Online reviews hold a lot of power over any business—and the legal industry is no different. Learn why they matter to your law firm, their impact on potential clients, and how to get more of them.
Why do potential clients trust reviews so much?
Nowadays, consumers trust online reviews almost as much as they trust a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. Now that technology has made it so simple for consumers to communicate with each other (and with businesses), checking reviews has become an integral part of most shopping strategies—and that includes trying to find the right attorney.
Potential legal clients trust fellow “regular” people more than lawyers. Your prospects want to know, from someone who has been in their situation, how things are going to go when they hire you. It’s always encouraging to see a success story, but those stories are even more impactful when they’re relatable to the reader.
Do online reviews affect my law firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance?
While Google hasn’t officially confirmed that it gives higher rankings to law firms with better rankings, online reviews do seem to be one of the factors it considers when loading the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Another factor relating to online reviews that may affect your law firm’s Google rankings is the frequency and recency of your reviews. In other words, the more reviews you get, the better. Having a steady stream of reviews is a signal to Google (and prospects!) that your law firm is actively helping clients.
Can online reviews get my law firm more clients?
There is a correlation between more reviews and more clients for your law firm. Womply Research found that local service businesses that have more than the average number of reviews for their market earn 14% more in annual revenue.
While it’s important to claim your law firm’s online listings in as many places as possible (claiming 3 or more can lead to 11% more revenue, according to Womply), they noted that Google is the most important place to have an online presence for reviews of your law firm.
“More customers use Google to find local service businesses of all kinds, which is likely why local service businesses who don’t claim their Google listing earn 30% less than those who do,” they point out. “Local services that engage customers online perform better financially than those that don’t.”
So, in short: yes, online reviews can directly impact the number of cases your law firm gets…and the money it makes. Just keep in mind that it takes more than just some good reviews to see an impact.
How do consumers find law firm reviews? Where are they looking?
The ways people search for legal services differ depending on their situation and what type of representation they need. For example, the bigger and costlier the legal issue, the longer they’ll probably spend researching lawyers. However, if someone winds up with a DUI on the weekend, they may want a lawyer fast.
Then there’s the person who’s thinking about taking legal action, but isn’t ready to hire right now. This person will search the internet for questions they have regarding their problem. While your law firm may pop up in their search, at this point in time, your firm’s reviews take a back seat to whether you know your stuff on their issue. (It’s encouraging for them to see, though!)
And don’t forget: most consumers who are looking for a lawyer will be thorough enough to check multiple review sites to get the most complete picture possible of your firm.
Which review sites should my law firm be on?
You shouldn’t focus your efforts on just one review site. For example, just because you prefer Facebook over Google My Business doesn’t mean your clients feel the same way.
In terms of more general sites for online reviews, some of the most important places for your law firm to be are:
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
There are also a few law-specific review websites that your firm should have a presence on. This helps boost your SEO and credibility.
Some of the most popular legal review sites for prospects to check out are:
Again, regardless of your personal feelings about these sites, the fact doesn’t change that it’s extremely likely that the people you want to reach are going to be looking in these places.
Which is more important when it comes to my law firm’s online reviews: quantity or quality?
You may be surprised to learn that the number of reviews your law firm has is more important than the quality of those reviews. Womply’s research into local service businesses found that there is a slight correlation between a higher number of reviews and earning more annually.
This isn’t to say that your firm shouldn’t aim for those five-star reviews! It just means that having a higher number of reviews with a slightly lower star rating (think between 4 and 4.9) is still desirable to consumers—while only a small handful of five-star ratings may not be as convincing.
So what’s a good amount of reviews for your law firm to have? It depends on your market. For example, smaller law firms shouldn’t stress about having the same number of reviews as the biggest firm in the city. Try to keep the number of your law firm’s reviews as close as possible to your direct competitors—and in general, the more you have, the better.
How recent should the online reviews of my law firm be?
It’s important for prospects to see that your law firm has fresh online reviews. If not, it gives the impression of staleness: that your firm hasn’t been in business…or worse, that your work isn’t worth writing about.
Like quantity, the recency of reviews considered acceptable will vary by your market: if you’re a bigger firm in a bigger city, it makes sense that you’d have more clients and more reviews. On the other hand, smaller cities and smaller firms typically result in fewer clients just from a logistics standpoint.
People checking out your firm want to know the latest information they can about you so they have an up-to-date idea of what to expect. As for exactly how recent they expect your reviews to be, it really depends on the client’s preference: some only care about reviews from the past month or two, while others will read every review from the past year or more.
As long as new reviews of your law firm are periodically coming in, that’s a good sign. (Obviously, it’s preferable that those reviews are good.) Don’t delete old reviews, though—they’re still good for SEO!
Should I respond to online reviews of my law firm?
