways that you can get people to actually leave reviews of your business, that aren't directly related to the representation, but we're not gonna focus on that. The point here is, is these are the factors that go into that decision making process of legal services consumer. And really important thing that comes up is your raw review number really doesn't matter. It matters in the context of your competition. So for example in this case, my hunch is that Jonathan Morel apologize, Jonathan if I butchered your name.
Even though he's in the third spot, the comparison of those 4.7, 4.7s and the overall review count number, those play a big role in the decision-making process of people that are looking at this. So reviews is number one thing that you can focus on to impact conversion in my opinion. The second is category. We see this all the time too. So in this particular instance, Google got it right.
The Google My Business listings all contained category divorce lawyer. But sometimes especially if you've got multiple categories, sometimes Google gets it wrong. And so a search for divorce lawyer might show a listing that contains personal injury lawyer as a category. And so that immediately is going to trigger to the legal services consumer like, hey this isn't what I'm looking for.
I'm looking for a divorce lawyer. It's a personal injury lawyer. So you want to make sure that that's lining up.
Ours is another big one. So I see this all the time where lawyers will advertise, actually pay money on Google ads or local search ads, local services ads and they're closed. And so they're spending money to generate clicks through to their business when they're advertising that they're closed. And so, excuse me, ideally, you can put in a system that actually answers your phone 24 hours.
And as long as you actually have someone that can field calls 24 hours a day you can update your listing to be open 24 hours. You'll see that in that third listing there. Otherwise you wanna try to maximize your hours of operation, maximize that length of time that people can answer the phone. Because again, especially in certain practice areas those phone calls, people need lawyers, they're at work all day.
They're calling lawyers, looking for lawyers at night, early morning, weekends. And so, it's really important that you think about that. The fourth thing is this idea of enhancements. And so in this particular instance, we're talking about that little green checkbox with onsite services. In light of COVID, Google's added a bunch of different COVID resources that you can communicate through Google My Business listing. So you can talk about whether you're accepting in person, or if you have, you know, a way for them to sign documents electronically.
There's all sorts of enhancements you can add to your Google My Business listing to help it stand out. So again, an example, personal injury lawyer. Just look at these, you know, if you're looking, some of these lawyers are offering onsite services, some are open, some are 24 hours. You know, the various different reviews that you're seeing there.
These all play a factor into that conversion rate and how people are making decisions about which lawyer to choose from these local pack listings. And then again, we talked about this earlier but the filters make a big difference. And so if you pull your phone out right now and do a non-brand category search, you're going to see a certain set of results.
Click those filters, click on top rated and see what comes up. Click on open now. Always put yourself in that consumer's position of what did they see and how can we influence, how they're making those decisions to come, click and choose and hire us. And then another big thing that you can do in Google My Business's, you can actually add posts. And so posts, Google's been testing a variety of ways of where posts appear in your actual listing but the real power of the post in my opinion is that it shows this enhancement.
This is example from our business listing, how should you hire a digital legal marketing agency, this is an article I wrote. I added that as a post. And now when I do a search for legal marketing chicago, that enhancement from that post shows up right in my Google My Business listing.
So really, really powerful and crafting your messaging. There's all sorts of different ways you can test different posts, topple, funnel stuff. That's more like awareness all the way down to client testimonials if it's permissible in your state. But this is the opportunity to really create a much more rich enhancement to your Google My Business listing that your competitors might not be doing through Google posts. Here's just an example of what posts look like when you click through in the local pack finder. Again, they're very image driven.
You can add buttons to them, but these types of things are really, really valuable in terms of drawing attention in a crowded space to be able to jump off the page. Again, you're not going to solve all of your marketing issues just by creating posts, but we found that those enhancements can really play a powerful role in improving conversion. - Would you advise that you do those more consistently or maybe once every couple of weeks? So it's not just like here's a couple of posts and then you forget about it for three months. - Yeah, and that's a very good point because Google actually, actually, I don't know if they've changed this recently. There's always testing stuff. So it's always hard to keep up with them.
But they have had periods of time where your posts will expire. And so if you just leave a post it disappears. So, you know, people always ask me that, well, what's the right amount? And it's like, as much as you can. Right? But I think if you're posting, you know, once a week I mean, you know, somewhere between daily, weekly monthly is probably not enough to really capitalize the most on this option, but you know, the more frequently the better. And again, these don't have to be like full blog posts. These can be things like just updates at your firm, it can be speaking events.
