Managing your online reputation involves managing what appears on search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo – when someone does a search for your brand or name. You want the most positive, relevant and useful content to show at the top, and if there does happen to be any negative or false information this should be pushed to the bottom where internet users rarely venture.
If you require immediate advice as to how to protect or improve your law firm’s or your solicitors’ online reputation, including how to push down damaging articles in Google for your name, give us a call and we’ll carry out a free analysis over the phone – 0333 130 6755 or fill out our online enquiry form here.
The internet can be a scary place and many risk averse individuals and businesses may feel wary about putting so much information online. However, as our Digital Marketing Manager, David Kerr, states:
“Firms which have no web presence at all, or those who have an outdated site dating back years, are most at risk.”
There has been a substantial rise in fake law firms (have a look at Gavin Ward’s excellent blog post on the topic) which has highlighted just how important it is to keep an eye on and nurture your online presence.
Here’s our top 10 tips to managing your reputation online and ensuring that your law firm has the best possible presence online. We will cover:
1. Google yourself
2. Have an optimised website for your law firm
3. Dominate the SERPs
4. Run a small pay per click campaign
5. Claim as many social profiles as possible
6. Start a blog and regularly update it
7. Build credibility with client testimonials
8. Deal with online negative reviews quickly and appropriately
9. Use Google Alerts for quick updates
10. If all else fails, try to get negative content removed
In order to discover what people see when they carry out a search for your business online, it’s important for you to carry out your own searches. Make sure to log out of your Google account, or even better, open a new private browsing/incognito window to carry out searches for:
If you have a website and a number of social media profiles than hopefully these dominate the first page of Google. However, if you don’t currently have any web presence, you may find your competitors, news stories or even negative reviews appearing for these searches.
When someone is searching for you online they most likely hope to find your website so that they can find out more information and potentially get in touch. If you have a well-designed and optimised website then this will be the first thing which appears for your business name on Google.
According to Google, the number of mobile searches has overtaken searches carried out on desktop, therefore it’s imperative that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive in order to rank well on mobile.
In order to rank competitively for your services and location, a number of SEO strategies should be adopted:
It’s important that the content on your website landing pages is relevant, unique and includes the most important keywords that you want to rank for. Other important factors include having optimised headings, image alt text, meta titles, url names and a clearly structured website. It’s also a good idea to have people pages in order to ensure you rank well when a search is carried out for any of your employees.
Acquiring relevant and authoritative links for your website will help increase your rankings. Additionally, using company and employee social profiles to direct social signals back to your website will also prove to Google that your website is a popular, authoritative source, helping to improve your rankings.
However, make sure to avoid any black-hat SEO activities, such as stuffing your content with too many keywords or acquiring a number of irrelevant and low-quality links as these will most likely penalise your chances of ranking well. Read our detailed guide to SEO for law firms here.
In 2007 Google introduced Universal Search which presents internet searchers with a multi-media mixture of results rather than just organic listings. Searches carried out on Google will now show paid ads, social profiles, video results, images, Google maps, news stories and more. If you want to truly dominate the front page of Google for your company brand you should take advantage of this!
Make sure all of the images on your website and social profiles are optimised for your brand and employee names. Create a Google My Business page so that your location shows. Make use of videos on your landing pages.
There are multiple opportunities to appear on Google for your brand and the more content you have on the first page of Google, the easier it will be to push unfavourable content down the SERPs
You may have noticed that when you carry out a search for your company name, a number of competitors appear in the paid ads section of the results page. It’s very common for competitors to bid on each other’s brand names in Google AdWords or Bing Ads, with the hope that they might steal their competitors’ clients.
You can’t stop your competitors from doing this, however you can bid on your own brand (and theirs too if you choose). Bidding on keywords related to your own brand is very inexpensive on AdWords, and you should usually appear in the top 3 positions. Even if your competitors aren’t bidding on your brand, law firms can benefit from paid advertising as it helps them dominate the SERPs with a multi-position web presence.
Social Media has taken the professional world by storm in the last decade and law firms across the world are using a mixture of social media platforms to reach new audiences and connect with existing ones. Not having a company Twitter page is incredibly uncommon now, and many of your clients will expect you to be present on the same social platforms that they are on.
By having a portfolio of active social media profiles such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest, you can strengthen your brand’s reputation and reach more potential clients. Using your business name for these profiles will prevent anyone stealing them and/or pretending to be you. You can also use these platforms to regularly share new content from your website which sends social signals and strengthens the authority of your site.
Google likes to see websites which are regularly updated and full of useful information. By writing a weekly, fortnightly, or a monthly blog on topics relevant to your services you will strengthen your website, attract more clients and help you to rank higher on Google for searches on your blog topics.
Furthermore, if you use your blog to share company announcements, there’s a good chance that these pages will also show up on SERPs for your brand keywords.
People like to read about previous customer experiences of your services before they choose to contact you. By having authentic and up to date client testimonials on your website and on multiple review websites (Trust Pilot, Google Reviews, Yelp etc.) your online reputation will be a positive one and you will start to drive more enquiries online.
Unfortunately negative reviews do happen, and whilst you can’t prevent them, you can approach them in a mature manner. Our team recommends the following approach:-
“If you have received a negative review about your firm, it’s best to deal with this sooner rather than later, to minimise any negative impact of the review. But we would recommend you contact the client privately, if possible, to discuss/rectify rather than attempting to remove the review. In addition, you should reply with a comment along the lines of:
“Thanks for your feedback, and we’re sorry you feel this way. One of the team will be in touch shortly to discuss how we can rectify this. Alternatively, please feel free to contact us directly on xxxx, and we’ll do what we can to help.”
It’s important, when dealing with negative reviews, to publicly acknowledge it and apologise. This portrays to other users a sense of responsibility and customer care from the brand. If you attempt to remove such a review, there’s a chance of that backfiring potentially with much wider consequences.
While some negative reviews are inevitable, they provide a chance to assess your customer care strategy. Good law firms respond to negative reviews proactively. Great law firms take steps to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again, where possible. The best online reputation management happens from the first client consultation.”
Google Alerts is a free tool for detecting when new content is online which contains certain keywords. Its most commonly used to keep updated on events, interests or certain news. However, it’s also useful to keep an eye on any new online content which mentions your brand, services or employees. Any time one of your chosen keywords appear in a new piece of content, Google will automatically email you, keeping you up to date on your online presence.
If someone has written an unfavourable review or article about you, or even tried to steal your brand, it can be incredibly difficult to have this content removed from a website which you have no control over.
If you’re unable to push inaccurate or defamatory content down the SERPs, then getting in touch with the website owner and asking them to remove the content may work. If this doesn’t do the trick you can submit a ‘Right to be Forgotten’ request to Google as long as you can prove/argue that the content you’re asking to be removed is from an imposter, inaccurate or defamatory to your business.
However, it is incredibly difficult to have one of these requests approved so this approach should be seen as a last option.
If you are unhappy with your current online presence, wish to prevent negative content from showing on Google, or don’t yet have an online presence, following these steps will help to ensure that you are making the most of online opportunities to promote your brand and manage your reputation. If you need a hand doing this, just get in touch with our digital and legal specialists who are experts in managing a number of legal sector clients’ reputations online.
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