Reviews might seem like just a little “icing on the cake,” but the truth is that they are one of the hardest working pieces of your marketing puzzle. They show potential clients that you can solve problems for real people. They convert fence-sitters that are struggling with indecision. They reassure potential clients that you’re a good and trustworthy choice for their needs, and—unlike things like paid ads or limited-time campaigns—they never stop working in your favor.
It's a lot for a humble review to do, but that’s not even where it stops giving. If you have a solid review strategy in place that is really working for your law firm, you’re also boosting your search rankings and local visibility in measurable ways.
The Google Algorithm and Online Review Connection
Reviews are powerful because they reassure potential clients and convince people that you’re the right lawyer for their needs. However, your reviews also figure into your search rankings in a major way.
That’s right! Google and other search engines consider information from all kinds of popular review sites when ranking your business and selecting which businesses to highlight in the “local pack.” If you have a lot of honest, high-quality reviews on a variety of popular sites, it has a positive effect on your rankings and visibility. If you don’t, then you’re not really as optimized for search as you should be.
This is obviously an important factor for local SEO, especially in competitive geographic areas. For example, a law firm with great reviews from a few towns over could outrank you in local searches if your review strategy is weak. So, when people in your hometown search for a lawyer, they won’t see you at the top of the local pack. They’ll see your competitor that’s 25 miles away!
It’s a huge, missed opportunity.
Additionally, Google local results and map results typically display your average Google review rating along with a sampling of reviews people have left for you. If someone searches for something like, “law firms near me,” they’ll instantly see the top “local pack” results for law firms in their area along with their star rating and an excerpt of a review. So, they might see something like this:
Example Law Firm, LLP
“I was so impressed with their attention and professionalism!”
When they click through to see more local businesses, they’ll get even more in-depth information about your reviews and ratings in comparison to other local law firms. So, rankings aside, you can see how this is a big factor in how your potential clients choose a law firm when they search close to home.
Misconceptions About What Search Engines Consider a “Good” Review Profile
Are you worried about a handful bad or so-so reviews? Are you going crazy trying to get as many reviews as you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can? Relax. If you’re questing for absolute perfection, you’re probably working from some major misconceptions about what a review profile needs to be.
Search engine algorithms are actually a lot smarter than you might think, and they balance several factors when trying to determine if a law firm’s review profile looks good enough to send to the top.
Ultimately, search engines are going to consider:
How many reviews you have
A high number of reviews usually indicates a well-established business that is actively taking and seeing clients. A sparse handful of reviews, or no reviews at all, indicates either that the business is brand new, or something is a little off. This doesn’t mean that you should go overboard trying to get a ton of meaningless or irrelevant reviews to bulk up your numbers. However, it does mean that you need a strategy in place to constantly build the number of meaningful reviews you get as your business grows.
Your average rating
Positive reviews are obviously a good indicator that people are happy with your law firm and that you run a great business. However, you don’t have to stress if you don’t attain a perfect 5-star average. Landing somewhere between 4 stars and 5 is considered ideal, and it’s plenty sufficient to show both search engines and potential clients that you’re doing a great job for your clients.
How quickly your reviews come in
Is there a gap of a few years in between the most recent reviews for your law firm? Did you get hundreds of reviews all at once—and then never again? Both of these situations could affect your local search rankings. Search engines look at the frequency of your reviews to determine the quality of your review profile, and they know that honest reviews for a great business will come in as consistent “drips and drops” over time.
How realistic your reviews seem to be
Search engines want to see some diversity in your reviews because it indicates that they are honest reviews from real people. If every review says the same thing and gives you 5 stars, it looks a little suspicious. If you have a mix of 4- and 5-star reviews with a lot of natural variety in what people are saying (and how they say it), it looks sincere. So, don’t sweat a lackluster review or two. Just respond appropriately, and know that it makes you look human—and that’s a good thing.
How to Build a Law Firm Review Strategy That Works
To please both Google and your potential clients, it's important that you create a solid review-gathering strategy and implement it in a sustainable way. It should be something that you and your staff can do consistently, not just when you can scrape together a few extra minutes to concentrate on it. That’s how you get a review strategy that is highly effective and always getting better!
Automated feedback sequences are a great, low-stress way to accomplish this. Your automated sequences constantly drive reviews in the background, and you don’t have to put a lot of extra work into “babysitting” the process. Happy clients are encouraged to leave an honest review, and unhappy clients are brought to your attention so that you can resolve any issues before they turn into bad reviews for your firm. It couldn’t be simpler! Some software options—like the CRM in DSS—will also give you tools to easily keep tabs on the reviews you’re getting across the most popular review sites. That way, you always know what people are saying and if your review strategy is working.
Keep in mind that you should NEVER offer an incentive or gift in exchange for a review, and you should NEVER harass people about leaving reviews, either. These are such huge mistakes. Review sites will penalize you for incentivizing or forcing reviews, even if you try to hide it. In fact, it’s actually illegal to buy Google reviews, and any “undisclosed paid endorsements” could leave you paying fines to FTC, as well. Just don’t do it.
And, finally, the easiest way to get more and better reviews for your law firm is just to ask. There’s often a lot of fear about asking for a review, but I think you’ll find that your happy clients generally appreciate the opportunity to tell others about their positive experiences. So, never be afraid to ask! There are lots of ways to lean into your review strategy and really optimize what you’re doing. But, whether you post a friendly request on social media or ask a happy client in person, simply asking for reviews is the absolute easiest and best place to get started.
Are You Protecting Your Good Reputation Online? If Not, Foster Web Marketing Can Help!
Are you doing everything you can to build on your already stellar reputation? Do you need to get more positive reviews and testimonials for your law firm or business but it seems too "hit and miss" for your liking? No worries, Foster Web Marketing can help with our Reputation Management service. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.866.0939 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced marketing team. We have been helping clients throughout the United States and internationally since 1998 and are confident we can help you not only reach, but exceed your goals.