Why Google Reviews Matter to Your Practice and How to Get Them?
Despite the controversy around the authenticity of reviews, whether it’s paid for or from a real person, it’s almost like muscle reflex to look up a place’s or a business’ reviews before making the next move. Believe or not, lawyers depend heavily on “word of mouth” just like any other business. In this digital era, people do buy what “Tony” or “Emily” has to write about your company. In my previous blog about the burgeoning Google Plus phenomenon,I recommended that law firms get on Google Plus with stimulating conversations to connect with communities. With its prevalence and the right moves, Google+ local reviews, the byproduct of Google, can really bump you up to the top of the search results and outshine your local competitors. We all know that customer reviews matter to your local rankings, if you want to stay in business and thrive, Google+ local reviews — which customers write through their Google+ pages — are even more important than reviews written on other sites like Yelp and CitySearch.
Let me state the benefits up front: Having Google reviews tends to generate more clicks from potential customers; more importantly, the reviews your clients write are automatically shared with their friends (the people in their Google+ “Circles”). Not only can this result in extra visibility for you in the social media world, some of your customers’ friends may also live in close vicinity— which means they’re your potential clients as well. Ranking may come in as a secondary factor, it mainly serves as a reason, a visual stimulus for searchers to click on your website or call you.
Not having reviews is not a wise option. Lawyers without reviews may seem suspicious to smart consumers.When potential customers see your listing in Google’s local search results, they’ll only see the number of Google+ reviews you have. So having solid current reviews has already become a vitality to a business’ survival and future advancement.Worst of all, you’re more likely to be outranked by your local competitors if they have more Google reviews than you do, even if their customers hate them and their reviews reek.
In short, set up a review process that gives customers lots of options, during your follow-up phone call or email; cast a wide net with help from other review sites in addition to Google+ local; pick something easy for your staff to implement. Most importantly, keep it ethical, simple and you will find that you get enough reviews on Google+ and lots of reviews elsewhere. Don’t forget: You will need four to five Google reviews in order to receive the “star treatment”, which appears next to your business listing.
But first, there is a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
How to Ask forA Good Google Review?
Don’t be afraid to ask your client for a review. You can start by asking a client, “Have you ever written a review by using your Google+ account?” If they say so, don’t be discouraged because a lot of people may not know having a Gmail account, which most people do, equals one foot in the review door. Just kindly suggest they sign into their account and click on the “local” tab.Simple and straightforward instructions to write a review are always appreciated. Lastly, on your firm’s website, make your Google+ page visible and inviting.
At our office we have a simple strategy. Every time a client receives an approval notice for a case or a Petition, the managing attorney will email the client with the good news and a copy of the approval. At the end of the email we will thank the client for doing business with us and ask them a simple question, “If you were happy with our work, we ask that you give us a review so that others can benefit from our services just like you did.” If we get a positive response from the client, a second email will go out with brief instructions on how to conduct a review.
Note that Google requires you to show your full name on the review. If you wish to be less public you can use Avvo, where you will be able to post your review anonymously. Avvo is a legal site for consumers that allows login by Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn or your own email and it easily allows you to post a review anonymously.
Enter the review, indicate whether to show your first name or nothing at all, then login by your favored method. Once a good review is sent, we email a thank you note to the client or follow up with a personal call. Believe in the excellence of your service. Grateful clients are more than honored to do you the small favor.
Everyone knows you should always keep your options open. You would not want to see your Google+ local reviews booming while other review sites reflecting a different picture. After all, reviewers have various preferences and review sites provide distinct functionalities. What you cannot ignore is the local business review giant, Yelp.
According to Yelp Blog’s numbers, 85% of consumers turn to the Internet for local business recommendations and most of them see reviews as they are from their friends. Yelp claims in Q2 2013 alone, over 108 million people visited Yelp. It almost sounds stupid for a business not to have a Yelp page or not manage it diligently. Just like Google+ local review, Yelp has a support page that explains everything a business owner needs to know from setting up the page to the don’ts. For example, be careful when you “ask” for a Yelp review from your client since it is against the rules. Instead, invite your clients to check out your other reviews on Yelp!
To Get Started
To help you get started and become familiarized with Google local reviews, here is a step by step setup help page. Manual instructions are probably overrated in everyone’s mind these days; however, I recommend you have everyone who will be handling the page read Google reviews’ guidelines, policies, and even how to respond to reviews. Google has specific rules about which consumer reviews they will show. Certain industries and professions have a higher possibility of being filtered, as you may have guessed, lawyer is one of the unfortunate ones. Anyone’s review is at the risk of being jeopardized for an unknown period of time.
No business will succeed without encountering some bad reviews here and there. See it as a challenge and an encouragement to better your service. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take any negative review down but try to contact the frustrated customer to redeem your reputation – even it’s a malicious competitor.I am sure potential clients would love to see how you handle dissatisfaction. Again, the best way to defend your business is to drown the bad review with 100 good ones.