Posts

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 onemedical.com. Also, they all have at least 15 reviews, with an average rating of over 4.3.

If you actually visit onemedical.com, 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 Lawyers.com. 

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