Survey Says: Manage Your Reviews

A recent survey by BrightLocal has shined a light on how important reputation management is for businesses. 

 

The survey, which polled over 1,000 Americans of varying ages, looked at what percentage of consumer left reviews, read reviews, and let reviews influence them. While the results shouldn’t be surprising to anyone in the marketing industry, they certainly help to prove the point that reviews are vital for the success of a business, especially with Google My Business’ new carousel review feature.

 

How Consumers Read Reviews

Time

Over 80% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with younger generations being more likely to consult online reviews. They spend an average of about 13 minutes reading reviews before making a decision, with 18-34 year-olds taking upwards of 18 minutes and 55+ year-olds taking under 10 minutes.

 

Trust

As expected, good reviews are good. 91% of consumers responded that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. Similarly, 82% said that negative reviews make them less likely to use a business.

 

 

This is especially telling, considering 76% of total consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. The level of trust increases with younger audiences, with 41% of 18-34 year olds saying they always trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

 

Review Legitimacy

Of course, consumers don’t always trust every review they see. Some factors they pay attention to beyond the content include:

 

  • Recency
  • Star rating
  • Number of reviews
  • Business responses

 

 

The general consensus is that reviews over three months old are no longer relevant.

 

Consumers are particularly worried about fake reviews, with 82% claiming to have read at least one fake review in the past year. The increased number from 2018 suggests that there are either more fake reviews online than before or consumers are simply becoming savvier to them. Either way, you want to keep them off your platforms.

 

 

Responding to Reviews

Responding as a business owner may seem unnecessary and time-consuming, but is worth it. 71% of consumers responded that they were more likely to use a business if they had seen that the business had responded to reviews. This is an easy way to maintain control of your reviews and your image while still allowing your customer’s voice to be heard.

 

Requesting Reviews

One of the best ways to control your online presence is by asking your clients to leave reviews. Of the 67% of consumers asked to leave a review, 76% left a review. 33% of consumers were never asked to leave a review. That 33% is a huge missed opportunity for businesses, especially with so many options for reaching out to consumers.  

 

Businesses reached out to customers in a number of ways, including:

 

  • During the sale;
  • In a follow-up email;
  • Over the phone;
  • On a receipt;
  • In an SMS message;
  • In exchange for a discount; and
  • On a business card

 

Managing Your Reviews

Reviews are your opportunity to build your community around your clients. By responding to their comments, asking them to write reviews, and making accounts on multiple platforms you are setting yourself up for success. 

If you feel like your law firm could use some help with your reviews, contact Mockingbird. Reputation management is just one of our specialized services.

The 4 Best Ways to Optimize for Local

The importance of local SEO has seemingly been emphasized to death, but I think you’ll find that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the importance of the practice. Consumers consistently choose local businesses over larger businesses, and will often make that decision early in their search journey. 

 

1. Google My Business

By setting up your Google My Business you are giving yourself a local physical presence. You will now show up when someone searches for “law firms near me” and will appear on Google Maps. By having an up to date and consistent Google My Business Profile you are preparing for customers to find you. 

 

2. Local Landing Pages

What are consumers seeing when they first land on your website? Is it relevant to where they are? It should be. Local landing pages are only really for firms that have unique services depending on locality. If your firm has multiple offices or attorneys with different practice areas in different cities, then local landing pages would be ideal for you. You can talk about cases you won in those areas and your best settlement amounts, all of which help to advertise your work.

 

3. Local Reviews

Reviews can be made through Google My Business, Yelp, or simply by the local paper. Reviews by locals are ideal, as it makes your business appear more trustworthy (we know it’s already trustworthy, but we need it to appear that way too). Local newspapers are especially useful as they provide opportunities for link building, PR, and reviews by trusted members of the community.

 

4. Provide Community-Centered Resources

What issues are unique to your community, or are at least prevalent? Is there already local information about it online? Can you be a better resource? Having quality, helpful links that people in your area can click on is incredibly vital for a local law firm and shouldn’t be neglected. Any time you see an opportunity to write about the legal implications of a local issue, you should be planning your next blog post. Being a resource is the best way to raise brand awareness.

