In this video interview, Family Lawyer Magazine Publisher Dan Couvrette speaks with Joy Hawkins – SEO expert and CEO and founder of Sterling Sky – about how a Google My Business listing can help a family law firm’s growth.
Dan Couvrette: My name is Dan Couvrette. I’m the CEO of Divorce Marketing Group and the publisher of Family Lawyer Magazine. I want to thank you for joining us today in the seminar. I have the pleasure of speaking with Joy Hawkins, who is the CEO and founder of Sterling Sky (SterlingSky.ca) and an SEO expert. Today we will be talking about Google and its Google My Business Page, which is a very important part of a business’s growth.
I looked up a few stats while preparing for the seminar. Google is the most dominant search engine on the internet. In fact, 86% of all searches go through Google and there are 5.6 billion searches on Google per day. This is why it is very important to have a presence on Google, and that all the information there is up-to-date and accurate.
Joy is the CEO and founder of Sterling Sky, a company focuses on the area of local search engine optimization. This means that her firm helps clients show up on Google so that when people are searching for things that relate to their business, they are going to be found. This ultimately means that they get more business. She has been working in the local SEO market since 2006 and is a Google top contributor and frequent speaker on the subject of search engine optimization. Her firm runs conferences called LocalU, which are related to local SEO. They also run a free online help forum called the Local Search Forum.
You may have reached this seminar through Family Lawyer Magazine. Not only do we publish Family Lawyer Magazine, but we also have another side of the company: Divorce Marketing Group (DivorceMarketingGroup.com), which is a full-service agency focused on marketing family lawyers. We do everything from building websites, search engine optimization, custom content development, newsletters, Divorce Guides, podcasts, videos, pay-per-click advertising, and more to help family lawyers attract and secure high-quality clients.
Joy, thank you very much for joining me today in the seminar.
Joy Hawkins: Thanks for having me.
What is a Google My Business Page?
When you do a search on Google, for example, if you search for “divorce lawyer near me” or “divorce lawyer Chicago,” you will usually get a set in the search results with a map. It typically has three listings beside it. These are called Google My Business listings. Some people call them Google Maps listings, but it’s essentially a profile for your business that has all your details on it such as your phone number. There’s also a section where customers can leave reviews. This is the platform that business owners use to manage their listing and contribute to the information that Google has about their business.
Why is it important to update or claim your Google My Business Page?
The biggest thing is that you want to put your business out there. When people are searching for you either by name or if they are searching for divorce attorneys near them, you want to make sure that they can actually find your information, and that it’s accurate. The biggest thing is reviews. You want to know what people are saying about you.
Also, one thing I should mention is that just because you haven’t created a listing on Google doesn’t mean Google doesn’t have one. Google creates them automatically all the time, so sometimes people don’t even realize that there are listings that already exist for their firm or the lawyers that work at their firm.
What do you recommend when somebody is going to update their listing? Is there anything important they should pay attention to?
There are a few things that impact your ranking on Google. One of them would be the category that you choose. Google has almost 4000 different categories in Google My Business that you can choose from, but it can sometimes be challenging because there are multiple categories that apply to the same business type. For example, they have a category for family lawyers and they also have a category for divorce lawyers – and they’re essentially the same thing. We’ve done some testing around those two categories and have found that usually, the divorce lawyer category is better because it correlates more with divorce queries. For example, when people typing are searching for a divorce lawyer. The family lawyer category, on the other hand, correlates more with people searching for a child custody lawyer. We find the divorce term generally gets searched more. The category you pick as your first one typically holds more weight, so you want to pick that one wisely. One tip that I would give to the family law attorneys listening is to go with the divorce lawyer category.
Is there a dropdown menu that gives more detail into what the family lawyers do?
You can add up to 10 categories. You can have divorce lawyer, family lawyer, or even just a generic lawyer. They don’t really triage them. When you first go in, if you start typing ‘lawyer,’ for example, it will populate all the different categories that are related to the term ‘lawyer.’ You can add up to 10, but you just have to remember the first one that you pick is the one that holds the most weight, so choose that one wisely.
