In general, agencies who rely on fear for their marketing annoy me, but this is a situation in which Google’s moves have massive ramifications, so I’m sharing our experiences here so hopefully you can avoid these problems.
So I need to give you an urgent and super important update about something that’s going on with Google. Do not under any circumstances, do not touch your Google My Business profile right now. Google is in a complete mess on this and they are suspending accounts like crazy. We recently had one of our clients that account suspended.
We just added a UTM parameter, to their click to link and boom. Suspended not great. And there’s a couple other people who are experiencing the same thing. , These are two people that I know in the agency world. Not neither of them are legal specific, but these are two of the best, Blake Denman.
Until Google my biz fixes their shit, it’s highly advisable to not edit a single thing in G gmb, one of our clients just had their listing suspended for suspicious activities along with Blake Demond. We have the amazing queen of local Joy Hawkin, hearing a lot of agencies report in increase in Google business profile suspensions in the last week.
Jason Brown has commented on this as well, so the people who are in the know right now hands off on making any changes to your Google business profile. Because getting suspended or getting out of being suspended is a huge pain in the ass.
Last year Google sent out surveys to local businesses to see how much they could potentially charge for premium Google My Business memberships. This led to a bit of panic, but has yet to be implemented. What I’m here to argue is that your firm needs Google My Business, whether you need to buy a subscription or not.
Even if they do implement charged services, GMB listings will still be free to claim. These listings are the best way to get your business on the map in a very literal sense. You claim your business and then you appear on the map. When a client searches “Lawyers near me” you need to show up.
Your name, address, and phone number are about the most important details of your business that you want to express. As far as Maslow’s hierarchy of marketing needs, your business name is pretty much at the bottom of the pyramid. GMB is a good starting place for ensuring your business details stay consistent.
As far as review collection goes, GMB makes it pretty easy. The service collects reviews from Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, and various other platforms. This makes it easy for clients to find average ratings and for you to keep track of your reputation.
Finally, I want to touch on the main reason to build out your GMB profile: it drives conversions. Really well. You can see this on Google Analytics: Conversions → Multi-Channel Functions → Top Conversion Paths → Primary Dimension: Default Channel Grouping Path. See where GMB ranks in your conversions. Here’s how it’s done for just a few of our clients:
In summary, GMB works in favor of local businesses. The main benefits of GMB aren’t the ones Google is thinking of charging for, so take advantage. If you don’t have GMB, you’re really falling behind. Please catch up.
Currently rolling out only to those using Google Maps for Android, Google is now giving users the ability to “follow” specific businesses as announced on their blog. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before IOS users start seeing this feature as well.
Once a user starts following a business on Google, they start to receive news from that business, like events, offers and other updates. The news, events and updates show up under the “For You” tab within Google Maps.
GMB (Google My Business) Posts Shouldn’t Be Ignored
This Google Map update shows that Google is putting more stock into the Google My Business posts and so should your firm.
Prior to this update, users would only find your business’s Google post and Q&A if they actively searched for your business and found the Knowledge Panel or business listing. Now, this information can be actively sent to users that have shown an interest in your services.
We’ll have to see how this unfolds and the implications to your law firm’s marketing strategy as the feature is rolled out.
When is that negative client review not technically a negative client review…yet your most public negative client review ever?
When your disgruntled ex-client chooses to use Google My Business’ recently launched Q&A functionality to bash your business IN ALL CAPS, instead of using the typical review stars. Now, Kurgis has 44 reviews – with an average star rating of just 2.3 – that’s hard to do. But, even worse, there’s a scathing Q&A (which is frankly neither a Q nor an A) showing up prominently in the Knowledge Graph when searching for the lawyer by name.
Sidenote: there’s something hinky going on here – the A: for the Q&A points prospects to Scott Shiff…who was coincidentally Kurgis’ co-plaintiff in the lawsuit I was covering.
Q&A rolled out within the past 6 months or so…very few lawyers are using it for their marketing efforts (one obvious easy example would be asking a simple question like, “What is the initial consultation fee?”) BUT…Q&A holds a very prominent spot in the SERPS – well above editorial review content. So, bad or good, Q&A can have a significant impact on click through and conversion rates.
Since the old Map Maker feature was terminated at the end of March 2017, you may be left wondering how to deal with duplicate Google My Business law firm and individual practitioner pages. The information below, summarized from the recent post by Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins, should provide some direction for you and your firm.
Steps to Fixing a Duplicate Google My Business for your law firm’s listing:
Find out if the duplicate listing is verified
If it is, you’ll need to get access/ownership or have it unverified
If it is not, continue on.
Note any reviews that are on the duplicate listing. If there are positive reviews, contact google my business support to have them transferred.
Compare the addresses between the listings. Do they match?
If yes, contact Google My Business support via Twitter and ask them to merge
If no, find out if the business used to be at the address at some point & continue
If the business never existed at the wrong address, click “suggest an edit”
Toggle to “Yes” next to “Place is permanently closed”
Select “Never existed” as the reason and submit.
If the business used to exist at the address, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to change the status to “Moved”.
Special considerations for Attorneys
Attorneys can have individual practitioner pages. If you have an attorney that has a practitioner page and the attorney no longer works for your firm, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to move the practitioner page to your firm’s page. This only works if the practitioner page is unverified or is willing to give you access to it. If they aren’t willing to do this, your last option is to have them update the information to the new firm.
Example of a proper individual practitioner listing:
These days, Google My Business (GMB) has a nice modern layout that looks simple, clean and straightforward. Don’t be fooled! There are secret, hidden fields in Google My Business that you can only access in certain ways. Here is how to find them.
