It is certainly no secret that in business, your reputation is everything. For attorneys, creating a stellar reputation within your local community is perhaps your most important asset. Protecting this asset includes earning, encouraging, and responding appropriately to online reviews on popular websites such as Yelp, Google, and AVVO. Positive online attorney reviews, however, must be earned from legitimate clients and colleagues. Attempting to falsely inflate your online reputation or hide negative reviews can permanently damage your presence within the legal community.
What motivation would a law firm have to create false reviews? The answer is simple: money. According to a 2011 study by a Harvard Business School assistant professor, a one-star increase in a company’s Yelp rating can result in an increase in revenue between 5-9%. If you think businesses would not go to great lengths to improve these ratings, you are mistaken. In fact, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently wrapped up an extensive investigation into the practice of writing fake online reviews. The result of the investigation is multiple fines charged to 19 different companies, amounting to a total of more than $350,000. The effort, known as "Operation Clean Turf," uncovered the following:
- Internet search engine optimization companies were offering to write false reviews for clients on high-traffic consumer review websites
- Many of the writers of these reviews were located in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Eastern Europe
- Writers were paid between $1 and $10 to post the positive reviews
- The companies required the writers to post from different IP addresses in order to evade detection by the review site as a suspicious review
This immoral practice of hiding the origin and bias of attorney reviews on the internet is known as “astroturfing.” The New York Attorney General’s recent crackdown on this practice proves that attempting to build a false online reputation may ultimately do far more harm to your business than good.
Clearly, a vital aspect of your attorney marketing plan is monitoring internet reviews in an appropriate and effective manner. To learn more about how your online reputation can make or break your SEO marketing success, view our article, “Why Your Local SEO Efforts Better Include an Online Review Strategy.” Staying on top of these and other changes and techniques in online reputation management and marketing can be difficult when you have a business to run and clients that expect top-notch service. Fortunately, the knowledgeable team at Foster Web Marketing can help you develop a cutting edge local SEO marketing strategy and take this burden off your hands. Contact us today at 888.341.5130 for more information.