Reviews can be your friend or your enemy.
Since many people will only take the time to post reviews if they are angry, negative reviews can quickly tarnish your online reputation if you don’t actively manage your law firm’s review process.
Below we examine how you can figure out what people are saying about your law firm, as well as what protocols you can put into place so that you can quickly tackle anything that might hurt your name.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand what needs to be done to protect your reputation and how you can avoid the mistakes made by other firms when it comes to this topic.
What’s the current situation?
If online reputation management is a new concept to you, then you may not have a clear sense of where your current online reputation stands.
Broadly speaking, there are three online mediums that can impact how your firm is perceived online.
- Search engine listings
- Social media
- Third party review sites
Each medium will demand a different approach from you, should you want to fix any reputation issues.
Let’s first look at how you can identify reputation issues within search engine listings.
Data suggests that 58% of Americans research a product or service online before they consider purchase. There’s no reason why that percentage should decline when a prospect is researching a law firm, and there’s a good chance it may even be higher.
The most common way people conduct their research is through the use of a Google search. It makes sense, therefore, that potential clients will research your law firm by simply searching for it in Google.
In order to learn more about your firm, people will generally input the following information into Google –
- The name of your law firm
- Associates within your firm
- The name of your law firm alongside a form of legal assistance that your firm deals with. An example might be – “ ‘your law firm name’ divorce.”
It is important that you perform regular online searches using the keyword formats suggested. Doing so will help you identify any negative search listings. You can then take steps to deal with such listings, which we cover a bit further along in this post.
You’ll also want to see if there are any comments being left about your law firm in social media.
You can do this by searching for your law firm on Facebook and Twitter. To find mentions of your law firm on Facebook, login into the platform, and then type the keywords suggested above, within the ‘Find friends’ search bar.
This search bar is not just designed to find people. It can also help you identify what people are talking about, in relation to a given keyword/topic – in this case your law firm.
If you want to see how people are talking about your law firm on Twitter, the process is pretty much the same. Create an account with Twitter, and then use the search feature provided.
Again, use the keyword formats mentioned, to bring up any relevant results.
You’ll also want to pay attention to third party review sites.
Third party review sites are especially important to monitor, because Google can often create an aggregated review for your law firm, based on the information it collates from these review sites.
To begin with, there are three review sites that you will want to focus on –
- Yellow Pages
The easiest way to see if your law firm is being mentioned on these sites is by visiting them and searching them using the name of your law firm. So, you could go to Yelp.com and search the name of your law firm, while also including the correct location.
You’d also want to do the same for the Yellow Pages.
Avvo also requires a similar process.
Additionally, it can also be useful to ‘Google’ the name of your law firm and its associates, alongside the name of a review service.
How to control your reputation
If you want to control the online reputation of your law firm, you need to make sure that you have ownership of your brand online. This means that you need to do the following –
- Purchase a domain name that represents your law firm
- Publish content that represents your firm in a positive light, highlighting the positive experiences and outcomes of your clients
- Create social media profiles that represent your firm
- Create profiles on third party review sites
Owning the domain name that represents your firm is essential, as this will help your site rank higher in the search engines when people research your law firm using Google.
People are more likely to click on results that appear higher in the search listings as shown in the chart below.
As a result, if you can have your site appear higher in the search listings, people are more likely to click on your site before they click on anything that might represent false or negative information.
If your firm does not have a website, create one and make sure that the domain name represents the name of your firm.
It’s also worth creating PPC ads which target the keywords discussed earlier. This will also help you appear at the top of the search listings, if you do not currently.
You also need to focus on creating content.
By creating content for your website’s blog, you can impact what appears in the search listings when someone types in a relevant keyword.
By creating a lot of content, you’ll be able to ‘crowd out’ any negative or false information that appears when people are researching your firm. Examples of content might include:
- Positive news related to the law firm
- Informational blog posts
- New clients the firm might be working with
- Community work the law firm is involved with
- Press or media mentions
It’s essential that you create social media profiles that represent your law firm.
