Why Reputation Management Matters (Especially In The Legal Space)
Date: July 12, 2022
We’ve all been there. We had a negative experience with a business and we want to make it known. It could have been a minor misstep with an inexperienced staff member or it could be an airing of grievances about how a company mishandled your transaction in a big way. One thing is sure: of all the different types of local businesses out there, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more irate (and sometimes unwarranted) customer review than one pertaining to a specific lawyer or law firm. The takeaways here can be applied to many other types of businesses but the focus of this article is on law firms and their local presence on the web.
In the legal field, there’s an increased chance of negative reviews being attached to your business. It could be a recent client who believes their case was mishandled by the attorney they trusted simply because they lost the case. It also could be a vindictive individual who lost on the other side of the aisle as the actual firm’s client won.
Respond To The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
I tell this to every client (especially attorneys). Respond to your reviews. Even if the bad ones are exhausting to read, draft and publish a response to. Isolate the situation into a bubble. Realize that you’re doing two things by responding to this negative review.
- The first part is providing feedback to the individual who posted it.
- The second part is the most important one. Your feedback to this review will be seen by everyone else who comes across your local business profile from here onward. It shows that your business cares about what is put out there and how you handled the problem.
Also, ensure you’re drafting an actual response and not copy-pasting a blanket statement simply saying to call or email so you can follow up. Be succinct but not cold. The silver lining here is that when you respond to a review, that’s the end of it. This isn’t Facebook where you’ll find yourself in a comment war back and forth. Google allows a business to respond and the communication loop is then closed.
There are often going to be many instances where a negative review is left with no comment providing context. You can still respond to these, and you certainly should do so if the name left on the review doesn’t match up as an actual client you represented. Things can happen and someone may have left a one-star review on the wrong business or they may be doing so under a false name associated with the Google account that left the review. This will happen and you don’t have control over it. What you can do is field new reviews from clients who had a positive experience with your business.
There are many tools out there that will help you generate a link that will quickly take someone to leave a review on your Google profile. I always recommend this. Generally, those with negative experiences are going to be more inclined to go out of their way to leave feedback. However, if you make it quick and easy, you’ll be surprised how many clients with positive experiences will want to help you out. What’s more, if you have a positive review that includes a comment with words relative to what you specialize in (e.g. you’re a family attorney and the recent client mentions about you handling their divorce case and ensuring child custody was fair), that comment and ones like it will help boost your Google profile toward the coveted “local pack” of top 3 businesses in a specific search query. Your quantity of reviews and the overall average is a big ranking factor in the local algorithm.
What I want every business owner reading this to know, not limited to attorneys and law firms, is to remain engaged after business has been conducted and invoices have been paid. Pay close attention to your footprint on Google but also elsewhere on the web (Yelp, BingPlaces, Apple Maps, and industry-specific directories) When you search for an attorney, you’ll often notice the first page of organic search results is a mix of actual law firms’ websites and legal directories. This shows you just how much Google values the data in these places. You’ll also find ratings from these directories pulled right into Google if someone does a “branded search” and specifically puts in a business’ name. Keep an eye on what’s out there and do general housekeeping with recent client outreach for more positive reviews. It’ll be yet another positive factor to Google showing active engagement over time that will reward you in the end.