Before we choose — we google.
In fact, clients today are more likely to evaluate your law firm through Google reviews than personal recommendations, the BBB, Yelp, Facebook or any other online platform.
Google’s outsized popularity makes it a pretty essential reputation management tool (and a great way to drive clients to your practice). But to understand how the reviews work, let’s dive into the basics:
Google Reviews: A Five Star System
For the uninitiated, Google uses a five-star review system where past and present clients voluntarily rate your business. A one-star review indicates a lousy experience, and a five-star review means a very happy customer. In addition, users will often justify their star rating with a narrative.
Importantly, these reviews paint a picture of your law firm before most people will even meet you. Sound intimidating? It is a little. But rest assured you’re getting more publicity with Google than you ever did with the phone book.
The Cream Rises to the Top
Let’s say a consumer googles “personal injury attorney near me.”
Which firms appear at the top is based on a few factors, such as distance and relevance. But Google also accounts for the quality and quantity of reviews a business receives. The algorithm assumes the more people reviewing a place with satisfactory marks, the greater the interest among consumers generally (and the higher your business appears on the list).
Before you can get reviews, however, you have to setup your page (which instantly improves your overall ranking in five minutes).
Claiming your page
The first step on Google is actually claiming your business page –– a quick process that requires you to verify your identity.
Should you choose not to claim, you can still collect reviews, but there are some clear disadvantages:
- You won’t be able to publicly respond to reviews. You won’t be notified if a review is made at all.
- You won’t be in control of vital information about your firm such as phone numbers and addresses.
- You won’t benefit from the ranking boost that comes with having a claimed, verified business page.
Instead, it makes sense to claim your page as soon as possible. Google provides step–by–step instructions here (and if you don’t see your page, there are directions to add it, too).
Building your Google brand
Once you have a claimed page, here are some techniques for reputation management with Google reviews.
1. If you get a bad review, always respond.
Bad reviews happen on Google, but the worse mistake a law firm can make is ignoring them. Be professional and show respect to the reviewer in your response – whether you make an apology, provide clarity to the situation, or offer a solution.
ProfileIn PR, it’s always important to control the narrative. Responding to bad reviews allows the consumer to see your side and builds the perception that you’re reasonable, attentive, and transparent.
2. If you get a good review, always respond.
That’s right – you should respond to GOOD reviews, too. Saying thank you for someone’s nice feedback only makes you appear better and gives you an opportunity to reinforce their message.
3. If you want more reviews, just ask.
Happy clients? Ask them to post a review on Google about their experience.
Send a personalized, to-the-point email sharing your appreciation of their business and that you’d love for them to leave a review. Link to your Google Business Profile page.
Find the Time for Google Reviews
Managing a Google Business Profile can seem like one more thing on an already overflowing plate. But for attorneys especially, client acquisition requires a public perception of trust and confidence in your practice.