Knowing how to build your local presence should go hand in hand with building your brand. Your firm should be a part of the community, just as any other local business would be. If you would like help planning your local strategy and investing in local marketing, contact Mockingbird.

3 Ways a Scholarship Can Help Your Firm (And How to Organize One)

Law firms are a part of the community just like any other local businesses, but that position has to be upheld. One easy and fun way to participate in your local community while showing your firm’s benevolent nature is by organizing a scholarship program for local students.

 

The Benefits of a Scholarship

 

1. Increased Publicity

There’s nothing local news likes better than feel-good stories, and nothing is more feel-good than a young student working hard and being recognized for it. When you set up a scholarship, you are a good force that is recognizing the student’s hard work. 

Getting the publicity requires work beyond setting up the scholarship, which is important to keep in mind. Use your connections at the local papers. Don’t have any connections? It’s time to start making them.

 

2. Improved Public Image

Law firms can sometimes appear intimidating and focused on their business above all else. By giving money to hardworking students or youths out of nothing but the goodness of your heart, you are proving this wrong. 

If a potential client is researching local law firms, they may feel more connected to the law firm that has been proving that it has interests in their community. By displaying the scholarship prominently on your website, your values are front and center. 

 

3. The Publicity is Cyclical

There are multiple news cycles that can be squeezed out of a single scholarship and more for different types of awards. There are separate stories that a reporter can write about the announcement of the scholarship, the announcement of the winner(s), the profile of the winner(s), and the announcement of the next scholarship.

Different types of competitions can have different cycles. A talent/performance-based award can have a story based around the various performances, a writing competition could feature the writings, and a research award can highlight the research and findings done. Think of what best fits with your firm and how you can make it last.

 

How to Organize a Scholarship Contest

Deciding on a competition

To organize a scholarship contest you need to first think of a competition. This can either relate to your practice areas (for example design a street that would keep drivers, pedestrians, and bikers safe while maintaining accessibility for all, if you are a personal injury firm) or simply recognizing talent (youth leader awards, personal essays, talent shows, etc.). Choose a competition that you wouldn’t mind having someone sort through large amounts of submissions.

 

Setting the award

What are these kids even winning? If it’s a scholarship, it should be a set amount of money to go to their education. If it’s an award for a charity, it should be a set amount of money to go to a charity of the winner’s choosing. If it’s a cash prize, just give the kid their check. Whatever the award is, make sure that it’s clearly outlined in the announcement.

 

The contest announcement

When announcing the contest, make the contest rules and guidelines very clear. If there’s an age or GPA limit, make that clear. Also make sure the deadlines for submission are clear, as well as the date the winners will be announced by. You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re wasting your time.

Remember the contacts you made in the local newspapers? Use them to get the announcement out. Students are often thrilled at any chance they might get to add something to their resume, but they won’t know about it unless it’s made public. 

 

The winners’ announcement

So the contest has run its course, you got the submissions, you chose the right one(s) to be the winner(s), and now you’re ready to tell the world. It’s time to call up your reporter friends again. Writing blog posts for your website are great, but they’ll only really reach the people on your website. By having a story in the paper more people will see both the contest winner(s) as well as your law firm. If people want to learn more, they can visit your website. 

 

Starting the next competition

The winner(s) announcement is a great opportunity to also announce your next competition. Keep the cycle going. For this to work, you need to figure out the optimal time period for each competition and start the process all over.

E-A-T: SEO 101

Researching how to produce the best content can lead a person down a rabbit hole of optimization. Countless articles explain how H1s and H2s can both make and break a page. That adding images will improve your ranking until they slow your page down. Then you find E-A-T. You’re not sure what it is, but you know it relates to the quality of the page.

 

What is E-A-T?

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These are the guidelines that Google uses to evaluate the quality of your page. Some of them can be achieved through simple quality content, and some need some outside work. This is why your content department needs to be multifaceted; creating great web pages is a team effort.