Your law firm should acknowledge every review it receives. Taking the time to thank a client who gave you a good review shows your appreciation for the people who keep you in business. On the other hand, not shying away from negative feedback shows potential clients who may be browsing your reviews that your firm is professional enough to handle critical feedback. Plus, it’s a bad look to ignore negative reviews because that makes it look like the review is true.
If a review is fraudulent or just plain wrong, there are ways to report it (depending on the platform the review is on). You can also tell your side of the story if appropriate, which can give perspective to outsiders in the situation.
Should you defend yourself from every negative review? Not necessarily—that can make your firm look petty and childish. It all depends on your tone, the review, and how you handle positive reviews, too.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) reply publicly to a review, let the reviewer know that you’ll contact them privately. That way, it doesn’t look like you have an ignored review that you’ve actually resolved.
How do I respond to negative reviews of my law firm?
Here are some tips for responding to negative reviews:
- Stay professional at all times. If it upsets you, wait at least a day to cool down. Even if the review doesn’t accurately portray your firm, the last thing you want to do is respond in anger.
- Acknowledge their feelings and apologize for their experience, regardless of what happened. Right now, it’s about them, not you. You can certainly dispute the occurrence later on in your response, but remaining professional and concerned makes it more likely for third parties to take your side—especially if the review you’re responding to doesn’t seem credible.
- Offer a solution. Sometimes it’s enough of a solution to contact them directly via phone to clear up the issue. It can be difficult for law firms to “make amends” like other businesses since you can’t offer a discount or a gift card. However, reviewers—and people researching your firm—want to see some attempt to make things right.
- Instead of poking holes in their review, state the facts in your response. Be honest if there was a shortcoming on your side. At the same time, don’t pile blame on the reviewer. While snark may work in other industries, it’s not reassuring to see on a law firm’s page.
Make sure to respond to reviews in a timely manner—ideally, a review should be acknowledged within a week at the latest. In fact, some consumers think you should respond within 24 hours. It’s up to you (and your caseload!) to figure out the best deadline for each review—just don’t leave them on the back burner and forget.
What do potential clients think about negative reviews?
It depends on the client—but typically, it all depends on how you treat those reviews. That’s why it’s important to reply to them as described above.
In general, as long as your positive reviews outnumber the negative ones, your firm is in a good position. Broadly reports that 90% of people surveyed would still hire a lawyer if they had mostly online positive reviews and some negative ones. And, interestingly, having a few negative reviews makes your firm seem more trustworthy.
“This means you are not purchasing reviews to make your company look good and actual clients are giving their opinion about your services,” they explain. “As long as the majority of the reviews that your practice attracts are positive, you will still interest new clients.”
How do I get great online reviews for my law firm?
The secret to getting more reviews for your law firm is just to ask for them! A survey by BrightLocal found that 72% of customers said they had written a review for a business after the business asked them to. Whether it’s by email, by phone, in person, on social media, or via snail mail, there are so many ways to ask your clients for a review that it’s kind of silly not to ask.
Don’t wait too long to make your request or they’ll forget what they loved about working with you. Be sure to follow up in about a week if you don’t hear back from them. To make sure you get a steady stream of reviews, make it part of your law firm’s routine to ask. A great time to do this is when their legal issue has been resolved and they’re happy with the result.
One way to ask for reviews that’s easy on the client is by sending an email that contains links to your firm’s various review profiles. Just remind clients not to discuss details of their case in their review and thank them for their time in advance.
My law firm has great reviews. Now what?
When you get good reviews, share them on your website and social media pages. Reviews from happy clients make great social graphics, and they instill confidence when they’re sprinkled around your website, too.
When you get great reviews, create video testimonials. Video testimonials are some of the most convincing media you can have in your marketing arsenal, and they’re essential for convincing prospects that you’re worth hiring.
Your law firm’s website is a great place to showcase video testimonials because clients there are free from the distractions of other legal listings. Also, if they’re on your website, they’re already considering you—and video is the best way to convert them from prospects to clients.
How do I monitor and manage my law firm’s online reviews?
The easiest way to manage your law firm’s online reputation is to hire Kirkpatrick Creative to do it for you.
You’re busy—and when you start monitoring your online reviews and cultivating new ones, you’ll start getting even busier with new clients and new cases. Cut out the middleman and get straight to the new cases with Kirkpatrick Creative.
Not only will we take on this time-consuming workload for you, but we’ll maintain your firm’s branding as we monitor and respond to your online reviews. Then, we’ll repurpose those reviews for social media and website content. Finally, we’ll shoot video testimonials with your most valuable clients to get the emotional punch needed to convince fence-sitters to pick up the phone and call.
Ready to get started? Contact Kirkpatrick Creative today to harness the power of your law firm’s online reviews.