Sorry, but it’s true. Google and Google Maps are vital to your success. This is what you need to know. We’re not joking.
Gyi Tsakalakis founded AttorneySync because lawyers deserve better from their marketing people. As a non-practicing lawyer, Gyi...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of...
What’s this about Google My Business? Well, for starters it connects your business to the Bible: The real Google Maps page. If you’re in business, you need to understand this. It’s not hard, but it takes a bit of work, and it’s a must.
Create a system, understand the process, and don’t be shy about asking for Google reviews, they matter.
(BTW, you can’t cheat or lie about a physical location. Google sends a postcard to verify. Who knew? So, you need to figure it out. Here’s how, even if you work out of a co-working facility. Do you need a sign? Yes, you do. Google has a lot of weird rules.)
And for Heaven’s sake, if you tell Google you’ll accept messaging through Google, you need to answer your messages or risk bad reviews and cranky customers. Do or do not. There is no try.
NAP? It’s got to be consistent across the web. If you don’t know it, you need to listen to this episode. This is everything you need to know about Google mapping and why it’s so important.
Plus, ranking factors, keywords, call answer rate, and profile info. Google 101.
Got questions or ideas about solo and small practices? Drop us a line at [email protected]
Special thanks to our sponsors Nota, Lawmatics, and Lawclerk.
Intro: New approach, new tools, new mindsets, new solo.
Adriana Linares: How often do you say Google My Business? Probably not as often as you should and you’re going to learn why during this episode with my guest, Gyi Tsakalakis. Google My Business has become a noun, a verb, a goal, and a mission all at once. So I’ve invited Gyi Tsakalakis back to the New Solo podcast. He was just on a couple of months ago talking to us about the ABA Techshow and a couple of other things but Gyi is an expert marketing genius for lawyers and law firms. He has own podcast, I’m going to ask to tell us about that but for I want to say, hey Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Hey Adriana, thanks so much for having me and for those kind words, really appreciate chatting with you.
Adriana Linares: You’re welcome. I wanted to do a Google My Business deep dive because I have to tell so many new and experienced attorneys about Google My Business, and I just feel like it’s so critical. So, I immediately thought well I thought of my three or four favorite marketing experts and I realized that I had not had you on the show by yourself, I’ve had your buddy Conrad on, and I thought I’d give you a little love because I think you deserve it even though you keep beating me at chess and I’m getting super annoyed about that. By the way listeners, I know we’ve got — we got to a lot of hobbies with Adriana Linares, we’ve had the plants, we’ve had the polymer clay, we’ve had the wine which we still have and now picked up my old habit of trying to learn how to play chess and Gyi and I are playing on an app and he’s beating me all the time, but thankfully I’m not a sore loser, I just tried to learn.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well I just enjoy the game.
Adriana Linares: No, it was a lot of fun. Okay, so Gyi, tell us a little bit about yourself even though you were just on, but someone may have missed that episode, I encourage them to go back and find it and then also tell us about your podcast because I think a lot of the stuff you covers incredibly relevant and helpful to New Solo listeners as well.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Sure. So I was a trial lawyer at a small plaintiffs firm, when I started my career, it was a very brief career. I’d always had a kind of entrepreneurial itch and technical background, I jumped around from computer science major to philosophy major to law school, you know, so there was that. And then 2008 we thought hey, you know what, we could do good work helping lawyers navigate some of this internet, mumbo-jumbo and so we found an Attorney Sync. So we’re doing that since 2008 —
Adriana Linares: Attorney Sync, like S-Y-N —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Attorney S-Y-N-C. Terrible branding, we constantly get you know, sink as an S-I-N-K —
Adriana Linares: Right, I just want to make sure everyone knows.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Just search my name, just search my name.
Adriana Linares: Oh because that’s so much easier to spell, Tsakalakis.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Exactly. So we’ve doing that for a while and yeah, we just you know, lawyers are my people, we love helping them and this internet stuff can be a little bit challenging but I think it’s fun because there’s always new problems to solve as we’ll talk about today and hey, people are using the internet to find and hire lawyers and look for answers to their likelihood questions, and big place to do this is Google.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I think Google might have a future, it might make it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Maybe, you know, it’s a crappy startup.
Adriana Linares: They offer a free service for businesses. It is literally called Google My Business.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well that’s my first breaking news to hear, they rebranded it. It’s Google Business Profiles now. So you know, they’ve rebranded it a ton of times, it was Google Places, it was Google Local, Google My Business, Google Business Profiles. But yes, the short version is it’s the free tool that Google provides to list your business right on Google.
Adriana Linares: And why is it important?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Because when you search for anything modified by lawyer, law firm, attorney, lawyers combinations, thereof or and/or searches on your name, or your name plus attorney or your firm name or any, you know, what marketing people would called branded queries, below the ads because remember Google still has got to have some make money so they put the ads first. But right below those ads is usually for a non-branded search like something that would attorney there’s a little box that’s got three little listings with a map and it shows firm names, addresses, hours of operation, contact information, frequent questions, we’ll go through each one of those and then for searches on your name, it serves up this huge real estate, call it knowledge panel or one box, but if you just do a search on your name, it’s that giant box on the right hand side, it’s got a pictures, map, all sorts of information about your firm reviews, yada yada yada but point being, it’s huge, real estate for people searching for lawyers and people searching for your name, trying to decide if they should contact you.
Adriana Linares: So to be clear, it connects to the maps on Google Maps, is that correct?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So my first question to you is going to be, what if I work from home and I don’t want my home address on there because you do have to go through a verification process. So, everyone, if you haven’t done this yet, you’re going to Google the words, no, it’s not Google My Business, anymore —
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s still probably going for Google My Business, but —
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it will —
Gyi Tsakalakis: It used to be Google My Business, it’s google.com/business is the URL, they didn’t change that so that was nice.
