Believe It Or Not – A Few Negative Reviews Adds Credibility

One of the most important contributing factors of a law firm’s local search marketing strategy is the collection of client reviews. Studies show that 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a referral from someone they know and 88 percent of consumers use reviews as a deciding factor when choosing a business.

But not every review your law firm receives is going to be positive. Sure, this is the goal. But it would be unrealistic to think that you can win every case, resolve every issue favorably, or please every client. When your law firm gets a negative review, should you respond? And if so, what is the best way to approach this feedback?

Is the Review Legitimate?

If you get a negative review, the first thing you should ask yourself – “is the review legitimate”. Most review websites don’t vet the credibility of reviews and won’t take a closer look unless the business (a.k.a. you) flags it. Some of the possible scenarios include:

  • People who mistakenly leave reviews for the wrong attorney
  • Other law firms trying to damage the competition
  • Unscrupulous marketers engaged in negative campaigns on behalf of competitors
  • Family members or friends upset on behalf of a client
  • Opposing parties who are upset about a case outcome

Most review websites have a policy that the review must be from an actual client. None of the above qualify and most are fraudulent postings that could get someone removed from a platform. If you notice these red flags, ask that the review be removed.

Should You Reply to Negative Client Reviews?

If you get a legitimate review from a client that is less than stellar, you should consider responding to the review. If you do respond you should keep in mind what the American Bar Association has shared regarding responding to negative reviews.  Responding to reviews can be risky because an attorney might be tempted to disclose information about a case to counter the negative review or defend their good name.

The ABA is clear that lawyer confidentiality prevents an attorney from correcting a client’s factual information. There is no legal risk in not responding to negative reviews. However, your online reputation could take a hit, and this is something that is increasingly vital to the success of your business.

How to Reply to a Negative Client Review

If you check your online reviews regularly (you should) and notice one of those dreaded 1-2 star ratings attached to some unpleasantries about your legal services, it is important to take a few moments to gather your thoughts before responding.

Your next steps should be:

    1. Research the Client and Case 

Before you do anything, dig into the background of the client and case. Take the time to identify:

  • The legitimacy of the review (see above)
  • The client’s name
  • The client’s case and outcome
  • Your notes about any service issues

Some people use a nickname or alias when posting reviews, so it is important not to discount a review as “fake” and risk further alienating a past client and the people who are reading your responses. Before you reply, do some extensive research.

    1. Decide on a Plan of Action

Once you have answered the above questions, you can decide on the best course of action. You may determine that the review isn’t legitimate and request its removal. If you take this route, most online review sites will temporarily remove the review while they investigate your claim.

Another possibility is to do nothing. In a few rare cases, this a valid option. For example, the negative review was posted a while ago and has had no discernable impact on your business. Or maybe there is the danger of further alienating a client that is so on edge that anything you say will only make matters worse. But, in most cases, you want to be proactive with your online presence and respond to negative feedback.

    1. Attempt to Take Things Offline

Not every solution needs to be handled on a public forum, like Google. Considering the issue of attorney confidentiality, any issues involving a client’s personal information or case details should be discussed in private.

When a negative review concerns the outcome of a case, invite the client to contact you directly to resolve the matter. This demonstrates that your firm is willing to go the extra mile to resolve client complaints.

    1. Respond to the Review Publicly

Nine times out of ten, you should respond to a negative review publicly. Consumers read negative reviews just as often as they read positive reviews when making decisions about service providers. A public response to a disgruntled client can tell a prospect that you care about your client’s issues and wellbeing.

Whether you were at fault or not, respond with the client’s name and show empathy for their situation. If they have an ongoing legal issue, encourage them to seek counsel. And, if you have spoken in private and resolved the client’s issue, you can certainly mention this in your response. Finally, it is never a bad idea to have one or two people review your response before posting to make sure that it is thorough and appropriate.

    1. Encourage Positive Reviews

While you may not be able to stop clients from leaving an occasional negative review, you can make those reviews less significant by encouraging all your clients to leave online feedback for your law firm. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your average star rating will be, and the less impact a negative one will have on your reputation. In fact, consumers expect to see a few negative reviews for most businesses and are suspicious if they do not.

Handling your law firm’s online reputation is just one part of an overall digital marketing strategy. Your clients want to feel as if their voice is being heard, and a timely and appropriate response to a less than perfect review could create loyalty among those clients as well as give you valuable information to improve your services.

