Lawyer and law firm directory listings are an often overlooked part of the Internet landscape. Many law firms work hard at building up their own website and social media presence, but don’t think very much about how they can utilize all of those third party sites that their audience may be interacting with.
Because business directory listing sites often allow and encourage user reviews, it’s extremely important to monitor what is being said and what people could be seeing when they search for information on your firm.
The idea of taking control of and keeping an eye on your firm’s and its member’s directory listings is part of an overall marketing strategy known as reputation management. Reputation management is about tracking what is being said about your business and doing your best to make sure that the majority of what’s out there is positive; controlling the message.
If you haven’t been keeping track of your or your firm’s directory listings online, here are several reasons why you should.
Responding to Comments is Crucial
Responding to comments, both good and bad, will improve your relationship with your audience. In the case of positive comments, responses help to boost the level of engagement as well as strengthen relationships and trust. Proper and helpful responses to negative comments show professionalism and a willingness to make things right.
On the other side of the coin, when a directory listing is filled with comments and reviews that never get a response, the audience begins to think that you simply don’t care what they think or what they need. If they’re comparing one law firm to another, they are much more likely to gravitate towards someone else who actively responds to comments and questions.
Claiming a Directory Listing Takes Time
In many cases, you or your firm will be added to a directory listing without your intervention. To gain control over the listing and receive the ability to make responses or update information, you’ll need to officially claim the listing. Very often this is a process that takes time and requires manual verification of some kind. Depending on the size of the site and how they verify businesses, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before you are granted access.
People Trust Word of Mouth
Since most of the information on a directory site is provided by its users, the audience regards it with a higher level of trust. Just like people are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend rather than a television commercial, they’re more likely to follow the recommendations made by other people through online reviews — even if they don’t actually know those people.
Information Travels Fast
Many directory sites will gather data from other sites in order to generate more listings. This means that anything from simple data like your telephone number or address to complete user reviews can be copied.
This practice has the potential to spread all kinds of misinformation about you and your firm. It would be bad enough to have new listings popping up with an incorrect phone number, but listings tagged with bad reviews could do even more damage.
Directory Listings Rank in Search Results
Directory sites spend a great deal of their resources on perfecting SEO. When searching for any type of business, at least one directory site will usually be within the top 10 or 20 results. This, of course, means that when someone is researching law firms in your area, or even your law firm in particular, they will most likely run into a directory site. The last thing you want is for someone to search for your firm or law practice, click on a directory listing, and be presented with something that shows your firm in a negative light.
It should be clear why you need to stay on top of directory listings. At the very least, doing so will help you to mitigate any damage that could be caused by misinformation or negative word of mouth. If you really work to take advantage of these types of sites, though, they can become a valuable source of new traffic and leads.