Using Card View and the Dashboard
“Card View” organizes your locations into a neat grid of cards.
Managing locations from here sends you to a Dashboard where you can access:
Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
Users (in the top left menu)
All these fields are important, but there are a few things missing.
Using List View and Direct Edit
Changing to “List View” organizes your locations into simple rows with 3-dot menus on the right.
Clicking those icons bring you to the Dashboard (same as above). However, if you try to edit the listing directly by clicking the actual row, you will unlock a new section:
Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
Photos (just a shortcut back to the dashboard)
Users (no longer in top left menu)
You won’t see Reviews and Insights, but you gain access to “Advanced Information” which contains three new fields you didn’t have before.
Store codes: Used to identify individual locations.
Labels: Great way to organize locations into groups or mark locations that need work.
AdWords location extensions phone: External facing and must be used if you want to utilize call tracking in AdWords campaigns. Very important for maintaining correct conversion numbers!
Which Way Is Better?
If you want to utilize all the tools GMB has to offer, you must use both the Dashboard and direct edit from the list view. This is somewhat of a pain, and I have no idea why Google hides “Advanced Information” from the Dashboard, but that’s how it works. Hopefully the next GMB update will make things a little more consistent, but until then, don’t forget to check out both views!
It’s widely accepted that reviews account for a significant portion of Google’s local search ranking factors (Moz Local Search Ranking Factors). Google My Business reviews are, and have been a vital piece of Local SEO. Once you’ve acquired at least 5 Google reviews for your business, you may start seeing the star indication in the coveted “local pack” of the search results page.
We recently sent out a simple 8 question survey to various law firms around the country with two goals in mind: 1) Gather insight on the review process for law firms and 2) Determine which outreach methods are most common and effective.
Here are the results…
Does your law firm actively request client reviews or testimonials?
Note: links to review on the website, in email footers, etc. do not count as actively requesting.
How do you request reviews?
Who solicits reviews for your firm?
On average, how many times do you ask for a review before giving up?
Which platform(s) do you ask clients to review you on?
Do you use review management software?
How many reviews do you currently have on Google?
Note: for primary location only (if multiple offices).
How many reviews do you currently have on Yelp?
Note: for primary location only (if multiple offices).
Mockingbird’s Takeaways From Our Law Firm Review Survey Research
9/10 law firms actively request reviews from past clients, but only 4/10 will reach out more than once. Persistence is key in obtaining online reviews — we suggest you send at least 2 review requests before giving up on that lead.
6/10 law firms will request reviews on Avvo, Yelp, and Google. We recommend this approach as well to give the client options, however, we emphasize Google reviews as they have the most direct impact on local SEO results. (Don’t sleep on Facebook either!)
5/10 law firms surveyed have 6+ Google reviews. In the hyper-competitive legal market, it’s increasingly important to obtain a high number of quality reviews.
9/10 law firms do not use review outreach software. We’ve tried our hand with automated software before (shout out to Get Five Stars), but have had better luck doing it the old fashioned way. Requesting reviews manually requires much more leg work, but yields a better conversion rate in the end. Here’s a cool free tool from Whitespark that will actually create a print out template for you: whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/
5/10 law firms have the primary attorney who handled the case make the review request. We advise our clients to adopt this strategy as well since the personal relationship is already established and the client is more likely to take action.
A good bonus from our survey’s comment section…
“…I’d be interested in hearing about the fake reviews it looks like a few firms are getting (60+ five star reviews)” – Anonymous Attorney
My two cents: Google is not perfect. Unfortunately we still see an egregious amount of spam in Google Maps and the local 3-pack. However, I believe the big G will catch up with spammy reviews in the same way they eventually caught up with spammy backlinks (thank you Penguin). Keep your white hat on and don’t give up the good fight yet my friend.
If you are interested in the specifics of the study, want help generating reviews for your firm, or just want to say hi please feel free to drop me an email: dustin[at]mockingbirdmarketing.com
From an outsider’s perspective, business location management is hardly considered a problem. For the unfortunate marketers and SEO’s doing the leg work, location data management is often a major issue. The most straight forward solution to fixing your business listing’s consistency across the web is to outsource to a third party provider, such as Yext. Tools like this have the capacity to simultaneously manage thousands of online business locations at once.
Google’s recent partnership with Yext grants all businesses the power to manage virtually every aspect of their location data. Yext mentioned that instead of having to worry about simply finding and correcting problems, the Google My Business API allows businesses to think about their data not only as data, but as a marketing tool. In other words, they can start utilizing and interacting with data rather than just reacting to what their data is representing.
The Google integration permits immediate data changes, such as special holiday business hours or unplanned closures. However, it’s important to note that while you can implement these changes immediately, Google has the final say over when your changes are actually published.
Google explained in a blog post last December that through the new Google My Business API, developers can:
Create business locations with information such as name, address, phone number, category, business hours, and more
List, invite and remove managers on locations and business accounts
Read listing state to identify Google updated, duplicate and suspended locations
Search/Filter locations by name, category and label
Set the service area for a business either by specifying a point and radius or Place IDs
In part six of Mockingbird’s “Toolbox Webinars” series, we’ll walk you through the two most popular local business management tools: Moz Local and Yext. Learn why just buying these tools isn’t enough, why you need both of them, and more about Yext’s newly forged partnership with Google – a service previously only available to agencies and large buyers.
If you want to learn more about utilizing Yext for optimizing your local web presence, sign up for our webinar today!