Adriana Linares: I go there. It’s probably going to say, claim my profile and then I’m going to start to fill out the application form, which we’ll talk about in a second, but one of the important things is you have to have a physical address because they send you a postcard in the mail to confirm that this is where you’re located. So my very first question off the top is what do I do if I work from home?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So I got some bad news for you because in Google’s world, you have to have a physical office location in order to participate. So Google views — this is the same lawyers can’t stand this because they’re like, well look, I serve all my clients online, I don’t have any in-person meetings, you know, I’ll meet at a coffee shop, I don’t have an office, we’re all virtual and for Google Business Profiles, in Google’s world that is not a local business from their perspective. And so therefore, this whole program, this whole tool, isn’t — you’re not really eligible for it. There’s a thing that you can do with service area businesses, but that’s a different thing and I would say probably not worth having the bulk of our conversation around. So, the short version is, you got to have an office location. Google actually has a bunch of guidelines about how to actually do this and so I would even — if you go to the google.com/business they have resources and FAQs, and all stuff so you can walk through that. But the short version is, you want to search to see if Google already has a listing for you, because they might already have created a listing automatically, even if you haven’t claimed it, you want to create a duplicate so search for to see if your firm name, your name have listings and then as you mentioned you just go there, create your profile, fill out as much information as you can, make sure it’s accurate and the other rule is you get a Google Business Profile listing for every physical office location and for every practitioner. So if you’re a solo, you get — if you have a physical office, you get one for your physical office, and you get one for as a practitioner listing but if you don’t have a physical office, you can’t really play this game.
Adriana Linares: Now, that maybe there’s a cheat, or a hack, or I won’t call it either of those because those sound like we’re doing something wrong —
Gyi Tsakalakis: An optimization.
Adriana Linares: An optimization, opportunity.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes.
Adriana Linares: What if I get my mail at my local bar association or perhaps, like my live-in lawyer have a monthly subscription to Regis, which is like, you know, it’s actually I think it’s called spaces but anyway, so maybe you’re paying for a shared address or delivery location, can I use my bar association address but then how do I make sure it’s not the same address as the other lawyer this using the business I mean, the bar association, so talk to us a little bit about shared office spaces or WeWork for example.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes so generally Google doesn’t love them. The shared office spaces —
Adriana Linares: I’m getting really mad at Google right now, so far.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I know, I always break people’s hearts about this, they get so excited and they’re like this doesn’t fit my business model. Well, you call Google up because they only knew about this. But short version is co-work in spaces will work intermittently. I always tell people if you’re going to do a prioritization so say that you’re going to fit in this like perfect world where you have your own office, your own lease, your own building, whatever, start here. First, try to share an address with a location that doesn’t offer legal services because Google will do this filtering thing where it’s like, well either there’s a bunch of lawyers you’re rolling in a show a couple lawyers in the map, they don’t want to show all the same lawyers, the same location. So this is especially true if you’re in downtown or the other thing I tell people to is, if you’re doing strategic planning, you’re opening a new office or you’re moving, this is a great time to start thinking about these things as you choose a new office location but you’re going to do, share with a non-law firm real physical office. Yes, question Adriana.
Adriana Linares: Hands up, I’ll give you an example. I can think of one of my favorite clients who is in the Northwest and he works from home, takes all his clients online but his wife runs a catering company. So she has a physical location and its business, a commercial address so under those circumstances, what are you suggesting?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So you could — that I would use that, you can use that address, you should put the — he or she should put signage up that there is a — that the law firm is operating there because sometimes there’s some got you stuff where like it gets nasty in legal, but competitors will go and try to get listing suspended by taking pictures of shared office places outside and saying there’s no signage that office isn’t fair, it gets crazy.
So, put some put a sign up. Say you list the firm’s name there, make sure that someone’s answering a phone number that can say this is our address, yes with share this with it. So that’s the ideal. As a fallback though you might consider, I wouldn’t do the bar association thing, I think there’s just too much risk of filtering for that but you know as a fallback co-working space so especially if you’re in a WeWork, where there’s no other law firms and other businesses like that. I’ve seen WeWork’s intermittently work. Again, you want to have some signage or want to be able to answer, the key is that you can tell that the business is there. So there’s a sign or something on the door in front and then two, that someone will answer the phone and say, this is the law firms, this is the lawyer’s office because those are the ways, as you mentioned the Google will verify those listings. But you know, home offices, PO box numbers, those are all off, those are no good, no bueno, and shared office space is a fallback if it’s a co-working space but really, if you’re going to do shared, shared with another business, that’s not a law firm. You know, an accounting firm or other professional service provider firm, those are great. But you know, if you shares I see a lot of lawyers they will have another lawyer who does bankruptcy, I do criminal offense, can I share with them? And it’s like you can, but you got to risk it filtering.
Adriana Linares: So you can’t have the exact same address or can you, or should I if I go to my like, hey, I’m going to use your address, put a little sign in the window that says, you know, this is my official office space, can I be a half or a suite number B, or do I need some differentiator that’s not the literal exact same address?
Gyi Tsakalakis: That used to be a thing. I don’t think it’s as much of a thing anymore, so if you want to carve out a suite, you can but I don’t really think you need to. If you’re doing the shared, I think just like the regular address location with some signage and answering the phone, I think you’re good to go.
Adriana Linares: Oh, you can’t use your PO box so you couldn’t use like a UPS station, okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, that’s a really unfortunate one. It seems like that’s a natural when they should allow but they don’t.
