Google+ Pages for Law Firms

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If I were forced to recommend only one social sharing platform to lawyers, it would be Google+. What? That’s crazy. Google Plus is a ghost town. It’s a virtual tumbleweed town bereft of people and meaningful interactions.

No one is using Google+!

So why would I still recommend that lawyers use Google+ and create Google+ pages?

As we’ve discussed before:

Google+ & Search, Plus Your World isn’t just a new feature of search. It’s a fundamental change to the very fabric of search. Historically, search results ordered information on the web based on a collection of signals across the entire web (i.e. relative relevance and popularity across the entire index). With Search, Plus your world, at least in theory, and only in part, results are much more influenced by a smaller set of signals (i.e. people with whom you’re connected).

Perhaps Avvo’s +Mark Britton best explains why lawyers should care about Google+:

I think it’s as simple as this: If you think Google is important, then you should probably find G+ important.
***
Google is “all-in” when it comes to G+: In different conversations with the Google folks, it is clear that G+ is a top strategic priority for them. One Google person said to me, “When it comes to G+, we are all-in.” I’m pretty sure that means Google will spend whatever it takes to make G+ successful. With $49 billion of cash on hand and solid distribution alternatives through search (see below), mobile (Android, Google Talk, etc.) and social media (YouTube, Blogger.com, Picasa, etc.), Google’s “all-in” is worth any lawyer’s attention.

When Google+ was first introduced to us back in 2011, it was described as:

Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.

Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.

In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project.

And likewise, when they introduced us to Google+ Pages, this message of making Google better by connecting us with the “stuff” that we love continued:

In life we connect with all kinds of people, places and things. There’s friends and family, of course, but there’s also the sports teams we root for, the coffee shops we’re loyal to, and the TV shows we can’t stop watching (to name a few).

So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide.

You see, with Google Plus, Google isn’t just trying to be another social network. They’re trying to fundamentally change the very nature of how we connect and share the things that interest us online. And they’re building this additional social layer right on top of the most widely used information retrieval tool in the world, search.

A Google Plus Page for your Law Firm

Before you create a Google Plus page for your law firm, I recommend downloading the Google Plus Your Business Starter Guide (.pdf).

Also, check out Mashable’s Google Plus Guide, RKG’s Guide to creating and optimizing Google+ Pages and watch why Rand Fishkin thinks every marketer needs a Google+ strategy. If you’re interested in learning more about how Google+ is impacting search, check out AJ Kohn’s Google+ SEO Guide.

Next, go create a Google Plus Page.

If you run into issues, spend some time in the Google+ Pages Help Center.

Then simply start:

  • Sharing: Lawyers should brainstorm ways to use Google+ pages to build & nurture relationships with clients and colleagues by sharing insights, links and photos with people who are interested in the subject matter. Hangouts allow lawyers to set up one-click video conversations to efficiently keep in touch with professional networks.
  • Spreading the word: Be sure to implement Google+ Direct Connect, the Google+ badge and the +1 button.
  • Understanding your activity: The information from many social networking platforms often feels like a fire hose. Google+ has tools to help lawyers understand what people are saying about your firm how this sentiment affects your traffic.

Check out Adrian Lurssen’s Lawyers and Legal Professionals on Google+ to find other legal-types using Google+.

What Should I Share?

Answer: Anything that you think the people you’re connected with would find interesting.

Stem Legal’s +Steve Matthews shares some ideas for joining the Google+ party:

The early days of any web tool are best used to establish relationships and share interests, and are non-commercial in nature. During that period, expect Google to integrate business applications slowly. Watch for what vehicles Google provides to distribute content. Law firm business profiles are a given, but what about practice groups? How about online communities for practice commentary? Perhaps Google’s web video “hangouts” could serve as an interactive webinar platform? Only the future will answer these questions, but this much we know: You must participate to find out.

I think Hangouts On Air, could potentially be a great tool for lawyers.

