You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That is why your online reputation and Google results are so important. Competition among attorneys is fierce and to make sure that what your potential clients are seeing and reading about you is accurate; you need to be proactive in managing your online search results.
Busy lawyers often neglect how they appear on the Internet when someone Google’s their name. It’s important to understand that the Internet is now the primary research source to find attorneys. Managing your online presence is critically important to growing your law practice and maintaining your good reputation.
Why Your Online Reputation is Important
We live in a modern, technical world and the first place people turn when they need help is the Internet. If what they see is a bunch of empty profiles, sparse information from unreputable sources and a couple of unfavorable reviews could be enough to turn prospective clients away.
Potential clients, unsure of how to navigate tricky and complicated legal waters want to know exactly who they are trusting to help resolve their problem. Attorneys need to make sure the first thing prospective clients see when researching them is professional profiles, consistent messaging, positive reviews, and endorsements. Managing your online reputation is crucial when turning leads into clients.
Due to the nature of the legal profession, in just about every case, there are winners and losers. These days anybody can publish an online review. Therefore a proactive approach to managing your online presence is necessary.
How to Start the Process
Attorneys may start managing their online reputation by executing a simple Google search of their name or name of their law firm. Survey the results and make a note of every listing you do not control. These listings could be profiles from legal directories like Justia or Avvo. They may include professional directories and social media properties from LinkedIn or Facebook or review sites like Yelp. The ultimate goal is to claim, own, and manage every listing possible, at least on the first page of the search results.
How you manage closing cases with each client has a significant impact on what gets posted about you on the Internet.
How to Manage Reviews
As with everything it is always better to be proactive than reactive. Establishing a foundation of favorable reviews and endorsements from happy clients or colleagues will help soften the blow should you ever receive an unfavorable or bogus review.
First, you need to choose which review sites that you want to use to build your reputation. There are many options, and some popular review sites in the legal community including Avvo, Lawyers.com, and Google Business. Don’t forget about social media if you’ve already incorporated social media into your marketing. Facebook is responsible for 85% of consumer purchase decisions by people sharing their opinions about businesses. You will want to use a few sites not just one. Not all clients will be visiting the same review portals, and you will want to diversify to spread the word.
Part of your closing procedure with a satisfied client should be to ask for a favorable online review. Attorneys can also derail the possibility of an unfavorable review by merely asking for honest feedback and see what if anything you can do better in the future. Sometimes, just asking for the opinion will take the wind out any sails of an angry client who did not get the outcome they were hoping. If you give them a voice, they may not take their anger online to vent. If you hear positive feedback, ask them to go online and give you a review on one of the sites you’ve selected.
When asking clients for a review, remember like you, clients get busy and may forget. You should send a friendly reminder by email and include a link directly to the review page to your choice.
Build a cache of positive reviews by sending your clients to your chosen review sites. You should also take a few minutes every so often to check the other review sites to see if anyone posted something about you or your firm. Being part of the conversation and addressing negative comments will show prospective clients who read those reviews that you care about the client relationship. Respond respectfully and honestly to the negative comments so consumers will see both sides of the story. Be brief and empathetic but not overly detailed.
Repurpose positive feedback and comments by linking to them from social media, your LinkedIn account and reposting on your website.
Monitor Chatter About You or Your Firm
You probably already have a Google Analytics account for your website to track visitation but did you know you can also set up Google alerts to notify you by email when someone mentions you or your firm online? This is an easy way to continually monitor your name and track new reviews without having to take up any precious time. Let Google do the work for you.
Other third-party services can monitor the Internet for mention of you like Social Mention, BrandWatch, and BrandsEye. You must pay for these types of services.
Once you are aware of something posted that does not positively reflect upon your business, you can then quickly address it.
How to Clean up Bad Press
One of the best ways to remove harmful or unwanted content from the Internet is to bury it under a mountain of positive material. Building your reviews is an essential part of this process.
Use your website to add new blogs, articles or positive feedback as testimonials. Use the same keywords that appear on the offensive pages you want to be removed. Consider authoring articles to be published in reputable online publications. These articles often make it to the first page of Google when searched by authors name thus pushing less reputable reviews off the first page.
How to Remove False or Defamatory Reviews
When you begin the journey of investigating and managing your online reputation the place to start is Google. Search for your name and your firm. If anything comes up on the first page that is negative or inaccurate, you will want to address it immediately.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to remove a negative review or even a bogus review. Some review sites are friendlier to the reviewee and offer guidelines as to how to dispute a review to have it removed if it violates their rules.
If there are numerous reputation issues that need to be addressed, it often makes sense to hire professionals to keep on it and clean up those top searches. You may also need to contact owners of the other website to remove images or content that is inappropriate.
Social Media Tips
Protect your social media accounts with maximum security so no one can post anything that you do not approve. Enhance positive feedback by sharing on your pages and linking to your website.
When you control the narrative, you control your online reputation, and although it may be easier to ignore, in the long run, it will help your business and your firm’s growth immeasurably.