Adriana Linares: Although, you can’t really what are you going to be like, hey, client meet me at the package store on the corner of —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s there — that’s the Google’s decision to, right? They’re like we want to represent the real world and so by saying you’re there, you’re setting expectations with consumers that you’re there, you’re really not supposed, it’s just a post office box.
Adriana Linares: All right, let me go real quick. What I’m going to do is look at my Google My Profile, I mean —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s okay, if you call it that.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I’m going to just call it that for now, guys.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The industry people are still calling Google My Business a lot of time so.
Adriana Linares: I mean, I just started finally got from Office 365 to Microsoft 365, this one is going to take a minute. Alright, so you go to google.com/business, you fill out the basic information including a unique and approved sort of address. You fill out your phone number, question for you about phone numbers, which I’ve also heard, do you want to be consistent across your Facebook address and phone number, your Instagram address and phone number, your Yelp, all that stuff, what if I have a phone number that I specifically for one type of lead versus another importance of phone numbers?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Great question. So there’s this concept called NAP which stands for name address and phone location —
Adriana Linares: It’s not what it stands for in my world.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Mine either. But NAP, there’s this idea that you want to have what you’re alluding to which is NAP consistency, meaning that your business name, your address and your phone number are consistent all across the web and Google has historically used this as like an indication of maybe relevance or prominence one of the factors that used to show listings. Now, as you mentioned a lot of people will say well I want to use like a dedicated call tracking number to know the calls that are coming from Google Business Profile versus other listings, which is a great idea by the way and I would recommend. So here’s what I would suggest you do. Number one, for all the major business sites, so Yelp, Facebook page, all the local, they call them the local ecosystem site. These are the sites that Google uses the business data, scrapes it, tries to look for consistency, use your name address and local phone numbers and there are things to people don’t realize like they use like their toll free number or a vanity number that will screw up this whole thing. However, in Google Business Profile, they give you two different phone fields, a primary and an alternative. Historically, local SEO people like me said you can’t screw up map consistency, if you didn’t mess with this at all, you’re going to be taking a risk of being of not ranking but a few years ago, we really started noticing that if you use a tracking number, a dedicated tracking number in your primary phone number in Google Business Profile and your real local phone number as the alternative, you get the best of both worlds because Google will maintain that consistency off the alternative and then show the primary number. So, the primary numbers, the one’s going to show up and get called and you call them to click to calls but you can use NAP consistency, but don’t use call tracking numbers in the local ecosystem, you know, don’t have it a different Facebook number, Yelp number, everything number, especially on those local data sites, because if you do that will mess up NAP consistency.
I will say this, NAP consistency in my estimation of it is not as powerful of a ranking factor as it used to be, but you still don’t want to mess around too much with this, especially in competitive practice or location so that every little bit count helps.
Adriana Linares: Okay, two questions don’t let me forget to ask about ranking factor in just a minute but just back to the address and the phone number. Is it as sensitive as CIA Law Firm, LLC versus CIA Law Firm, no LLC like do I really want to be, okay —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I always tell people go to whatever your firm’s registered with your State Bar start there, because that is one of the ways that they’ll validate. If you’ve registered your firm with your state’s business licensing, ideally your State Bar registration, your business licensing, and your Google Business Profile, and really your firm name, everywhere else are all matching the same. The other thing that comes up with a business name question is trade names and so some jurisdictions allow trade names, others don’t, I will say this, people hate this, but keywords in trade names, makes a big impact on your visibility in Google Business Profile. So if you’re allowed to use a trade name and you register your firm with your State Bar under that trade name and you register your firm with your state licensing body with that trade name and use your Google Business Profile. You’re technically a compliant with Google’s rules and you’re technically compliant and your jurisdictions allows the trade name and those ranked really, really well, which is why if you do a search for a Personal Injury Lawyer Los Angeles, you’ll see likely if people are listening to this right now and do that, they’ll probably going to see a bunch of lawyers, law firms pop up that have some variation of personal injury lawyer injury attorney in their firm names in the business.
Adriana Linares: And that’s what you mean by a trade name. It’s not just your first name, last name or all your partner’s name, it includes a description of the type of law firm that you are?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. And if you do that, if you updated in Google but you don’t update it with the State Bar, you’re running yourself all sorts of troubles, not only with Google but you know, arguably you’re not, you know, that could technically be a false and misleading advertising thing, because you’re not actually operating under the name that you’re registered with the bar with so get that stuff all squared away.
Adriana Linares: And if my law firm name is my actual name, Law Firm of Adriana Linares, is there anything I should know or consider about that or that’s just the business name and Google will like that?
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s the business name, it’s fine. If you wanted to try to optimize a little bit, you might change it to your name and then the specific type of law that you practice. So if you’re like, change it to family law firm or divorce lawyer or personal injury lawyer, getting the category practice area or category in there I think helps probably more than just law firm but even law firm gives Google a nudge. But again, there’s you know, there’s more you know, I’m giving everything all my answers through just the lens of Google Business Profile, but obviously business considerations you want to make because if you create a long complicated names, not as memorable, as not as good for branding, not as catchy, hard to spell.
Adriana Linares: Hard to spell —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Exactly. So this isn’t just as simple as like all well he said Google Business Profile make a long keyword rich name, she’s trying to give you some guidance on some things to think about when you’re setting this up.
