There is no way that we can get away from our online personas, whether we like it or not. When it comes to attorneys, however, getting hired by a potential client is the result of one click and one page of search engines. Oftentimes, the internet is the first and possibly the only chance for an attorney to showcase his or her credibility and experience to a potential client. It is no exaggeration that the internet has made it a more competitive market to capture clients in industries across the board, and the legal field is no exception to this trend. For this reason, a lawyer’s online reputation is critical. Below is some information on how attorneys can improve their image on the internet, according to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal.
Whether or not you are an attorney seeking clients, online reputation management is a critical aspect of any business. For lawyers, potential clients are particularly careful and diligent about using information found online so that they can choose an attorney whom they can trust and is worthy of their money and time. According to iLawyerMarketing, as many as 98% of potential clients perform online searches, primarily on Google, and look at reviews prior to deciding to hire an attorney. A prior study found that if reviews for one attorney are higher or better than another, a potential client was willing to travel further to meet with that attorney at his or her office.
Not surprisingly, the best way to defend your online reputation is to have a strategic offense. Three steps you can take today to improve this include:
Monitor, monitor, monitor: Perform a search of yourself and/or your firm and pay close attention to the content on the first couple of pages that appear. Data shows that most people stay on the first Google search page, while 75% on the first one or two results of that page, and only 7% move on past the first page. Controlling your top results will provide a good first impression to others. Ways you can monitor your online reputation include:
- Subscribing to Google alerts for your own name;
- Subscribing to Google alerts for your firm’s name; and
- Obtaining a free reputation report card.
Ask for client reviews: Unfortunately, one bad online review can have long-term negative effects on your firm’s reputation. Because attorneys have several profession-specific review sites, such as Avvo, FindLaw, Martindale-Hubell, and Lawyers.com, they must be regularly updated. Many attorney review sites allow lawyers to claim their own profiles and add content to show off practice focus areas and expertise. Attorneys can encourage clients to leave online reviews of the legal work performed including:
- Star ratings of service;
- Sharing feedback of experience with attorney;
- Stating whether they would hire you again.
Crank out content: In order to stand out on the first page of a Google search, your website must be professional and highlight your legal specialties. In addition to this, however, an attorney can and should regularly contribute to the industry. This can include legal blogs, bylined articles, op-eds, links to recent interviews, feature articles, and brief commentary to name a few. This is because thoughtful content in nearly any form can directly impact lead generation. Research by marketing firm Impact revealed that firms with online content generate nearly 90% more leads than those without it.