Like other social networking platforms, Google+ is not yet another place to broadcast your message. It’s a place to connect with other people and share information. Start by finding people and topics that interest you. Engage them in conversation. Think of creative ways to interact.

Google+ Local & Law Firms

Another compelling reason for local law firms to pay attention to Google+ Pages is the merger of Google+ with local.

We’ve discussed the value of local search marketing for law firms before. With this merger, Google has made Google+ Pages the cornerstone for visibility in local search.

Google certainly appears to be “all-in” with Google+. It is fundamentally changing the way we interact with Google products, including search.

If being found in Google search matters to you, then participating with Google+, including creating a Google+ Page for your law firm, is probably a good idea.

Are you using Google+ and Google+ Pages at your firm? What’s been your experience? Have you found people you know there or is it a virtual ghost town?

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  • If being found in Google search matters to you

    This is the important bit. If you have an SEO strategy, Google+ may be useful. But don’t expect to generate direct business (or even much clickthrough traffic) from it.

  • Dan

    Great post, thank you. I beg to differ on the “ghost town” though. Google+ is growing and is far from a ghost town. It’s no Facebook, but I consider that a compliment!

    It is frustrating that Google changed “Places” to “Google+ Pages” with no notification though. Not only that, but businesses that may have existed on Places may no longer be on Google+ Pages due to their more strict verification requirements. Each business must provide contact phone number and physical address (no PO boxes accepted). Google then mails you a postcard to the address for you to verify and enter a code. Bummer for the virtual folks out there.

    Anyway, great post and collection of information links and tutorial. Thanks!

    • Hey Dan,

      Yeah the Places/Plus migration has been a nightmare. If you’re having issues, check out what the local search experts are recommending.

    • I agree with you Dan about G+ being far from a ghost town. I would say that certain industries are still building up on the social platform but there seems to be a strong following of attorneys on there already.
      I’m a criminal defense attorney in South Florida. If anybody wants to connect on my G+ page the link is below.

      https://plus.google.com/117281044267918653920/posts

  • Thanks. The tumbleweeds are irrelevant… as Sam’s point is well taken. Search results are what makes it relevant. But, as for the social media aspect, Linkedin started pretty slowly too. Who knows what will be relevant in 2 years.

    • Eventually, we won’t distinguish between search and social…

  • Gene

    Great post Gyi! I wrote up something similar but yours just does a much better job explaining why G+ is important.

  • Hey Gyi: Great post as always. I created by Google + account for my Steven J Fromm & Associates, PC but when I do a google search of say philadelphia tax attorneys my google + account is not listed below my name. Cannot figure out why as other lawyers do have their google + show up. Does it take some time for Google to see it up and running or must I do something to tie the google + to my corporate name?
    Thanks for all your input and great insights.

    • Gene

      I see your name show up and your reviews showing up in your google+ page.

    • Gyi

      Hi Steven,

      So, it looks like you have authorship properly tied to your G+ profile.

      Do you also have a Google+ Page for your firm (which is different from your Google+ profile).

      • Yes I do. But my problem is that when I do a google search for Philadlephia Tax Attrorneys I come up on the first page but it is without the Google + page. Other attorney on the page have the Google + page hyperlink. So I cannot figure out why mine does not show. I hope I am being clear.

  • Gyi: Here is the link to my Google + page:
    https://plus.google.com/112724554872191616076/posts/UZoUMtKxsy9#112724554872191616076/posts/UZoUMtKxsy9
    Side bar: Not sure why the PC is missing or how to correct that.

    • Gyi

      Ah, you’re talking about Google+ local results. Google isn’t serving up local results for my search [philadelphia tax attorneys]. But they are for [tax attorneys] (with my browser set to “philadelphia”. And there you are at the top with your Google+ Page under your local result with 6 reviews.

    • Gyi

      See these results for search for tax attorneys (browser set Philly).

