pushpins on map showing law firms targeting multiple states

Optimizing for State and National Searches: What Law Firms Should Know

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By Omnizant Team
Law Firm Marketing Agency

We often hear from law firms who tell us they want to be on the first page of the SERPs for state and even national searches. Wider net, more fish—right? Er, not quite. 

Look, we understand your desire to dominate the market. But you also need to be able to balance the budget and close the sale. You might be surprised at the misalignment between your business goals and the leads you earn from statewide or national SERP rankings.

If your law firm is considering geo targets, here’s what you need to know about how Google handles local SEO, what it takes to rank in state and national searches, and how law firms can strategically approach investing in geo targets.

Because of the way local SEO works, state searches are not always beneficial for the firm

In Google’s approach to local SEO, Google prioritizes proximity

Your firm’s proximity to a searcher matters to Google. The location of your office is critically important when it comes to local SEO searches. 

Your firm is far more likely to rank well when your office location is closer to the user—and you cannot game the system by using a rented meeting office for a Google Business Profile. If your firm does not have multiple offices throughout the state, then Google is unlikely to show your GBP in the map pack.

Additionally, your clients’ locations and their willingness to travel for qualified legal support matter a lot. Think about your client. Will they drive across the state for counsel? Can you articulate why they should? 

Just last week, we spoke with a family law attorney in Northern Westchester who wanted to optimize for all of NY (including Long Island). As an agency headquartered in Long Island, we know there is absolutely no shortage of good attorneys in our own backyard. A client from Long Island would have to drive at least an hour and fifteen minutes to reach the Westchester attorney—and that’s on a good day with no traffic, which rarely happens in Long Island. 

Even if you can get visibility in front of prospects who live 90 minutes or 2 hours from your office, can you actually convert them?

Start by selecting geo targets closer to your physical office

Our first recommendation for your firm is to pursue several smaller geo targets, like neighborhoods and cities, where you already have physical office locations. An agency can help you determine the most efficient way to reach these targets.

Once you can dominate the smaller geo markets, consider how you might expand your efforts. 

Note: Expanding your efforts may not require a wider geographic expansion, especially if it doesn’t make sense for your firm’s target clients. Expansion could mean leveraging new channels where you can reach folks who aren’t using Google to look for legal counsel.

It costs a lot to rank in state and national searches

Here’s the reality: ranking is usually not a question of possibility—it’s a question of expense. 

So how much are you prepared to pay? There is a major cost difference between a local SEO campaign and a national SEO campaign.

If you still want statewide or national reach, be prepared to invest heavily

The competition in larger markets is simply more cutthroat. With state and national searches, there are more players in the field. This means you can expect to spend more to stand out. In some markets, PPC (pay-per-click) may make more sense than investing heavily in organic SEO.

Reach for the stars, but consider ROI before investing in any SEO. National prestige is wonderful, but if you can’t close the deal with this audience then it’s not worth the investment to reach them.

Review and next steps

We understand your drive to dominate the market. It’s true that geomarketing—which is different from geofencing—can be very effective. However, we encourage all firms to seriously question whether state/national searches are the right choice for their goals:

  • It’s very expensive to achieve top rankings in state and national searches.
  • The leads earned from state and national searches can be more difficult to convert.
  • You may not get the desired return on your (very costly) investment.

Ultimately, you want to grow your law firm efficiently by reaching qualified leads with the least amount of investment. 

If you are ready to discuss options, get a quote from Omnizant. From holistic digital marketing campaigns to one-off assets like website design, our team can help you determine the right marketing approach for your goals.

About the Author
Since 2006, Omnizant's team of digital marketing experts, designers, developers and writers has helped over 2,000 law firms develop powerful websites that drive business growth.
Posted in SEO