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The days of the simple word-of-mouth referral are over. Legal consumers now start their search online, according to a survey by FindLaw's Legal Marketing. The Internet is the most common place consumers search for attorneys.
And part of managing your firm's presence online means having good, high-quality online reviews. Here are four ways to help you get them.
1. Google Yourself, Again and Again
You've got to know what's out there if you're going to manage it. Start searching for yourself online, in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Don't just search your name, but search for your firm and for important keywords, as well -- those are things like "divorce attorney, Santa Fe."
You'll notice that Google, the most widely used search engine, may include reviews right in the search results. Those are important. But so are your Yelp reviews and content that can funnel customers to your firm website.
2. Deal With Negative Reviews
If there are negative reviews out there, consider how to respond to them. Most, if not all, review sites will give you a chance to reply to a negative review. Address the reviewer's concerns and let them know you'll try to make it right. Even if they're not swayed, other potential consumers may be impressed by your considerate reply.
A word of caution though: however you respond to an online review, make sure you maintain your professionalism and decorum. Avoid getting into tit-for-tat arguments with disgruntled clients and make sure you don't reveal any confidential details of your representation.
3. Make Reviews Part of Your Regular Process
Reviews should be a normal part of your normal client procedures, not just because they can help boost your online presence, but so that you can keep on top of your client's thoughts and concerns. Attorney At Work recommends directly requesting feedback and we agree.
You can invite clients to a private part of your website to fill out a review form or send them a review request via email. These reviews should be for you, but you can include a link to other review sites, like Google and Yelp at the end.
4. Don't Pay for Reviews
Paying for fake reviews is rarely worth it. First, most review sites are sophisticated enough to identify non-genuine reviews, and they can sometimes punish you for it. Second, those reviews, especially written ones, are typically low quality and can be spotted by most sophisticated Internet users. That drives business away, not in. And of course, there are the legal and ethical violations. All in all, stay away. After all, if you're following steps one to three, you won't need any fake reviews anyway.