Local SEO For Attorney’s Post Pigeon: 5 Things You Need To Be Doing

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Google Search Results

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Search Results

If your law firm has been dependent on Google My Business or local listings as a strong lead generation service you have probably noticed some changes since Google’s Pigeon update that took effect in July 2014. Since this time we have seen a variety of local search results for attorneys come and go. Using my favorite example of “Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney” in a search conducted on September 16, 2014.

The results below show some of the changes we have seen since the pigeon update. A quick analysis reveals that while the Avvo.com and Laywers.com listings (B and D) are still winning in this search but Google is aware of these issues. But instead of complaining about why these two examples are here, let’s take a look at why.

Since the Pigeon update Google claims they adapted their local algorithm to become closer to the organic algorithm. But is this true? In a nutshell the answer is yes. Through my analysis the reason these two particular listings are winning in the local results is not because of their citations (a local SEO ranking factor), or having a local NAP (name, address, & phone number). Instead the reason they’re winning is because the authority that Avvo.com and Lawyers.com is greater than that of the competition.

The reason that the listings shown are “spammy” is because they link to the geographic location pages for these attorneys on these websites. When you click on the website for these attorney’s local result you will be directed to the city landing page for attorneys in that area. In other words you will not reach that attorney’s website. This is bad for conversions and bad spammy practice. But what are the positives of this update?

Good SEO is Still Good SEO

Now Let’s Look at the Positives

Like any update that Google does, Pigeon was far from perfect. While the update was imperfect and there are still results that will be cleaned up, one thing is very clear: Good SEO is still Strong SEO. The other listings shown above for Farar & Lewis LLP, Giardi Keese, Daniel Gibalevich, and Torkzadeh all have strong organic signals. One of these in this list is also doing what I would consider the “best” job overall organically through Content Marketing and link earning in the Los Angeles area.

Like any search you will also find some results that appear on the surface level to but after a deeper dive you will see they are manipulating the results through artificial or unnatural links. Don’t ever think about this game. If you get caught you will not recover easily. In fact I have seen cases where a recovery will never come. Don’t worry though. These type of people will always exist but they will get caught eventually too. You will be able to grow your business and sleep tight at night knowing that you didn’t participate in these bad practices. You will also be around to finish the marathon while they went out of business. Now that you can see organic signals do in fact play a stronger weight post Pigeon here are five things you should be doing now to win at local search.


5 Things You Need To Be Doing to Win at Local Search

1. Start Setting Yourself Apart from The Others. Become The Expert

What makes your law firm more unique than the other 100 law firms in your area? Seriously? Are you a subject matter expert who is constantly interviewed? Do you participate in a certain cause in a strong way such as supporting everything that is anti Drunk Driving. Or is your firm generic? Like an attorney I used to work with liked to say “You can be a jack of all trades and a master of none”. This makes marketing your law firm more difficult. On the other side of the coin if you specialize in one area or cause above all others you can promote yourself as the expert. You can get interviews. You can write articles. You can become the name and face for your cause. Doing this will promote your business and build strong organic signals including links and mentions. Don’t take this lightly.

Champions of Justice Radio Show

2. Create Great (not generic) Content. Stop Crappy Practice Area Pages

Since we are talking about more organic signals lets talk about the content on your website. I’m sick and tired of seeing 250 word generic practice area pages with generic content. They provide little user value and they definitely don’t help portray you as an expert. Matt Green recently wrote a great post on this here you should read.  If your goal is to build your website with generic content just to have it then you will be in the same boat as everyone else. Instead create strong resources and linkable assets. Answering questions candidly and spilling the beans is a great way to do this. Create a substantial resource with facts and answers to questions that cater to your audience. Being transparent up front will do wonders for you in the long run and of course if it’s good people will mention you, reference it, and link to it.

3.  Stop Thinking About The Quantity of Citations. Get Quality. Seriously.

Although a lot of my research is still in progress I am going to go out and say that I believe the value of citations have been greatly diminished. However if you were EVER getting citations JUST TO GET CITATIONS then you WERE WRONG.  Getting hundreds of citations just to help your local SEO presence is the same as spamming the web. If nobody will ever see it what is the actual point? On the flip side of this getting accurate citations for your business on websites where your consumers are actually looking will do wonders for you. Not only will you get a stronger link (because the sites are trusted) you will also be seen by customers who are looking for your services. In addition to this you also can avoid any link based penalties because every one of these will be QUALITY sites. DO NOT go after Quantity. Just stop.

4. Start Thinking Broader Than Your Own Website. Think Barnacle SEO.

I have been preaching this for quite some time now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. If you haven’t read my post on barnacle SEO yet read it here. Even if you’re doing everything great on your website you need to consider Barnacle SEO. If you promote your pages on attorney directories with Follow links and build up their authority that authority will then pass to your website (as long as it’s linked). Not to mention this will help you control the brand searches for your attorney’s names or law firm searches. Furthermore this acts as an insurance policy as I believe a strong attorney profile page would work as the landing page for your Google Plus account instead of your website. Given this should be done with thought and caution but if you don’t have a website for your firm you can still start getting visibility through this method.

5. Make Sure Your Affairs Are In Order on your Site. Get a Technical Law Firm SEO Audit & Link Analysis

If you’ve ever hired an SEO to work on your site and you’ve left it on autopilot it’s time to make sure you have a strong understanding of what’s going on. One of the reasons we audit all of our clients websites is because we believe it’s important to know what we’re getting into before being able to make accurate assumptions. Since Pigeon now relies on more organic signals a link penalty can take you out of the game organically and locally now much faster. Basically if you’re hit you’re gone. It’s important to face realities and address any potential link or technical SEO issues. Your goal is to be the least imperfect. If you have the best content the best links but your site takes the longest to load it creates a bad user experience and you may be kicked down for that.

SEO Has Changed, But It’s The Same

Yes the local SEO algorithm has changed. That being said Good SEO is still and always be Good SEO. If you put your focus on the most important factors and focus on earning results through doing the best work out there your site is pretty much guaranteed to win in the long run. If you need a roadmap of where to focus first I suggest reviewing the five points above and using it as a roadmap to get things cleaned up and on the right track.


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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.