SEO Reputation Management – Key Takeaways for Personal Injury Law Firms in Marketing

by Jamie Hallen | December 11, 2023

What is Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) refers to the practice of shaping, monitoring, and influencing how an individual or an organization is perceived on the internet. It involves managing and controlling the online conversation about a person, brand, product, or service to ensure a positive public perception.

What Happens When a Law Firm Has Online Reputation Issues?

When a law firm develops a negative reputation online, it can experience many devastating consequences:

  • Trust and credibility, which are fundamental for any legal practice, may suffer.
  • Potential clients might be deterred from seeking their services due to negative reviews or perceptions, affecting growth and client acquisition.
  • The firm’s brand image within the legal community might be compromised, impacting collaborations and referral opportunities.
  • Recruiting top talent could also become challenging.

Rebuilding a positive reputation will require strategic efforts such as addressing feedback, improving services, enhancing the online presence, and possibly seeking professional help in reputation management.

How Can Law Firms Prevent Reputation Issues?

Preventing reputation issues requires delivering excellent client service and being extremely responsive to client feedback, both good and bad. Even the most client-focused firms will eventually receive negative feedback, often in the form of reviews, and it’s important to know how to respond appropriately and effectively to those reviews to minimize damage and even boost trust among other potential clients.

Where Should Firms Focus Their Reputation Management Efforts?

Reviews are a critical part of most people’s decision-making process when they purchase a product or service, and choosing a personal injury law firm is no exception. When people search for personal injury law firms, the reputation markers they pay the most attention to are Google Reviews and Yelp feedback.

  • Google Reviews—Law firms should prioritize prompt and professional responses to both positive and negative feedback on Google Reviews. Acknowledging positive reviews with gratitude reinforces client appreciation. For negative reviews, addressing concerns publicly demonstrates a proactive approach to problem-solving and a commitment to client satisfaction.
  • Yelp—When managing Yelp reviews, law firms should adopt a similar approach to their Google Reviews by responding promptly and courteously. It’s also important to let Yelp reviews come in naturally. Don’t encourage clients to create Yelp accounts solely to review your firm, as doing so could lead to their reviews being flagged and deleted. Instead, identify clients who found your firm via Yelp and ask them to review you on that platform and even “check-in” with photos.

How Will Reputation Management Change as Google Search Evolves?

The biggest evolution for Google search over the coming years will be the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) launched in preview form in mid-2023 and will be available to the public in 2024.

SGE uses AI to answer questions and find what users are searching for directly in the search results page without the need for them to click on and sort through a list of websites. It draws on a lot of information to decide what to show to searchers, including things like reviews and online feedback.

Firms that have excellent online reputations and plenty of positive reviews are more likely to be featured in SGE-produced results than firms with negative reputations/reviews or a lack of reviews. That’s because Google’s goal, especially with SGE, is to present the most authoritative, relevant, and useful results to users, and it may automatically filter out firms that appear to deliver subpar results based on their online reputations.

What Are the Steps Firms Should Take to Protect Their Online Reputation?

Although there are many steps firms can take to ensure their reputation remains in good standing both online and via word of mouth, these four actions are the cornerstone of the most effective reputation management strategies:

  1. Listen and act—Pay attention to what people are saying about your firm. Address valid criticisms promptly. Be open-minded and conduct deep dives into customer feedback to ensure your perception aligns with their experiences.
  2. Be reasonable—Most people are reasonable and appreciate transparency. When clients express dissatisfaction, ask them what will make them feel better. Empower your customer service representatives to go the extra mile to resolve issues.
  3. Provide exceptional customer service–Companies like Zappos and Chewy have built their success on outstanding customer service. Minimize friction between unhappy clients and your firm’s support staff. Offer solutions and make clients feel whole.
  4. Be proactive instead of reactive–Small issues can escalate into major reputation problems. Recognize, investigate, and resolve issues as they arise. Empower your employees to take action, always apologize, and remember that the cost of making clients whole is usually less than repairing a damaged reputation.

Beware of Using Fake Reviews to Boost Your Reputation

There’s no getting around it—reviews, especially good reviews, are extremely important to a law firm’s success. When firms lack reviews, potential clients are more skeptical of them. And when firms have a relatively low overall rating due to few positive reviews or several negative reviews, potential clients may also be turned away.

Because of the importance of having a large number of positive reviews, some firm owners are tempted to create fake reviews to boost their reputation. Whether written in-house or purchased from unethical digital marketing companies, fake reviews can deceive potential clients and damage your firm’s reputation.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is proposing new rules to penalize businesses involved in buying or selling fake reviews. Online platforms like Amazon and Expedia are forming coalitions to combat review fraud, and state attorneys general are cracking down on fake reviews.

In your marketing efforts, it’s important to prioritize genuine testimonials and client feedback to build trust with potential clients and avoid legal and reputational consequences associated with fake reviews.

Trust Us to Manage Your Firm’s Reputation

A robust and highly positive online reputation can be one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal. When potential clients see the trust and favor you’ve gained in your community, they’ll be far more likely to contact you and trust you with their cases, too. But the opposite is also true—a lack of reviews, or too many negative reviews, can cause potential clients to immediately disregard your firm.

cj Advertising’s Integrated Digital team wants to help you ensure that your firm’s online reputation is reflective of your team’s values and dedication to your clients. Contact us today to learn how we can help.