The internet voice assistants that seem to be spreading everywhere are calling more attention than ever to your law firm’s online reviews.
If you ask Apple’s Siri for “personal injury law firms near me,” the second suggestion she gives and every suggestion following will include the number of stars each firm received on Yelp.
And the weight reviews get from Google and other local search rankings is up about 3% over last year, now accounting for about 13% of your website’s ranking, according to statistics from Moz, a marketing analytics software company.
Firmidable gathered these insights from the recent State of Search Conference in Dallas. For your law firm, this could mean it’s time to revisit your strategy for managing online reviews.
The Legal Marketing Latest: Voice Search Is All the Talk
You’ve probably seen the ads for the proliferation of voice search platforms, including Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Assistant.
Maybe you even have one of those little devices sitting in your home, waiting for you to ask it about the news, the weather, or to play you a song. If you have an iPhone, you’ve probably been on a first-name basis with Siri for several years now.
At the State of Search Conference, Firmidable learned voice search made up 20% of search queries in 2016. In 2017, according to Google studies, as many as 41% of adults are now using voice search.
Technology prognosticators expect that number to grow to 50% by 2020. By then, Google suggests there will be 200 billion voice search queries per month.
This could change a lot about how lawyers and law firms do internet marketing. For one thing, while it’s always been best to write in a conversational style, writing to match natural speech on web pages and blog posts will become even more important.
And for local law firms like yours, voice search is potentially raising the importance of your online reviews.
The reviews themselves have been around almost since the beginning of the internet. They can influence potential clients trying to decide whether to hire your firm.
Now’s a good time for an update on what you can do to build a great reputation online.
How to Get More Online Reviews for Your Law Firm
One factor determining how your online reviews affect your search results is simply how many you have.
And if you think this is out of your control, it’s not entirely. There are ways you can encourage more online reviews:
1. Be Present on Several Review Sites
You can’t get reviews when people can’t find you on review sites.
Your firm should be listed on Google, Bing and Yelp. But that’s not all. Take time to research which review sites are best for your law firm and create a page there.
Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyers are among the most popular attorney rating sites on the web right now. But there are plenty more out there. Find ones that suit your niche and create your profile.
2. Ask Your Clients
Some businesses directly ask satisfied customers to write a review. Others prefer a more subtle approach, posting a sign for a review site in their window.
But the easiest way to get more reviews for your law firm is often just to ask.
Most of your clients will understand reviews are important to your firm. Some surely looked up reviews themselves before they contacted you. As long as you provided a great lawyer-client experience, they won’t mind you asking for a review.
Don’t wait too long to ask. Your clients are most likely to provide great reviews when their experience with you is fresh.
Listen for those moments when a client says they’re grateful for the representation you provided and the outcome of their case. Let them know you’d appreciate it if they shared their satisfaction in an online review.
3. Make It Easy
Human nature tells us that people are more motivated to post their thoughts online when they’ve had a really bad experience and they’re ready to vent.
For the majority of people who had a good experience with your firm, it may take an impressive, extra gesture of goodwill on your part to inspire them to write a glowing review.
Someone who is content with the services they received might not go looking on their own for ways to review your firm.
So when you ask a client for a review, don’t leave them searching where to post it. Make it easy. Give them direct links to your review site profiles in multiple places on your website and in follow-up in emails.
Some of those review sites, like Super Lawyers, offer buttons you can embed in your website that send clients directly to your profile.
How to Manage Your Existing Lawyer Reviews
1. Respond to Reviews
When a client leaves a positive review, be sure to thank them. Make your response personal. Mention that you valued taking their case.
And of course, we’ve all seen bad reviews online. At some point, you’ll get a negative review. You can’t make everyone happy. It’s inevitable. That doesn’t make it any less infuriating when it happens.
But don’t let negative reviews scare you or ruin your day. Respond!
Treat bad reviews as an opportunity to explain and reinforce your law firm’s values and brand.
Remain professional. Don’t engage in “he said/she said.” For a detailed discussion of the problem raised by the reviewer, take it offline.
The response you post publicly can be something like this: “I’m extremely sorry for your negative experience. Our firm takes complaints very seriously. Please call me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your complaint in further detail. I want to make sure we look into the situation so we can improve the relationships between our lawyers and clients.”
A constructive response to a bad review can do a lot to raise your appeal to other people shopping for lawyers.
Here’s a bit of reassurance: Having a few bad reviews can actually serve to increase the credibility of your positive ones. If a firm has nothing but sparkling, perfect reviews, readers start wondering if they’re fake.
And here’s a warning: Don’t post fake reviews. It’s illegal and can lead to serious penalties.
2. Track Your Reviews
Set up a daily reminder to check for new reviews on your online profiles.
Having an ongoing understanding of the reviews you’re getting, positive or negative, can help you properly address them.
To make this easier, you can also consider using review management software, which combines all reviews across multiple platforms and locations into one dashboard.
You can also benefit from tracking your competitors’ reviews. Look for compliments or complaints that you can either adopt or avoid for your firm.
Making Voice Search Your Firm’s Advantage
Voice search appears poised to raise the profile of online reviews. This creates an opportunity for your law firm to project your values and appeal to future clients.
Like a lot of things on the internet, monitoring and managing reviews takes work and time. Firmidable can build a strong strategy for your reviews and online reputation management. And when you love the results — we might ask for a review!
Firmidable is a multi-channel marketing agency and consultancy for law firms. We know more than anyone else about how Americans choose their lawyers. If you’d like to grow your legal practice, call (504) 525-0932 or contact us via e-mail.