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Google My Business is a service that can help you make your legal practice stand out to locals in your area. Positive reviews from verified users on Google can give your law practice a competitive edge and increase your search engine rankings. Having positive reviews on Google impresses two very important audiences: Google’s algorithms and potential clients in your area.

Google My Business, The Basics

Google My Business (GMB) is free service that allows business owners to upload contact and location information along with the ability to respond to reviews. Law firms can utilize GMB to increase their web presence and communicate with their clients who leave reviews or ask questions.

Lawyers who utilize Google My Business can keep their information like hours and phone numbers accurate and up-to-date, too.

What Google Wants from Lawyers

As the leading search engine, Google is motivated to provide relevant results to its hundreds of millions of users. Google must sort through millions of web pages and business listings, and rank them by location to create relevant results for its users.

When it comes to marketing your law practice online, Google needs a clear description of your areas of legal focus, your services, credentials, and education. In addition to having this information easily available on your website, your Google My Business profile should contain this information in a shortened format.

Google also wants reviews so that it can rank your legal practice against other local practices. The more positive, legitimate reviews that you have, the easier it is for Google to justify a law practice’s high ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) and local listings.

Benefits of Reviews on Google My Business for Law Firms

When a person uses Google, their results are tailored to the location from which he or she is searching. Google logs the locations of reviewers who discuss their experiences on its platform, too. These factors play a role in how a law firm is ranked in Google Maps and on SERPs.

Additionally, reviews provide third-party content that helps Google determine the legitimacy and relevancy of law firms in an area. Legitimate reviews are useful for building organic SEO and developing a solid web presence.

Beyond reviews impressing Google’s indexing algorithms, this content can impress potential clients. A number of positive experiences from multiple users on GMB can have an effect on whether a potential client makes contact with your law firm for a consultation. Reviews build trust, and in turn, increase the odds of converting an Internet user into an actual client.

How Lawyers Can Encourage Positive Google Reviews

The need for positive reviews is clear. But you might be wondering how to get positive, legitimate reviews in the first place. The answer is to ask your clients for them.

Here’s some tips for soliciting positive reviews the right way:

  • Send an e-mail to your satisfied and happy clients once a case has closed
  • Provide clear, concise instructions for leaving reviews with a link to your Google My Business profile
  • Remind your client that they will need to create a Google account to create a review, if they don’t already have one
  • Make sure your verbiage conveys that the process is simple and quick
  • Convey gratitude for the experience with your client and their upcoming review

Legal Review Deal Breakers

Positive reviews are necessary but illegitimate and suspicious reviews won’t do much good. Google will remove anonymous and suspicious reviews. Reviews that contain inappropriate language, off-topic content, and those that are a conflict of interest will ultimately be removed by the search engine as well.

Here’s a short list of what you shouldn’t encourage to keep Google happy:

  • Do not leave negative reviews on your competitor’s GMB accounts
  • Don’t encourage your clients or friends to leave negative reviews on competitor’s accounts, either
  • Discourage reviews from employees or friends who haven’t been legitimate clients in the past
  • Never exchange money for positive reviews
  • Don’t have clients leave reviews from your office computers or your personal mobile devices
  • Never ask clients to leave reviews with specific keywords or search term strings

Responding to Positive and Negative Reviews

Responsiveness matters, especially for positive reviews. If your client took time out of his or her day to leave a thoughtful, positive review, it’s important to respond. Acknowledge your clients’ positive remarks and leave a short personal note that illustrates your happiness to have worked with them and resolve their case. Your responsiveness will do more than help build a loyal client base; it will convey to potential clients searching for an attorney that you take a personal interest in your clients’ satisfaction.

When it comes to negative reviews, avoid responding right away. Negative reviews might contain hurtful remarks and inaccurate portrayals of what actually happened. Keep your cool and resist the urge to fire back—even if you feel justified.

Some negative or less-than-favorable reviews aren’t always a bad thing, either. A couple bad reviews juxtaposed against a majority of positive ones can have a favorable effect on potential clients. Most reasonable people know that you can’t please everyone, every time.

If you believe there’s a chance to resolve a legitimate negative review, leave a polite response conveying your willingness to discuss the matter privately. Doing so will demonstrate to others reading your reviews that you practice open communication with your clients and care about their experience with your law firm.

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