      I would have embed the image here, but looks like Sam turned that off…

      • Gyi: Amazing analysis. So I should not worry that google + page is not coming up on these searches as it is for say Fox Rothchild? Will this eventually change when Google completely merges places into google + pages or will this always be the way. Should I feel slighted that other attorney have the new model google + page and I don’t when the search comes up?
        Outstanding help here Gyi. Thanks again.

        • Gyi

          Your Google+ Page is coming up, just like Fox Rothchild’s. The difference is that Fox Rothchild doesn’t have reviews, so instead of saying X Google reviews, like yours does, they just put in the default, Google+ page.

          It’s anyone’s guess how/when/if Google will continue to shift/merge/decide to show these various profiles and pages.

          But you can rest assured, you’re set up correctly :)

          • You are the best Gyi. If you ever have a tax or estate question give me a call; I owe you at least one. All the best to you!

  • Gene

    Steven, Google returns local results based on your previous listing in Google Places. Basically, it will always return the profile on which reviews are left for your business, even though your authorship is marked up to your personal account.

    There is nothing you should be worrying about, as people are going to click on your reviews and come to the right page (your business page with reviews)

    I hope this makes sense.

    • Gene you are pure genius. So I should not worry that google + page is not coming up. Will this eventually change when Google completely merges places into google + pages or will this always be the way. Should I feel slighted that other attorney have the new model google + page and I don’t when the search comes up?

  • Gene

    Hmm, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing here. As of now you’re showing up #1 on “tax attorney” (browser set to Philadelphia as location) and “Philadelphia tax attorney”

    If you are searching for “Philadelphia tax attorneys” (plural) you are not coming up because this is not a category in google local, previously known as places. In this case, google pulls results from the web, where your page will come up if it is optimized for that exact keyword and you have a strong authority website (many strong backlinks and some other factors)

    As you can see from screenshot one, your old places page (now Google +Local) is ranking #1 for the category of “tax attorney” and “tax attorneys” which is very good!
    http://epicscripts.com/1.jpg

    Also notice on the right your firm name is showing up (this is coming from the old places page)

    In screenshot #2 http://epicscripts.com/2.jpg, you can see that your page is verified, you have comments there and it’s already pulling your personal posts in the posts tab.

    I hope this clears things up. Just remember that not every keyword we type is an actual category (in existence) for which google triggers local results. I know.. it’s becoming really complex.

    • Great stuff Gene. As for the hijacking, you and Gyi are equally excellent sources of knowledge and experience on this stuff. Thanks to you both.

  • Gene

    Gyi, sorry if I hijacked your comments :)

    • Gyi

      No worries, the more brains the merrier :)

  • Gyi: One final question. I am a bit confused about circles. You are my only circle person at my PC google + account. (thanks for doing so by the way) But it looks like I have 26 in my individual circle. Should these 26 not be at my PC circle? If so, is there an easy way to get them all over to the PC circle? Not sure about any of this. Best to you, Gyi.

  • Hi Gyi-

    I was referred here from a recent posting of this article (5 months after its initial posting)– now that we’re getting rolling with G+, what is your position with respect to authorship vs. SERP’s. Thus far, I’ve yet to see how a positively received Google Plus post has any meaningful impact in SERP’s. I hear a change is coming, but just curious if this is something you’re forseeing or seeing presently?

    • Hi Jonathan-

      So, I haven’t seen authorship per se influence rankings, however it certainly can increase CTR. Currently, Google+ seems primarily to impact rankings for those that have you in circles. I think we’ll gradually see an increased impact of Google+ social signals on search. All signs point to a commitment by Google to make search and social seamless. Which makes sense.

      To answer you more directly, authorship / author Rank aren’t YET directly influencing rankings, but they will.

  • Pammy Spammy

    So that’s your big strategy to draw traffic? Spam other people’s blog? And they say lawyers are smart. Go figure.

  • Paul Bear

    Posting on the internet is like scattering feathers to the wind. The more the better. If a lawyer wants an online presence, one website probably won’t be enough to get noticed. Multiple websites, multiple approaches, will get more attention from potential legal customers.

    Paul | donnellgroup.ca