The phone’s ringing! But when you finally get down to brass tacks, you discover that your potential client turned out to be a potential road-trip if you actually took the case. Why was your firm on the person’s radar when they are nowhere near your geographic service area?
This question comes up a lot after an SEO or Google advertising campaign is in full swing. A law firm’s phone will begin to ring and email submissions will begin to come in, but some will be from people outside the firm’s city or service area. Assuming that the website is very clear with where the practice is located, and that the Google Adwords campaign is tuned to the firm’s specific city (which are easy assumptions to make if we’ve built the website and the visibility campaigns), there are a few possibilities:
1) The Google searcher typed in a geographic qualifier that suggested to Google that they were looking for an attorney in your area (perhaps the state, county or a township near the city).
2) Google guessed wrong on location of user. Often Google will think your computer is wherever your Internet service provider hub is located.
3) Errors at Google related to the upgrade of all AdWords accounts to “Enhanced.” Because Google is attempting to integrate search results and ads between mobile and desktop devices, it might be using geo-data from where a searcher might have once been with their mobile device.
4) Google searcher is using proxy that confuses Google for local search.
5) Advanced search and search tools on Google allows a user to change their location manually. This can accidentally remain set to a different city after a previous search.
6) (Perhaps the most likely) Google enjoys taunting you with clients that you can’t help. See also: something happening in Google’s “searcher intent” that is not immediately clear.
There is an easy and effective way to find out why the inquirer reached out to your firm: ask them. It’s a question that can answer a lot of answers about the current state of your online visibility. There are plenty of ways to slip this question in before any initial questions you ask about their possible case. If someone who lives two-hundred miles away is reaching out to you, they either have a very good reason for choosing you, or the search engine had a (incorrect) reason for showing your website. You’ll never truly know if you never clearly ask.