With a FindLaw study showing over 88% of legal consumers using an attorney’s “reputation” as one of the top two hiring factors, it’s clear that lawyers need to take as much control over their online reputations as possible. Even those who stay off of social media platforms still need to prioritize making sure their online reputation shows a knowledgeable, professional image. In today’s digital world, potential clients and referred leads are all checking out your online presence, making it critical to include it as part of your business development process.
If you don’t review, manage, and stay on top of what the internet is showing about you that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist. It’s likely you already have a profile on several directories and even reviews to go along with them, even if you didn’t set them up. By managing these, you can control to the best of your ability the information that’s shown to prospective leads and create a positive impression.
Google yourself and set up alerts
The first thing you should do is assess what information is out there about both you and your firm. Do a Google search to see what listings and reviews pop up. What shows up on the first page is undoubtedly the most important, but be sure to check out what’s showing up on other pages as well. When searching, also use maiden names and common misspellings to find any listings that also may be associated with you.
Once you’ve evaluated the existing information, set up Google alerts to keep you apprised of anything new. While this won’t capture reviews on every site, this feature will send you emails based on keywords you enter, such as your name, to let you know about any new articles, site pages, or blogs with your information. Because it doesn’t capture everything posted online, it’s important to continue to regularly check what information is out there about you.
Make updates where possible
If you see any information that doesn’t match up, such as in an incorrect practice area or contact information, update it accordingly. You want to be present a consistent, clear profile.
Smooth over any negative interactions
The slightest negative experience can result in a less than stellar online review. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to have them removed, even if they exaggerate or aren’t entirely accurate. The best way to avoid the situation is to correct issues before they turn into an online PR disaster. A phone call and an apology can often be enough to stave off any harmful reviews.
Respond professionally and respectfully
If you do see a negative review pop up, remember that your response will be public for all to see. Don’t ignore the comment, as you want to take the opportunity to show your concern as well as how serious you take your reputation. Instead, take a professional approach, addressing their concern, thanking them for their feedback, and highlighting what you plan to do to address it.
Similarly, if a client leaves a positive review, you should respond and can even highlight these reviews, if appropriate, in your marketing.
To see some examples of how you can answer both types of reviews, check out How To Respond to Reviews.
Stay on top of your reputation
For lawyers, your online reputation can have a big impact on referrals and how many new clients you bring in. You need to be an active participant in managing your online reputation to be sure people get a positive impression when they search for you. Your digital reputation is live twenty-four hours a day, so include tending to it as part of your business development plan.