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Digital Marketing for Attorneys & Law Firms: Google Local Listings Case Study

nj law group google maps
In this digital marketing case study, we will examine the reasons why a law firm should focus on their business brand for its Google My Business local listings and not necessarily their individual attorney’s listings.

This law firm case study is based on the unique and individual nature of their online needs but we have seen this similar situation across numerous law groups. We’ll examine how to read online articles about digital marketing, what can happen over time and that, in the evolution of the Internet, not everything is clear or a definite “yes, we need to do this” type of solution.

Case Study Examination: Local Law Firm, Multiple Attorneys & Business Listings for Google My Business

Question asked by Business Owner of the Law Firm: “Can we create Google My Business local listings for each of our individual attorneys at each of our office locations?

They sent us a resource, in support of their question, of an article they recently found & read entitled: How Medical Practices & Practitioners Should Set Up Google My Business

Before we jump to the answer, let’s give a little insight and history into this law firms situation and business model. It’s in those details wherein lies the answer of what to do. Because each website, each way a business is run, can be unique and distinct from any other, the answers aren’t a one-way-for-all or a one-size-fits-all.

History of the “Xyz Law Group” for Office Locations & Google My Business Accounts:

  • To help with the discussion, we will name this law firm, the Xyz Law Group, P.C., which is owned by attorneys John Xyz, Esq. and Jane Xyz, Esq. They have numerous other attorneys who are non-partners working at and for the firm. One attorney, we will use for this example, is known as Eve Abc. This law firm has multiple offices located around their state in the US, let’s call out New York for our example state.
  • The Xyz Law Group has Google My Business local listings for each of its multiple offices located around their state of New York. Presently, all of their Xyz Law Group business listings for each address submitted has been accepted and “published” in Google for use in Google Maps, Google Search, Ratings/Reviews, and G+ public accounts.

xyz law group ny google my business listings
Xyz Law Group likes that they have so many map and local listings for their offices, covering all these New York areas. They should. It was set up well for them and a useful digital marketing item for them in many ways.

But, they now seem to want more. This is where we come in to help make sense of when more is good and when more can be bad and possibly create a multitude of problems for them! This is where, for this particular question, for this particular law firm’s situation, we simply have to answer…

NO

Yes, simply, no! The Xyz Law Group does not want to try to add Google My Business local listings for each of their individual attorneys at each of their office locations. That includes, even if only one, individual person/attorney is at that local address on behalf of the firm!

Here’s why “no” is the answer for this law firm:

  • If you read the article sent, and read it in its entirety, you should note a couple of things:
    • It’s April, 2016. The article was written over a year ago, in Jan. 2015. Things change at lightning speed in digital marketing, and especially if Google is involved. While this article came from a reputable source (we love our friends at Search Engine Land and truly appreciate their attention to making sure the articles they post and share are reliable) and time has passed, it’s worth a little extra effort to check to make sure that all that info still holds true. In this case, it does.
    • It references Google’s Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google, which should also be read.
    • Last paragraph of the SEJ article states (where we will replace the appropriate wording for our law firm example):
      “If Xyz Law Group, P.C. is one of many public-facing Attorneys at a location, then there should be a single local page with the Xyz Law Group, P.C. name, and a local page for each Attorney who wishes to have one (for themselves). The Attorney pages, however, should be titled with their name online and CANNOT contain the business or practice name in their page name.”
  • To also note: The Google algorithm is designed to detect, flag and/or remove duplicates but will make exceptions to the legal industries. However, (also in the article and true), “it will flag and/or remove any pages that do not follow these particular guidelines, because a page that has the same name, address, and phone number as another is considered a duplicate regardless of its category.”
    That means this:
    Bad Listing Name: Xyz Law Group: John Xyz, Esq.
    Good Listing Name: Eve Abc, Esq.
    The “good listing” above makes no mention of the “Xyz” name or Law Group that Attorney represents or works for and assumes that the attorney is public-facing and with his/her own clients.
  • Where some problems could come for the Xyz Law Group:
    • Ownership Aspects: Should the Xyz Law Group decide to take the time to create the individual Attorney pages, they really will not be the “owners” or “controllers” of these Attorney pages. The individual Attorney, whose public-facing name the listing should take, will have the rights to his/her listing and can claim it no matter who created it. The Attorney can move or change things related to that listing because it’s his/hers. Any ratings or reviews that get attached to that Attorney page because of work for Xyz Law Group will stay with the Attorney page and not be the right of the Xyz Law Group. The Xyz Law Group will only have rights and control over their business, brand-name page listings.
    • Duplicate Content Issues: There can be a fine line and discretionary situation with what is considered “duplicate content”. If Google flags your listing, it can become quite difficult to remedy. Google can also simply omit listings or maybe choose one. If left questionable, Google will take control. It’s always recommended to keep things in your control as much as possible, and that means ensuring there isn’t any duplicate content in areas where you control that content.
    • Strength in Less Numbers: Because Attorneys can come and go from such law firms for various reasons, we have recommended numerous times to law groups, such as the one described here as Xyz Law Group, to not get greedy with wanting extra listings or they risk losing time, money, effort when their time, money, effort should remain on the main business listings. It will serve to not wear themselves thin or create possible problems for them in the future. Ratings and reviews can also be affected. Staying focused, building strength in one area (or fewer areas) can prove better and become stronger than the many in the long run.
    • Brand Name is Owner Name: The Xyz Law Group main partners, John Xyz and Jane Xyz, could try to justify that they would follow the example guidelines, as mentioned above, for a good listing and create ones for themselves named like this:
      Listing: John Xyz, Esq.
      Listing: Jane Xyz, Esq.
      But which location would they, should they choose? Isn’t “Xyz” the Law Firm? Aren’t the “Xyz” attorneys both responsible for the clients that come and go through the law firm even if they have their own individual clients? They aren’t really “individual practitioners” since they are responsible for the law firm as a whole business. Their customer base is the customer base of the Xyz Law Group.
    • Testing or Playing with Google: Deciding to interpret Google guidelines as you see fit might not be wise… unless you are willing to take the consequences of flags and/or removals of your listings. There are enough solid and undeniable true listings that this law firm can have, that it’s not worth testing or playing with guidelines that might seem ambiguous!
  • Which set of Google My Business listings would you prefer if you were the Xyz Law Group:
  • xyz law group ny google business listings before after

Make sense? … It does for us, so the simple answer, again, is “no” for this law firm. And because we’ve seen this similar situation time-and-time again across many law firms in many states, it’s easy and quick for us to know when to “just say no”! It’s better to do things that will stick and be solid and stay solid in Google for a long time. Then you can use any extra time for more and even better optimization efforts!

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