You know, this is an example from Michigan auto law here, they highlight their scholarship winners. So really good way to do that kind of, you know, the good works, highlighting those good works that you're doing. You can also just put a testimonial right in there.
So Google my Business has there a marketing kit that allows you to create free images that are pulled from your Google My Business reviews. So you can get a colorful depiction of a testimonial jumps right off the page. They're very, very persuasive in terms of attracting eyeballs clicks and calls. The next, this is kind of like, I used round out some of the other things in Google My Business that you can do to influence conversion, questions and answers so you can see the questions and answers section. So if you had a lot of frequently asked questions, go post those questions on your page and then answer them as your business. Google will just show the answers as you're the business owner, they don't show who actually asks the question.
And so that's a great way to help people understand things like, you know if you've got pricing or location or intersection, you know, listen to your potential clients, to all those questions they're are constantly asking, see that question and answer section reduce that friction, make it easier for them to understand what you're all about. And they're gonna be more likely to click through call and hire you. Photos and videos are also really powerful. Putting video testimonials right in your Google My Business listing, really, really effective. There are a bunch of firms that I've been seeing that I've been doing this. Again, you just upload the video of a happy client just saying, hey, they're there for me through a very difficult time.
That kind of stuff can be really, really powerful as well. And this is another one that we've seen, is this Google My Business Messaging Feature. So there's a place to turn on messaging and the Google My Business backend. I blinked to it on the WhiteSpark blog.
WhiteSpark blog puts out a lot of good information about Google My Business. It's got a whole post on conversion factors and one that he highlights is this messaging feature. So again, the idea here is reduce that friction, make sure someone's fielding these messenger requests.
That's a big issue. You don't want to turn this stuff on and then have no one respond to it because people get frustrated by that. But if you have a virtual receptionist or however you're fielding that. That's a great way to reduce that friction and increase conversion to capture people that are interested in your business. - So actually, we used to use, GMB had a texting feature. You just throw a phone number in there.
And we had a link up to our chat agents. So basically we were available 24/7 through that phone number. They just recently came out with this API. So we're currently working on an API to connect to Google My Business that would allow our chat agents to be available on behalf of the actual work to get those messages. - Yeah, huge value add there, reduce the friction, get them right to you. But again, before they even get back to your website, they're asking those questions, they're scheduling consultations right there from Google really, really powerful.
That's a kudos to you. That's a good integration. Okay. So now we've gotten in the local pack. We've generated traffic. We've started to measure phone calls and clicks and web forums and live chat requests. Now we want to start talking about, well, how do we actually measure the return on these local search marketing investments? Again, if you're doing this yourself, the only really factor here to calculate is the cost of the investment that you put in in time, right? Because you don't pay Google for this stuff.
You know, maybe you're working with a web development shop or an SEO agency. And so you just calculate, you know, the current value of the pipeline from clients who have come in from Google My Business minus the cost of the investment, whether it's time and money divided by the investment and that should give you your return on investment. Again, every firm's different, there's different. You know, I look at millions of P and L's of different law firms, from highly profitable firms to break even firms, to firms that are losing money. So I can't really tell you what a great return on investment is, but I can tell you that it should be some multiple of what you're spending.
So usually if you're like between wide range here is not very helpful, but between 2X and 10X of your initial investment and that's on profit, right? So if you've got overhead and you get to get all that kind of stuff into consideration but this is just to give you a sense of one of the metrics. They don't teach business in law school and so if you're starting to get familiar with some of this ROI calculation stuff. This is where I would start, you know, Value of Investment minus Cost of Investment divided by Cost of Investment. That'll give you a good sense.
You can filter that down to GMB, a return on ad spend. So if you are doing Google ads but you're generating local pack results or using local services ads, same type of thing. Is the fees generated minus the cost of the ads divided by the cost, we'll give you a return on ad spend. And so here's a more specific example with it kind of tied back to legal. So, you know, you've got fees from your local SEO campaigns.
So you'd go in and filter down to your Google My Business, excuse me, your Google Analytics GMB campaign, or you look at your Search Console clicks and phone calls and any kind of conversion that's attributable to local SEO. Hopefully you've got that linked up to a CRM. So it passes that contact information from a lead that's got the channel, the specific local SEO channel into your client management system or your CRM system. And then when that client signs up, you can say, hey, the value of this case now or the value of this client is this.
