Reputation Management for Law Firms
Reputation management should be an integral part of your law firm’s online presence. Without a strategy for managing the online reputation of your firm’s brand, the image you present to potential clients is at the mercy of the Internet.
Just a single negative comment can do tremendous damage if it appears in the wrong place. Think about the potential damage to the image of your law practice if someone published a scathing review of your services, labeling your firm as a group of crooks and ambulance chasers — and that review started appearing as the second result in Google when someone searched for your firm’s name.
At this point, it wouldn’t matter if the review was true or false, or even if it was written by an actual client. Every person who searches for your name in Google would be presented with this terrible image of your firm before they even have the chance to look over your web site. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. This one bad review could damage your reputation beyond repair.
The Importance of SEO In Reputation Management
The problem we described above is not just a reputation problem, but also an SEO problem. This bad commentary has the potential to do more damage because of where it appears, not because of what it says. This is just another reason why good SEO practices are an important part of doing business online.
There is both good news and bad news when it comes to resolving a situation like the one we’ve described. The good news is that it is possible to resolve the situation. The bad news is that it will probably take some time. It could be anywhere from a few months to a year or more.
The key to resolving a problem like this through SEO is to understand how the undesirable search result ended up at the top of rankings, and then following the proper steps to get it replaced with more favorable results.
How Do Bad Results Rise to The Top?
There is no mystery to what makes a bad review, or similar negative commentary, rise in search rankings. It works just like any other result. The search engine believes that page is relevant to the search query it received from the user — and that is where we start the resolution process.
Decide on The Keywords
When you discover an undesirable result in the search result pages, the first thing you should do is take note of the keywords that bring up that result. In most cases, the problem will appear when searching for a specific name, like the name of your law firm or a particular attorney within the firm. You should run several searches and try to discover any keywords where the unwanted result shows up in the top ten.
In order to resolve the problem, you’ll need to use proven SEO techniques to create relevant pages that will climb up the results for the target keywords while pushing the unwanted results down, hopefully burying them where they won’t be a problem in the future.
Build Links to Build Authority
One of the biggest determining factors of search results is the links pointing to a page from other websites. The exact formula is not publicly disclosed, but a mixture of the overall number of links and the reputation of sites where the links appear are used to assign relevance and authority to pages.
Once you’ve decided on the keywords you need to target, you’ll need to build content around them that can be used to help push the unwanted results farther down the list.
A particularly good way to jumpstart this process is to embed links to your content in press releases. Press releases spread quickly and give you a good number of third party links pointing back to your own pages in a short amount of time. An added bonus is that many sites where press releases get published tend to have good authority in the eyes of the search engines.
The essential point you need to remember is that the content and the links you get all need to revolve around the keywords where you’ve found the unwanted search results. Do your best to make sure those keywords are included in the content, and more importantly, in the links leading to that content.
Persistence and Patience
As we said earlier, just like any SEO process, reputation management for law firms is going to take some time. You will need to be both persistent and patient. Until you start seeing results, you should develop a routine of publishing new content relevant to the problem keywords and doing what you can to get new links back to content you’ve already published.
Remember that outside links can come from many places. You can embed links on review sites, local listing pages, forums, lawyer directories and more. Use your imagination and try to think outside the box. The more links and pages you have scattered around the Web, the more control you’ll have over search results relevant to your law practice.