Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” That is doubly true on the internet, where trolls and doxxers go out of their way to ruin people, and a bad review can destroy a reputable company.
What should a law firm do to build a good online reputation and keep it? A few simple steps can help keep your brand untarnished in the internet marketplace.
Optimize your firm website and keep it current
Your website is the first thing potential clients see nowadays. It should be clean, well-designed, and easy to navigate. The content should engage the viewer but not overwhelm them with jarring graphics or walls of text.
If you don’t know how to use keyword optimization and metadata to improve SEO performance, think about hiring a specialist to optimize your site. They can take existing content and add keywords to make it pop for web crawlers and SEO algorithms.
Change your content once in a while, especially on subpages. Nothing looks worse than an outdated webpage or a blog dating five years ago.
Develop and monitor your social media marketing strategy
Depending on the nature of your practice, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (or its new competitor Mastodon) may be appropriate places for you to reach out to your clients. Take time to research who is on each platform and what your target audience is.
Once you have decided on a platform, you must also consider how much time you can spend marketing your firm on that site each week. Facebook and LinkedIn require regular interaction to be effective. Consider a professional social media marketer if you want social media platforms to be effective.
Maintain a high-quality legal blog for reputation management for lawyers
One of the easiest ways to keep your website and online presence current is through blogging. A short article on a topical subject can be linked to both locations and boost your brand presence in the search engine standings.
Blog posts have an advantage over journal or magazine articles: they need to be short. The ideal length for a blog is between 600-1000 words. More than that, your article becomes a “wall of text” that viewers will not read. This length makes it easy to research and write.
Software programs can help optimize your keyword count to improve your search engine standings.
Monitor your reviews
There is nothing wrong with asking satisfied clients to leave a review on your website or review sites. You won’t violate any ethical standards if you do not tell them what to say. Having a few reviews on your website is always a good idea.
You should try to verify your reviews and ensure they are all real. As noted, there are trolls on the internet who will leave negative or hostile reviews, and you may not even realize you’ve been targeted. There are ways to remove a fake review from Google, but you must be very proactive.
Don’t respond to negative feedback
It’s become common to “clap back” at negative reviews on Google and other sites or to explain why the reviewer was wrong or in error. On a legal site, this tactic will backfire on you at best and get you in trouble with the bar at worst.
If the review was by an actual client (see #4 above), and the review is genuinely in error, such as misstating a location or confusing you with another attorney, by all means, make the correction. “Dear Reviewer, I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but this is XYZ Law Firm, not ABC Law Firm.”
If the review attempts to cast you, your firm, or your staff in a bad light or implies it was your fault the case was lost; you should ignore it. Unless the review veers into actual harassment, your best course of action is to leave it alone.
Remember the words of Ben Franklin
It only takes one negative action to ruin all your hard work in developing your online reputation. Keep your website current and accessible. Make your social media friendly and vaulable. Avoid getting into useless arguments with angry ex-clients.
Most importantly, if you’re unsure how to handle a situation, reach out to social media experts. Keeping your brand visible is critical for maintaining an online reputation, and the media pros are there to help you succeed.