Legal Search Marketing – How to Protect Your Online Reputation

By Ian Bardorf

What do prospects find when they look for you online? They may find your firm’s website, your LinkedIn and Avvo profiles, blog posts or videos, your Facebook business page, and glowing reviews of your services. But what if your website is listed last or, even worse, not listed at all on the first page of results? Instead the top links lead to a client’s bad review, a disgruntled employee’s comments, or a competitor’s website.

This situation is becoming all too common on the results pages of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. Attorneys who have spent years growing their businesses can find their work tarnished by lackluster search results or bad reviews. Many are turning to online reputation management to protect, strengthen and occasionally repair their standing on the Internet. Online reputation management can fortify and preserve an attorney’s reputation in the search results and repair any damage that may have been caused by negative results.

For many attorneys, it’s the nature of their business to be caught in the crossfire between clients and the opposing party. You are there to represent your client, not to make both sides happy. This means attorneys have a greater risk of receiving unfavorable reviews online, possibly from an unhappy client, but more likely from the other side’s client. Unfortunately, these negative reviews may appear first when someone searches for an attorney with your area of expertise.

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Question – I just got a Twitter account for my firm — what should I tweet?

Congrats on setting up a Twitter account – you’ve taken the first step. Social media like Facebook and Twitter let you stay connected with clients, share information, gather feedback, and obtain more visibility in the search rankings.

Imagine your Twitter account as a friendly information booth or place for people to ask questions and share information. You can also share links to interesting articles; post updates on the law, announce upcoming seminars or events; ask questions; solicit feedback; and ask followers what they think. Experts recommend that business tweets are two-thirds conversational and one-third promotional. Research has shown that conversational tweets produce 8 to 12 times the response of company-oriented ones. An example of a conversational tweet is, “Are Massachusetts family courts over-worked and understaffed?” A promotional tweet is, “We’ll be hosting a seminar tomorrow on Estate Planning strategies. Contact us to reserve your spot.”

Once you set up your firm’s account, commit to engaging and replying quickly. Twitter and Facebook users expect you to respond to questions and complaints quickly. To connect with followers, be real. Use an authentic, personal voice. Post your photo and business phone number. More than any other format, tweets can be casual, friendly, and transparent.