Contact Sundown Marketing Group For Help Monitoring And Responding To Client Reviews

If you need further assistance with your local SEO strategy or would like to learn more about how Sundown Marketing Group’s services can help your business, contact us today at (800) 649-1764 or through our online contact form.

The Importance of Client Reviews and the Most Effective Way to Get Them

In law school, the last thing that you were likely thinking about was how to market yourself as an attorney. Instead, you probably assumed that by doing good work and providing effective legal counsel, as well as by establishing or working for a reputable firm, clients would come to you. But the days of word-of-mouth marketing are all but are gone; today, more people than ever before are turning to online information as a resource that influences their purchasing decisions of various types, including who to hire for legal representation.

If your law firm is still relying on out-of-date means of client retention and acquisition, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to reach more people. At Sundown Legal Marketing, our legal marketing team can help you to understand the importance of client reviews and the most effective way to start cultivating reviews today.

Why Are Client Reviews So Important?

When it comes to understanding why client reviews are so important, the following statistics say it all:

  • Those who are in need of a lawyer aren’t just going to ask around to find one; instead, 75 percent of consumers seeking an attorney will use online resources to identify who they plan to hire. Again, by not having online information about your firm, including online client reviews, you could practically be sending clients to your competitors.
  • Not only are ¾ of people who need a lawyer using online resources to look for one, but nearly ⅔ of people say that online reviews greatly influenced their decision in selecting an attorney.

The bottom line: people are using the internet to learn more about a business before making a purchasing decision – this includes those who are in need of legal services. By failing to provide information to potential clients about your business in a variety of forms, including client reviews, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with a potential client in a valuable way; this opportunity will likely be snatched up by other attorneys in your field.

The Most Effective Ways to Get Client Reviews

Now that you understand just how important client reviews are for your legal practice, the next consideration is how to start building a collection of client reviews on your website.

Lawyers often fail to get reviews for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that they don’t maintain the right spaces for clients to leave reviews (i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.). Second, lawyers often fail to ask clients for reviews, which is a critical step in the process of actually getting reviews. Third, if a lawyer does ask a client for a review, they often go about it in the wrong way. To get more reviews, consider the following:

  • Choose the right platforms. The first thing that your law firm needs to do is ensure that the right platforms for client reviews are in place. Facebook and Google are both great options – Facebook has more than one billion active users, and consumers say that Google reviews is their favorite source for online reviews. In addition to Google and Facebook, also consider using Avvo, which is a review site specifically for lawyers.
  • Start asking for reviews. It’s not just about having the right platforms in place; you’ll need to actually ask your former clients for reviews. This can be daunting and even feel uncomfortable, but there is a way to do it appropriately and effectively.

How to Ask Clients for Reviews

As you start to ask clients for reviews, there are a few key things to keep in mind for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Make sure your reviews are current by asking clients to leave you a review as soon as possible after representation has been completed.
  1. Ask for reviews from clients who had a positive experience – the goal is to have positive reviews reflected on your website and the various review platforms.
  1. Make it personal by asking for a review in person or by picking up the phone and calling them. Simply sending a generic email to a client you’ve been working with isn’t nearly as effective as personalizing it. If the client agrees to leave you a review, then you can immediately follow up with an email containing the relevant links to review sites.

Know How to Make Reviews Work for You

Finally, once reviews start coming in, you’ll need to know how to make these reviews work for you. Make sure that positive reviews are shared on your website in an area that is easy for prospective clients to find. Show recent reviews first.

Another tip for making reviews more effective is to respond to former clients’ reviews, both positive and negative. Be honest, empathetic, and use a negative review as an opportunity to admit fault when appropriate and highlight how much you care about your clients.

Work with a Professional Digital Marketing Team Today

At Sundown Legal Marketing, we are experts at helping law firms like yours improve their online presence and start attracting more clients. Not only are we skilled digital marketers, but we also understand the unique rules and regulations that you face as a lawyer, including client confidentiality rules and the consequences of fake reviews. To learn more about how we can help your firm, reach out to our legal marketing team by phone at (800) 649-1764 or online today.

How to Get Reviews from Clients

Getting reviews isn’t something you can sit back and trust people will do. You have to actively have a review-requesting plan in place, and train their staff – from managing partners down to their receptionists – in the best ways to ask satisfied clients for reviews.

Here are a few suggestions:

In Case-Closing Letters

Do your clients send a final letter to their clients with their settlement checks or copies of final judgment documents? Include specific instructions on how to leave their firm a review within these letters.

If your client sends copies of these letters via email, include direct links to their review profiles to make it easy.

