In 2016, Google changed the way Google Local displays businesses or organizations when you search.  That change makes a difference in which law firms are called by prospects.

Before, Google Local appeared in a separate column usually listing several businesses with its iconic map and Call / Website links.  Now Google’s gone to a three-pack listing.

Here are two examples. The search “divorce lawyer Santa Fe” produces the three-pack of Walther Family Law, Jay Goodman and Associates and Bristol Family Law. The search “divorce lawyers Albuquerque” produces Terry & deGraauw, Donna Kufer and New Mexico Legal Group.

If you are in a three-pack search result, great.  You are more likely than ever to get a call from a prospective client.  The three-pack appears higher on the page than some ads and much higher than organic listings. It’s a great to be in the top three.  So how do you get there?

Google says relevance, distance and prominence [on the Internet] are the three factors.  “Distance” you can’t control, but keep in mind it’s the distance from where the search device (computer, tablet or smart phone) is accessing the Internet.  If you complete the same search reported here from your office, you’ll get a different result because of your location.  The proximity of law firms to each another is also a “distance” variable.

Conventional wisdom suggests that having reviews on Google Local, especially good ones, helps. Think again. In our Santa Fe example, the top listing has no reviews, the second one a single, miserable 2.0 rating.  Here’s another surprise.  Change the search phase “lawyer” to “lawyers” and a solo practitioner, Gini Nelson, wins the top spot.

To win the battle of the three-pack requires special effort, so consider searching for some expert assistance.

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About Dave

Dave Tedlock is the head of NetOutcomes, a digital marketing firm. For years he has written a marketing and technology column for various publications, including the Tucson Citizen’s Tucson Business Edge, Idaho Business Review, Inside Tucson Business, and The New Mexico Business Weekly. Tedlock taught writing and business communication for eight years in many universities, including the Harvard Business School and Iowa State University. For 13 years he worked in ad agencies as a copywriter, account manager or creative director. Tedlock has published short stories, scholarly articles and a writing textbook (with Paul Jarvie). He earned a Master’s degree in Fiction Writing from Brown University. He lives in Tucson and Santa Fe.

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