Expertise

Part of quality content is quality info. If you aren’t an expert in the area you are writing on, you need to cite your sources and maybe bring on an expert to help you write your piece. Google claims to use a holistic approach to ranking pages, meaning the actual content gets evaluated not just fed through an algorithm. 

A good rule of thumb: if you are providing advice or information, you need to make sure that the information your giving can be backed up by people way more qualified than you.

Authority

Authority is proving your expertise. It means that the author should be clear to the reader and any visitors can easily contact the company or learn more about it. If you are speaking with authority, you need to be able to explain where your attitude is coming from.

Domain authority is important for this and this is where you might need to do a bit of PR work. Chances are your website doesn’t have a high domain authority if it hasn’t been fully established yet, but luckily there are websites that do. This is an opportunity for link-building, or getting articles on more authoritative sites to link to your piece. Either that or you could reach out to more authoritative sites and ask if you can guest-publish an article on their site, linking to your site. Either way, it helps you look like you hang around with a good crowd.

 

Trustworthiness

Is your page a safe space? Do users feel like they might get a virus if they click on anything? Users should feel comfortable exploring your website. Beyond that, your web page should have a point. It should exist to help someone. The purpose of your page should be clear, as should the purpose of the website as a whole. 

 

How does E-A-T affect my page?

It’s important to remember that E-A-T are guidelines and not hard and fast ranking rules. Google has, on multiple occasions, explained that there are no algorithms that spit out ranking numbers based on E-A-T. Instead, there are hundreds of ranking algorithms that all work together to create a page’s rank.

Instead of thinking of E-A-T as a series of gymnastics elements that must be perfectly executed to achieve a score of 9.8, think of it as a way to ensure your posture, uniform, and style are optimized before going out and dancing before the judges (I don’t know gymnastics I’m sorry to any gymnasts who might be reading this). They don’t judge directly on those aspects, but they certainly help.

 

I’m still confused. Can you just do this for me?

If you are a law firm, then yes! Mockingbird works in website building and maintenance to make sure it looks trustworthy, PR for link building, and can help to plan content production. Contact us today to help you understand your website!

What’s So Special About You?

I’m serious, what makes you special? Why should anyone be your client? There are other law firms, what makes you different?

 

How You Should Answer

All brands need answers to these questions, but law firms should spend some extra time thinking about it. Your clients are going through complicated and difficult situations, and are coming to you as a direct result of those situations. You need to be there to answer when they ask why they can trust you.

 

Prove Your Integrity

The best way to show you can be trusted is to show when you have been trusted. Client reviews are great for this. If a customer visits your site and immediately sees a list of reviews and testimonials you already have a solid starting point. 

Another method for gaining the customer’s trust is by sharing your story. What made you, personally, motivated enough to go to law school, work at various firms, and end up where you are. Every customer visiting your page is a job interview in which you have to provide your answers ahead of time. You need to come across motivated and up for their case.

 

Prove You’re Up For the Case

Just as important as your integrity is your capability. Unless this is literally your first case, you should have some proof that you’ve successfully practiced law before. Make sure your website lists cases you’ve won. For added specialization, list cases you’ve won in each of your practice area pages. The customer can trust you because you’ve done this before.

 

Prove You’re Different/Better

Chances are the customer is looking at multiple law firms. Let’s be honest, some of them might have better credentials than you, when to better-known law schools. Here’s where you really have to answer why you are special. If you’re not sure, ask past clients what made them choose you. Lean into that. 

 

Putting it All Together

So now you have a brand story and image that’s unique to your law firm. It shows why you’re different and why that’s good. Now you have to tell it. 

Like I said before, you’re website is your interview. You need it to look put together, qualified, and ready to help. That’s where we come in.

As a lawyer, you probably don’t have time for website maintenance or building web pages. We are proud to work with lawyers by getting to know them and building their online presence around their unique business. 