Adriana Linares: Okay, one last question before our first break, you mentioned the term ranking factor, which I know is a nebulous term and nobody can define it and nobody can point to it, but could you just explain generally what you mean by ranking factor and why it’s important to Google? Or how Google uses it, I think Google is the inventor of the term ranking factors.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I think in this context, they definitely own it, but I wonder, that’s a good question actually. Don’t know the answer to that, but they’ve been around a while. So anyway, short version is Google uses hundreds of different signals, factors to decide how to rank search results. In the context of Google Business Profile, there are three major factors that Google has communicated that they use. The first —
Adriana Linares: Get your pencils out everybody.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And you can look this up to how to list your business on Google. Google has documented — Google actually has a lot of great documentation on this.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, they really want to help you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They’re trying.
Adriana Linares: So you could do a deep dive with that whole support page and get lost for a long time. Okay, three things number one.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So three things, first is relevance. So relevance is how closely the business matches the search query. So, if you’re in some — if I’m from in Chicago and it’s a personal injury lawyer, Google is going to say, okay, in our index of all of these businesses which ones are relevant and it’s going to be you know, all the ones that might, you know, maybe it’s — they have that in their name, their description or, you know, they’ve got the category set to that and they’ve FAQs and reviews all talking personal injury stuff so that’s relevance. How was it matched, essentially?
Second is distance. In distance, not much you can do about, this is where the person is searching from or what they’re searching for. So again if I modify my search with Chicago, Google wants to serve up Chicago results and Google is getting really good at identifying the location of users, even without geo modification. So even if you don’t include Chicago in your search query, even if you search a personal injury lawyer, but you’re in Chicago, it’ll still show Chicago results and really, they’re trying to show results a lot of times within a mile, you know, especially if it’s in a crowded downtown area where it’s really, really hyper local, so it’s very difficult. Say you’re in the burbs, you think you’re going to rank for the major metro and your office isn’t located there, you’re just not.
Adriana Linares: You’re probably not.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So not much you can do about that except move your location or be strategic about where you’re open new locations but you’re going to show up, you’re going to likely if you do all this stuff, right, you’re going to start ranking well in close proximity to where your office locations are, but beyond that, probably not.
Adriana Linares: So that sounds like a great opportunity for more rural attorneys to localize their businesses and I know that there are a lot of them out there who are trying to service a more rural area. You know, get more land, live more free, have more space for my kids, so that actually sounds like an opportunity for those types of access.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Huge opportunity, a lot less competition and of course, the trick is, you know, if you’re really out in the middle of nowhere, you’ve got to figure out where you want to plop your office location because that’s been still — all those things I talked about with localities to make a difference. And so, the good news is though, if there are no other lawyers near you, you’re likely going to get a lot of reach and so we see that a lot in places that aren’t very competitive.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. Okay, number three.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Number three, and this is where we make all our money. This is prominence. So, prominence is it’s a combination of stuff, but short version is, it’s traditional SEO factors. So it’s links to your page, it’s articles written about you, mentions, it’s review sentiment. This is another one that lawyers get frustrated because they’ll save my competitors, big firms, they got a lot of reviews in the Google Business Profile, I can’t get that many review, my clients you know, they’re not ready to go jump online and talk about how awesome I was helping them get off on their DUI but that’s a factor. It plays a role, the reviews play a role and so anything you can do to influence the prominent stuff, getting its digital PR, people talking about, people writing about you, taking on leadership positions and local bla bla bla, all that kind of jazz, that’s what drives the prominent factor and for what we do, when we consult, most of our work goes into prominence because it’s kind of table stakes to fill out your profile, to get everything you can in there, to be updating your profile, to be adding posts, images, videos, all this stuff, the heart, the gatekeeper stuff is the prominence factor, so it’s all the stuff that’s going on around the web that Google uses to show your results.
Adriana Linares: Does that include things like your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter I mean, is that part of that relevance factor just because you have those links alive and maybe they’re all pointing back to your Google my profile, that’s cross-referencing your website?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. What I always say is, the more information you can feed Google about your business, the better. So having validated profiles across social media sites, legal directories, legal organizations, we might take a leadership role, you know, speaking engagements, interviews, news sites, wherever you can get some publicity online that stuff all plays a role. Now, SEO people will fight about whether those are direct ranking factors or indirect ranking factors, it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s semantics, the point is, the more information Google has about your business in variety sources, the more likely your listings to show for more queries in my view.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. We are going to take a quick break, listen to some messages from some sponsors and come back. I have so many questions, so many, we’ll be right back.
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Adriana Linares: Okay, I’m back with Gyi Tsakalakis from Attorney Sync. Gyi, we forgot to mention your podcast with Conrad.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh yes. I’m a very grateful co-host of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. We’re putting that out every two weeks. Conrad and I who are friendly competitors, talk shop —
Adriana Linares: Indeed.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And proud each other and try to stump each other. But we like to think we bring our A-game to those conversations. So check us out, we’re on YouTube too, we have clips and outtakes on YouTube because we think we’re hilarious.
Adriana Linares: You guys are hilarious. You’re incredibly informative. You’re very generous with your knowledge and time and attorneys, this is where you want to go to learn about internet marketing. So definitely go and subscribe but don’t leave New Solo.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No.
Adriana Linares: And Gyi, go ahead and plug New Solo next time you and Conrad are having one of those fun conversations.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: I forgot to ask you earlier when we were talking about directories and stuff is Moz, M-O-Z, is still a thing?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Moz is a thing. So Moz started as an SEO consulting company but then they became a software company. And they have a variety of tools, that are SEO tools. They also have a service that helps you populate citations called Moz Local. Yeah. So Moz is a thing, also great — if this is brand new to you and listen to this and you’re like, I have no idea what these people are talking about but it sounds important, head to Moz’s learning center, I think it’s one of the better learning resources for SEO. Just get this straight information without a lot of marketing gobbledegook. So check it out.
