When it comes to a lawyer’s online presence, low stakes do not exist. Search Engine Land reports that on any given day, there are more than 63,000 Google searches per second. Each day, potential clients are surfing the web, and they want to learn more about the legal services you offer. The only first (and probably lasting) impression your potential clients will have is from your online presence. If their first impression is negative, you have more than likely lost a client.
The good news is that you have a fair amount of control over a potential client’s first impression of your online branding. Googling yourself ensures that you know what potential clients are seeing about you and your firm, how they are interacting with your brand online, and where misinformation is being shared about your business. The key is knowing exactly why you are googling yourself, where potential clients are looking, and how often you need to clean up your Google footprint.
Why Google Yourself?
A recent survey published by Job-Hunt.Org revealed that nearly 41% of employers will Google potential new hires and read through every link on the first page of results. If you are looking for new clients, you can bet they are doing the same, possibly at an even higher rate. If you have a common name, Googling yourself is especially important as information online can easily be confused without correct intervention.
To survive in today’s market, you must be willing to Google yourself frequently and act on what you find. If your online profile includes a typo in your phone number, potential clients will not be able to reach you. If it has an incorrect address, individuals needing legal help may decide to go with a firm that is listed closer to them. A negative review could send another potential client running the other way.
In short, you should Google yourself and your law firm to:
Clean up your digital profile and verify that all information is complete and correct
Control what clients and referral sources see
Remove the web junk along with misinformation found on free profiles
The 6-Step Strategy for a Complete Google Search-and-Rescue
In the busy world of Colorado law, it may be tempting to put in the least amount of effort required to check “online brand maintenance” off of your to-do list. Unfortunately, potential clients can tell whether a response to a bad online review is cursory or an online biography has been completed carelessly. In order to make your Google search an effective part of your marketing strategy, you must have a plan of attack and follow through with it.
1. First, sign out of everything on your computer. You want to be able to see what the average person sees when they Google you, not what Google or your computer want to show you based on your previous search histories or other algorithms.
2. Dig deeper than your clients will. The first time you Google yourself, be sure to go five pages deep, including news results, images, and even maps. When typing your name or the name of your law firm:
Use common misspellings
Use nicknames and your maiden name, if applicable
Try the name in quotes and without quotes
Use modifiers like attorney or lawyer, Denver or Colorado
Using these different search strategies will help ensure that you find all the information that Google may be showing your future clients about you.
3. Create a running list of action items. As you find incorrect information or information that needs editing or detracts from your reputation, make a list of action items. Then keep a word document list of everyone that needs to be contacted. Or perhaps you need to contact some attorneys in your firm to update their pictures on the website or to provide pictures.
4. Defeat negative information with positive. Keep in mind that you may not be able to remove all negative or questionable information. While this is often frustrating and worrisome, there are still actions you can take. For example, you may need to reach out to Google to report a negative review that you believe a competitor left for you or that violates their Terms of Service. Focus on improving the visibility of search results that are relevant and accurate, and removing misinformation in the most positive way possible. If you cannot have the negative information removed, respond positively with your potential client in mind.
5. Google yourself at least once per quarter. Online information changes every day. Unfortunately, this makes Googling yourself a task that is not only necessary but one that should be done frequently. You should make it a point to Google your name and your law firm’s at least once per quarter. It’s a good idea to put a reminder in your calendar to help you remember, or delegate the task to an assistant or professional legal marketing consultant.
6. Monitor online profiles and information through automation. Be proactive when it comes to information about your law firm by being aware of the new information potential clients are seeing about your business. If you have not already signed up for a Google My Business Account, now is the time to do so. This free tool lets you promote your online profile and website on Google Search results and Maps. You can also set up Google Alerts for your name and your law firm so that you can see any and all recent press on your law practice when it comes out.
By Googling yourself routinely, or having someone do it for you, you can help mitigate any issues arising from misinformation there may be online about you or your law firm. For the well-being of your career and business, you should plan on doing this a minimum of once per quarter. Not only will it ensure an accurate vision of what your law firm represents, but it will pave the way for those positive first impressions that still matter the most.
Meranda Vieyra, legal marketing consultant and CEO of Denver Legal Marketing LLC, helps law firms build their positive online presence. Reach out to her for more tips and on how to complete a thorough Google search of yourself and what corrective actions may be needed. www.denverlegalmarketing.com