Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
What Are Local Citations?
Local citations are references to your law firm’s name, address, and phone number across the web. They act as “votes” to verify the location and details about your business to search engines and users.
Some common examples of local citation sources include:
- Business directories like Yelp, Mapquest, Manta
- Local chamber of commerce and association directories
- Online yellow pages and phone books
- Review sites like Avvo and Martindale-Hubbell
- Government databases such as city, county, state registrations
- Social media business pages
Citations serve as an independent, third-party validation that your law firm is real and operating at a specific location. Accurate, consistent citations across many reputable sites reinforce your local presence and credibility for search engines. The more quality citation sources that match your verified business information, the better.
Why Local Citations Matter for Law Firms
Local citations are an important ranking factor for law firms trying to improve their visibility and credibility in local search results. Here are some of the key reasons why law firms should focus on earning quality local citations:
- Help establish local relevance. By being listed on popular local business directories, legal directories, and review sites, law firms send signals about their business location that help search engines understand they serve a specific geographic area. This improves the chances of ranking for location-based queries.
- Build trust and credibility. When law firms are consistently listed on many authoritative sites across the web with matching business information, it establishes them as a trusted, legitimate business in the eyes of search engines and users. In a field like law where expertise and reputation are critical, this can sway potential clients.
- Improve local rankings. High-quality local citations are a ranking factor for local search results on platforms like Google and Bing. By having a strong local citation profile, law firms make it more likely they will rank highly for searches related to their specific practice areas and location. This leads to more visibility and website traffic.
Earning trustworthy and relevant local citations should be a key part of any law firm’s local SEO strategy. Citations act as votes of confidence that reinforce a law firm’s reputation and expertise to search engines. For law firms trying to reach potential clients in their geographic area, improving local citations can translate directly into new business and revenue.
Top Citation Sources for Law Firms
Law firms should focus on building citations from these top sources:
- Google My Business – Having a complete and optimized Google My Business listing is one of the most important citations for any local business, including law firms. This allows you to show up in Google Maps and search results for related keywords and location searches.
- Facebook – Create a Facebook Business Page for your law firm to tap into this highly authoritative citation source. Make sure it is fully filled out and includes key details like your address, phone number, website, and practice areas.
- Lawyer Directories – Build citations on popular legal and lawyer directories like Avvo, Lawyers.com, Martindale-Hubbell, and FindLaw. These niche sites are trusted resources for consumers searching for attorneys.
- Legal Organization Directories – If your firm or attorneys belong to state bar associations, the ABA, or other legal groups, be sure to have listings on their member directories. These are considered strong industry citations.
- Review Sites – While controversial, reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Avvo can contribute to local SEO if managed properly. Be sure claimed profiles are accurate and kept updated.
How to Build Quality Citations
To build quality citations, law firms should focus on the following strategies:
Claim and Optimize Directory Listings
Claiming and optimizing law firm listings on online directories is one of the most important citation building strategies. Key directories to focus on include Google My Business, Bing Local, Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, Martindale-Hubbell, and Justia.
When claiming listings, it’s important to completely fill out all profile information including address, phone number, website, business description, practicing areas, bar admissions, awards and honors, and attorney bios. Profile photos and videos can also improve presence. Ensure all information is consistent across directory listings.
Network with Local Organizations
Joining and participating in local professional organizations, legal associations, and community chambers can help build local citations. Having a law firm profile, sponsoring events, and getting listed as a member on these websites helps establish local search presence.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Positive online customer reviews on Google, Facebook, and directories like Avvo and Yelp also count as citations. Law firms should aim to gain more high-quality client reviews by asking customers for feedback and making the review process simple. Monitoring review sites and promptly responding to any negative reviews also helps manage reputation.
Common Citation Issues to Avoid
Local citations play a crucial role in local SEO but can also hurt your efforts if not done correctly. Here are some of the most common citation issues that law firms should avoid:
Inconsistent Business Details
One of the biggest citation problems occurs when business names, addresses, and phone numbers are inconsistent across citation sources. Even minor inconsistencies like abbreviations, extra words, or misspellings can signal to search engines that citations refer to different businesses.
