Brand reputation is crucial for all businesses, but it’s even more critical for law firms.
Lawyers go to great lengths to manage their reputations and appearances in person. It’s the reason why you always dress in a well-pressed suit, have a clean haircut, drive a nice car, and shave every morning.
You always want to portray a certain level of professionalism to project success. The way you present yourself online is just as important.
I’ve consulted with too many lawyers who are ignoring their online reputations, not recognizing the fact that it’s costing them new clients. It’s a misconception that bad reviews and other online elements are out of your hands.
There are plenty of steps that you can take to improve the digital perception of your law firm. As an experienced legal marketing consultant, I’ll explain the best ways to do so in this guide.
Professional Website Design
Start with what you can control. It takes just 0.05 seconds (50 milliseconds) for someone to form an opinion about your website. 94% of website first impressions are design-related.
So if your site looks outdated or unprofessional, people will automatically have a negative perception about your law firm.
In fact, 46% of people base the credibility of a website on visual aesthetics.
You could be the best lawyer in the city with an impeccable case record, but if your website looks like it was designed in 1999, it’s going to crush your online reputation.
According to Statista, more than half of all websites are loaded from mobile devices. So make sure that you have a mobile-friendly design as well.
80% of people stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device. 61% of people won’t return to a website if they have problems accessing it from their smartphone.
So take the time to analyze your current design and layout. Remove clutter, large blocks of text, and improve the navigation.
It shouldn’t be difficult for people to find exactly what they are looking for when they land on your website. A smooth experience on your site will improve the perception of your law firm in the eyes of prospective clients.
Claim Online Listings
Another significant mistake made by lawyers is the failure to claim their listings on third-party websites. I’m referring to sites like Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, Facebook, LinkedIn, Better Business Bureau and legal related ones like FindLaw, Lawyers.com and Avvo etc.
If you don’t claim your site, you run the risk of misinformation about your law firm being published on the web.
Prospective clients use these sites to find out more information about businesses. So if the phone number is wrong or your hours are listed incorrectly, it could hurt your chances of signing new clients.
If someone is unable to contact you based on the information in an incorrect listing, they probably won’t go through too much effort to try and find the correct phone number, email address, or business hours. They’ll likely just move on and contact the next law firm on the list.
Anyone searching for a lawyer on a third-party site will have lots of different options to choose from. You need to make sure that your firm stands out from the competition.
When you claim a listing, you’ll be able to add more information about the services you provide and even upload some pictures. All of this creates a positive perception and enhanced level of professionalism for your law firm.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are arguably the most influential factor of your law firm’s reputation on the Internet. Do you read reviews before you buy a product or service? So do your prospects.
In fact, 93% of people read reviews to determine if local business is good or bad. 72% of people won’t take an action until they’ve read reviews online. Legal services are not an exception to these rules.
Look at the effect that online reviews can have a person’s decision to choose a lawyer. 70% of people will go out of their way to an attorney’s office if the firm has better reviews than another legal professional in a more convenient location.
That’s because 84% of people say they trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from a family member or friend.
The problem is, most people won’t make a special effort to leave a review unless they had an awful experience. So the negative reviews about your law firm may not be an accurate portrayal of your services.
Negative reviews won’t kill you, as long as you have other positive ones to balance them out.
So how can you get more reviews? Just ask but don’t attempt to influence
or prompt your clients on what to say in the review or pay for them etc.
7 out of 10 people will leave a review if you ask them to. The best time to ask is when the client is at their happiest, which is shortly after an appointment. Make it easy for them to leave a review by requesting one via email, with a direct link to your website or third-party sites like Google.
Your best reviews can be displayed on your website, with the consent of your clients, of course.
The difference between a review and a testimonial is where a client finds it when they are evaluating prospective law firm. If someone lands on your website, there’s a good chance that they have already read some reviews on other platforms. This is your chance to really win them over.
Here’s an example of a testimonials page from the Law Office of Matthew J. Kidd in Boston.
In addition to the written reviews, the firm goes above and beyond with a video testimonial as well.
Testimonials don’t need to go into details about the cases or unique situations of your clients. Instead, the client can simply talk about their experience dealing with you and the firm.
Things like communication, value, and professionalism can go a long way. They can potentially mention the industry or type of issue they had, without getting into the specifics.
Keep in mind that it is possible your state may prohibit asking for and the use of ratings, reviews or recommendations. You are responsible for ensuring that your firm complies with your individual states’ ethics rules.
Leverage Tools to Monitor Your Reputation
It’s tough to manage your law firm’s reputation online if you don’t know what your status is. You can’t make assumptions. The best way to find out what people are saying about you is by using tools to your advantage.
At a minimum, I’d set up Google Alerts for your law firm’s name, and the names of any lawyers in your practice. Then you’ll be sent an email any time those names are mentioned online.
Rankur is another popular tool that goes beyond alerts. This platform monitors social media networks, blogs, news, and digital media outlets as well.
It provides you with detailed analytics and reports about your reputation. Rankur uses AI technology for sentiment analysis, which can detect the tone and mood of people talking about your law firm online.
Prioritize Your Blog and Some Basic Social Channels
According to the National Law Review, 96% of people seeking legal advice start with an online search engine.
They might not necessarily be looking to hire a lawyer just yet. But they could be looking for answers to common legal questions. Your blog can be used as a way to answer legal questions that your prospective clients are searching for on Google.
Not only is this is a lead-generation tool, but your blog also boosts SEO and domain authority.
Neglecting your blog can have an adverse effect on your reputation. Let’s say a prospect lands on your website and navigates to your blog, but the most recent post was published back in 2016. The visitor may question whether or not you’re still in business or taking things seriously.
If your firm is on the first page of Google for various organic searches, people will assume that you have a good reputation. Having things like your LinkedIn page/profiles and YouTube channel/videos appear at the top of results helps you as well.
Your reputation is everything; it can make or break the success of your law firm.
You’ve always done a great job of managing your reputation in-person, but now it’s time to recreate that strategy in the digital world. Your customers, as well as Google’s algorithms, will love you for it.
Follow the tips that I’ve outlined in this guide to boost your firm’s online reputation. Consult with a legal marketing expert if you need additional assistance with your digital strategy.