If you would like help identifying and conveying your brand’s character, give us a shout!

How to Compete in a Saturated Market

Breaking into a competitive market can feel like trying to be seen in a crowd of thousands. It might feel like this because that’s essentially what it is. You are struggling to catch the eye of a consumer who’s eyes are already full of ads. Some estimates put the number of advertisements the average American is exposed to daily at over 5,000. So how does yours stand out?

 

What are your competitors doing? Don’t do that.

Research your top competitors. Then research their top keywords. Finally, research their client base. Find out where your target audiences overlap and where they break apart. Focus on where they break apart. 

 

Once you’ve found your isolated market you can start targeting them. Remember those competitor keywords you researched earlier? Don’t use those. Find your niche and work for them. If you succeed in turning your target market into clients, you’ve started breaking in. 

 

Get your name out there

Name recognition can’t be undervalued. PPC ads help with this. Even if no one clicks on them, they still see them. Show them enough and they might even remember your brand name. 

 

The other way to increase name recognition is by getting your work into the news or collaborating with established publications via link building or asking them to publish a well-written article you wrote. The goal is expanding your reach within your market.

 

Quality content

It’s been said before and it will be said again, but creating original, high-quality content can make a substantial difference for your business’s visibility. If you decide to follow through with collaborating with an established publication, they will be more likely to work with you if they can see a dense portfolio of well-produced works. 

 

Content doesn’t need to be directly related to your business, but there should be a through-line. If you’re a personal injury law firm you can have a regular publication on interesting drug trials. It’s a niche group and can be linked back to your “Medical Malpractice” or “Defective Drugs” page. 

 

Focus on your assets

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: put your best foot forward. Make sure consumers know the best aspects of your firm first. You can use keyword data for this as well. See what modifiers people use when searching for businesses. If any of them describe your business, advertise that. 

Visibility and advertising are difficult to get right and especially difficult to figure out if you don’t have a degree in digital marketing or years of experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Give us a call and we can discuss what’s best for your law firm! 

Your Size (Or Lack Thereof) Is Your Strength

Being a small business comes with its struggles. You don’t have the endless funds and limitless protections of a multinational law firm. You don’t get to go to large company retreats. These factors might make you glance at larger law firms with envy in your eyes, but from an advertising standpoint, you’ve got the upper-hand.  As a local business, you have the trust of the community. You have a local office that your customers can visit and, more importantly, find on Google.

 

Google My Business

When a consumer does a Google search for businesses in their area, Google will show them business with locations near them. Small-town firms benefit the most from this since large businesses are less likely to have a physical location in town. That being said, it is vital that you have your Google My Business profile set-up and up to date. Google My Business will only benefit you if Google actually has your address.

 

The Local Factor

 As a local business, you probably already know people in the area. You probably already have connections through friends, family, social events, and just being a local. This improves your trustworthiness. An even better way to improve your name recognition and local reputation is by contributing to the community. Participate in local events, sponsor local services, and get your name out there. 

 

Connections are everything

If your town still has a local newspaper make connections there. They can be a vital resource for link-building, local advertising, and partnering for local events or sponsorship programs. The same goes for local radio and television stations. In a place where everybody knows everybody, make your firm’s name stick.

 

Emphasize Your Size

As a small firm, every client is personal. You know all your employees and care about everyone who walks through the door. Or at least that’s the image you want to project. Large firms may have fleets of lawyers, but they don’t have the personal touch. Consumers respond positively to locally owned businesses, so capitalize on that. 

Advertising as a small law firm can be difficult: without a marketing department, digital ad campaigns can be overwhelming and expensive. If you are a small law firm looking to grow your business, contact us and we can discuss how we can help you get more clients.

The Role of Meta Descriptions in Your Business

Meta descriptions often fly under the radar for both consumers and website builders. Google has crippled their authority by excluding them from the ranking process and often simply rewriting the descriptions webmasters created for their pages. Despite all this, meta descriptions can serve a vital role in your webpage’s click-through-rate. While a bland and boring meta description can disappear like hay in a haystack, an interesting description can make a link stand out during a search.