Adriana Linares: I think the reason Moz was important me a million years ago because I do my own website, I do my — everything is me so I tend to you know, just dig in sometimes. I think Moz is the one that would give me a report of the consistency of my name across the directories. So there’s a logic partners comma inc., was it there, was it not, was the phone number the same and it might have even given me a report on whether or not where it was listed had the HTTPs or the HTTP without the S. So I was able to many years ago, make sure that I was consistent. And that’s where I learned about the importance of that. So I think Maps has some free resources and then you can pay I think, a nominal amount per year for some of its more deeper resources. So that’s another tool to add to your toolkit attorneys. And those of us that support attorneys.
Okay, I want to keep going down the Google My Business Profile. So when you go to create your profile, you have to add all that basic information. It wants you to add photos and services, and it has a cool side. Well, and I say side because it has a bookings capability, which I think is most often used for things like hair stylists and nail salons, where you can book an appointment, but that’s something that I think attorneys would want to turn on. So can you kind of go through and maybe talk about what things are important here are more important, but don’t talk about reviews yet, because I’m going to save that for last because I’m sure that’s really important.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Cool. So the first business information field is your business name, we talked about that, make sure it’s your record name. The second is the business category, this is probably the second most important one, and you get a primary category and then you could have a bunch of secondary categories. It used to be people worried about this thing called category dilutions, so they only put their primaries, they didn’t want to dilute the power of the primary. That’s been mostly debunked at this point. So pick your most specific, biggest part of your practice. You know, a lot of general practice attorneys will say, “Well, you know, I do all sorts of different stuff.” The problem is, if you just pick a law firm, you’re going to show up for all sorts of stuff that you might not intend. Again, this is one of those business decisions. I usually say best practice, pick the one that’s going to be your primary business category and put your alternative ones below that. But anyway, that’s an important one. It’s one of those where it doesn’t quite match the real world. They don’t give you like multiple business categories. But I say be more specific and more general. The more general you are —
Adriana Linares: Pick your favorite child.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Pick your favorite one. That’s right
Adriana Linares: Question for you. If I have a niche, like let’s say I do have a a general personal injury, but I also do pet trusts, just kind of nichy. Would you suggest picking a niche over a really popular category or go still popular category secondary is my niche?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So you have to pick like the categories that Google actually —
Adriana Linares: Oh, they give you. Okay. Yeah, yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, they probably don’t have that. Now, if you fit lines up.
Adriana Linares: They should.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I know.
Adriana Linares: Every pet should have a trust.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And they’ve allowed custom categories in the past. And in fact, they go back and forth about that. But I would say this primary category, your most specific one that populates on Google’s list, then I would do a bunch of alternatives that maybe are relevant or a little bit more niche. But if you can add a custom category, I might add that as like maybe your last alternative category, if you can get it in there, but off the top my head, I’m not sure if as of right now, they’re allowing custom categories. I think they’re not but.
Adriana Linares: No, I’m looking at it now and I can’t put legal technology consultant. I can only be a consultant. Okay. So go ahead, then the description comes next.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Descriptions next, you know, I kind of think of the description as your elevator pitch. The keywords in here don’t matter so much. This is more for when people see it. What types of things can you put in there that might make you stand out from competitors, so maybe some of your unique value propositions three uniques, that kind of stuff. You don’t get a lot of space. So really focus on those things that really matter to folks. Your opening date, this is another one that’s kind of important one. So a question comes up like do I put in the date that I was licensed, the date that I founded my firm if those aren’t the same things? So, the reason this — I don’t have a great answer for that, I think it’s in your best interest to go back as far as you can, because it populates your years in business on your profile. And obviously, experience matters to legal services consumers. And so if you’ve been practicing for 25 years, and you started a new firm yesterday, you’re kind of in this conundrum of like, my opening date, my new firm, or is it the day I got licensed? And so for me on a practitioner page, it’s a no brainer that you got licensed.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s a no brainer. Yep.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Business page, you know, the hardcore Legal Ethics people might say, “Well, it’s misleading to say that you opened your firm 25 years ago on your business listing.” Do I think that the state bars are cracking down on this? No, I don’t. Do I think there’s a case to be made that I’ve been in business doing this for as long as I’ve been practicing, I think there is, but it’s just something to think about. It could be an issue for you.
Next is the contact information, you got phone numbers, again, primary number should be a call tracking number. Secondary numbers should be your alternative local phone number. With call tracking numbers, you get into this like should I use my local phone versus a toll-free phone? The arguments for local are people match area codes they want, it really matters in a lot of contexts, legal services consumers that you’re close to them. And so if you are not sure in every area, but I can think of bunch of different regions off the top of my head where it’s like people know, like, I want someone in this particular area code. So if you don’t show that or you show a different one, they might not be as influenced and contact you. I’m usually more of like put the toll-free number as the primary because I think people are accustomed to seeing toll free numbers. But for those, you’re going to give up those that are actually looking for the local, but I always feel like they can see the address, they can click through, they can see some other things know your location.
Adriana Linares: What happens if I move?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh, boy, we could do a whole thing on that. You got to redo all this stuff, and it’s a mess and breaks. You got to update all your citations.
Adriana Linares: Don’t move.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Don’t move. Such a pain. So yeah, then we got website. So website, you can put your main URL in there, as you mentioned, you can there’s an appointment URL. I always put UTM parameters. So you can write that down. Yeah.
Adriana Linares: what’s you’re going to say?
Gyi Tsakalakis: it’s a bunch of gobbledygook that you put at the end of the URL, but it tells Google Analytics and Google search console that someone clicked through from your Google Business profile. So we’re big on like, hold your marketing accountable. And if you want to actually measure how many people clicked from your Google Business profile through to your website, that’s the way to do that.