In Text

Part of the problem with getting clients to leave reviews is them knowing how to. Remove those barriers by texting a link to their business’s Google profile. Here’s how.

In Person

The most powerful way to ask for a review is in person where your client can say, “I appreciated working with you. It would really help more people who need my help find me if you would leave a review online.”

Follow up this conversation with a texted link.

Client Reviews are important for potential clients, but does Google pay any attention?

Reviews have become an entrepreneur’s most burdensome task. It can seem daunting and difficult to reach out to clients, and ask for a review online, all while staying ethical, and avoiding Google penalty for paying for reviews.

Still, we do it because everyone says reviews are important, but do they know what they’re talking about? How important are positive client reviews for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Let’s ask Google. On a related Google’s support page, they make the following statement:

“Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.

That means in the local ranking, which currently consists of a three-pack map (with the option to view more places) is affected by the listing’s number of reviews, and the overall ratings of those reviews.

So, you want 4 and 5-star reviews, and you want a lot of them, but you don’t want them from bots. You want them to be real clients who have taken the time to review your business.

The statement on Google’s support page continues:

“Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”

So, this means that it’s not only the number and the quality of the reviews on your Google listing, but it’s also the organic performance of your business website, which is connected to the Google listing, that matters in determining which businesses go in the three-pack of Google local search. Your website needs to be optimized for search engines.

According to this statement the three businesses that make it to the three-pack map are likely going to have a good amount of positive client reviews on their business listing, and they will also likely have an optimized website. Let’s put this hypothesis to the test.

Above is a screenshot of a local three-pack result for “general practitioner” when searched from Powder Springs, GA.  The first listing has no reviews, and no website. How could that be? Well, it could be that there were no other general practitioners in Powder Springs, GA apart from these three. In this case Google gave us these three choices simply because that’s all there was within the local area.

However, if you search for a general practitioner in a high-population metropolitan area, such as Washington, D.C. we see that One Medical dominates all downtown.

One Medical has three locations, all three of which are featured in the three-pack map. Each of the listings point to different pages on the same website, which is Also, they all have at least 15 reviews, with an average rating of over 4.3.

If you actually visit, with the help of an SEO browser extension, you will find the reason this company dominates the space. The website has a domain authority of 60+. This website is one powerful website, and that is the sole reason it dominates in the three-pack map.

If you have a website with a domain authority above 60, you are going to naturally dominate the local three-pack map, regardless of the reviews, just because your website is so powerful. However, there are other industries that are not so dominated by one player, as it tends to be in the medical field.

For example, if we do a search for divorce lawyers in Washington, D.C. we get three independent (from each other) lawyers and law firms: Goodman Law, Hunt Law, and Kuder Law.  All three have a website this time, but Kuder Law only has one single review while the other two have over 20. Does Kuder have a powerful website too? Nope. Their domain authority is only 23.  The only thing of value is they have 9 images on their listing. They have images of the office, the workers, the building, etc.

Clicking on “More places” reveals that there are at least three other law firms that have more reviews than Kuder Law. One of them, Capital Family Law, even had 25 reviews. However, Capital Family Law had only one picture. Could it be that pictures are an important deciding factor? It could be, and therefore we recommend uploading images to your Google business listing. However, we do know for certain that reviews are a major deciding factor, so it will never hurt to focus on that.

Reviews are a great way of gaining trust within the community, and they are possible through good marketing programs. In these two examples, in two different industries, we saw that the digital marketing was involved. In the first example the website domain authority was an important factor in deciding who made the local three-pack map. In the second it was the number of reviews. This is why it’s important to hire a trustworthy SEO company. Organic traffic is so valuable to the business that the investment is worth it.

At Sundown Marketing we are that trustworthy company that businesses rely on to make stellar websites and bring a thorough, and time-tested SEO program to help you build your business. Check out our SEO and reputation management programs, and then call us for a free consultation! We can be reached at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form.

Asking for Client Reviews During a Pandemic

With Coronavirus cases approaching their peak in the United States and the economy in a precarious position, few law firms want to talk about marketing. Believe it or not, in these strange and pivotal times, how your firm presents its brand to prospective clients is going to make a difference in how quickly your firm returns to business as normal. 

Reminiscent of the aftermath of the Great Recession just over a decade ago, many law firms had to play “marketing catch up” after the economy recovered. But a few firms prospered coming out of the recession because they understood that much like the stock market presents buying opportunities when stock prices are falling, an economic downturn presents new marketing opportunities. Instead of eliminating marketing during the pandemic some savvy firms will seize the opportunity to gain ground in new ways. 