Tell us a little bit about Google Reviews and what people can do to improve their reviews.
If you’re not asking for reviews, you’re not going to get as many. Lots of studies have been done on this showing how asking for reviews results in more reviews. If you’re new at this and you’re not really sure where to start, www.WhiteSpark.ca has a free tool that allows you to go in and provide your business name and location. The tool will tell you who in your area has the most reviews. This will show you who your competition is, and it will give you a good idea of what you’re up against.
If you’re an attorney, and you’ve got three reviews on your listing, but you’re competing with an attorney who has 500, consumers will likely go to that attorney. This is because consumers tend to want to go with businesses that have more information about them online, so asking for reviews would be the first step.
Is there a minimum you think a lawyer should have on their Google My Business Page?
It really varies. If you’re in a small town, you may not need as many. If you’re in Chicago, you’re going to need hundreds, so it varies based on what your competitors are doing. That’s why businesses should use that tool. If you’re looking for a tool to streamline it, we use GatherUp (gatherup.com). That’s the name of the tool we use, and it is paid. It automates the process of sending alerts out to your customers via text and email to ask them to leave your review.
I should mention that we are doing this interview on July 28th, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Are there any new features or products that Google has added that you think people should be aware of?
They’ve been rolling out quite a few. One is Google Posts. Once you claim your listing inside Google My Business, which is at business.google.com, you can go in there and they have a feature where you post an update and it displays on the search results when people are searching for your business name. When someone types in your business name, they’ll get this panel of information about you that we call the Knowledge Panel. In this panel, there’s a section where you can post an update. It’s a great opportunity to post something about specials or deals. For lawyers, though, we tell them to focus on what makes you better than your competitors. For example, why is someone going to choose you over the other attorneys in town?
You can also update people on how your business is coping with COVID. For example, you can update people on whether you are open, or if you are accepting new clients, or if you are having in-person or virtual meetings. It’s a good place to update consumers about that.
There is also one other thing that they launched recently that is on the Info tab inside Google My Business. When you go into the dashboard, there are different tabs. On the Info tab, there are things called Highlights or Attributes, and there are different features you can put on there. For example, if you’re a women-led business you can add that. They’ve also recently added one for online appointments, so we’ve been adding those to all of our lawyer clients’ pages because they are all doing remote online appointments right now.
How often should somebody update their Google My Business Page?
I suggest going in regularly to respond to reviews because statistically, consumers tend to want responses to reviews quickly. If you respond to a review, that’s three months old, that sends a bad signal to somebody that you’re not paying attention to what they’re saying.
A study that GatherUp did found that the average person wants a response within a day of leaving the review, so I would be in there responding to reviews regularly and also regularly checking for new features. Google tries to highlight them, but often people don’t know these features exist because they’re not looking.
If somebody writes a good review, can you comment on the review? Would that be a benefit as well?
We recommend responding to all review types, both negative and positive. When you do respond to all review types, the person actually gets an email saying the business has responded to your review, and they can click and read your response. Google proactively alerts the person that you took the time to respond, which is a really nice gesture and should help with customer retention.
Do you think doing this and staying active will help your search engine ranking?
We haven’t seen any correlations. Going into Google and editing a listing doesn’t really impact rankings. The main things that impact where you rank are traditional SEO factors – things like links and how your website is structured. Reviews do come into play. Reviews do impact ranking along with your category, but most of your ranking is made up of the traditional things that we look at with SEO.
Dan Couvrette: I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me for a few minutes about this. I know you could probably go on for hours or days talking about Google. If people want more information about Joy and her firm, I recommend that you go to www.SterlingSky.ca. If you want to see more articles, videos, podcasts, or newsletters about family law issues, technology, practice management, health & well-being, etc. go to www.FamilyLawyerMagazine.com. If you want to learn more about Divorce Marketing Group and how we can help your business grow, go to www.DivorceMarketingGroup.com.
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