Adriana Linares: But you’ve got to have a Google Analytics pay account to be able to set that up.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But the search consoles is the big one. Search consoles big.
Adriana Linares: Search Console.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Search console will show you the specific queries and impressions and clicks and stuff by keyword. And if you put this gobbledygook on the end of it, this UTM parameter, it’ll show you — it’ll isolate the ones that came from your local pack of your Google business profile one versus your traditional organic. And so that way, you can say, “Hey, I can validate that. I’m getting calls and form fills and consultations and fees directly from clicks.”
Adriana Linares: From the source.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Exactly. And so that’s super valuable.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so all those who are nerding out on this, you got to also set up your analytics and your console. And then you might have to hire Gyi at some point, because this gets pretty, pretty in the weeds. But it’s incredibly important. So okay, UTM, you the man.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yup.
Adriana Linares: So business hours.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Business hours.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. Can we talk about that? Because I heard, it may have been someone on New Solo who gave us a tip that said, if you have an answering service that actually answers your phone 24 hours a day, a ruby, a Smith and Abby, an anybody, you if you’d like to answer phone calls at two o’clock in the morning for somebody who has been wrongfully incarcerated and you put and it actually gets answered, that is an important Google ranking factor.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So I would say I wouldn’t call it a ranking factor. But to me it’s a conversion factor. And the reason is because if someone searches outside of the hours of your business hours, Google will show that your office is closed. So it’ll show business 1, 24 hours open, call now. Then here’s your office, it says closed. And then the next business says 24 hours. Well, who do you think they’re going to call you? You think they’re going to call the closed office? Right? So they’re not.
Adriana Linares: No, they’re not.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s a great tip. And the basic guide that guidance on this, I think you already mentioned it, but I’ll just kind of hammer home is you got to be able to answer the phone. So if you use a Virtual Receptionist, make sure that they are trained to say “Yes, we can take client inquiries 24 hours a day. This is where we’re located.” Some people educate their virtual services with a little local map because sometimes Google will try to see if it’s legitimate, and they’ll say, “Hey, is there a Starbucks across the street?” And you can be like, “Yes, there is.” Please answer some basic questions.
Adriana Linares: Does Google know if you’ve answered the phone?
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s a great question. So they know if you get an inquiry.
Adriana Linares: It’s so creepy the things they know.
Gyi Tsakalakis: If you get an inquiry through your messaging, there’s a messenger portion to all this. They do now, and they will actually publish how responsive you are. So they’ll say things like “Usually responds within 30 minutes” or “Usually doesn’t respond.” So that can be a bad look. The phone thing is an interesting one. Because if you’re using a call tracking number, that’s not a Google number, they have no way of really knowing. The only thing they do know, would be if someone clicks on your mobile click to call. So on the profile there’s little click to call button. Arguably, Google could maybe know — actually, I don’t even think they could know. They can know the percentage of people who clicked the mobile click to call.
Now, if you use a Google number, or if you’re talking about local services ads, like these are Google ads phone numbers, then yes, they know and in fact, maybe Conrad and I can come back and talk about little services ad.
Adriana Linares: Sure.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The little services ads which are pay per lead, if you don’t mark the inquiry as booked or not qualified or whatever. We believe Google takes that in consideration in your ad rotation. And so Google makes money off ads so they want more of those ads to turn into answered calls because that means that they are going to get paid for the lead versus if they show your ad and you don’t answer the phone and you try to refund the lead, they’re not going to get paid.
Adriana Linares: Amazing. Let’s get to the profile before we take our next break. I want to start a business Gyi where all I do is update holiday hours for local businesses, because nothing pisses me off more than when I want to King Cake and it says it’s open and then I drive there and it’s not. So how important is making sure your holiday hours are set. And by the way, it’s not hard. Google sends you annoying emails, says, “Hey, Martin Luther King Day is coming up. Are your hours correct? And people do not fill these out? And I think this should be a major factor in diminishing returns on Google.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I agree with you. It’s super annoying for me too. I think so yes, keep everything up to date. That’s one of the biggest issues that we see whether it’s a closed office location, the hours aren’t right, or they didn’t update a phone number or they changed service offerings or the attorneys not at the firm anymore. That’s the stuff that creates all sorts of problems. It creates problems for legal services, consumers, it makes them frustrated. It also creates problems with Google. And so yeah, the answer is, you got to keep this up. This should be part of your marketing people. If it’s you, part of your regular maintenance, right? When you say maintenance, same as auto responders or vacation on email, same thing. Hop on and keep updated.
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s a good reminder, if you’re turning an auto responder on, you know, go check. And it’s not that hard. You can actually manage your whole profile on your phone now, your business profile. It’s pretty awesome. Tell me about Online Service Hours, because I don’t remember how long that’s been there.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Online Service Hours. So I wonder if you’ve got a —
Adriana Linares: Oh, I might.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, you might have because —
Adriana Linares: it might have a checkbox.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, you might have one of your categories triggered that.
Adriana Linares: Okay, I’m special.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What I would say this is if you have dedicated online service hours, then you might add that there.
Adriana Linares: But you probably have to trigger it like somehow I must have done and god knows how long ago I did that.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, you added the attribute. There’s an attribute. So down below the holiday hours, there are a bunch of different attributes you can add like access, breakfast, brunch, delivery, dinner, drive thru, a lot of those probably aren’t relevant. The nice thing is though is that if you click on Online Service Hours and click the Learn More, it’ll tell you kind of their guidelines. And I always say follow the guidelines. But it’s like specific hours for things like delivery, takeout, drive-thru, pickup. I say, for most law firm context, I say do the primary hours, try to get if you can answer the phone 24 hours, otherwise, expand the answering as long as you can. But don’t try to get too creative with the service hours. But if you will do online appointments, check that because that will show in search results too and it’ll say you know, online appointments available and you know, especially in COVID people are sensitive to that they want to be able to access their legal person from their home.