Law firms should ensure complete consistency across all citations, listings, and directories. Check for issues like:
- Business name differences (“Johnson Law PLLC” vs “Johnson Law Firm PLLC”)
- Address variations (“123 Main Street Suite 400” vs “123 Main Street Ste 400”)
- Phone number discrepancies with/without formatting
Law firms present a transparent online identity to search engines by correcting inconsistencies.
Duplicate business listings spread link equity across multiple profiles rather than concentrating it on a single listing. This dilutes local SEO efforts.
Check citation sources carefully to spot and merge or remove duplicate listings for the law firm. Watch for slight variations that create duplicates – an old address, alternate business name, etc. Proactively prevent duplicates by using a citation-building service or software.
Irrelevant or Spammy Citations
Some business listings provide no value and even violate search engine guidelines. Avoid low-quality citation sources that:
- List all businesses without verification
- Allow duplicate or spammy listings
- Offer no relevant link context for a law firm
- Exist solely to generate traffic and ad revenue
Focus on accurate, relevant citations from sources that align with a law firm’s customer base and location. Prioritize quality over quantity.
While it’s possible to manually create and update citations, using a dedicated citation management platform can save a tremendous amount of time and effort. These tools allow you to centralize your NAP data, identify citation opportunities, monitor existing listings, and distribute updates at scale.
Some top citation management platforms for law firms include:
Moz Local makes it easy to centralize and distribute your law firm’s NAP information. It provides suggested citations based on your location and practice area. You can claim and verify listings on important sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and Apple Maps. It also helps you identify and fix duplicate or inaccurate listings that may be hurting visibility.
BrightLocal helps manage citations across top directories, search engines, and social sites. Its dashboard shows which listings have been claimed and verified. It also monitors for issues and alerts you to duplicates, inaccurate data, and new citation opportunities. You can create custom data feeds to sync your information across platforms.
Yext focuses on providing an accurate, consistent NAP across the web. It powers listings on sites like Google, Facebook, Apple Maps, and Yelp. The platform makes it easy to push updates to all your listings with a single click. You can track analytics to see how customers are finding your business online. Yext also offers monitoring for duplicate listings.
A tool like this can automate much of the tedious work of creating and maintaining citations. The set-it-and-forget-it approach helps free up time while ensuring your law firm’s NAP information is consistent and accurate across the web. This helps strengthen local SEO and visibility.
Monitoring and Maintaining Citations
Consistently monitoring and maintaining your law firm’s citations is crucial to maximizing their impact. Here are some best practices:
- Conduct regular citation audits every 3-6 months to check for issues. Look for duplicate listings, inconsistencies, and other errors. Use a citation tracking tool or manual searches to audit citations across major directories, social profiles, and other sources.
- Update your law firm’s citations if any key details change, like the business name, address, phone number, etc. Don’t let outdated information linger.
- Continuously build new high-quality citations over time to expand your visibility. Prioritize the most influential industry directories first when adding new listings.
- Respond to any reviews, feedback or interactions on citation sources to show customers you are actively managing your online presence.
- If finding and fixing citation issues is overwhelming, consider hiring a local SEO agency to handle monitoring and maintenance. Their expertise can optimize this process.
Regularly monitoring and updating citations takes work, but pays off by boosting local SEO and keeping your law firm’s information consistent and accurate across the web. Don’t neglect this important but often overlooked area.
Measuring the Impact of Citations
Once you have built citations for your law firm, you’ll want to measure their impact on your local SEO efforts. Here are some ways to track the effectiveness of your citation building:
- Monitor your website’s rankings in Google My Business and other local search engines for your targeted keywords. As you build relevant citations, your rankings should gradually improve over time. Track these regularly to see positive momentum.
- Use Google Analytics or other web traffic analysis tools to monitor changes in your organic website traffic, especially from local searches. An increase in traffic from local keywords can indicate your citations are having a positive effect.