And so now you get fees from local SEO minus the local SEO time in dollars and the money's spent. So I think that's an important one too. I always call out is, it's not free. If you've got to spend a lot of hours doing this stuff like you should attach some kind of dollar of your hour to the efforts that you do. If you outsource this stuff, it's much more easy because you can just say, what are your spending on that divided by the local SEO time and dollars plus the local SEO dollar.
So that's a very high-level ROI calculation. If you go search for ROI in Internet Marketing, there's a variety of permutations off of this but I think this is a good kind of starter basic one to just kind of get you to start wrapping up head around this. Okay. And finally, I promised that we'll talk about some of the local search marketing trends that I'm seeing.
And, you know, I've been pulling this post, this quote from Seth Godin a lot, because I really think he's onto something, you know, super smart guy. You can go search for clusters, Seth's blog you'll get the full post, but the big takeaway here is, even in the context of COVID. I mean, even more so in some respects, we're connecting around these clusters. And so clusters might be a local neighborhood, it might be some kind of, you know, organization you're passionate about, it might be a faith based organization, it might be a non-profit, it might be a youth sport team. But these clusters, you know, that's kind of what we've done historically before this idea of like, you know, big advertising and mass media marketing that's what we would do. Right? We would go join organizations, we'd get out in our local communities, we'd find courses and groups that we were passionate about and we'd go build relationships there.
Well, the truth is, that's exactly what's going on right now. It's just happening and more and more online. You know, one, you know, a lot of places, people aren't seeing each other face to face But two, it's just so efficient. So it's not that the internet and social networking and all this local SEO stuff, and these clusters online are replacing those traditional notions of relationships and reputation, they're just really supplementing. So now, if I'm the coach of a youth sports team here in town, or I'm a just an active parent in the youth sports organization in addition to eventually, hopefully attending in person events.
And in addition to attending Zoom meetings there's probably also a Facebook group for the organization. There might also be a LinkedIn group. There might be a Slack group.
And so finding these clusters and participating in these clusters, I think is tremendously valuable and will continue to be more valuable as we move forward. Kind of validated in my opinion by the Clio's Legal Trends Report Again, if you haven't looked at the Clio's Legal Trends Report I would download all of them. And they currently go back to like 2016 or so. I think this is from 2019, but you know, we see this and a lot of lawyers know this.
Yeah. I know referrals from friends or family members, referral from a lawyer, referral from a non-legal professional. Like that's, you know, closed data suggests it's about half and the other half is doing things like searching on search engines, looking at reviews, advertising digital stuff. But you'll notice social media shows up really low. And so, and this is the bone I always pick with Clio is like, well, you didn't distinguish between referrals from friends family members that are happening in person versus those that are happening on social media. And I can tell you, we see this all the time that people ask for recommendations on places like Facebook, private groups there's lawyer to lawyer referral groups there's all sorts of stuff.
And so the point is that I think this trend of participating in finding and participating in online communities in which you're also interested in is extremely powerful for building relationships in this local kind of search context. So again, I wanted to highlight some of the the major factors and kind of give you a sense of like what I think of when I've participated in the survey, like what I focus on. So for me in the Local Pack, number six the quality authority of inbound links to their domain. Again, I'm thinking hyper-local and I think quality, I think local and topically relevant.
I don't think domain authority. I don't think a lot of those other traditional metrics. The other one that I'm just gonna call out in here is the business name field unfortunately correlates very strongly to high rankings. The issue is that if my firm name is Gyi Tsakalakis Attorney at Law I can't include keywords in my business name because that would be spamming the business name field.
Break the guidelines, I could get my account suspended. If I officially changed my firm name to Detroit Personal Injury Law Firm and I go and file that with the secretary of state. and I filed that with the State bar. In fact, I do know in Michigan, you can do trade names. Some States, the state bars don't allow you to do trade names but if you can do a trade name that has a very strong correlation to improved rankings in the local pack. Traditional localized results, to me again, I'm a big links person.
I think that if you think about it, until Google really rewrites the core algorithm links are at the essence of it. That's what Larry Page. That was really the genius of what he did. He's basically like we're gonna democratize information based on these links and each links of vote and the votes are on equal, based on the popularity, relevance of the sites.
And so that's still always going to be at the core. I think Google wants to move away from that. They're adding a lot more signaling to the mix. And I know that they're a sophisticated SEO person, you're going to have someone who's going to shout out, well, PageRank isn't part of a local SEO algorithm.
