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Bad online reviews have the power to affect any law firm. Even if you do a great job and hear mostly positive feedback from past clients, those are not the people who typically post reviews. Disgruntled people are more likely to broadcast the bad news. And unfortunately, even a single ruthless report posted on a large platform like Yelp can have devastating effects.
Bad results, known as negative search engine result pages (SERPs), can turn away prospective clients early in the validation process. An unfavorable review might even lead a person to make a rash, misinformed decision not to choose your law firm. However, there are ways to reduce the impact of unfavorable SERPs. Start with these smart SEO strategies for attorneys:
- Start with looking at your branded search page. To judge how bad the damage is, simply search for your lawyer’s or legal practice’s name, since most dissatisfied clients posting bad comments are more than willing to mention the firm name in the post. Then identify and qualify all queries in the SERP in which there are negative results.
- Dig into your online reputation. Begin monitoring the most popular places that people post reviews, comments and feedback to mass audiences on the Web, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Yelp, Your Industry News and Yahoo Answers.
- Push it down the pipe. The fewer negative results that show up on your branded search page, the better for your law firm’s reputation. Limit your losses by getting these pushed back to page two or three. Begin by cultivating fresh positive reviews by respectfully asking past and current clients to post some constructive comments about your legal services and lawyers.
- Then, be selective. Have a strategy for engaging only with the most trusted, ethical and highly ranked online business directory sites and services. First register your law practice. Second encourage clients to leave positive feedback in a professional way. Third, cooperate with reputable websites that may have leeway or authority to help you remove negative results.
- Start content marketing. Creating your own positive, highly “shareable” content through a regularly updated blog, for example, can begin to displace the bad content from the first SERP and reposition your practice. To work well, however, attorney content marketing must be authentic, engaging, informative and helpful—never sales-y.
- Build your community. Once you’ve started creating some positive news about your legal practice, now you need to share it appropriately via optimized profiles on social platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, for starters, which can climb high in search engines. Start to build an effective online community to proactively spread the good word about your business.
- Talk to your customers. If for whatever reason a former client has posted a destructive review of your law office practice or staff, attempt to begin a more positive dialogue. Learn all you can about the issue; try to find a solution or compromise; and upon resolution inquire about the removal of negative feedback.
Overcoming bad reviews in SERP is just a matter of following good SEO practices for law firms: stay informed, stay vigilant—and stay positive.