- Check citation velocity in Moz Local and other tools to see how quickly new citations are being aggregated across the web. Faster velocity indicates your citations are propagating through data sources, which helps local SEO. Aim for at least 1 new citation per week.
- Review your local SEO performance reports in tools like BrightLocal and Whitespark to see changes in your visibility across top local directories and aggregators. Improved visibility in these sources shows your citation building efforts are working.
- Monitor your Google My Business insights data for any positive changes in actions like calls, requests for directions, photos views etc. More customer engagement with your listing can be driven by improved local SEO and citations.
- Consider running a small local SEO citation building experiment on a specific location or practice area pages. Build 10-20 citations targeting that page and track the direct impact on its organic traffic and rankings. This can demonstrate the tangible benefits of citations.
By regularly measuring the impact of your citation building efforts using these tips, you can better understand the ROI of this crucial local SEO activity and make data-driven decisions on where to focus your ongoing optimization efforts.
Common Legal Citation Questions
Law firms often have questions around citations and how they work for SEO and marketing purposes. Here are some of the most common:
What are the citation requirements for law firms?
There are no set requirements, but ideally law firms should aim for 25-50+ high quality citations from relevant legal directories, platforms, and aggregators. The more authoritative and relevant, the better.
How many citations do I need?
There is no magic number, but strive for as many citations as possible from niche legal sites and directories. Geographic location also matters – aim for citations in all markets you serve. The minimum goal should be 25-50.
How often should I update citations?
Citations should be monitored and updated regularly as your key details change – at minimum annually. Things like phone numbers, addresses, practice areas and attorney names should be kept current. New citations should be built regularly as well.
Do citations affect domain authority?
Yes, high quality and relevant citations from authority domains in your niche can positively influence domain authority. But citations should focus on reaching your audience rather than just chasing DA. Relevance and trust matters more than the DA of any one site.
Should I focus on DA of citations?
Don’t get overly focused on the DA of potential citation sources. Relevance, trust and audience reach are more important. High DA sites are a bonus, but any authoritative niche citation has value.
Optimizing Citations for Law Firms
Citations not only provide credible visibility for legal practices, but also serve as powerful trust signals that boost local search rankings when done right. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your law firm’s citation strategy:
Focus on Accuracy and Relevance
Prioritize the accuracy of all information across citation sources. Details like addresses, phone numbers, lawyer names and practice areas should perfectly match law firm websites and listings. Incorrect data can be seen as spam and cause citations to be ignored.
Relevant citation sources directly related to the legal industry hold much more weight. Leading lawyer directories and reputable legal publication provide meaningful visibility. Generic business directories should be secondary priorities.
Prioritize Lawyer Directories
Top legal-focused citation sources like Martindale-Hubbell, FindLaw, Avvo and Justia should be claimed and completed as a foundation. These directories are trusted by consumers searching for legal representation and looked upon favorably by search engines.
Optimizing lawyer profiles on these platforms also offers law firms enhanced visibility and credibility. Detailed professional profiles highlighting credentials, practice areas and client reviews bring direct value beyond just citations.
Monitor and Maintain
New citations sources pop up over time while existing ones can change in accuracy. Setup alerts and audits to monitor citations and fix issues like incorrect data, inconsistent NAP or duplicated listings. This maintenance ensures your firm’s citations remain fully optimized as the landscape evolves.
Proactively monitoring and claiming the best new citation opportunities as they emerge can provide a competitive edge. However, focus more heavily on accuracy and relevance over quantity of citations.
At Partner Digital Agency, we specialize in boosting the online visibility of your law firm through effective SEO strategies. We understand your industry’s unique challenges and opportunities and will help you stand out in search engine rankings.
We will help you optimize your website’s content, improve site speed, and enhance local SEO. These improvements can drive more organic traffic to your site, leading to more high-quality leads. Take the first step towards improving your online presence by scheduling a free website audit today.
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