Even if you are new to the world of SEO, you know in your gut that reviews are important to the success of your business. After all, when you look for dinner, a plumber, or a doctor, you likely look to reviews to help you make a decision. So understanding why client reviews are important to a successful attorney marketing plan isn't hard.
But what can be hard is understanding why reviews are important for local SEO optimization.
The Google Algorithm and Online Review Connection
Google uses a complicated algorithm to rank search results. There are many facets to this algorithm, and one of them is reviews. Google wants to give its users the best results possible, and the search engine knows that what people want is reviews. And, while Google Local is a great place to get reviews, don't forget that there are other sites that are important to include in your online review gathering strategy—even Google thinks so.
For now, Google and the other search engines pull review information not only from Google Local but also from other popular review sites when ranking a business. So the more reviews you have, on a variety of sites, the better your Local SEO.
To please Google—and potential clients—it's important that you create a review-gathering strategy and implement it. To do so, be sure to consider the following aspects of online reviews:
- Quality. It seems as though the quality of reviews is more important to Google than the quantity. So, in theory, a business with 10 five-star reviews will rank higher than a business with 30 three-star reviews. Tip: If you get negative reviews, be sure to respond to them. Respond politely and with compassion—never with anger or indignation. When done right, responses to negative reviews can actually help your image.
- Quantity. To Google—and Yahoo! and Bing—numerous reviews indicate that lots of people care enough about a business to take the time to go to review sites and enter a review. In general, the more reviews the better. But a slew of reviews can get you in trouble, especially if they all come in at one time or at the same time each month. Tip: To get more reviews, be sure to ask for reviews in person when you finish a case, conclude treatment, or complete a service job. Also, consider asking for reviews in each of your newsletters and on your website.
- Timing. To keep the Google bots from pulling your reviews—which is permanent, and reviews can never be regained after Google pulls them—watch the timing of your reviews. If you get a lot of reviews in a short period of time, it will trigger the alarm, and there is a good chance that your reviews will be deleted. This is to help prevent spammy reviews and spammy review practices. Tip: To help prevent review deletion, do not go on an aggressive review-seeking mission. Instead, ask clients who offer positive feedback to leave a review on one of the review sites that are most popular in your area.
The Do's and Don'ts of Asking for Reviews
Asking for reviews can be uncomfortable, we know. But doing so can ensure that you get the reviews you need to make your local SEO optimization efforts a success. The following do's and don'ts can help guide your review gathering efforts:
- Do politely ask for reviews in person when you are finishing up a case.
- Don't offer an incentive or gift in exchange for a review.
- Do include a suggestion in all newsletters that clients review your law firm or medical practice.
- Don't ask friends, relatives, or employees to leave you a review.
- Do set up an account for your business on the most used review sites in your area.
- Don't set up a computer in your office for people to use to review your firm or practice.
- Do encourage potential reviewers to use the review format they like the best. Give them options, but let them choose the one they are most familiar with.
Now that you know why it's important that you garner reviews and how to do it, what are you waiting for? Get out there, and ask for reviews—and watch as your local SEO power increases.
For more tips or to hire our team of local SEO experts, call 888.886.0939. We can help create a review-gathering strategy that allows you to make the most of local SEO.