This is a new era for lawyers marketing their practice. Most businesses (including law firms) tend to worry about what they say about themselves to potential clients - now they need to be concerned about what their clients are saying about them!
Your online reputation may be helping you win more clients or it could cause you to lose clients due to a negative review or the lack of a review at all. Now more than ever, consumers are looking for lawyers online. Over the past year, 3 out of 4 consumers seeking a lawyer used online resources. And, 50% of consumers who sought an attorney said they used review sites to choose a lawyer.
So, what exactly is Reputation Management? It’s the term for creating, disseminating and managing online information about you and your law firm. This includes online information you create yourself as well as information created by other people. Your online reputation consists of everything clients say about your business – like reviews and social media posts and comments. It also includes information that you post about your practice online such as content on your website, blogs and articles that you publish.
The first step in evaluating your online reputation is by assessing your current reputation. Search your name or firm on generic sites such as Google, Bing, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo, SuperPages and CitySearch. Then search your firm on specific legal sites such as Avvo, SuperLawyers, Lawyers.com, Lawyer Ratings, FindLaw, Martindale.com and NAPIL. Is the information listed about you and your firm correct and consistent?
Do you have reviews posted about you? Online reviews are trusted almost as much as a personal referral and the average consumer looks at 10 reviews before they make a decision. If you have negative reviews posted about you, then the next step is to respond to the review and address any issues. It is always best to check your emotions at the door and respond to the review offline, if possible. If you can contact the reviewer via phone or email, than address the review personally and hopefully resolve the issue. Online reviews are an excellent opportunity for you to continually improve areas of your practice that might need addressing.
Once you have discovered and addressed online reviews, setup up a systematic monitoring process to monitor what is being said about you online. You can setup Google and Yahoo alerts that will be sent to your email daily to keep you informed about what is being said about you. Or, use SERP (Search Engine Results Page) monitoring tools such as Raven and WordTracker to monitor your results on search pages.
The next step is to claim and optimize your listings. Make sure that all directories and review sites have the correct information about you and your firm. Ensure that your practice name, lawyer names, address and phone number are correct and consistent across each listing. Optimize with practice areas, publications, lawyer bios, photos and other relevant information.
Many lawyers are still reluctant to jump on the Facebook bandwagon. If this includes you, then at least build a LinkedIn profile and set up a Twitter account. Reputation is all about trust and clients want to see your photo, your credentials and reviews or recommendations that have been written about you. Become engaged in social media. The more content you publish the faster you will come up in search engines. Publish a blog on your website, or publish white papers about topics you feel passionate about. It is worth discovering, since 60% of small law firms reported landing new clients as a result of their blog, according to the American Bar Association. It is important that you seek out the rules regarding social media with your state bar prior to publishing content to ensure that you are compliant with their specific social media laws.
Do you speak at events? Make sure you are posting your speaking engagements on your website and your social media sites. Speaking engagements build credibility about your knowledge and help to position you as “the expert”. Social media allows you to share your insights and helps to build your social authority. Once you get involved with social media, embrace it. Engage with your followers and make sure that potential clients can find your social media links on your website. And speaking of websites, make sure your website has the following conversion friendly items: 1. Firm logo on homepage 2. Phone number prominently displayed 3. Clear and professional images 4. Video of firm or lawyers on home page 5. A responsive site design (for mobile applications) 6. Social media icons to link to your social media sites 7. Videos of speaking engagements Although these seem like basic elements, they enhance your website’s online marketing presence. So get started and if you would like more information about managing your online reputation, contact us at 214-505-1173.