The most important factor when it comes to your law firm ranking well on Google Places is the location of your actual business, and this is no surprise as Google Places (in contrast to Google’s organic search engine algorithm) aims to give more value to verified local businesses with strong, positive reputations in their local community.
You may want to rank well for a city search term on Google Places despite not having a physical address in that particular city, but this will be extremely difficult as competing law firms in that particular city become more aware of Google Places and what it takes to increase rankings.
It’s not secret that Google Places is becoming more and more important for geo-based search terms such as “Chicago personal injury lawyer” and “Seattle accident lawyer” since these results show up above the fold on search result pages, so if you’re hoping to rank well for these terms, you’ll need to have an address in the actual city that you would like to rank for.
In addition to having an address in the actual city, law firms which are located closer to the “centroid of the city” are also giving special treatment on Google Places, a ranking factor that has once diminished in importance but has recently made it’s way back to the top 3 most important Google Places ranking factors.
When you’re considering a location for your law firm’s office, are you taking into consideration how close the business will be located to the center of the city (versus more obvious factors such as how close it would be to public transportation stops and court houses, the amount of space and monthly rent, overall accessibility, etc.)? Probably not, but this doesn’t matter to Google Places as it’s possible that a less reputable law firm might outrank a law firm that has been around for longer and is more established based simply on how close they are to that particular city’s “centroid”. Doesn’t make much sense to us, but it’s possible that this ranking factor may be revisited once again as the ever-changing Google Places algorithm is adjusted as time goes on.
In addition to having an address in the city that you’re targeting, also make sure to include that physical address on your website EXACTLY as it appears on your Google Places profile, and also be sure to include the NAP (name address and phone number) in shema.org and other verified markup codes to insure maximum online visibility.