That's fine by me, I don't work at Google. I'm not a search engineer. All I can tell you is, when we earn quality links to a law firm websites, they improve their local pack visibility. So that's where I'm really focused on all of these.
If you really want to get super where we're going in the future, AI assisted content development is probably the next iteration. The next big thing beyond links that I think we're starting to see. This is a tool called Clearscope. Short version is Clearcope goes out. And if you type you type in a query Clearscope will go out and look for what the top results in Google are. Analyze those pages with their natural language processing AI and then come back to you with topical suggestions, words you want to use in your page and a variety of other things you can do to enhance your content.
Again, it's not a replacement. We're not quite there. This idea of, I think it's GPT-3 where there is totally AI based content development not quite there yet but AI assisted content really, really effective. In fact, I mean, all the years, you know, people tease me because I'm always talking about links but this is the first thing that I've seen from a content standpoint that can really make a difference beyond just the links. Like it really helps build out a more robust topical page or section of your website based on what the AI is able to identify as themes and topics and keywords and headings that you want to use in your pages. So again, just an example of this.
So how is Alimony calculated? It'll give you like a grade versus your competition. You can look at word count versus the competition readability. And other thing for me, forget about SEO for a second but from a user standpoint, if you're in an area and you serve an audience that doesn't have a high grade reading level, you want to make sure you're adjusting your content for that or else you're going to get people coming to your page and having no idea what you're talking about. But there's just an example from Clearscope. Really powerful tool, I really like it. Another one MarketMuse, slightly different but same kind of theme.
The other thing I wanted to at least, I would be remiss if I didn't at least talk about local services ads. I think, you know, even though we spend a lot of time talking about organic local results, these local services ads they're really pushing everything down. So again, Google's got publicly traded company they've got shareholders, they got a sell clicks, more clicks. That's, they're a one trick pony on clicks.
That's where they make most of their money. And so they have this thing called local services ads. This is again, just from their overview of that page and go look it up on your own. But if you'll notice, they've got these Google guaranteed and Google screened results. And so in the back to our example of personal injury lawyers, those three listings on top, those are those local services ads.
And you can see they're right at the top of the page. They got a nice little picture of the lawyer. They've got the reviews, they've got years in business, they've got hours of operation. And so guess what, those are going to start commanding more and more eyeball and click traffic even than some of the ads and even the local pack. So again, this is just something to be prepared for. It's rolled out, continues to roll out and they continue to add more things that you can do to it.
A couple things to keep in mind about it is it's pay per lead not pay-per-click there's pluses and minuses that we could spend our whole time talking about. I just want to make you aware of it. This is a trend that I think we're going to continue to see visibility going towards and and Google continuing to push this. So be on top of that, especially if you're someone that's been a little more sophisticated and you're like, you know, my local pack, my organic local pack traffic has changed dramatically.
We haven't really done anything. Like it fell off a cliff like what's going on It might be because its LSA has just entered your region and practice area because they really can make a big difference. Not universal.
You know, sometimes we see them, they don't cannibalize as much attention, but in some segments we've really seen them take up a lot of attention. And a lot of the other local SEO's that I chat with are experiencing the same thing. So again, this is just going to call it out there but you know, before you talk about conversion a little bit, you know, think about it's a Google screen, you've got a green check box. It looks like an endorsement from Google.
I mean, that's pretty powerful from a conversion standpoint even more so than the traditional ads that show below. You're a little more unlimited in what you can show there. And so this is everything I was talking about but same thing we talked about with reviews, you've got to look at it in the context of the competitive landscape. So, you know, in this particular instance, these lawyer's 224 reviews, 19 you know, almost 2000 reviews, 309 reviews. Like this is extremely competitive.
And so if you're a new lawyer or you're brand new to this digital marketing stuff, and this is what people are seeing in the search results. And you have no reviews or one review or you're in business one year. Think about whether or not that's a really good short-term investment of your marketing dollars because you've got to compete with these.
Are you going to be able to convert? Are you going to able to steal traffic from them? Just something to think about as you start to evaluate different marketing and advertising campaigns. And then the other thing that we're, I think there's a excuse me, a big, you know, shift or evolution. Lawyer's getting a lot smarter about some of this business metric stuff is idea of CRM. You know, I disclosed that I'm a product advisor to Lawmatics, that's just one CRM, you know, there's HubSpot there's active campaign. There are other CRMs and legal, you know Clio's working on their CRM, Clio grow. So there are a lot of different CRM skews but I just wanted to kind of give one example of how you might use this in the context of local local search.
