By on June 12, 2012 | 5 Comments

Google+ Is No Longer Optional For Law Firm Marketing; Reviews Are Increasingly Important

Google has once again changed the rules for law firm marketers. What does that mean for your Web strategy? Google+ and Google profiles are a must for collecting positive reviews that show up in Google’s local listings.

In the latest change from the online search engine giant, Google accounts and reviews from clients are now firmly linked. Anyone who wants to leave a review for your law firm must have a Google+ account.  Google+ Local FAQ number 14 states: “Reviewers need to be logged in to Google+ to leave a review. The review will be public and attributed to their Google+ name.”

Reviews are an integral part of Google+ Local, and you’ll want your firm listed there – with positive comments from satisfied clients — for search engine visibility. Positive reviews can increase your law firm’s business while negative online reviews can cause significant harm.

According to one study, an increasing number of people (69%) trust the opinions of online strangers as much as recommendations from people they know. The percentage increases among younger consumers — 79% of 16-34 year olds trust online reviews.  If two law firms appear to be equal, a Web visitor is likely to choose the firm with the best reviews.

A word to the wise: avoid shortcuts and underhanded tactics when collecting reviews. As online ratings become more important, companies are selling services to provide ratings for websites and “Likes” for social media.  An April 4, 2012 Wall Street Journal article stated bogus reviews have begun to show up on hotel review sites:

Thus the temptation for hotels to submit fake reviews to pump up their scores, or even trash competitors to improve their own sales.  TripAdvisor says it knows of review ‘mills’ and ‘reputation management’ firms offering to stuff the ballot box for hotels willing to pay. Websites like Fiverr.com are full of people offering to post batches of fake reviews for $5 and up. Some hotels have been offering incentives to guests for writing good reviews.

Our advice is to avoid review sellers and gimmicks.  Google catches on quickly to attempts to manipulate its rankings, continuously developing techniques to discover manipulative techniques.

We frequently advise law firms on the proper way to obtain law firm testimonials and client reviews.  Techniques that work well include:

  • Ask for the review at the time of the successful case result.  The client is happiest at that time and inclined to thank you with a review. If the client has a Google+ account, provide the link to Google’s review section.
  • Advise your clients to join Google+ if they have not.  Doing so will allow them to leave reviews and will provide several benefits including free access to Zagat’s review section.  Informative Google+ Local videos and FAQ’s by Google are available.
  • If you do not have a database of your clients, set one up ASAP.  We can provide recommendations if you do not have one.
  • If you have not obtained reviews from prior clients, contact them and request a review.
  • Encourage and make it easy to provide reviews on your website.

An unrelated (to reviews) reason law firms and lawyers should have a Google+ page is the Google Authorship feature.  Google uses this feature to identify the author of the content.  This feature is a way for Google to gauge the trust and authority of an author by, in effect, examining the online credentials of the writer and the links to additional and similar articles he/she has written. Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article), an author page, and a Google Profile. This feature is likely to become an important rankings’ factor. Writers should link their content to their Google+ Profile.  Another benefit to this feature is that it establishes the writer as the author and prevents others from copying the content and taking credit  for it.

If we can provide assistance, help you manage your review process or social media or assist you with your law firm marketing, please contact us at marketing@consultwebs.com or 800-872-6590.

About 

Dale Tincher is CEO of Consultwebs.com, Inc.  Dale lives in Raleigh, NC and is a prominent Web design and promotion specialist, endorsed Web consultant, trainer, writer, photographer and speaker. Follow Dale on Google+.

Lou says:

June 17, 2012 at 9:08am
 

It is important to understand that Google+ Local becomes your SERP (search engine results page) when searching for services on a strictly mobile platform. Well written article, enjoyed reading everything covered in a laid out manner.

Dale Tincher says:

June 19, 2012 at 1:55am
 

Some interesting excerpts from a USA Article:

Google+ Local works better if you’re Google+ member

http://travel.usatoday.com/digitaltraveler/story/2012-06-18/Google-Local-works-better-if-youre-Google-member/55666744/1

“Before Google acquired Zagat last year, some of the Zagat information could only be accessed for a fee. Now, it’s free.

However, the quality of the local-business information for a traveler can at times be uninspiring and partisan, because you are being force-fed Google’s social network as part of the process.

If you don’t join and sign into Google+ when viewing the local-business results, you cannot view all of the pertinent information.”

Dale Tincher says:

July 6, 2012 at 4:36pm
 

Google+ pages are now listed in the Google Places listings if a firm has a Google+ page.

It appears that if a firm does not have a Google+ page, but has reviews, the reviews are listed. The Google+ page does not appear to be listed/linked in the Google organic rankings. Google is including a “Score” for some – an average multiplied by 10.

It is more important than ever for a firm to have a professional Google+ page. It is, of course, important that the firm have reviews. Reviews can be listed on the Google+ page and linked to from the G+ page.

Dale Tincher says:

July 6, 2012 at 5:21pm
 

One addition, the Google+ page will soon be condensed into the Google+ local pages.

Dale Tincher says:

March 10, 2013 at 1:38pm
 

Negative reviews may soon cause rankings to drop. Search Engine Land reported that Google’s Matt Cutts stated the following at the SXSW conference in Austin March, 9, 2013:

“We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.

We are trying to ask ourselves, are there other signals that we can use to spot whether someone is not a great merchant, and if we can find those, and we think that they are not all that spammable, then we’re more than happy to use those.”

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