Lawyer Reviews for Local SEO

| December 17, 2013

Reviews have become the new currency for attracting consumers to an attorney brand and they are useful for a variety of reasons. User generated content helps improve SEO for a law firm’s online marketing activities. Reviews also help increase the possibility that prospects will choose the law firm after reading positive reviews about it.  New research highlighted in Socialmediatoday.com1  (excerpt in the infographic below) shows that trust and recommendations in social media and reviews are weighted heavily in consumer decisions to choose a product or service provider.  Many people go online to do research before they make a commitment to a firm.

Trust in social

Reviews Help Local SEO

User Generated Content
One reason reviews of local businesses help improve optimization of an attorney’s website in local search2 is because users leaving those reviews tend to use keywords naturally. Localized terms such as a city name combined with the type of service rendered are very common. For example a reviewer might say something like “John Smith is by far the best personal injury lawyer in Ann Arbor. We had a wonderful experience with him and will definitely be recommending him in the future!

Reviews also tend to be left on very authoritative websites like Yelp, Google, Yahoo and others.  Because of their authority these sites often show up at the top of results when searches for a firm’s name are conducted.  Those reviews (especially on Yelp and Google) also come through in other applications like maps.

attorney-reviewsGoogle Serves Users Local Results
When people look for service providers (regardless of whether or not they use a localized term such as attorney + city name), Google and other search engines will show them results relevant to their location. People often read reviews of local service providers (like attorneys) before they make a decision on who to contact.

Here it is not necessarily a case of a potential client choosing an attorney with positive reviews over one with negative but choosing one that has a lot of reviews (that are also positive) over one with no reviews at all. Reviews help you stand out3, they help prospects learn more about your business and they also push people toward making a decision.

Related Post: Local SEO for Lawyers: Tips Every Law Firm Should Apply4

Crafting a Review Campaign

A review campaign can be a good approach to growing your brand’s presence online as an off-site SEO strategy. Consumers are not always inclined to write reviews because it requires a certain amount of investment on their part. They have to take the time to go to a website and learn the process for leaving a review, many online review sites require some kind of account to leave a review, then there is the struggle of knowing what to write.

attorney-wordlA review campaign will follow a simple two-step process:

1. The attorney should pre-qualify the reviewer.

Before you solicit reviews from anyone, you should know who you are asking. If you have been running an ethical practice anyway, there will not be much to worry about however there are still the occasional clients you probably do not want writing things online about you.

Depending on your practice area, a review campaign may not make sense.  For example you clients may not want it to be publicly known that they are using your services.  For example divorce and criminal attorneys may have more of a challenge getting traction with a review campaign.

Carefully review any clients that you solicit for a review and make sure they have nothing but positive things to say about you. This may be a no-brainer but double-checking does not hurt before reaching out to people.

2. Send a review template to the client

If you make leaving a review as easy as possible, people are more likely to leave one. Part of that is making an easy-to-follow template so that your clients can just fill in the blanks. Send your clients a template as part of your review solicitation email.  Here is a template5 that I use often.

Provide precise instructions on how to fill it out including any links to use, text, questions to answer, etc.  It is also important to give your clients multiple options for platforms on which to leave their reviews.  For instance do not just tell them to leave a review on Google.  Give them the opportunity to leave a review on Google, Yelp, Yahoo or another platform of their choice.
Reviews provide unique and fresh user generated content and chances to rank for keyword phrases that real consumers are using. If you implement a review campaign correctly it can have very beneficial effects for your website.