When you’re a lawyer, your online reputation is as important as your real-world reputation.
The way clients seek out lawyers has changed. Today, they no longer rely on newspapers and recommendations. Instead, your clients first turn to Google.
Due to the change in client behavior, and all the advancements that web search has experienced in the past few decades, the best way to get information about lawyers is to look it up on Google.
Now, you could leave your law firm’s online reputation up to chance. However, that may result in negative reviews, PR storms and ultimately, a lot of lost clients.
Instead, it’s much better to learn how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.
Here is everything you need to know:
The Importance of Managing Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation
With over 84% of consumers trusting online recommendations as much as recommendations coming straight from their friends, you need to make sure your law firm’s online reputation is spotless.
Let’s imagine a different scenario, where your potential client doesn’t find you through Google, but through a friend’s recommendation.
Chances are, they’ll still research you online to make sure you’re as good as their friend claims you to be.
When they search for your law firm’s name, the first thing that will pop up will be your Google My Business profile (if you haven’t set it up, we’ll cover it later in the text), and various directories like Avvo or Yelp.
These sites all feature one thing: reviews.
And the reviews your clients see online will define their opinion of you even before they’ve scheduled a consultation.
Therein lies the importance of managing your law firm’s online reputation.
When your potential clients look you up online first, you have to make sure that the image you send off into the world through digital channels is spotless.
Managing Your Law Firm’s Reputation: More than Negative Reviews
One of the most common misconceptions about managing your law firm’s online reputation is that you only have to worry about negative reviews.
While negative reviews can cause a PR storm, the real foundations of your online reputation are built on positives and your general, neutral presence.
In particular, you should focus on attracting and getting positive reviews.
74% of consumers stated that seeing positive reviews for a local business is more likely to make them trust the business, with 54% of surveyed stating that they’ll be more likely to visit your website if they see positive reviews.
These are pretty strong arguments to focus on your positive online reputation, as well.
Your law firm’s online reputation is something you must maintain, instead of simply mitigating the risks associated with negative reviews.
You can do plenty with a simple Google My Business profile.
From there, you won’t only be able to monitor and respond to reviews, but you’ll also be able to make posts about successful cases, awards, and much more that your clients will take into account when evaluating your law firm’s online reputation.
Ultimately, there’s another perk to maintaining your online reputation.
Google is switching to EAT scoring of legal websites and businesses online, which means that the better your online reputation is, the more will Google boost your pages when your customers are searching for terms related to your practice areas.
Know Your Channels
There are thousands of directories online. Now, you could technically monitor your online reputation on all of them, but where is the point in that?
Instead, you should focus on the directories your potential clients will visit.
For attorneys, those are typically:
However, you can find the directories your law firm should focus on in particular by conducting a Google search like one of your clients would.
For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney in Chicago, conduct a search query such as: “Personal injury attorneys Chicago reviews,” and isolate the directories that appear first in the search.
This way, you’ll avoid throwing your hands up in the air because of the sheer volume of directories available online. You’ll focus your attention on the most frequented ones, and ensure that your online reputation on them is spotless.
Similarly, don’t only focus on attorney directories.
Your potential clients will also likely visit websites like Yelp and Google Maps listings when assessing your reputation.
In some cases, your existing clients may also be talking about your law firm on social media.
45% of consumers post about positive interactions on social media, so in addition to your potential customers researching your firm through Google, they’re doing it through Facebook and Twitter, as well.
Finally, once you know which channels your potential clients use the most, direct your existing satisfied clients to them and ask them to leave a review.
It’s always good to make it clear where your clients should leave a review, instead of leaving it up to chance.
Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation Is More than Reviews
Finally, while reviews can cause the best results (and the biggest damage, if they are negative), there is more to maintaining your online presence than reviews.
When you want to improve your online reputation, consider writing a legal blog and guest posting on highly-frequented sites.
All of these methods will help you create a positive digital footprint that will ultimately give you better marketing results.
And when you’ve created a positive online reputation for your law firm, you can bet your (potential) clients will trust you a lot more.