For Facebook, you’ll want to create something known as a Facebook Page. You can create a Facebook page for your law firm by visiting https://www.facebook.com/pages/create and then selecting the ‘Company, Organisation or Institution’ option.
When you go through the setup process for your Facebook Page, make sure you provide all the information that is needed. Make sure you also implement proper branding for the Facebook Page, so that the it appears to be official and representative of your firm.
You’ll also want to create a Twitter profile for your law firm. You can do so by visiting https://twitter.com/signup. As with a Facebook Page, make sure that you complete your profile fully, to emphasize transparency and improve branding.
You should create profiles on the third party review sites that have been mentioned earlier.
As with the social media profiles, make sure that you fill out your profiles as extensively as possible.
To create a profile with Yelp, visit https://biz.yelp.com.
To create profile with Yellow Pages, you can visit this page.
If you want to set up a profile with Avvo go to this page.
Because Avvo is designed exclusively for the legal world, you’ll be asked for a lot more information. This should not perceived be as a burden, however.
Many people use the Avvo platform when searching for legal assistance. By providing more information, your profile will rank higher within Avvo, helping you improve the odds of acquiring clients using the platform.
Potential clients might also use Avvo for research, and by completing your profile to the fullest extent, you’ll come across as more trustworthy, further aiding your online reputation.
Below are some suggestions for improving your Avvo profile.
By creating profiles with third party sites, you’re now able to deal with any negative reviews that might be present on such sites.
If you find a negative review, the best way to handle it is by publicly apologizing and reaching out to see if there is anything you can do to amend the problem. This can be an effective way to signal to potential clients that you take client satisfaction seriously and that you’ll do what it takes to amend any issues.
What you do not want to do is publicly have a disagreement with a client who left a negative review.
This can have the opposite effect, affirming everything the negative review suggested, thereby scaring away future clients. If you can sincerely deal with those who left negative reviews, there is even a possibility that they will come back to the review site to amend their review.
They might raise the score or leave a comment that explains how your firm consulted with them to help improve things.
How to stop future problems from damaging your reputation
If you can react to future problems with speed, you’ll be able to minimize the impact of issues that have the potential to damage your reputation.
One of the best ways to speed up your ability to react to problems that can harm your reputation is by using Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a free feature provided by Google which will notify you whenever there are mentions of your law firm online.
Using this feature, you can quickly receive a notification if there are any negative reviews related to your firm. You can then respond to these negative reviews and take steps to improve the situation.
Since you can customize the keyword you choose, there is some flexibility in terms of what you can choose to receive notifications about. You may, for instance, want to create alerts based on the keywords we covered earlier.
Note that this feature does not work as well for social media mentions, so it can be a good idea to use Google Alerts alongside the steps we covered above, in relation to learning how your firm is perceived on social media.
Building your reputation over time
The best way to improve your online reputation over time is by increasing the number of positive reviews and testimonials that exist for your law firm and its lawyers.
The best way to generate positive reviews and testimonials for your law firm is to ask for them when the client is feeling good about you. Ask both in-person and with a follow-up email drip series.
Automating the process, with pre-screening
As described above, it is certainly possible to have an active and successful review-generation-and-repair program at your law firm without spending a dime. But what you don’t spend in money you will expend in time.
An alternative is to automate the review process. The four big advantages to using software to conduct your review efforts are:
- You can read the reviews BEFORE they are posted and privately park any lukewarm or negative reviews.
- Every review on the internet is instantly gathered for you and placed on a page on your website, minus any reviews you want to privately park.
- Your clients need not have any technical knowledge for their reviews to be posted.
- The ask is 100% automated; you need not say a word about reviews to any clients or expend any effort other than deciding which reviews to park.
This review management software is one component of our administrative and marketing automation software. To schedule a conversation with our president Travis Hise about increasing your lead flow and reducing your administrative work, click the button below.