Reading legal directories and review sites is one of the most common ways that potential clients vet you and your services. Think of directories and review sites as a relatively new form of “word-of-mouth” advertising. These same sites may also be where dissatisfied clients, unethical competitors, or even ex-spouses go to leave disparaging reviews and negative comments.
Statistics released in April 2014 by Thomson Reuter’s FindLaw show that more people use the Internet to find a lawyer than ever before. Their statistics show that 38 percent of the adults surveyed used the internet to find an attorney, up from only 7 percent in 2005. Their data also shows that while 65 percent of people used to ask friends and relatives for attorney referrals in 2005, today only 29 percent of people do.
These statistics enforce the importance of controlling your online presence. People searching for you on the web want to know not only about your services, but also about how you can help them solve legal issues. They want to see how you were able to help solve the similar legal issues of others, and if others have been satisfied by your representation. If your potential clients do a Google search on your name, what types of opinions, reviews and comments will they see?
Claim, Complete, Control
The first step in combating negative comments and reviews, and in taking control of your online reputation, is finding and completing your firm’s directory listings in the most popular legal directories and review sites.
AVVO is one of the top legal directories on the web right now, so claiming your listing, filling it out completely, and referring any client that would like to review your services to the site are great first steps in the management of your online presence. The directory listings are designed well and are geared towards the user experience. The profiles contain images, location and contact information, attorney ratings, areas of practice, as well as client and peer reviews.
The screenshot above shows the above-the-fold profile of Attorney Craig Michael Sturm. The profile features an image, ratings, and practice areas, as well as the percentages the firm dedicates to each, the number of endorsements by other attorneys, and the number of client reviews. Below the fold, you can scroll to read a few reviews or click to read all of them.
Most all of the review and directory sites offer a nice profile space where bragging rights, information, and reviews can be culminated to reach a wider range of potential clients. Some of these sites have better designed profile pages than others, but all have the most important thing: reviews.
The most popular directories and review sites following AVVO are in no particular order:
Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers are directories that profile peer reviewed attorneys. If you’ve been selected for listing in Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers, claim your listing and keep it updated.
How These Sites Work For You
Combating negative opinions, reviews, and comments is important if you’re competing on the web. How your name or your firm’s name (your brand) is received by potential clients depends greatly on the information that’s found online and listed in search engine results. If you haven’t established your brand online, when potential clients search for you, the results they receive will be based on other people’s experiences and opinions of you, instead of the solutions you offer and the services you provide. If you don’t control your reputation online, then potential clients will make decisions based on the opinions of others instead of your ability to solve their legal issues.
Claiming and establishing your profile in directory and review sites allows you to promote your own description of your firm, your services, and your achievements first. The review space allows you to monitor client satisfaction levels, as well as how your staff has pleased past and current clients. Review sites help you monitor customer satisfaction.
Find and Claiming Profile on Review and Directory Sites
Hopefully, you’re performing a search on your name and your firm’s name at least once a month to stay updated on how you’re ranking in search results, and what you are being ranked for. If you see a directory or review site returned in your search results, claim and complete the profile.
If you find that you’re not already listed in the important and popular directories and review sites I previously listed, fill out the request for inclusion and complete the profile including the description, services offered, and any achievements and list those as well.
In Part 2 of this series, I’ll show you how to monitor and engage on legal directories and review sites including how to deal properly with the dreaded negative reviews.