Yelp is the most popular and trusted review platform for legal consumers. In this article, we walk you through what it takes to get new clients on this crowd-favorite business directory.
Building a strong presence on review platforms and business directories can give your local SEO and lead-in efforts a major boost. Over 80% of legal consumers read lawyer reviews as their first step to finding an attorney. What’s more, legal consumers use and trust Yelp more than Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo, combined. If you’re paying for a monthly sponsorship on one of those legal-specific directories, you may want to refocus your attention (and marketing budget) on Yelp.
A better online reputation equates to improved business success: A Harvard Business School study found that every star increase in a Yelp rating results in a 5-9% increase in revenue. If your firm isn’t listed on Yelp, it’s time to claim your page and optimize your profile.
How exactly does Yelp help lawyers?
A strong Yelp profile can directly improve your SEO, as Google’s ranking algorithm considers your Yelp presence. A search for legal services with local intent (e.g. “Chicago Small Business Lawyer”) ranks Yelp above Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, Justia and any other lawyer-specific directory.
The algorithm factors in things like number of reviews, overall ratings, keywords within your Specialties & reviews and some searches even display your Yelp rating directly in the SERPs.
Your Yelp profile page has the potential to rank for search queries directly associated to your business name and for those relevant to your legal focus. With Google’s “Pigeon” update, searches are much more focused on the location of the user, so not only are you ranking for your services, but also for your location. When 71% of legal consumers say it’s important to have a local attorney, the Local SEO benefits of a strong Yelp profile are undeniable.
Ethical Considerations & Obligations
As an attorney, it’s important to be mindful about state and local bar advertising rules of conduct, and client confidentiality. All of your replies on these platforms can be seen by the public.
Every facet of marketing and advertising—including your Yelp profile—must comply with the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically chapter 7 (“Information About Legal Services”). Some of the main points to remember when building your Yelp profile include:
- Refraining from using false or misleading statements
- Using the term/title “specialist” only if you meet the qualifications (see Rule 7.4).
Yelp offers opportunities to run promotional discounts, but be careful here, as you could run into ethical issues. Incentivizing legal services with gift cards or coupons for has been debated by several state bar associations. Issues often arise when detailing the context of the legal services discount—it’s probably not worth the ethical headache to use this feature.
With that out of the way, let’s dig into the details…
Claim Your Law Firm’s Yelp Listing
Claiming your law firm’s Yelp page is simple. Enter your business name and location into their search bar to see a list of businesses. Find your firm and click the “Claim This Business” button.
You will then be prompted to input your email address, enter some basic information and verify your account. To verify your account, Yelp will provide you with a verification code and call your listed business phone number to validate your code—if correct, you’re all set.
If you don’t see your business in the results, scroll to the bottom and click the “add your business to Yelp” link. On the next page, enter your basic business information and give Yelp some time to process your request. Your business will soon be on the map so you can update the information, begin generating reviews and optimizing for search.
Update Information & Upload Photography
Add general information to your profile such as your law firm’s name, website homepage link, phone number, address and hours of operation. Be sure to use the same, exact business name, phone number and email address that are listed on your website, as search engines check this information for accuracy in local search.
Choose a category for your business—you can pick form options such as “Lawyers,” “Legal Services,” “Patent Law,” and “Tenant and Eviction Law.”
Once you’ve chosen a basic category, you can add several subcategories, most of which live in the “Lawyers” main category. If you’re a general practice attorney, you’ll likely have several but if you specialize, it’s best to let your page reflect that.
More detailed information about your law firm can be added to the Specialties, History and Meet the Business Owner sections. Google looks closely at the Specialties section when determining what your business offers, so be sure to pack it with keywords (both short and long-tail) in order to rank better for search queries relating to your legal focus.
To find keywords related to your firm’s services, use the free keyword research tool Ubersuggest.
Upload high-quality headshots, team shot and photos of your office, outdoor and indoor, etc. Profiles that
Add the Consultation Button & Download the ’Yelp for Business Owners’ App
Adding a ‘Request a Consultation’ Call-To-Action (CTA) makes it very easy for legal consumers to get in touch with you or a representative of your firm. Instead of making visitors follow your website link or call your business line, they can send an inquiry straight through your Yelp page. This button is displayed on the Yelp results page just under your listing and on your business page.
A bit of advice on User-Experience (UX): do anything you can to make it easier for your prospects to get in contact with you—reduce the number of clicks/keyboard strokes, make your information easier to find, etc.
To display a ‘Request for Consultation’ button, you must have your account verified and enable messaging. If you don’t respond to a new inquiry within seven days and haven’t responded to any other message within 30 days, the button will automatically be deactivated.
