Nothing spreads faster on the Internet than negative reviews or contentious comments. However, there are ways to properly handle such situations and restore your positive online reputation.
Search Engine Results
If your name or the name of your law firm has negative reviews or other harmful content that shows up in search results, it's time for some damage control. The same applies when another person or multiple people have your name and show up in search results, potentially confusing or misleading those who are trying to find more information about you and your law firm.
Although rare, revenge or the desire to undercut the competition has led some people to create defaming websites, fake reviews, or otherwise negative content about a specific person so that this shows up in search results. The most important thing to do if this has happened to you is to stay calm. It can be resolved if handled correctly and not in retaliation.
Let's hope you never receive a negative Google review or another type of negative comment on a local listings site. However, no one's perfect and it's been known to happen. Although Google has made it so that less and less people are able to game the system, it's important to keep in mind that some Google+ reviews may be illegitimate and simply made by a false account. For instance, lawyer Google reviews may be made in poor taste by a competitor or another person who claim to have had a case handled by an attorney when in fact that attorney has never even spoken with that person before.
One solution to a negative review is to remember that there is power in numbers. You may be able to counteract your negative review by getting more legitimate, positive reviews. With that in mind, the main leverage for reviews that stick is a user's presence on the platform and the credibility given by Google.
You are allowed to respond to individual reviews and it's critical to be apologetic and not place any blame. Don't be defensive or offensive in your response. As much as you can, put a positive spin on the situation, be prepared to explain your side of things, and don't assume someone is out to get you. The last thing you want is to get into an argument that will leave a footprint in your search engine results.
The same points for handling negative reviews can be used in relation to social media. If someone has publicly made a complaint about you, your company, and/or your services, you can't ignore it or respond in an angry or attacking tone.
As a fast-paced and ever-growing way of communicating, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have become one the main ways in which positive or negative word of mouth spreads. Because the Internet is more social than it's ever been, you have to roll with the punches and not take everything personally. However, you must do something. Respond to comments and/or messages in a timely manner and in a diplomatic fashion. How you handle the negative comment may be more important than the effect the comment has on your reputation.
While reputation management may vary on a case by case basis, some common preventative measures include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Buying web property that is in your name
- Setting up Google Alerts for your name
- Having a personal biography on your website
- Ensuring that your name is consistent on all content, especially local listings
- Publishing blogs authored in your name
- Enabling Google's Rel Author feature
- Reputation Management for Attorneys
At SLS Consulting, our law firm marketing team consolidates custom website design, social media, SEO, and content development to help attorneys manage their reputations online. We consider ourselves as having "eyes everywhere" and will catch negative comments/reviews before they snowball. It's our priority to ensure that an effective and timely plan is put in action to help maintain your reputation on the Internet. For more information about how we can help, please call (323) 254-1510 or toll-free (877) 248-3529 for a free growth assessment.