How to Rank Multiple Law Firm Office Locations on Google Maps
Chris Dreyer | May 29, 2014
Ranking multiple locations in Google Maps is possible but not always something lawyers think about.
Attorneys do not often have multiple offices and they also do not operate in the same way a retailer would with multiple locations. Attorneys can service people at their homes, offices or anywhere else and do not necessarily need clients to come into a physical location.
Ranking multiple offices in Google Maps1 however helps lawyers gain more exposure and adds convenience for clients. Here is how lawyers can rank multiple locations in maps.
Create a Listing for Each Location
The most obvious place to start when ranking multiple locations in maps is to add each branch office separately. Attorneys can do this all from the same account and if they have more than just few offices they can do it using Google’s bulk listing editor2.
- Each listing must have its own profile (but they can all be added under the same account).
- Each listing must be verified individually.
- Listing changes can be managed from the bulk editor interface.
- Ensure each office has a proper category assigned to it. For example if each office specializes in a different practice area, makes sure that is selected as that branch office’s category.
Ranking Factors for Local Listings
Google looks at three different things when deciding which listing will show up for a local query. Those factors are:
Attorneys have the greatest influence over two of these factors (i.e. relevance and prominence).
Google uses an algorithm that looks at the location of a user in relation to the geographic location of the business as well as that business’s proximity to a center point (typically a major metropolitan area). Online marketers call this the Centroid Bias because listings further away from the center of the geographic location may be given less preference, even though they might be more relevant to the user. If you do a search for this on the web, you will find a lot of ambiguity and few answers. Some say that the Centroid of a particular area is not necessarily the city center closest to where the query originated, but Google’s opinion of the center of industry activity in any given geographic location. For instance, if an attorney were trying to rank for “family lawyer Cleveland,” the center might not be the center of Cleveland but a central point among an area dense with family law practices. Unfortunately, since listing information is based on your address (and unless you are flexible in changing that), you pretty much have to work with what you have.
Update: As of September 2016, it appears Google pushed through an update (dubbed Possum by SEOs) that significantly changed the way local GMB (Google My Business) listings rank in search. Early studies indicate that Centroid Bias may be less of a factor now that the algorithm has been updated.
Be sure to fill out your listings with as much relevant information as possible unique to that office. Include phone numbers, URLs, images and keywords that are relevant to your location. Omitting information may mean Google will not have all the information it needs to show all offices for a given search.
Google uses factors like social indicators, links, and overall web presence to determine if a local office would be relevant to a searcher. Attorneys who have many offices generally only have one website.
You can increase the chances of multiple offices showing up in search by creating location-specific landing pages on your site and getting exposure for those.
Use schema markup for geographic location3, contact information and any other data related to the location of the office. Build links to these pages from directories using the address of the specific office.
If you can create a presence on the web for each office that you run independently of others, the greater the chances are of that office showing up with others in maps applications or in search for localized queries.
Reviews for Local SEO
Getting reviews for each location4 is also a good way to get them to show up in maps searches (and regular searches too). In terms of reviews, attorneys should look at growing all locations and not just a home office. When soliciting reviews, they should be obtained for branch offices as well.
Remember to be mindful of your state bar’s guidelines when it comes to asking for reviews from your clients.
Add Cities to Your Profiles
When adding a location to maps Google typically asks you about where you serve your customers (either at your location or going to where your customers are).
When specifying a service distance do not pick the radius but instead tell Google the specific cities where you could potentially work with clients for each location.
Add Cities in Description In the description area provided for your business, indicate as many citites as you can where you serve clients. This provides another area where Google can pick up location information related to your business.
Note that as of August 1, 2016, the description field in Google Business Listings can no longer be edited5. Google is working on an enhanced feature for describing businesses in listings that has not been released yet.
Improve your Organic Ranking for Local Terms
Make sure that the page you point your Google Business listings at (typically the home page of your site) ranks well for the terms you want it to. If you are ranking multiple offices, it makes sense to point each listing’s URL at a location based page on your site6.
That way you can rank those pages for location-based terms and you do not have to worry about ranking your home page for multiple keyword phrases (which technically is not possible).