So, you know, we talked earlier about this idea of conversion and stopping people's search. So if someone sees your local search listing and they click on link to your website and whether they fill out a chat, they fill out a web form. You want to get those people in a nurture sequence, in your CRM right away. And I think this is not as intuitive for lawyers historically, but it used to be the case that you know, and I still hear this. People will say, well, if they really want to get a hold of me, just leave me a voice message. And I'm like, you know, maybe some will, you know, maybe if you're in a very sophistic, you're the only lawyer who does what you do then you have the benefit of being able to just sit back and let people roll in because you're the only person who does what you do.
If you're in a competitive practice area, in a competitive landscape you need to be nurturing that relationship right off the bed, that are that quick response time. So this is just an example of you can automate things like an SMS text message right after they submit. Whether it's a live chat request or whether they fill out a web form. Again, you're not selling hard here, it's just a hey, we received your inquiry. Thank you.
And set the expectation of when someone's going to follow up and how they're going to follow up. You can also do really clever things like send them a text of an introductory video. So it's just like you introducing yourself in a video that they clicked through from a text message. Again, put yourself in their situation. The more information, the more you can communicate how your representation works with an overview of the process and do in a way that humanizes your practice. The more of that local search traffic you're going to convert into actually qualified leads and qualified clients.
You know, we hear this all the time. We'll send a traffic report and people will say, oh, well, you know, this didn't convert. And it's like, well, what did you do to follow up right? Did you call back? Did you even answer the phone? Did someone stop their search? Did you have automatic scheduling in place? If you're creating more friction, don't be surprised if your conversion rate falls off a cliff. In fact, you know, we see all the time we open up call detail reports where X percent of the calls were completely missed, right? So it's not just about traffic.
It's that nurturing that traffic through the process to get them to becoming a client. And so something like a CRM and CRM automations I think are a big part of the solution there. All right. That's all I got.
Thank you for those that attended today, Jon if there are any details you want folks to know if you have any questions that you'd like me to answer I'm happy to take those at this time. - Yeah, I think there there's one question and you started to allude to it a little bit there when you talked to them about the LSAs. So if you're you got a GMB account after your listing, what's the first thing, how would you start? Would you assign a paralegal or an admin assistant or do it yourself and just say, we need this updated.
What would be the first steps to get started? - Yeah. And it's so hard because, you know, when I started talking to a firm or a solo practitioner, you know, it's how much of this do you want to be involved in? Versus do you have support resources that you can do? Or is this something you need to outsource? And so those are questions that aren't universal to different needs, in different, you know, rules that people play. But let's take the solo lawyer has got no support staff, that you know, one person shop go to Google My Business, right? Read the documentation, you know, it can be a weekend kind of activity. Weekend project. Go read the review the guidelines so that you don't make any mistakes.
Go claim your profile, go start adding images, go start seeing those Q&A questions. That's the starting point. Because again this is the other thing that people don't realize, and I didn't show an example of this. Maybe I can pull this up, Let's do a real time example here. We're doing it live.
- There we go. Nothing can go wrong, right? - Nothing will go wrong here. So Ken Levinson is attorney in Chicago. Also recognize here, Google's doing an auto suggest. they already knew, right from a combination of search history and yada, yada, yada all their signaling that they knew that's what I was looking for.
So, boom I click on Ken's name. This section right here, this is all populated by Google My Business. And so people forget that there's you know, I spent a lot of time focusing on non-brand queries, right? So like practice area, plus city plus lawyer. But a lot of those referrals that we talked about, you know, half of those referrals, well, however they hear about you.
Whether do they hear about you because they know you in person or a family or a friend referred them. They're going to go look you up online. And they're going to want to see what it's like to work with you and all that kind of stuff. And so in this particular instance that Google My Business listing one, you wanna own the real estate for a search on your name? That's all populate by Google My Business.
So if you're just getting started, I always tell people, and I'm like if you do nothing else online, if you're a direct to consumer law firm, like, meaning you serve, you know, people in the context of personal injury criminal defense, divorce, that of stuff. It's really, it should be a priority. It's the only thing that if you do nothing else do this because you're going to make it very easy for people to find information about you to see other happy clients, seeing your praises to find your driving directions and your phone number and blah, blah, blah.