Adriana Linares: It’s true. We want everything accessible from our home. Okay, let’s take a quick break. We’re going to come back and talk about some of these ancillary buttons I see here like Add a Photo, Messages, Get Reviews, Bookings and a couple of other things. Updates remind me to ask you how important putting an update on there, and what kind of update what a law firm put? We’ll be right back. We’re going to listen to some messages from some sponsors. I’m here with Gyi Tsakalakis and we were talking about Google Business Profiles.
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All right, Gyi, a couple more things to ask you about. I’m looking at and I hope you don’t think I’m not looking at you. I am I enjoy looking at you, you’re a handsome fella.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thank you.
Adriana Linares: But I’m over here looking at my Google business profile so I can read out loud what some of the other things are. Messaging. I love this part of Google. I’ve never gotten one through here because I probably don’t have the type of business that does but I have certainly used it like I was going to go on crazy the other day, I wanted some empanadas. I had a question. I wanted to know what the empanada of the day was at Empanola. And so I actually sent a message and someone replied pretty quickly to let me know that it was the pizza pepperoni empanada. So talk to me about messaging and let’s just start there.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So messaging is something as you mentioned, you can enable on your Google business profile. It’ll allow consumers to click send a message right from your business profile which is an interesting thing that I think is not intuitive. But a lot of people — you already told your story. I think that story is very common where they don’t even click through to your website. They’re engaging with your phone information, your messaging information, your FAQ section without ever clicking through. And so if you’re going to turn Google messaging, the business profile messenger on, a couple of quick things. One is, you’ve got to have somebody answering it, because same rules apply.
Adriana Linares: Better freaking answer it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And you’re going to start seeing people aren’t going to get frustrated because it says you’re taking messages and you’re not responding, they’re going to publish, you got bad response rates and all this kind of stuff, and you’re going to get bad reviews because you never respond your messaging thing or whatever. Good news is that you can have this configured through an SMS. And so you can get without revealing your whatever number you want it to be, you can put your own cell phone number in there and it will show a different number publicly, and in the text interface, but you can essentially turn it into SMS text which is convenient. But again, do you want to get messages at three o’clock in the morning? So if you work with somebody like Smith, I believe you can you can configure Smith to field your message into another Facebook integration.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I was going to ask you, can I use my 24-hour virtual remote receptionist? I don’t like to say virtual because they’re actually real humans most of the time.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Adriana Linares: Okay. So that seems pretty cool. Especially if you have that type of practice and you know, that’s the type of clientele you’re looking for, again, three o’clock in the morning. What about Photos and Updates? I mean, update makes me feel like this is a mini blog.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It is. Great observation. So Photos, this is what I like to do on photos. One is I think people that haven’t worked with lawyers, they’re scared of them. And so putting a picture of yourself professional headshots in there, that’s like a no brainer to personalize and humanize. People will say things like, “Well, I’m a new lawyer, they’re going to think I’m inexperienced.” I’m like, you know what the best marketing advice I can give you, just be yourself, be authentic. You can’t hide who you are. It’s actually not good marketing to do that. So be yourself. Put some pictures up there. If you practicing. If you’re in a jurisdiction that allows it, adding client testimonials as graphical images is really powerful because it’s more testimonial right there and your image looks great. Video testimonials, same thing, client seeing your praises, other lawyers, other professional colleagues, referral sources, talking about how awesome you are. I think that’s a great thing for videos and photos.
Adriana Linares: I was
talking with a law firm here in New Orleans last week and they were trying to decide well, I said, if you put the give us a review on Yelp, Google, Facebook, no one’s going to click through that. Send a personal message that says, hey, I’m so glad you’re happy about the outcome when you have a second, would you mind just giving us a positive review on. And the question was, which one do I use? And I said, we’ll rotate through them ask one client to do a Google SNS when you do Yelp but back to your point, if you get it on one platform, take a screenshot of it, make a nice pretty image of it and then you can use it in photos and other places. Great tip Gyi. Okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, that one works really well. If you have a podcast or if you’re the sort of things you do in your community, maybe you’re active with some local organizations, or you offer a scholarship, all the good work you do in your local community, those are great things to highlight and share through images.
I think of it the same as sharing images on a social media app, right? Stuff that you as a business, what are you proud of doing, right? Testimonials, maybe you maybe you put some educational things in there, maybe you have some quick how to videos like this is what it’s like to work with us. This is like an overview of the representation types of stuff. Keep them short, same type of rules as on social media. That’s where the images and video and then as you mentioned, there’s a whole section for updates which is really their post feature. And I say to do the same thing in there. Keep that active. Another the tinfoil hat SEO people like myself, say things like, “Well, we believe that engagement with a profile. So users clicking on stuff clicks to calls, messaging, clicking on questions and posts.” It stands to reason that Google might show those kinds of listings more frequently the same way that they think about click through rate in the on the ad side of things because Google is basically a machine that gets paid every time clicks happen. Now, even though this is organic, the same reasoning could be applied. And so the more you can get people to click into your service pages, into your Google posts, Google business profile, post pages into your reviews, we think that that plays a role in your visibility as well.
Adriana Linares: So basically, if you or someone you know is posting to your social media sites, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, just repurpose, just add it to the list Google Profiles. Add it to the list.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, and you can add buttons so on your Google posts you can add things like a button like a Learn More button or stuff like that. You can drive them back now say Book Now.