Yelp users can see your average response time and rate, so it’s in your best interest to respond to inquiries as soon as possible. Downloading the ‘Yelp for Business Owners’ mobile app gives you the power to respond to inquires while you’re on-the-go. It provide traffic and search analytics, notifies you of new reviews and messages, and offers a simple chat interface to respond.
Generate Reviews from past & current clients
Getting reviews is often easy enough as letting your clients know you’re on Yelp and their feedback is appreciated. Some business owners go the route of directly asking and, even though it’s against against Yelp’s Content Guidelines, most people (70%) will leave one when asked. Yelp may flag and filter the posts they suspect are solicited or incentivized.
Make it easy for your clients to leave reviews by providing links within your email signature and on your website. When you’ve just finished working with a client, send a follow-up email to let them know how much of a pleasure it was to help—and remind them getting Yelp reviews helps you improve your practice. You can also get a “People love us on Yelp” sticker to put on your law office’s front door, to subtly remind clients as they come and go.
In the even you get a positive review form someone who has not yet filled out their Yelp profile, their review won’t be made public. Kindly reach out the reviewer and ask them to complete their Profile.
Respond to client reviews—the good and the bad reviews
When you get a good review, reply to tell the client how much you appreciate having been able to help them. Not only will this help you maintain a relationship with your past clients (thinking referral network) but it shows new prospects that you like to keep tabs with your clients even after you get paid.
In the event of the inevitable bad review, don’t panic or be too hard on yourself—you can’t make every, single person happy and that’s true for every business. Actually, having a not-so-great mixed into your pool of positive reviews might help your business, as businesses with no negative reviews make people suspect their reviews are fake. Plus, the harsh qualitative data can help you improve your legal services.
Obviously, a lot of poor reviews can seriously hurt your business, so use this method to try to remove or improve poor reviews:
- Don’t respond immediately. You’ll probably be a bit fired up reading a bad review and you don’t want to respond out of aggression. Take a deep breath and give it 24 hours before you respond.
- Don’t be defensive or make excuses. Have a conversation with the reviewer and try to understand how you can improve your legal services using their feedback. Apologize for their poor experience and thank them for taking the time to critique your services. If you’re receptive enough, the reviewer might even remove or improve their review—but don’t be pushy about it.
- Move on. Don’t dwell on the one negative on your page. There are plenty of other clients to serve, ones that will appreciate your services. Focus on helping them and your positive reviews will come in time.
If you feel you’ve gotten a fake or slanderous review that is slanderous, report it to Yelp. If you have no luck and its become a serious thorn in the side of your business, you can legitimately consider legal action: a California law firm that sued a woman over a Yelp review and won almost $600,000.
Yelp Advertising & Business Page Upgrades
Upgrading to a the ‘Enhanced Profile’ tier removes competitor ads from your page, adds a slideshow to your page and allows you to upload a branded video. Enhanced Profiles with a CTA button average 33% more traffic and 38% more leads than free profiles.
Yelp also offers Advertising Opportunities. Advertised listings appear in relevant search results and on competitor pages. Unlike most social platforms that offer advertising, you cannot target specific keywords or user demographics—although you can create custom segments based on basic information such as location and brand interest. All advertising runs across the Yelp mobile app, desktop website and mobile website.
Any marketing and advertising you invest in should be monitored in order to measure ROI and find ways to improve your targeting, reach, click rate and conversions. Yelp advertising comes with campaign-tracking tools to measure your ad performance across various categories and locations. You can track frequency and even see how many new clients you’ve converted through ad campaigns.
Business Page Analytics & Optimization
Using Yelp’s simple dashboard, you can monitor your profile’s success through Yelp’s Business Analytics tools.
Using the User Views graph, you can track your page views on different devices over varying durations of time. This can help you understand if changes made to your profile information have an impact on your click rate. The “Customer Leads” feature provides details about how legal consumers are interacting with you page, like if they’ve called your firm directly from the Yelp app or mobile site, requested directions, or visited your website directly through your Yelp profile.
The “Revenue Estimate” tool can be used to understand what kind of ROI you are getting from your Yelp efforts. It uses data collected by Boston Consulting Group US business study, your industry and lead-generation numbers to determine roughly how much Yelp is helping your business earn.
Configuring your law firm website with Google Analytics gives your the power to determine how your presence on Yelp compares to other marketing initiatives. In your Google Analytics dashboard, go to the Sources section to find the various paths your visitors are taking to reach your website and find “Yelp.com.” If you get a lot of Yelp traffic, relatively, advertising might be a good option to try out!
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