In only a few short weeks, social distancing has created a shift in the way that people live and work. Many are now in protection mode, focusing on their families, their work, and their communities. 

As a rule, there will still be lawsuits and litigation during good times and bad. When those in your local community search for a “lawyer near me,” will your firm or your competitors rise to the top of the list?

Whether you’re currently working from home or safely ensconced in your office, now is the perfect time to focus on your online reputation, and specifically boost the visibility of those client reviews

Make Your Online Presence a Priority

The spread of the Coronavirus and the resulting Stay-at-Home orders have had some interesting side effects. Sure, people are gaining weight from eating unhealthy food, but they’re also spending more time online across the board. Major benefactors include video streaming services, social media networks, news websites, and search engines. 

People who weren’t comfortable online before are experiencing a trial by fire. More people than ever will have their fingers flying across keyboards, some researching local businesses. 

Now that everyone’s world has become a little bit smaller, it’s time to make sure that you’re on top of your local search marketing game. If you don’t already have a Google My Business (GMB) profile, it’s time to get one and optimize it. If you’ve altered your hours or availability due to COVID-19, be sure to update that information so that clients know how and when they can reach you. 

Beyond GMB, you should set up and/or claim your profile on other major review websites. These include Yelp, Facebook, and free legal directories, like Justia, Avvo and 

What About Those Existing Client Reviews?

Before you think about soliciting new reviews, which we’ll address next, consider your existing ones for a moment. The web is packed with online reviews that companies haven’t read, answered, or both. 

One benefit of your new normal is you’ve been given a rare chance to catch your breath and this is the perfect time to make sure that your past reviews have a thoughtful response. You don’t have to go back five years, which might seem odd anyway, but make a point to address your most recent reviews. 

Create a template of responses that reflect your firm’s brand message so that you avoid any snap judgments. It’s essential that you respond to all reviews within reason, even the negative ones. Many potential clients will search for those negative reviews to see how a firm responds. Your grace under pressure is likely to sell them on your firm more than a disgruntled client’s narrative will detract them. 

Before you move on, think about creating a Reviews Policy for your firm so that it will be easier to manage online reviews going forward. When you begin monitoring and responding in a timelier manner, this will help boost your online reputation. 

Reach Out to Clients for New Testimonials

Reaching out to clients during this difficult time is appropriate if you have developed a positive relationship with them. As their attorney, the assumption is that you’ve helped a client navigate some type of challenge. 

But, before you ask for something from former clients, you should be offering some type of value first. By continuing communication during this pandemic, you can offer social connection, information, reassurance, and sometimes even further legal assistance when appropriate. 

By continuing to be active on social media, you can maintain and grow connections with clients and others within your community that might need your assistance in the future. Likewise, posting a steady stream of useful content will keep your audience engaged and more likely to be responsive to your requests. Finally, like many businesses, you can let people know how your firm and your family are handling this unprecedented situation and ask others how they are holding up. 

Provided you’ve built a rapport and some goodwill with your client base, there is no harm in asking for some help with your online marketing. Truth be told, many people are bored and will be happy to go to GMB or Facebook to post an online review if you ask. 

The time factor is another reason to focus on getting testimonials now rather than later. The more time passes after the conclusion of a case, the less likely you’ll be to get a quality review. Once Stay-at-Home orders are lifted, people are likely to be playing “catch up” and will be more distracted than they are right now. Finally, potential clients like to see a steady stream of past client reviews, so this should be an ongoing local marketing focus. 

Note: If your new GMB reviews don’t post immediately, this is has been an issue with Google. Some reviews and Q&A have been periodically turned off to protect small businesses during COVID-19, but they will post eventually. Once they do, be sure to respond timely and appropriately. 

A Few Final Thoughts

We’re going through a period of uncertainty. But just as we’re seeing how these events are bringing out some of the best behaviors in people, this can also be an opportunity for your firm to prove to clients that it genuinely cares. This is an ideal time to reach out and nurture the relationships that you worked so hard to build in the community and continue to create meaningful new connections that will help grow your business. 

As you continue to focus on the things you can control, like certain legal marketing strategies and helping clients, you’ll see a positive effect on your online reputation and bottom-line results. 

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing For Help Creating Your Client Review Strategy

Looking for more ways to improve your legal marketing strategies to navigate the COVID-19 crisis? Contact Sundown Legal Marketing to start a conversation about how we can help. Contact us today at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form