As good as leads are from SEO efforts produced from your GMB locations and website, referrals and word-of-mouth are generally incomparable.  A friend or family member vouching for a product or service is essential for just about every law firm, and many law firms rely on referral from other professionals, colleagues, and former clients entirely.

That being said, there are many ways that your coveted referrals are still being deterred while they look you up online. We also surveyed around 440 firms to give you an idea of where you stand as far as some of these gaps. If your presence online is subpar, or the referral is distracted by a number of reasons, they may easily drift to a competitor in moments.  Here are many of the steps you can take to prevent this from happening.

Open 24 Hours, 7 Days a Week

If you haven’t considered doing this for your firm yet, this may be a big win that doesn’t take too much time or resources to get moving.  When you have a third party after-hours vendor in place, you are able to direct calls to someone that can assist while your office is closed and over the weekend. In a study we did earlier this year, we found that as many as 30% of our clients’ calls occurred between 5 PM – 9 AM and on weekends. Though some of these calls could certainly be current clients, we did see that a significant portion of these calls were first-time.

Most consumers don’t want to leave a voicemail and expect a lawyer to call them back at their own leisure. The consumer wants the certainty of hearing confirmation from someone on the phone, even if they don’t immediately address their concern or answer their question.  An afterhours vendor simply follows a simple script (of course, avoiding anything that would be construed as legal advice). The details are then forwarded to the appropriate party for a timely follow-up.

Firms that have afterhours:  30.96%
Firms that don’t have afterhours:  69.04%

Review Quantity and Quality

We follow these statistics closely several times a year, but a few facts remain clear. If someone does a search for you online and immediately sees your GMB location show up with an average review total of less than 3.8 and/or less than 20 reviews, you may immediately lose your referral without ever knowing it.

You can learn more about the most recent findings about review quality and quantity in an article linked here.

Firms with over 50 reviews: 38.57%
Firms with under 50 reviews: 61.43%

Top Results Being Your Website, and Preferably Your Homepage

How often do you check the first result on Google for your own firm name?  Though most of us will find the homepage at the top result with beautiful sitelinks showcasing other parts of the website, sometimes the result can be less ideal. For example, if your first result for your firm name is the Attorneys or About Us page, it wouldn’t be a poor user experience, but it certainly wouldn’t be the best place to start. If it was immediately the blog or a random practice area page, that’d be an issue.

On the other hand, your website may not show up first altogether. I’ve seen several BBB pages show up as the first result, which I wouldn’t believe to be relevant. It’s even worse when it’s your Facebook, LinkedIn or Legal Directory page. Referrals and other consumers should definitely be learning more about you immediately through your website’s homepage.

The quickest way to fix problems such as these is to have proper comprehensive business citations in place and some basic SEO performed on the website, if it hasn’t been done already.

Surprisingly, 22.36% of firms that we audited didn’t have their own homepage as the first organic result in Google!

Work on Your GMB Photos

If you haven’t updated your GMB photos in a while, make it a priority before the end of the year.  Consumers don’t want to see generic imagery associated with law firms, such as a gavel or scales of justice, when elements begin to display on search results.

A general exterior shot of the building can suffice, but if it’s a part of a large corporate building, it doesn’t provide much insight about what to expect from your location. Taking a few shots of your interior and exterior, and potentially pictures of the staff and attorneys, can go a long way with setting the proper expectations of those searching your firm.  74.94% of firms had adequate pictures on their GMB location, but 25.06% did not.

Being Aware of Negative Results on the First Page

Fortunately, it isn’t too often that we see negative press about a lawyer or a law firm in the form of news on a Google front page result.  But there are still some social platforms (especially Yelp) that have no issue immediately displaying low ratings on the front page of Google.

Before you run out and get an Online Reputation Management specialist, consider how many positive reviews it would take to put you in a better light. Even creating a few more social accounts and profiles on business and legal directories may be enough to push down negative results to the second and third pages, both of which are very unlikely to be frequented. 25% of firms had something negative representing them on the front page.

Branded Search Term Google Ads

We often find that competitors are bidding on brand names to siphon potential referrals and word of mouth (again, these are your highest quality leads). It happens very often, and just because you don’t see it now doesn’t mean a competitor won’t start bidding on your brand name in the future.

It took you a while to earn a reputation where people search you by name. Market My Market, for example, created a product called “Brand Armor” that protects you from others who are trying to profit from your brand.

The general rundown here is as follows: A client searches for your firm or a lawyer at your firm and your competitor shows up 1st (under ads) on Google.  Your potential client could very easily mistakenly click to another firm’s website and decide to hire them instead.

We ensure that competitors are not using your brand name or lawyers’ names in their ads by working with Google to remove these ads and bid on branded keywords to the top of Google. Not a single firm out of over 400 had Branded Ads running.

Contact Market My Market to Help Improve Your Branded and Non-Branded Searches

Making some slight adjustments to your web pages can significantly impact your search performance. These changes are essential for generating successful leads and preventing users from turning to competitor content. Our diverse team at Market My Market may help you find places to improve with our extensive knowledge of search strategy and ways to make your site more engaging.

Every client we work with has different needs, so we develop unique marketing solutions best suited to their brand and desired outcome. Our trustworthy, honest, devoted team works diligently to help your business grow and achieve your performance goals. To discover more ways to elevate your marketing strategies, complete our online contact form or call us at (866) 270-2250.