Think Online Reputation Management is just for controlling negative reviews? Thank again. Online Reputation Management (ORM) is for any attorney who markets and promotes their services under their own name.
When you’re an attorney doing business under your name, your name becomes your brand, and your brand is only as strong as your reputation. If your competitors are pushing your search rankings beyond page one, then you need to strengthen your brand awareness and take control of, not only your reputation, but also your search engine results positions.
Ultimately, search engine optimization (SEO) and reputation management help you achieve better search engine rankings and increase public awareness of your brand. They work hand in hand to help you reach potential clients.
Own Your Name
Your first step in ORM is to purchase and use the .com domain for your name. Use YourName.com to publish either your full website, your blog, or as a simple advertising page that links to your main site. If you will not be hiring a web development company to build your website, platforms like WordPress can make putting up a page or blog extremely simple. However, it is important to note that if you do use a WordPress-type platform, do not use the free service for ORM goals because you do not want the URL to be YourName.Wordpress.com. Instead, you can purchase your domain and easily publish it through WordPress.org
Buying YourName.net (as well as any other domains for your name) will keep someone else from owning them and then competing for your place in search engine result pages (SERPs). You don’t have to publish on these domains, but it wouldn’t hurt, even if you just use these domains for profile-type content with a link to your main site. Also, owning multiple domains for your name could allow you to push one into the results pages if a search engine algorithm update hurts your main page rankings.
Social Media Has Its Place
Establish your social media presence across all popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pintrest, and LinkedIn. Though you do not necessarily have to be active on all these accounts, you most definitely want to claim your name before someone else does. If you don’t have time to post to these accounts regularly, at minimum make sure your profile is complete on each service and customize the URLs to display your name instead of any identification number assigned by the service.
Use Image Tags Wisely
Images and videos are often top- of- page search results, so you want to make the best use of these opportunities by optimizing all your images with your name. Optimize any picture of you by naming the file with Your Name, as opposed to the normal file nomenclature assigned by your computer. Your name should also be in the ALT image tag, the caption, and in the title of the image.
Directory Listings and Keeping an Ear to the Ground
While word of mouth may be the most common means of vetting an attorney, you can be sure that online directories and review sites come a close second.
Once upon a time, internet directory listing were a big deal, but now, not so much. However, legal directories have not gone the way of the dinosaur and present value and opportunity for all attorneys. Claim or add your listing to the most important legal directories including –
- Super Lawyers
Other important directories include HG Legal Resources, Martindale.com, and Lawyers.com.
Listen to what is being said about you online and read reviews from your clients on review sites. Yes, you might see some bad reviews or comments, but view these as opportunities instead of negatives. Do a search of “your name + reviews” to see what is currently being said, and use tools like Google Alerts and TweetDeck to maintain an active ear going forward. Not only will you be able to respond quickly to negative reviews but you will also have an opportunity to thank those who are speaking highly about you.
Keep in mind that you do not have to respond to every negative review or comment, in fact, leaving some will allow potential clients to get a well-rounded view of your practice. However, when you need to respond, be constructive and ask the reviewer to discuss the issue with you in person or by phone so it can be remedied. After you and the reviewer come to a better understanding, respond again to the negative post saying that the issue has been resolved.
The most important thing about reviews is for your potential clients to know that you care enough to listen to what your past and present clients say.
Teresa Shaw is an SEO expert with 10 years experience helping attorneys and law firms across the country increase public awareness of their services.