You might think that Yelp or similar review sites are not useful to or important for your law firm. Think again. Even if you are not a big user of online reviews, you should expect that many of your clients and prospective clients are. And, if that isn’t enough reason for you to get active on Yelp, consider this—there is a high likelihood that your firm actually has a presence on Yelp even if you have not yet created one. That means that someone other than you is taking control of your online reputation.
This is not necessarily meant as a scare tactic but it should be scary indeed. You should always be the one managing your brand and your reputation no matter the arena. It’s time to take control.
How Can Yelp Help?
Yelp offers law firms many potential benefits that you may not originally have thought of. Following are three things this tool can do for you:
Increase Your Credibility
To both Google and the general public, a complete Yelp profile legitimizes you and sets you apart from your competitors that do not offer such information. When people are searching for a lawyer, they want to find a person that they can trust and the more information you can provide them, the more they can develop that trust.
Boost Your SEO
Yelp can positively impact your SEO results in many ways. As notes above, a more complete web presence is something that confirms to Google that you are a viable business in your industry. In addition, the links between your Yelp profile and your website are exactly the types of links that help SEO. Yelp listings are also known to show up on their own in search results.
Expand Your Findability
A Yelp profile offers your audience another way to find you. Reach is always important for attorneys who operate in a highly competitive landscape and need to be seen by as many people as possible to cultivate a steady stream of new clients.
In addition, you cannot put a price tag on being the one who establishes your online reputation versus leaving it to others. Even if people are posting positive things about your firm, they may not have all of the details correct and most likely will not provide the comprehensive view of your practice that is truly needed to make the most out of Yelp.
Step 1—Create (or Update) Your Yelp Profile
First things first, claim your profile and ensure that all information is correct and complete. The following elements should all be present in your Yelp profile:
- NAP (name, address, phone number)
- A link to your website
- Directions, perhaps with a link to mobile navigation
- Hours you are available
- Areas of practice
Photos are perhaps one of the least utilized yet highly powerful elements of a Yelp profile because they bring your practice to life in a way that words simply cannot. You should include photos of your attorneys and may even choose to post photos of your other key staff members. Interior shots of your office space give people a feeling of what it is like to be in your firm’s office and can make them feel more comfortable selecting you.
Step 2—Develop and Manage Your Review Program
Certainly Yelp can act as something of a directory listing, giving potential clients information about your firm along with contact information. However, its true power is the ability to offer this and act as a robust review engine. Soliciting and responding to a steady stream of reviews is a great way to curate fresh online content that is directly relevant to your firm.
This brings us to an important point—instead of just sitting back and waiting for people to post reviews about you or your firm, you should ask for them. You can do this on Yelp directly, on your website, on your blog and elsewhere. You can even include a Yelp link in an email communication to a client once a case is completed, asking them to review your work and your services. This also is one of the best ways to generate more positive reviews. Dissatisfied clients may be more likely than satisfied ones to post reviews yet people who are asked to provide feedback are more likely to do so that people who are not asked.
Once you start receiving reviews, be prepared to respond to them—all of them, ideally, if time allows. And, yes, we mean both the positive and negative ones. Consider these thoughts:
Responding to positive reviews can take a matter of seconds and be as short as “Thanks for your review!” Think about it this way—someone took the time to log in and post a review about you. The least you can do is to acknowledge their time by thanking them. Not only is this respectful to those reviewers directly but it is a great way to market yourself by showing others that you care about your clients and actually reply.
Before you let the defensiveness build up in you when you get a review that is less than stellar, stop for a moment. These reviews could likely be your most important ones. Let your clients be your eyes and ears as they have interactions with your firm that you may be unaware of. For example, a reviewer may note that your receptionist is very curt and you may not know this yet it is very important that you do.
Negative reviews let you make positive changes when necessary that can improve your overall business. Responding to these reviews is highly important because even when you cannot fix a person’s problem, you can demonstrate your understanding of a situation and showcase your professionalism. As with the positive reviews, this communicates well to anyone who happens to see the review.
At the end of the day, Yelp reviews can be very beneficial marketing tools for your law firm, especially when you make responding to them an integral part of the program.
Law is Business
A law firm is a business like any other. With this in mind, finding creative ways to market your business and cultivate its growth and continual improvement can set you apart from your competition—and keep the influx of new clients coming your way.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.