Your reputation is everything. You graduated law school near the top of your class. You put in grueling hours in law school and 2,000+ billable hours years when you started practicing. You finally made partner. Your reputation is golden.
Now on a random Wednesday, after all this hard work, you receive a 1-star review. Worst yet, it was from a crazy client, who you didn’t even really want to help.
We all know that online reviews are essential for businesses, but online reviews are especially crucial for law firms. You are the firm. This isn't just business. This is personal.
But what to do? The following article will help showcase why reviews are important, how to setup reviews now (so that the above doesn’t happen to you), and what to do if some random client decides to give you a poor review.
Why Reviews Matter
Positive online business reviews help a law firm’s reputation in three ways: 1) they create a shield, 2) reviews promote your business, and 3) Reviews can help your SEO.
1. Reviews as a Reputation Shield
First, your online reviews create a reputation shield. At some point in time every lawyer will receive a negative review. If you have built up enough positive reviews, then this negative review won’t matter. If you have only two reviews and an angry client leaves you a negative review, then yes that can look bad. But if you have 50 positive 5-star reviews and a single person leaves a 1-star, then that reviewer actually looks like the outcast.
You need to create that shield. You need to make sure that when the time comes, you already have reviews in place to counteract the one malevolent actor.
2. Reviews Promote Your Business
Your friend just referred you a potential client. The first thing someone does when deciding on whether to hire you is to Google your firm. Reviews automatically showcase on Google’s search results. Is your firm a 5.0? 4.9? 4.5? 3.0? You need to have enough reviews to showcase your firm’s talent and reputation. Online reviews can:
- Help set you apart from your competitors
- Show prospective clients that your firm is credible
- Sends an authoritative signal to Google
- Increases site conversions and rankings
There is an entire science behind how critical reviews are and how they ultimately impact our decision-making processes, but what is interesting is how these ratings influence law firm’s rankings online.
Studies show that for someone to hire an attorney or law firm to represent them, they want to see reviews of four stars or higher, and unfortunately, poor reviews directly correlate into lost leads and a decrease in revenue.
However, just as important as the quality of the reviews is the quantity. If you have a couple of five-star reviews, potential clients will likely interpret this to mean that you don’t have enough clients. That’s why having a critical balance between quality and quantity is necessary if you want to achieve success and garnish online leads for your law firm.
3. Google Reviews Can Help Boost SEO
Google reviews are a powerful tool. Having several positive reviews on Google shows that your firm has a solid reputation and established authority within the legal industry. Reviews indirectly help your site’s SEO. The more positive reviews you have, the higher the chances people will click on your site when they search for law firms. More clicks mean that Google notices the increase in website visits, which is an indirect result of positive reviews.
Additionally, if you have a testimonial page as part of your website that highlights your positive reviews, and potential clients complete your contact form page, you’ll have more conversions, which Google also takes into consideration when recommending search results.
Once you receive at least five positive Google reviews, the best way to boost your SEO is to include Google Rich Snippet Code, which enables the rating to show up in search results for your firm and in the subpages for your website. Utilizing this robust code offers your site better exposure and a more impressive click-through rate on your organic listings.
What Review Sites Are Most Important?
There are several review sites online, but you don’t need to spread your reviews too thin. Most people need legal services will turn to the following:
- Google - Google is the number one recommended site to get reviews, which are featured most prominently in Google search and can sometimes be a deciding factor someone considers when choosing which law firm to click on within their search results.
- Facebook - Many people use social networks to recommend places to their friends and family, which is why Facebook is excellent for collecting reviews. LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram don’t have a review feature, so Facebook is primarily used for social media reviews.
- Yellow Pages - Yellow Pages lets clients find your business, rate and review the level of service your firm provided, which is helpful to potential clients that rely on this platform for reviews.
- BBB - The Better Business Bureau’s site provides potential clients with information so they can get an idea if a law firm provides excellent service or has unethical practice complaints. However, not every business is a member of the BBB, which may require membership dues/payments before your firm can be listed on their site. If you do have a listing with the BBB, take advantage of using it, as this is a good place to get reviews.
- Yelp - Yelp is a very popular review outlet, especially for restaurants, but they are known for filtering most of their reviews. Individual users who review a business, for the most part, must be very active on Yelp and follow strict guidelines to have their review prominently showcased for any particular business. Since a law firm’s average client is not usually overly active on Yelp, this can be problematic. We recommend using Yelp, but keep these issues in mind and don’t waste too much effort, especially if you notice that most of your reviews are filtered. Yelp prohibits soliciting reviews, which means that you’ll have to let these reviews happen organically.
- Martindale/Lawyers.com/Avvo - Lawyer-specific sites are also great places to showcase reviews. It’s important to remember that not everyone goes to these sites, but if they are familiar with attorneys or are other attorneys looking for a peer, these are excellent for garnishing and showcasing reviews.
How to Get More Reviews
Many law firms may not even ask for online reviews. If it’s not part of your law firm’s process, it needs to be. While it’s against Yelp’s policy for businesses to ask for reviews, Google and Facebook have no such policy, which means that your firm can send out emails or request clients to submit reviews.
The best way to obtain reviews is to make it easy and encourage your clients to submit them. For example:
- Email your past and present clients, ask that they leave a review and provide them with links to the sites where they can click and review your law firm. (Looking for email templates? Download our sample templates here.)
- Provide very clear instructions about how they can leave reviews.
- Create a landing page for reviews that law firms can directly send to clients, which is helpful because firms can encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews.
The Best Time to Collect Reviews
You should start getting reviews as soon as your firm’s listings are live on review sites. It is critical to gain reviews gradually and not get too many at one time.
Things to Avoid When Collecting Online Reviews
We do not recommend the following tactics when collecting online reviews for your law firm:
- Owners and employees should not write reviews.
