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Anyone who has been in the search marketing business for more than a month will tell you that getting online reviews is one of the most important and effective marketing activities in which local businesses can invest their time and resources. The reason is “social proof.”

From Wikipedia:
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

In the age of Amazon and Google, people simply put a great deal of faith in online reviews of products and services. In fact, according to the results of a survey by BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. In other words, technology has changed the way “word-of-mouth” advertising works.
Most law firms have a rich history of depending on referral relationships with other firms. A referral is powerful. Attorneys know this.
But, given the reach of search marketing, online reviews can also allow your law firm to put its good work in front of thousands of people. In this sense, reviews may be even more important than referrals to your law firm’s success.
This graphic is similar to one we used in a presentation last year in a meeting with clients who had been struggling to understand the importance of online reviews.
Each one of these firms has probably paid tens of thousands of dollars to search vendors to grab a spot in the top three. Which firm do you think is getting all the clicks? Correct, Madalon Law!

16I have to include a caveat: Reviews, like everything else on Google, can be manipulated. You definitely will find SEO firms that have workflows in place to “game the system.” We strongly recommend that you stay away from this approach to online reviews for two very important reasons:

  • It’s unnecessary. If your law firm truly provides excellent client service and deserves great reviews, you should be able to get them naturally.
  • It’s risky. If you try to manipulate online reviews with Google, you will run the great and highly costly risk of ruining your online visibility.

Additionally, whatever techniques you use to help collect reviews for your law firm, make sure that they are in line with your State Bar guidelines and with the requirements of the specific review platform.
If you need a further nudge to start collecting online reviews, consider this number:
Law firm clients have shared with us that 60% of their intakes mention reviews as a main decision factor in hiring the firm. (I wish I could make the font size of that number bigger, but our marketing director won’t let me.)
Finally, if you are concerned that reviews will be impossible to get, I want to share a story that should change your mind:
I have had the same mechanic for 20 years. I hung out with him for a few minutes last year when he was working on my wife’s car. Since I am a web geek, I pulled up his Google local page while I was there. To my astonishment, he had one review (even though he had been working with a marketing company for quite some time). “What are you doing?” I asked. “You have such a great relationship with your clients. Why do you have only one review?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “I guess I never really thought to ask for them.”
As I sit down to write this letter, I can report that my mechanic now has 20 reviews. And I can guarantee that those reviews have helped his business to grow. He simply started asking his customers to provide them.
This brings me to the bottom line. If your web vendor has been urging you to get reviews for the last year, shared materials and strategies with you to gain reviews, and even though you are ranking well for your transactional searches (i.e. “car accident lawyer”) but still are not getting clicks—don’t blame your vendor. Blame yourself.
There is nothing more that your web vendor can do safely— other than, perhaps, increasing your PPC spending—which will allow you to get more click-throughs to your site for important keywords.
In other words, by getting your firm visibility in the top three positions for important search terms, your web vendor can get you to the finish line. It’s up to you to cross it. Will you start asking? Sincerely, J.R. Oakes

J.R. Oakes

J.R. Oakes is in charge of developing and managing our comprehensive approach to search engine optimization for our law firm clients at In this role, J.R. constantly analyzes and adapts our SEO strategy to address the constantly changing factors that go into high search engine rankings. He can be reached at: (800) 872-6590.

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Filed Under: Business ManagementFeatured Stories

About the Author: J.R. Oakes is in charge of developing and managing our comprehensive approach to search engine optimization for our law firm clients at In this role, J.R. constantly analyzes and adapts our SEO strategy to address the constantly changing factors that go into high search engine rankings. He can be reached at: (800) 872-6590.

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