 

What Are Meta Descriptions

For those just joining us, meta descriptions are the small blurbs that appear below the website during a search. They give a brief description of the webpage and often highlight the keywords that appear in the consumer’s search.

Meta Description
The Meta Description for Mockingbird Marketing

 

Writing a Good Meta Description

Good meta descriptions can be the difference between you or your competitor getting a new client. The recommended length of a description falls between 135-160 characters, as longer descriptions get truncated to fit into the snippet provided. Google is also more likely to replace your pre-written description with an automatically generated one of their own, often composed of the first couple lines of the page. Sometimes this is unavoidable but doesn’t mean you should give up. 

A good description is brief and attention-grabbing. It describes the purpose of the page without being a summary. Think of a mixture of a blurb on the back of a book and the way coffee beans are described (it’s never just “dark roast with nutty flavors,” it’s always “an invigorating blend grown in the heart of South America with each bean individually roasted and infused with the spirits of warriors and hints of cocoa”).  Take advantage of the fact that the consumer probably isn’t sure what they want yet. Make them want to see what you have to offer.

 

Writing a Bad Meta Description

A meta description can be bad in more ways than it can be good. It can be boring, misleading, poorly written, and/or vague. This doesn’t guarantee that your page will fail, but it won’t help. Some common mistakes to avoid when writing meta descriptions include:

  • Stuffing in too many keywords
  • Not using any keywords
  • Describing the brand instead of the webpage
  • Copy and pasting similar descriptions for different pages
  • Neglecting rich result optimization
  • Simply not writing meta descriptions

When it comes to your firm’s search results it’s best not to leave things to chance or to Google’s algorithms. Mockingbird Marketing specializes in all areas of SEO for law firms, including designing meta descriptions. Contact us to learn more about how your site could be improved, from the bottom up.

Why Law Stories are Perfect for Content

Shareable content is the currency of the internet, and creating a viral video, story, or article is the visibility lottery few companies are able to win. Law firms tend to only win in comedic, slapstick way (think of the over-the-top local ads you may have seen on tv). This method may lead to a memorable name for consumers but doesn’t do much for credibility. As any advertiser knows to get people to see and remember the ad is one thing, getting them to purchase the product is another. That’s where it’s important to know your brand.

 

As explained by Greg Jarboe of Search Engine Journal, humor is an easy way to elicit an emotional response from a consumer. The other way to get attention is through drama and sincerity. 

 

The Type of Story You Should Tell

As a law firm, you fight to get people what they deserve every day. If you’re a personal injury lawyer you help people get back on their feet. If you’re an immigration firm you get people working and reconnected with their families. There are few things that get internet users as teary-eyed as family reunions, especially if there was a struggle involved. DUI lawyers can focus on rehabilitation after a mistake. You get it: you stand up for the little man, let the little man help you stand taller. 

 

How to Tell Your Story

Let the focus stay on your client. They are the star, and they’re who you focused on during their case. Have the story be strongly based on a true story, if not fully true. People respond to honest stories and honest struggle.

 

The Story doesn’t Have to be Universally Relatable

A very small percentage of America’s population are dogs with owners who are serving in the military. That doesn’t stop large numbers of people from crying when they watch videos of dogs reacting when their owners return from service. People connect with the feeling of reunion and relief. You, as a law firm, provide at least one of those things every time you win a case.

 

Keep It Simple

Your story has one goal: get people to know what you do and that you care about your clients’ stories. This means that it should follow a basic narrative arc, wrap up nicely, and leave the viewer knowing that your firm resolved the conflict. No need for b-plots or side characters. 

 

Designing a compelling story is the oldest art known to man, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Emotions can be complicated and, occasionally, controversial. Ask clients for their thoughts on if they would like to be featured in one of your stories. You help people every day and it’s time you showed the world the effects of your work.

If you feel like your brand needs help with advertising or digital marketing, contact us and we can discuss your options.