Adriana Linares: I’ve put updates on there If I’m speaking somewhere, I do it as an update. If I’ve got an upcoming webinar on Word or something, I put those on there because Google likes knowing that I’m an active business owner, and I think it helps a lot. Talk to me really quick about the bookings section and what it takes to — because Google is very picky about who it adds because I tried. You can’t do online bookings, it has to be back to this physical location situation, unless they’ve changed something recently.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, they have a preferred list of booking apps that they allow.
Adriana Linares: So if you do free consultations for example, you would connect it to I think Acuity might be one that it talks to, and I forget who else.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so I kind of work around that and I would just say — so what we do is there’s an appointment URL. And so we’ll just put either like our (00:47:28) or our contact information right in the appointment URL and then you can circumvent this, because otherwise, you can do these third-party links from their booking, they have all sorts of information about it, but because we don’t use any of their booking services, we’re not really eligible from that. But I feel like they’re trying to open that up a bit.
Adriana Linares: Oh, Vcita is one I know they use because I have Vcita as one of my CRM. So yeah. Well, I’ll let listeners sort of dive into that and decide whether or not they want to learn more about bookings. You guys, there is so much information about this product and service on the internet. It’s actually insane. So if this is something that really does interest you, you could certainly Google things and go to YouTube, get lots of help. I am sure Gyi and Conrad have tons of information on their websites, and they talk about this stuff on their podcast all the time.
I want to ask everyone, if you have more questions about Google Business Profiles or just kind of Google in general, send them to New Solo at LegalTalkNetwork.com. And I’m going to have Gyi and Conrad hopefully, you guys can find some time. I know, you’re busy recording your own podcast. But I would love that. This is such helpful and useful information. I get asked about it a lot. I’m not the expert. I’m like an expert. But like I said, I manage my own so I am able to answer some very basic questions. Gyi, I want to thank you so much for your time, you’ve been so awesome. Any last couple of tips like, “Oh, I don’t want to forget to mention this important thing”, or any other sort of secrets that you might want to share.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m just going to reiterate what you had mentioned is create a system for asking for reviews. Lawyers don’t like to ask, they get all squeamish about it. It is understandable. But Amazon has trained consumers to shop on reviews. I know lawyers who have been practicing for 35 years, people would never hire me from the internet, would never look at my reviews, and let me tell you, they are. It’s every single time someone gets your name from someone they know, they’re going to go look, and one of the things that they care about is how many review, what people other people have to say about your practice. And so that’s the biggest thing. If you use a CRM system, like Adriana mentioned, you can automate a lot of those. Hey, case closes, a lot of your clients they’re going to want to know, “Hey, thank you so much. I’d love to say something nice about you, where should I go?” Send them to Google first. The other thing I would add to — and I know this is more ranty probably you wanted but rotate them based on the visibility of the profile for a search on your name.
So go search on your name. If you’ve got a bunch of reviews on Google, you’re good to go. See what other profiles pop up. If your Facebook page pops up, maybe it’s that. If Yelp pops up, maybe it’s that, because those are the places that people are going to see the reviews because they’re showing up for searches on your name, which is one of the most common ways people are going to look for you.
Adriana Linares: And when you say your name, you’re talking about your business name?
Gyi Tsakalakis: It depends on how you market it, right? So if you market a trade like here in Michigan, Michigan Auto Law, that’s their brand name, then search is for —
Adriana Linares: So that’s what you mean at that point for your name.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But if you’re a solo that operates under your own name, then just do the searches on your name, your actual name.
Adriana Linares: Thank you Gyi. This has been so great. Remember, everybody, send some questions for marketing types of questions just like this, we’ll have Gyi and Conrad come back on in a couple of months. I mean, you guys could just be regulars on here. We could learn so much from you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We would love it.
Adriana Linares: One last thing, this is fair for you. Tell everybody how you can help them with their businesses and their marketing if they’re looking for an expert.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I mean, give us a call. We do free strategy sessions. We’re not going to try to sell you something you don’t need. Our big thing is this —
Adriana Linares: Do you build websites?
Gyi Tsakalakis: We build websites, we optimize profiles, we manage media. Pretty much if it touches legal technology in the internet and marketing of law practice, that’s us. And like I said, we know there’s a lot of not so great stuff out there so we’re really about building forecasts and setting expectations, measuring things in terms of like meaningful business metrics. So anywhere from helping you with a Google Business Profile to building a website, to stuff on social media and in demand generation, that’s really our core focus.
Adriana Linares: And so you can Google either AttorneySync or Gyi Tsakalakis, whichever one is easier for you to spell in order to get them. I’m just kidding.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Email Adriana.
Adriana Linares: One last thing. Email Adriana. I love sending people to the right people. One last thing I want to say because this episode should drop before ABA Tech Show 2023 for which Gyi, you are the co-chair. So if you will to meet Gyi in person as well as many other legal technology experts, professionals, lawyers who are using technology to the hilt, I’m going to be there. Please make sure you go to Tech Show.com, learn more and come some great conference.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Come to Tech Show. Thank you, Adriana.
Adriana Linares: You’re welcome. Thanks, everyone for listening to another great episode. Thanks to Gyi, I appreciate it. If you like what you have heard today, please make sure you leave a five star review on Apple podcasts. And send me a note if there’s anything you’d like to hear about, any questions you have. We’re going to do a mailbag episode. I’m going to at some point, but right now, I’m asking you specifically for marketing questions, but you could send me anything you’d like to learn more about or a topic you’d like me to cover. We’ve got a lot of great guests lined up for the year so we’ll try to fit all that in. Thanks so much for listening everyone. I’ll see you next time on New Solo.
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|Published:||January 30, 2023|
|Category:||Marketing for Law Firms , Practice Management|
New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.