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Online reviews play a key role in helping your law firm achieve its full growth potential! Check out this post to learn more about how following a few best practices can help your clients write great reviews for your firm that don’t get flagged by the Google algorithm.
Online reviews are the “word of mouth” advertising in a digital space. Think of a positive review as a vote of confidence for your law firm from a former client!
While people historically turned to recommendations of friends and family first when looking for new products or services, statistical data indicates that many are now routinely turning to (and trusting) reviews when making consumer decisions online. This changing consumer behavior means reviews will only continue to become increasingly important to the legal industry.
As positive as the impact of reviews may be for both potential clients and law firms, they are not a perfect system on most platforms. Google Business Profile, and the related Google reviews, are no exception! Unfortunately, some people try to game the reviews system with spam and fake reviews that undermine the authenticity that most consumers expect to receive when researching a law firm or other business.
Because Google wants to maintain the integrity of its review system, fighting review fraud and review spam is often a top priority for the company! Recent updates to the Google algorithm to fight fake reviews have been a welcome change for many marketers and consumers. However, with this increased focus on fake reviews, many genuine reviews are also, unfortunately, getting flagged as potential spam and, ultimately, not published to Google.
In this post, we are exploring a few of the reasons even genuine reviews may be flagged by Google and offering a few best practice tips for Google reviews that we’ve seen working for our own clients. Keep reading to learn more.
Reasons Reviews May Be Flagged
There are common signals that tell Google a review may potentially be fake or spam. Even genuine reviews with these characteristics are sometimes flagged by the Google algorithm’s safeguards against review fraud.
Writing Reviews at the Business Location
Your clients may often want to leave your law firm a review while they are at your office, perhaps to avoid forgetting later, because they’ve just had an experience that they deem review worthy, or for some other legitimate reason. However, many businesses looking to circumvent the nature of the reviews system may have employees or others leaving solicited reviews from the business location. As such, the Google algorithm sometimes flags reviews left from the same location as the address of the business being reviewed.
Writing Reviews From Outside of Your Business City & State
The flip side to receiving reviews from the business location is receiving reviews from locales in which your business does not operate. Of course, there could be legitimate reasons that reviews are left from locations outside of your typical service area. Clients may have moved, may be traveling, or may simply reside elsewhere – even if they are actively using your law firm’s services for a legal matter in your local area.
However, many fake reviews are part of schemes that pay for or solicit reviews from people in other domestic locations or even abroad. As such, reviews left for a business from users in an area well beyond that in which the business typically operates can also be a red flag for Google.
Creating a New Google Account to Leave a Review
It may seem obvious, but a reviewer must have a Google account to leave a business a Google review. While Google has become increasingly ubiquitous in society, it is not uncommon for people to not have a Google account. They may simply use another email provider and not utilize Google services such as Google Drive or Google Docs.
In such a circumstance, a client may need to create a brand-new Google account to review your firm. While this generally shouldn’t be a suspicious thing, Google’s algorithm often flags reviews from new accounts as potential spam.
Marketing or Sales Language in Reviews
Well-crafted marketing language is an art that can drive conversions for your law firm…but not in Google reviews. Because Google reviews are intended as authentic and organic comments about your firm, using marketing or sales language in reviews can raise concerns.
While some reviewers may simply have a way with words, most people do not naturally speak (or write) in ways that include optimized keywords or sales and marketing language. As such, a review using these phrases can look suspicious and is more likely to get flagged as a fake review.
Employees Reviewing the Business
It may go without saying but your employees are typically not clients of your firm. As such, they also should not be leaving Google reviews for your practice. Attorneys, paralegals, or other staff affiliated with your law firm should not be leaving reviews on your Google Business Profile.
Tips for Review Writing
If you have a client that is trying to review your law firm but keeps getting flagged, following a few best practices can help ensure the review is not flagged as fake by the Google algorithm.
Use Natural Language in Reviews
Legitimate reviews often read in the same way people speak. They flow naturally and use layman’s terms without overly optimized keywords or typical marketing language. Clients should be sure they are using natural language when reviewing your law firm too! This authentic language is less likely to be flagged as potential spam by the Google algorithm and, as a bonus, is more likely to resonate with future clients researching your firm.
Be Mindful of Location
Reviewers should try to avoid writing reviews while traveling or when unusually far from your office. Likewise, clients should not write reviews while still on your premises. As a best practice, clients should generally write reviews from their own homes or businesses.
Use an Established Google Account
When writing reviews, clients should use an established Google account that has already built a history with the platform. If a client does not have a Google account and is creating a new one to review your law firm, he or she should not write a review immediately after account creation.
Only Review Pertinent Locations
If your law firm has multiple locations, clients should focus on only reviewing the location(s) where they received services from your practice, rather than every Google Business Profile associated with your firm.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Reviews play an increasingly important role in digital marketing and advertising. Google ramping up its efforts to combat fraudulent reviews is a welcome change but also increased the risk of the algorithm flagging legitimate reviews. By understanding what may trigger the algorithm to improperly flag authentic reviews, and by encouraging your reviewers to follow a few best practices, your law firm can better leverage reviews as part of your online marketing strategy.Related Posts
- Local Marketing 101: Google’s Local Justifications & Attributes
- Why You Should Get Google Reviews for Your Local Services Ads
- Google Business Profile Algorithm and Ranking in the Google Local Pack (3-Pack)