So, and then at the other end of the spectrum you've got firms that are like, look I'm a busy trial lawyer. I don't have time to learn this stuff. Then you can either delegate to a support person have them read the guidelines, or you outsource it to someone who actually, you know, they spend their whole career is focused on improving visibility on Google My Business. So those are kind of your options. It's hard to tell what's the right thing. There's really no right answer for everybody.
But those are the types of things you want to take in consideration when you're making those decisions. - Okay. And I would think that whatever you do initially to get set up also start to plan for something going down the road.
So you don't want to just want to do this one time and then forget about it. Like reviews, you mentioned how important they are. There's a lot of firms out there that hammer reviews and they do contests and they get 10 reviews in a month.
And they're like, cool, we're good for six months and then nothing happens. And I know Google looks at that and says this consistent for maybe it's gaming it or something like that. So you've come across that in the past, whatever they do make it consistent going forward too. You don't just do it on time. - Oh, absolutely.
I mean, it is all about, this is gardening, right? This is not Ron Popeil set it and forget it. I could even use Ron Popeil as an example as people who uses it have resonates. I'm 42 so it resonates with me but younger folks might not get that. Anyway, I digress. Yeah. And that's kind of the point here. It matters in the competitive landscape. Right? So if your competitors are continuing to earn more reviews, you know and I have no idea if Davis Andrea Laura's if it does or does or not.
But let's say that they did exactly what you said. They're like, you know, I watched a webinar or this guy talked about reviews. I went out and got five and I'm done.
And maybe at that time, nobody else had any reviews but now his competition's got 38 and 204. You've got to keep that process going. And the same is true for content optimization. The same is true for link building. The web is an extremely dynamic place. It's constantly changing.
If you're relying on the web for any significant amount of your business, you know, someone's gotta be mined in the till. Someone's gotta be gardening. Someone's gotta be, you know, nurturing those happy clients, you know, building new relationships, making media contacts, building links, updating pages, optimizing pages all that stuff that we talked about. - Pretty cool. I mean, even as a small business owner myself, I see a lot of these things and I'm like, I'm going to go update we're nationwide, but I'm going to go update our GMB and start doing some posting and having our team do stuff on there. Just so we get that Google love as well as a small business too so.
- Yeah. Get those posts up there. Again, you know, Let's take a look here, let's put you on the spot. - There you go. We're awesome so it's going to be come up. Sometimes you just have to be awesome. - Yeah, it probably needs to be geo modified in this case so this is a good example though.
So Google is not associating local intent for this category, for your brand. Which is probably appropriate, right? You're not a brick and mortar. Let's see if we modify geo. So there you go. When you modify it with the geo.
Now, now Google is saying, well, there is some local intent. We're going to show that local pack or list it here and kudos to you. Nice job here. You've got five star reviews, 37 reviews open 24 hours, your location. So I think a great start here. You know, I would add some questions.
I see some questions and answers and some Google posts in here. And you know, if you ever offer discounts or if you're sponsoring an event those are all great opportunities to really help that pop off the page. But good stuff. - Very cool.
I like the idea of reusing reviews for posts. I mean, those can be, you get a new review you can socially put that in website. You can put that there in GMB.
That's a pretty simple and reusable content. - Oh yeah. So this is the Google My Business marketing kit. Just got a marketing kit with Google, or just search for marketing kit from Google. I'll do another real time example here.
You'd type in my business name. Google will actually help you create collateral for your site. And as you mentioned, you can use it for social media.
You can use it as testimonials. You can, you can create stickers and posters to put up in your office. They've actually now are expanding this to be able to create YouTube videos. But again, you know, you can put these right in your Google posts, they jumped right off the page. Maybe you have a page on your site that has testimonials.
And so you put a button on there. And so it's like, you know, read more reviews or learn more right from your Google My Business listing. You know, again, it's a lot of that, those historical ways that we validate our credibility. And now we just have a lot more tools at our disposal to do that. - Very cool.
I think the biggest takeaway for me from everything you've gone through and it's a ton of great information. Thank you. Is probably that idea of a customer journey and like putting yourself in their shoes as the potential client. They're searching you, they need to be able to find that you're open. Are you open or is there a phone number? Is there an easy way that I could contact this law firm? I'm still surprised to this day how many firms have closed or, you know, you're searching their website for phone number and it's hard to find the phone number or chat or, you know, forms hidden. So put yourself in their shoes and then be available.
If they do contact you, are you available? Do you have somebody responding either through the phone or chat or receiving those web forms? I love the idea of that. The automa