When it comes to managing your online presence, far too many lawyers and law firms make the unfortunate decision to work just on their websites, ignoring the other content on the internet about their businesses. However, it is vital to understand that when users are looking for legal help, your website is only one place many of them will check.
Where else are they likely to look? Your online reviews.
Here are some eye-opening statistics to get us started:
- 90 percent of consumers say that they read online reviews before making a purchasing decision.
- 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.
- 86 percent of consumers say that negative reviews affect their purchasing decisions.
- 72 perecent of consumers will take action after reading a positive online review.
- 92 percent of consumers will use a local business if it has a four-star rating or better.
- Having client reviews can increase your conversion rate by 74 percent.
Long story short: online reviews are extremely important to potential clients and therefore should be extremely important to you. Right this moment, you must understand that the vast majority of people looking for an attorney will read reviews and that the vast majority of those people will take your reviews very seriously. In addition, online reviews also affect your SEO – adding an entire additional layer of importance to tending to your reviews.
Why Online Reviews Matter To Potential Clients
To potential clients, online reviews feel almost like a personal referral from a friend or family member – while websites can be biased, reviews are written by real people who have utilized your legal services.
The four aspects of online reviews that potential clients are interested in are:
- Your overall rating, such as a “star” rating. Some users will simply glance at your overall rating, which is very important to keep in mind. If you have one one-star review and one five-star review, it looks like you are only a 2.5-star lawyer. Generally, the more reviews you have, the higher your overall rating will be, since most reviews are positive.
- The number of reviews. Sometimes being popular is just as good as being great at what you do. Many readers want to see that a lot of people have used your business. On the other hand, an attorney with very few (or even zero) reviews raises a lot of red flags.
- The content of your reviews. If at all possible, ask clients reviewing your website to share a little bit of their story. A short paragraph on how you helped someone through the legal aspects of her divorce is significantly more effective than a one-line review that says, “Great lawyer!”
- Your negative reviews. Studies have shown that consumers will seek out the very worst reviews just to see what they say. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative that you respond (when possible) to all negative reviews in order to not only explain the review and share your side, but also to show your attentiveness and care for all clients.
Why Online Reviews Matter To Your SEO
While some attorneys understand that online reviews are important to potential clients, fewer know that online reviews can also significantly affect your search engine optimization (SEO). The fact is that search engines love online reviews, especially when it comes to local businesses – and this trend should only increase in the future. In fact, a recent survey conducted by MOZ found that online reviews may make up 10% of the factors that search engines like Google use to rank pages.
While all review sites matter to SEO, some matter much more than others. For attorneys, the review sites to pay the most attention to include:
Search engines also look at several factors related to your reviews. According to the Moz study, these include:
- Number of reviews online. The more, the better, but a good minimum number to shoot for is ten.
- Review site diversity. It is a mistake to encourage reviews only on one of the above sites. Mix it up for the best SEO results.
- Review clusters. If you receive a bunch of reviews all at the same time, search engines may assume you are up to funny business. So, instead of sending out a mass email asking for reviews, try soliciting reviews in small batches and ideally through individual communications.
- Quality of the review sites. A review posted on AVVO, for example, is going to have more weight than a review from a lesser-known attorney review site.
- Quality of your reviewers. Some reviewers are better – and therefore have more credibility – than others, according to big review sites like Yelp, who track their best and most valued consumers. Search engines may take into account if a high-quality reviewer has given your business a thumbs-up.
Not only do these factors play into SEO, but they can also have an effect on reviews showing up in the first place. If Google or another review site doesn’t trust the review, they may very well choose not to post it.
If you’re dealing with this problem, read our article Disappearing Google and Yelp Reviews: What’s Happening and How to Prevent.
Improving Your Online Attorney Reviews: 10 Quick Tips
Online attorney reviews are easy to ignore because many people think that there is nothing that they can do to influence what others’ say about their services. But in truth, there are a number of actions you can take to gain some control of your online review situation – and many things only take a few minutes of your time and effort.
To prove it, here are ten quick tips for improving your online reviews, starting today:
- Call your favorite former clients and ask personally for an online review.
- Respond immediately to negative online reviews by writing a thoughtful reply to their comments.
- Create a testimonial page on your website that highlights your best reviews.
- Fight negative reviews by collecting more positive reviews to keep your overall rating up.
- Make sure your profiles on popular review sites are accurate and complete.
- Create a page on your website that allows users to easily access the most popular review sites.
- Preemptively stop poor reviews by bolstering your customer service strategies.
- Each time you receive praise or a thank-you note from a client, respond by thanking them and asking for an online review.
- Make certain that negative reviews haven’t been written by competing lawyers (yes, it happens!). Report all offending reviews to the review site.
- When responding to a negative review, never drop to their level. Be understanding, civil, and apologetic (if you have something to apologize for).
In addition, there are online platforms available that allow you to incorporate a review widget into your own site. Reviews cannot generally be carried over from different review sites, so you won’t be able to post reviews from Google to your own site’s review widget. However, integrating one of these platforms (such as GetFiveStars) is worth it, since they allow you much more control over the reviews that are posted, and provide visitors to your site with the past client feedback that could tilt the balance in your favor.
For more info, read our post Online Reviews: What You Can Do to Gain Control.
Take a Bite out of the Competition with Black Fin
Don’t continue to worry about your online reputation and your online reviews without taking action. There’s just too much at stake for you and your business.
At Black Fin, we have a team of professionals ready and waiting to assist you with getting your online presence up to par with the latest trends and standards in the always-changing digital marketing landscape. To learn how we can help you, or to inquire about our services, please call us today at (216) 206-6855 or fill out our contact form.