Your online reputation reaches far beyond your firm’s website. It’s vital that you manage your reputation so it helps your business instead of hurting it.
- The top review factors are star rating, ‘sentiment of review’ and recency.
- The top review platforms for lawyers are Yelp, Google My Business and Avvo.
- Make it easy for people to write reviews for your firm by putting links in your signature and mentioning you’re on Yelp & Google My Business.
- With permission for reviewers, use your reviews as content for social media posts.
- Reach out to those who leave negative reviews, but do not argue with them.
In 2012, a California law firm sued a woman who left a defamatory review on their Yelp page. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the law firm, awarding them $558,000 in damages, and Yelp was also told to remove the woman’s review.
Your law firm’s online reputation holds real value—and Harvard found just how much it’s worth. A Harvard Business School research study found that every star increase in your Yelp rating yields a 5-9% increase in revenue.
Your law firm’s reputation is one of your most essential marketing tools, and for this reason it is critical that you actively take care of it.
The most important review factors
Over 80% of legal consumers read online reviews as their very first step when hiring a new lawyer. Here are the factors they’re considering most:
- Star rating — Almost 60% of legal consumers put the greatest weight in overall star rating. It gives consumers a quick, visual representation to identify customer satisfaction. Consumers typically need at least 3/5 stars to feel comfortable, but more is better, of course.
- Sentiment of reviews — Once aroused by your star rating, consumers study the collective attitude towards your firm from past clients.
- Recency — Current and frequent good reviews show people the quality of your legal services are consistently top-notch.
In the beginning when each review holds a lot of weight in your overall rating, make sure you go for quality of review over quantity. Almost 85% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, so the young attorneys who don’t yet have strong referral bases can see huge benefits.
The top review platforms for lawyers
The most popular review platforms for attorneys are Yelp, Google My Business, Avvo, lawyers.com and Martindale.
Collect reviews on a few platforms, as many people read reviews in more than one place—especially for high-stakes purchases. Someone looking for an attorney to help with a long, ugly, dishes-in-the-wall divorce battle, for instance, will be more thorough than someone looking to try a new restaurant. 68% of people will read up to six reviews before they form an opinion about your business.
Get ratings & reviews
It’s against Yelp’s terms of service to request or buy reviews, as they feel it delegitimizes their platform. Despite the rules, it’s not uncommon for businesses to directly ask for reviews. Over 70% of consumers have been directly asked to leave a review and 50% will do so. If you decide to ask, be careful—if Yelp suspects “irregular activity” on your page, they will flag and filter posts that seem illegitimate, solicited or incentivized.
If you play it safe, simply mention to your clients that it helps to get feedback, and direct them towards the top platforms. Make it simple for people to find your law firm’s listing by including links in your email signature and on your website. Many small firms even put the “We’re on Yelp” sticker on their front window to remind clients as they come and go.
Get your reviews in front of legal consumers
According to Moz, online ratings and reviews account for an estimated 8.4% of the Google Local Search algorithm. To rank in Google’s local search results, you must first claim your business on Google My Business (GMB). Getting clients to leave positive reviews that include keywords and location information will help you rank in the “Google Local 3-pack.” Your GMB listing is your most important review platform for Local SEO. By collecting more reviews, you have a higher chance of getting those reviews in front of legal consumers in an organic manner.
A creative way to get your reviews in front of your audience is posting them to your various channels. Instead of relying on legal consumers to find them, post them Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. You can take a simple screenshot on your smartphone or even create branded social posts. My ATL Law’s Instagram is a great example.
Some review platforms even allow you to pay to show your business at the top of specific search queries. Yelp offers advertising options that give you the ability to target specific demographics, queries and more. Most lawyer directories offer advertising packages as well.
Use reviews to improve your legal services
With an open mind, reviews can help evolve your quality of services. Take time to read each review to better understand the needs and expectations of your clients, and you can tailor your client intake and legal services to improve future client experiences.
Continually developing your approach to solving client problems shows that you genuinely appreciate constructive criticism. Over time, your reviews should improve with your services, until you are consistently hitting the 5-star mark.
Mitigate damage of bad reviews
You will get negative review. It’s inevitable and it’s okay. Oddly enough, sprinkling in a few negative reviews could even help your conversion rate: online consumers have grown skeptical of fake reviews and censorship. Almost 70% of online consumers have more trust in a business with a “healthy mix” of positive and negative reviews.
In the event you get an exceptionally ugly review, reach out to the client directly and try to level with them. Be empathetic and caring. Directly reply to the negative review, apologize and ask them how you can improve your services. And never argue!
Ideally, they will recognize your good heart and remove or improve the review. But if they’re stubborn and you think the review is libel, well, you might have a case for defamation!
Michael Luca, Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com, Harvard Business School, March 2016
Rexly Penaflorida II, The Growing Importance of Lawyer Listings and Reviews, Review Trackers, December 13, 2018
Craig Bloem, 84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends. Here’s How to Manage What They See, Inc., July 31, 2017
Why Customer Reviews Are Crucial to Your Small Business, Inc., June 7, 2017
Sherry Bonelli, 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked, Search Engine Land, November 14, 2016
Graham Charlton, The importance of user reviews for local SEO, Search Engine Watch, December 2, 2015
Can Negative Reviews Increase Conversions?, The Daily Egg, July 27, 2017