Handshakes and business cards have always been the bread and butter of attorneys with good networks. Being interesting in person is the perfect medium for building credibility, rapport, and future business relationships.
As much as I believe person-to-person interaction is still so valuable in a world where we are digitally driven, the fact is that in 2019, Google is most likely making your introductions without you even knowing it. According to a study by BrightLocal, 92% of people read online reviews before choosing a business, with the top ranking law firms having an average of 17 Google reviews under their belts. That makes Google and related Google reviews the closest thing to a “digital business card” that you’re going to get.
Googling yourself—at least on a quarterly basis, if not every month—is the only way to see exactly how Google is introducing potential clients to your firm. If you don’t know what it is saying about you, you won’t be prepared to control the conversation and use it to your advantage.
What to Look for in a Google Search
When you first Google your name or your firm’s name, what do you see? Although it might be almost second nature to scroll past the first few results to find your own name or website, there is a lot of great information to be learned by taking your time and really looking at what the search engine results page (SERP) looks like.
Paid advertising. If you are paying for Adwords, you will want to make sure that your ads are showing and that they look great on the page. Be sure to use an incognito browser to do this, as Google will show you different results based on the pages you’ve already visited—including your own.
Your branded website SERP ranking. A study from Moz shows that 71% of searchers select businesses on the first page of a local Google search. If your website isn’t ranking in the top five results, you may need to review your SEO strategy and optimize your page for a better ranking.
Google My Business Profile. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business (GMB) profile, do it now. This is an image that shows up beside your business on a Google search, and includes your location, website link, and reviews. Not only should your profile be correct (phone number, address, etc.) and attractive, but you should positive reviews showing on this profile.
Reviews. In addition to your GMB reviews, you’ll find that attorney rating services also rank on this first SERP. Avvo often makes it to the first page as well as Yelp, Super Lawyers, FindLaw, and Martindale-Hubbell. It is vital to claim and control those listings right away.
“Cleaning” Your Google Profile
I suggest that every attorney in a law firm Google themselves and “clean” their SERPs at least once a quarter. This is more than just being aware about where you rank in search. “Cleaning” a Google profile means making sure that you are following the unspoken SEO rules to the letter so that you can always come out on top. It also means clarifying important business information, responding to reviews, and editing and updating your online profile accounts.
- Verify that your citations are correct. A “citation” is the combination of vital information that Google can verify from your business’ website. It needs to match exactly the information you have on file with Google My Business as well as other key profiles (Yelp, Yellow Pages, Avvo, etc.). Even a misspelled word in your title or a missing suite number can drop your SERP ranking.
- Updating images. Google chooses the images that show on your Google My Business page by default, but you have control over that, if you want. Every quarter, make sure that you’ve uploaded new images of your attorneys that match their current personal profile images. This maintains your brand image cohesiveness, and makes the first instance meeting your attorneys in person much more comfortable for a person who already knows what they look like.
- Manage negative reviews and request removal, if necessary. You can reply to negative reviews if the person was a prior customer, but not if they were a third party to a business transaction. Remember to be cordial and offer to remedy the situation, when possible. You can also flag reviews and Google will review them for removal if they violate Google’s terms. This includes “conflict of interest” reviews from current or former employees or from competitors trying to tank your review score.
It’s not always easy to capture the attention of potential clients in the fast-paced world of digital business cards, but keeping on top of your Google search results and vital information is a great place to start. Not only does it keep you looking relevant, sharp, and competitive, but it has the potential to drive thousands of new clients to your website every day.
With just these few simple tweaks, Google can become one of the most effective marketing tools in your business-building arsenal.
To get a free consultation on how to improve your Google SERPs or update your citations, contact Meranda.