Reviews—they’re one of the best ways to build trust quickly and enhance your online reputation. But if you’re under the impression that you just have to cross your fingers and hope your clients decide to leave you a 5-star review, think again. Lawyer reputation management can help you maximize your firm’s review potential and encourage new clients to reach out to you.
Why Reviews Matter for Lawyer Reputation Management
You might be surprised to learn that 84% of people trust online reviews as much or more than a recommendation from a friend. People make quick decisions when hiring a lawyer, and their decisions are often based on emotions. Online reviews make a huge difference when someone is searching on Google for a law firm.
Think about your own online purchasing decisions. Do reviews factor into those decisions? For most people, the answer is yes. Most people will choose a restaurant with 160 5-star reviews over a place with 16 5-star reviews. When there aren’t many reviews, it’s easy to assume that those great ratings are just a fluke.
Reviews are a form of social proof, and they’re the number one factor in determining your online reputation. That’s why it’s so crucial to prioritize getting good reviews on Google on a consistent basis.
Online Review Collection and Shielding
Building up your online reviews shouldn’t be a passive process. You can maximize the number of reviews your firm gets and protect against bad reviews with a strategy for online review collection and shielding.
Through creating a collection and shielding strategy, you can get more 5-star reviews from happy clients, while protecting your firm against clients who may leave a poor review (even if their bad experience wasn’t your fault!).
How to Collect Good Reviews for Your Law Firm
To collect more good reviews, you need to make it easy for clients to leave positive feedback. At SMB Team, we recommend using text messages to encourage clients to leave reviews. Texts have been shown to have a 5x higher response rate than other reminder methods.
When you send a text, though, you shouldn’t just ask the client to leave a review. Instead, start with a simple question: “would you recommend us to a friend?”
If the answer is yes, make sure the client is redirected to a page where they can easily leave a 5-star review. If the answer is no, however, then they should be redirected to a landing page where they can leave feedback—privately.
While this strategy doesn’t prevent someone from manually going onto Google and creating a bad review, it does make them less likely to take that extra step. Making it easy for people to leave good reviews while reducing their opportunities to leave bad reviews is a key strategy in lawyer reputation management.
Where Should You Solicit Reviews?
There are countless online directories that have review features. So where should you direct your clients when you prompt them to leave a review? First and foremost, Google My Business (GMB).
There are many reasons to prioritize GMB reviews, but the main reason is for the SEO benefits. GMB reviews are the only ratings that will affect your SEO ranking and help you show up in search results. Additionally, a large percentage of people search Google first when looking for help from a law firm. Directing your reviews to Google is the best way to ensure that prospective clients will see your 5-star reviews.
Though less important, you can also benefit from reviews on Avvo, a lawyer-specific review site. The site is pay-to-play, but it can help you bring in some additional cases. However, GMB reviews should always be your number one priority. Other sites don’t really matter for lawyer reputation management.
How Reviews Affect Law Firm SEO
Google reviews matter when it comes to your ranking and position in both Google My Business/local search and Google in general. But it’s important to note that the number of reviews isn’t the only factor in SEO ranking.
Instead of simply rewarding businesses with a large number of 5-star reviews, Google takes three different factors into account to calculate overall “review velocity.” These factors are:
Frequency (weekly and monthly)
Google wants to see authentic, organic reviews and will penalize any activity that seems unnatural. For example, if you get 100 reviews in the first week of opening and then get only one or two over the next year, your ranking might be penalized because there is no natural ebb and flow of review frequency. The review quantity is high, but the velocity and quality are low.
Personalization is another major factor. 5-star reviews with no text attached aren’t a good indication of quality—anyone can rate a business if they create a Google account. Legitimate 5-star reviews will usually include some kind of comment.
Therefore, Google rewards businesses that are able to capture personalized reviews that include unique text comments. This is one reason form reviews don’t work—not only will they not be helpful for people who are trying to hire a lawyer, but they’ll also alert Google’s algorithms to unnatural activity.
When to Ask for the Review
So, when is the best time to send out your text prompts, reminding clients to review your firm? Ideally, at the “peak of delight”—after you’ve won that big case or you settle an outcome for a client. Minutes later, you should send the text reminder and get the review process in motion. At SMB Team, we use the Podium app for automating this process.
Always ask for the review when your client has had a good experience. You should even ask for reviews from people you’ve helped who didn’t hire you! If you do seminars, volunteering, mentoring, or provide free consultations, then it’s a great idea to ask the people you help to leave a review.
Get into a weekly habit of asking for reviews. Let people know you’re looking to grow your firm’s online presence and ask them to leave a review if you’ve helped them with legal issues in any way.
Other Reputation Factors
Reviews are the most important factor in lawyer reputation management, but there are a few other things to consider as well.
It’s important to have a few strong testimonials and case results on your site to bolster your reputation and provide a more in-depth review for potential clients. It also doesn’t hurt to add any badges or awards you may have earned to your site, but remember that these aren’t that important in your overall online reputation.
If you’d like some help in automating your review strategy or in managing your firm’s reputation, contact us at SMB Team through our website, or call (866) 747-1336. We offer free consultations and can help you get on the right track with your online reputation.