2. How to Keep Track of Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation
When you want to improve your law firm’s online reputation, or simply maintain it and mitigate the risks of shared negative experiences, you have to devise a monitoring and tracking system.
This way, you won’t do it randomly.
Instead, you’ll have a process you can rely on, without forgetting about any of the important channels your potential customers are looking to.
Channels to Track
Managing your law firm’s online reputation is simple when you have a strategy that covers all the channels that are important for you to track.
First, identify the channels your potential clients and existing clients use to evaluate your reputation and write reviews, respectively.
This will help you weed out all those channels that look like you should be tracking them on paper, but which no one is paying attention to.
The easiest way to find relevant channels is by performing search queries on Google or on social media.
For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney in Chicago, you’d search for queries such as:
- Personal injury attorneys Chicago
- Injury lawyers Chicago
- Injury lawyers Chicago reviews
All of these will help you find the most relevant channels for monitoring your online reputation.
In our example, when we search for “Injury lawyers Chicago reviews,” Yelp is the first site that pops up. Then, Google Maps, Avvo, Thumbtack and Expertise follow.
This is a colorful mix of websites, and you should be monitoring your reputation on all of them, as they’re the ones your potential clients will see.
List all the directories your clients are using
They’re particularly important when you have multiple practice areas in multiple locations.
They’re well known in the legal community, and they frequently appear among the first results when your clients are typing search queries such as: “best injury attorneys.”
Review local directories
In most cases, local directories will be merged with bigger platforms like Yelp.
However, it’s good to pay attention to them if they’re appearing on the first or on the second page of search engine results pages for your target queries (e.g. “Personal injury lawyers reviews”).
Keep an eye on social media
Sometimes, clients will use social media to recount positive and negative interactions. This is especially true if your law firm has social media profiles that are open to reviews.
For example, clients often recount their interactions with a law firm on the firm’s Facebook page.
Does your law firm have GMB and social media profiles?
If your law firm has a GMB profile or social media profiles, clients will likely leave reviews on there.
Additionally, your law firm’s Google My Business profile is a great way to spruce up your online reputation.
Any social media networks you’re using to communicate with your clients through social media should also make the list of channels to keep track of.
Keeping Track of Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation
Now that you’ve listed all the channels your potential clients will be looking at before scheduling a consultation, it’s time to make a plan on how you’ll monitor them.
Fortunately, there are plenty of monitoring tools that can help you automate the process, and avoid wasting time.
Social media monitoring tools
You can keep track of social media mentions of your law firm with social media monitoring tools such as:
If someone posts to Twitter (or other social networks) mentioning your law firm, these tools will send you a notification.
Set up Google Alerts
The second way to keep track of different mentions of your law firm is by setting up Google Alerts.
You can set up mentions of your business, track particular keywords and topics, and much more. Whenever your law firm is mentioned, you’ll get an email.
You can tweak the Alerts further to:
- Exclude some results
- Adjust the frequency of emails
- Select types of sites you’ll be getting alerts from
- Select regions and languages
If This, Then That
They allow you to automate everything.
In your law firm’s case, this means that you will get notifications as soon as someone posts a new review about your business.
Simply set it up and rest easy, without having to visit review sites periodically.
Claim your law firm’s profiles
Finally, as soon as clients start posting about your law firm online, sites like Yelp, Avvo, and even Google in some cases will create online profiles for you.
If you don’t claim these profiles, your reputation will be up in the air.
Not to mention that in this day and age, it seems slightly shady that an established law firm that takes pride in their reputation doesn’t use their review profiles.
First of all, you should claim or create your Google My Business profile.
You’ll be getting plenty of reviews on GMB so claiming your profile is a great way to:
- Manage your reviews and feedback
- Update your law firm information
- Boast about accomplishments
Similarly, claim your Avvo profile.
You’ll be able to add more information such as: Bar Association information, publications, awards, and much more.
If you notice clients are posting on social networks you’re not present on, create a profile as soon as possible.
Not only are your potential clients looking for you on those platforms, but Google is also monitoring the sentiment with which your law firm is being mentioned online.
In the next section, we will explain how to get positive reviews for your law firm