Why Law Firm Marketing Pros (or any CMO) Can’t Afford to Ignore their Google Business Profile
Anyone responsible for law firm marketing in the digital space spends a lot of time thinking about search. How does our law firm appear in search result pages when someone types a search query in Google that matches our practice areas, such as “intellectual property lawyer” or “best union lawyers”? However, have you examined what happens when someone types in your firm name? Understanding how these results are generated is critical for law firm marketing pros.
When someone types in your firm or company name it is called “branded search.” These are search queries by people who already know your firm name, and who are using Google to find it. When this happens, Google provides them with your information in what has been called (until recently) your “Google My Business,” or GMB profile. Your profile appears to the right of the search results page, and it displays a map view of your business location, photos, a link to your website, directions, phone number, and more. Most importantly, your online reviews and your score display prominently.
Why do online reviews matter?
Online reviews matter because your prospective clients care about them. Inc. magazine’s research found that:
- 91% of people read online reviews
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends
- 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews
- The number and quality of reviews determines how you show up on Google maps and map listings.
We all desire transparency when entering a new relationship – no one wants to feel duped. Business relationships are no different. Reviews create a sense of transparency as we form new relationships, and enhance our sense of trust in the relationship and our own decisions.
The reality is that reviews have an incredibly significant impact on the likelihood that a prospect will choose to engage with you. This is true when making consumer purchases or when evaluating professional service firms such as law firms. We risk thinking of law firm marketing as an exception to the rule at a real cost to growth.
While arguably the most important element of your GMB profile, reviews are not the only thing to concern yourself with if you are the one charged with managing the GMB profile of your law firm.
Google does its best to provide as much information about your business as possible on its own pages so Google can answer the searchers’ questions without requiring them to leave its search engine. For this reason, Google rewards businesses that have complete, up-to-date information and those with active GMB profiles. Have you recently posted a blog to your website or shared some company news on social media? Did you know that this information can also be posted to your GMB profile?
Google is actively developing new features and functionality to make GMB profiles even more useful, and to give searchers as much information as possible without leaving the Google platform. For one, Google is changing the name of GMB (Google My Business) to “Google Business Profile” to reflect a more comprehensive approach to business listings and new ways for business owners to manage them. You’ll still find lots of great articles and references to GMB as you research this topic, just be aware that a name change is underway. More on this can be found in a great article on Search Engine Land.
For now, look for these upcoming changes which will have a big impact on whether searchers choose to interact with your organization:
- Review score to be displayed on map pin – Google will soon be displaying your review score within the map pin on Google maps. This will give prospects a quick visual way to see how you stack up against local competitors. This feature will roll out for restaurants first and will eventually be applied to professional service providers.
- Google has plans to report on sentiment – Google will begin determining the “sentiment” or overall feeling of your clients based on how they rate you for responsiveness, punctuality, and work quality. Google will provide visual symbols to indicate sentiment. If you, like most other lawyers, are notorious for not returning calls or responding to client emails promptly, you should start thinking about how your Google sentiment will be affected. Think of three emojis, one smiling, one neutral, and one frowning.
- Google will begin showing the number of reviews awaiting a response from the business owner. This update is designed to encourage engagement and make sure that business owners are responding to questions in the platform. Lack of responsiveness is one of the key reasons people leave bad reviews.
- Google will allow you to merge several locations into one business. This is a very helpful development for law firms, or any business with more than one location. You will now be able to focus all your efforts on building one strong profile, rather than having reviews and content spread more thinly over several location listings.
- Google will begin displaying the average cost of services on GMB / Google Business Profile pages. This information will be based on inputs from your clients as they interact with your profile, possibly during a review process.
As with many industries, power is being removed from business development professionals and gatekeepers of all kinds during the decision-making process. This is true for purchases of everything from a pair of shoes to high-cost, highly specialized legal services. Your prospective clients now have more information at their fingertips than ever before. Make sure you are controlling this information and managing your online relationships as effectively as possible.
If you haven’t claimed your Google business profile, here is a straight forward article from Wordstream to get you started.