Especially in highly competitive markets, online reviews are absolutely vital to the success of a business. For attorneys and law firms, your office is often listed right next to your toughest competition in search engine results, and how many ratings you have (and how high your ratings are) is easy to see and compare. To stand out and get clicks, you absolutely have to have a high volume of positive reviews.
Because of their importance, more and more attorneys are spending time and effort soliciting and encouraging reviews. However, many lawyers are also noticing that not all of their reviews are getting published, whether they are written for Google, Yelp, Facebook, or another review site.
So, why are these reviews being flagged, hidden, or deleted, and what can you do?
Top Reasons for Filtered & Deleted Reviews
Yelp, Google, and other review sites all have some kind of screening process for user-submitted reviews. This screening process exists for three major reasons:
- To prevent fake or solicited reviews;
- To control spam; and
- To provide users with the most helpful reviews.
That being said, there are dozens of more specific reasons that Google or Yelp may have flagged or filtered a review by one of your clients. Below, we will list a few of the more common ones:
- The review was written by someone who manages your page.
- The review was written by an employee.
- The review was written by an SEO company.
- The review appears to have been actively solicited by your law office.
- The review seems to have involved an incentive.
- The reviews are all coming from the same location (such as an onsite review station).
- The person who reviewed your law office has not written any other (or many other) reviews.
- The person who reviewed your law office has not filled out their profile.
- The person who reviewed your law office has already reviewed your office on the website.
- The review contains links or looks like spam.
- The review contains hate speech or vulgar language.
- The same review already appears on another site.
- The review mentions contests or promotions.
- The law firm has been collecting a large volume of reviews all at once.
- The law firm has an abnormally high number of reviews.
- The review is off topic.
Can You Get a Review Back?
Once a review has been flagged or filtered, it can be difficult to get it back, depending on the reason that it was removed. In Yelp, a review can be “unhidden” if the reviewer fully fills out their profile and becomes more active on the website. For both Yelp and Google you can contact administrators, but unfortunately, getting a review back may be more trouble than it is worth, especially if the review violated a posting rule.
How to Prevent Flagged & Filtered Reviews
The best way to make sure all of your reviews are approved and visible is simply to follow posting rules closely. Although you cannot help your former clients write their review, there are a few things you can do to help make certain that they successfully complete the process.
- Give clear instructions. Whether you are asking your clients to review your law firm from a page on your website, from an email, or in person, make certain they are familiar with the common reasons that reviews are rejected.
- Don’t offer incentives. Many review sites actively discourage reviews that are based on incentives and some websites, like Yelp, are very good at tracking down businesses that offer incentives in exchange for reviews. If your clients had a great experience at your law firm, they should be happy to review you without getting anything in return.
- Don’t have a review station in your office. Big review websites can tell when all of your reviews are coming from the same IP address – and they don’t like it. Review stations are a clever idea, but reviews coming from inside your office will likely be flagged.
- Don’t send mass emails looking for reviews. If you engage in the mass solicitation of reviews, you may get a large volume of reviews all at once. Review sites see this as a red flag that you have been soliciting reviews and that you may be offering incentives. Instead of mass emails, send personalized emails to a handful of your best former clients or set up a website page reminding users that getting reviews is helpful.
Black Fin Marketing for Attorneys & Law Offices
At Black Fin, our services go far beyond web design and content creation: we want to make certain that your overall marketing strategy is getting you the clients and cases you have been looking for. To ask a question or meet our team, contact us today.