Should your firm be striving to gain more Google reviews? Well, Google reviews affect both local rankings and the customer conversion process in very real ways. Google uses reviews as one-third of their proximity/relevance/authority local search algorithm, and savvy potential clients use them before deciding to make that crucial first contact or not.
What is the impact of a review?
Customer reviews can often be the deciding factor in whether a potential client decides to contact your law firm. Obviously, the outcome of their decision will have real consequences on your law firm’s bottom line.
To make matters even more consequential, legitimate reviews don’t ever go away, so a bad one lingering at the top of your Google profile is a most unwanted state of affairs, to put it mildly. Therefore, it makes sense for law firms to pay close attention to their reviews on important review sites, especially Google due to their vast market share.
Not only can solicitors use positive reviews to capitalise on their successes, but negative reviews also often offer insights that can be used to improve services, thus reducing the chances for further negative reviews to accrue. Additionally, responding to reviews good or bad shows potential customers that you are actively involved and are paying attention to your clients. The only thing worse than a bad review is the one you ignored hoping no one would notice, so let’s take a look at best practices for acquiring new, or replying to existing reviews on your Google Profile panel.
Who can we ask for reviews?
Google only accepts reviews from actual customers/clients, so unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, you can’t ask friends or colleagues. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a system in place for contacting happy clients once work has been completed and asking them to write you a review. You should make this process as easy and as simple as possible for them and this will increase your chances of getting a review.
One great point to mention here is that if you receive a negative review from a non-client, you have legitimate grounds to request that Google remove it.
Top tips for maintaining a positive review profile
Check on your Google Business Profile reviews frequently. Reply to reviews both positive and negative and ensure that negative reviews are from legitimate clients and not disgruntled third parties or former staff members. Check Google’s guidelines for removing reviews and click the “Request review removal” button if you qualify.
Implement feedback from negative reviews
Use negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your service delivery and positive reviews as a form of market research. You may notice trends that will enable you to focus resources accordingly. The more positive experiences your clients have the more likely you are to collect good reviews.
Respond to reviews
Remember that when you reply to reviews it sends an “active signal” to potential clients. Don’t waste the opportunity. Avoid using the same cut and paste copy but there is no need to make replies overly long and complicated.
Put a strategy in place for negative reviews
Do have a predetermined strategy for legitimate negative reviews that shows that you are listening and inviting the reviewer to contact you directly to discuss the matter further.
Request to remove reviews that aren’t legitimate
If a negative review of your services comes from a third party and not your client (often conveyancing, divorce, probate) you have the right to reply stating they are not your clients and then proceed to the “request review removal” process as previously discussed.
Acquiring reviews – worst practice
Don’t buy them
Don’t pay for reviews ever, it’s not worth it and could result in severe Google penalties for your listing.
Don’t reward people
Don’t incentivise your review requests.
Only ask clients you’ve actually done work with
Never request a fake review. There are potential legal ramifications, and the practice is against Google’s review guidelines.
Acquiring Reviews – best practice
Have a process
Have a process that makes leaving a review easier for your clients. Provide simple instructions and limit the length of your verbiage. You can utilise the short url link provided by Google and found in your Google Business Profile by clicking the “share review form” tab on the home page:
Leave a method of contacting you directly
When contacting a client to request a review be sure to include a method of direct contact which will enable them to reach you directly before potentially leaving a negative review. You may be able to turn the situation around.
Make it personal
You should be careful about “gating” reviews but clients who have had positive experiences will obviously offer a more likely pool of positive reviews. A good strategy to employ might be to first email a happy client to thank them for their use of your services. Make this a personal email with client details so they know it’s not a mass-produced mailout. Wait a few weeks before sending a review request that is also personalised. Use the above short review link provided by Google.
Get more than just an online review
Consider using your office reception area as a passive review collection opportunity. Printed materials can offer examples of good reviews you have received and provide a QR code link to your review site of choice
Ready to implement our top tips for Google Reviews?
Neglecting your Google review profile really shouldn’t be an option. Law firms should be aware that Google reviews are influencing their local Google rankings as well as the process of converting a searcher into a client. It’s important to put a process in place which involves regularly auditing your firm’s reviews and ensuring you are maintaining an active response presence.
Use reviews as an opportunity for growth and application of resources rather than an unwanted inconvenience. They aren’t going away and only continue to grow in importance to your bottom line.