- Do not pay for reviews or get reviews from people who have never used your firm. Although your friends and family may be willing to write positive reviews, it is best to collect reviews from actual clients to avoid any red flags and spam filters.
- Do not encourage clients to leave the exact same review on multiple platforms, such as Google and Facebook. This could also be seen as manipulative and spammy not only from the specific website but also from a client’s perspective. If a client is willing to write a unique review on multiple platforms, this may be okay, but it is also not something people are usually willing to do. It’s preferable to go with requesting a review on one review site per person.
- Do not encourage reviews all on the same day or within a short period. Gathering reviews should be a natural process, and a gradual increase in reviews is ideal.
- Businesses cannot offer an incentive for a review per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Managing Online Business Reviews
Obtaining online reviews for your business is a critical component of your law firm’s online reputation management. If you aren’t sure how to get reviews, and what steps you should follow, use our basic outline below. These straightforward tips will allow you to create an online reputation for your firm and manage any negative feedback in the most productive way possible.
1. Obtain Reviews
The first step is to proactively collect reviews from satisfied clients, which can be accomplished by asking the client while on the phone or in the office. Sending out an email after the services have been completed to thank them and ask for a review is also highly effective. It is essential to consistently gather reviews and build up a positive online business reputation. This way, if any negative feedback is posted, your firm already has many positive reviews that downplay any negative ones.
We recommend first getting online business reviews on your Google listing. The majority see this when searching for your firm in Google. Once at least five reviews are collected on Google’s platform, you can work towards building reviews on other sites such as Facebook or Avvo. Having reviews in various places online will help showcase an overall positive reputation, but it helps to focus on one platform in the beginning.
2. Respond to Reviews
If the review platform allows, you should respond to every review, both negative and positive. The negative reviews should be met with empathy, providing a solution, or clarifying the issue and how your firm resolved it. It is crucial to be extra careful with phrasing as people can get a wrong impression if a company is making excuses for unsatisfactory service. Responses to negative reviews are essential because it shows potential clients that the company cares about every issue and wants to have a pleasant customer experience, which can help a potential client determine if the negative review may or may not be valid or was at least addressed effectively. If the review is positive, be sure to thank them for their feedback. Google My Business allows you to respond to reviews, but not all platforms will have an option to reply directly to the reviewer. If you are unsure how to respond to a negative Google review, review our recommended four-step process.
3. Report Spam Reviews
If a review is indeed spam or possibly left for the wrong business, it is best to report it using whatever reporting option the platform provides. Google has a red flag that you can click to submit a report for a spam review, but other platforms may have different methods. Almost every platform does not allow you to manually delete any reviews, only giving you the ability to notify them of a possible issue with a review. Then the specific platform will review their guidelines to see if the review is breaking any rules to warrant its removal. It’s important to note that just because you may disagree with a review or you do not have a record of them as a client, does not necessarily afford grounds for removing the complaint. In these cases, a helpful, empathetic response is the best course of action.
4. Promote Your Online Business Reviews
Once your firm has more than five reviews on a platform, you should leverage this and utilize them to expand your online presence further. Here are a few options we recommend:
Step 1: Create a Testimonials Page
Once you have a collection of positive online customer reviews, you can set up a testimonial page on your website to showcase these to potential clients. Your testimonial page can include reviews from various sites, video testimonials or quotes from emails that clients have sent. Awards and other types of recognition your firm receives are also a great addition to this page as well.
Step 2: Set Up Rich Snippet Code for Google Reviews
After you receive five positive reviews on your Google listing, we recommend setting up a code on your website to allow your reviews to stand out in Google search. It enables the five-star rating to show up in search results for the subpages of your website. This is an example of where the stars will appear in Google search. Adding this code update offers better exposure and click-through rates on organic listings. The content from each review will need to be added and displayed on your website for the update to work correctly.
Step 3: Sharing Reviews on Social Media
Share online business reviews on your social media pages, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. You can either link to a video testimonial or include a quote from a client.
Step 4: Videos
Consider filming video testimonials. If you have a client that is willing to be filmed and provide a testimonial video, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase a happy client and add it on your website, YouTube channel and link to your social media pages. Video testimonials are compelling.
Managing Multiple Business Locations
If your firm has several business locations, you’ll need to set up local listing websites, such as Google, Yellow Pages and Yelp for each one. Having this exposure affords your firm even more opportunities to gain reviews. Some sites, such as Avvo are attorney review specific and not based on office location.
How PaperStreet Can Help Get Reviews
Obtaining business reviews can be extremely beneficial in the display of your law firm’s online rankings. Positive online business reviews are an essential part of your reputation as a business and can strengthen your SEO efforts. Having a plethora of positive reviews also sets your firm apart from your competitors, proves credibility to prospective clients and sends a strong authority signal to Google.
PaperStreet’s SEO team creates custom action plans to help your law firm gain and optimize reviews.
PaperStreet can add a review page to your website, which will make it easier for your clients to leave you positive reviews. The review page is a convenient link that makes it simple for law firms to send clients after cases are satisfactorily settled or won in court. This page can either be accessed online or hidden from search engines.
We can help your law firm get their online review sites set up so that you can begin collecting your initial five Google reviews. You will need a minimum of five reviews, which Google requires to display your overall star rating online.
Google Rich Snippet Code
Once you have five Google reviews, we can help you set up a Google Rich Snippet code on your website. Having this rich snippet installed means that your star rating will appear even if you are outside of the local map pack, which provides added exposure and better click-through rates on your organic listings. PaperStreet can set up your website in a way that tells Google to show the review as a rich snippet in the search results page.
Contact PaperStreet to Boost Your Online Business Reviews
Interested in learning more about boosting your online business reviews? Contact PaperStreet’s SEO team for more information.