Last week, Seth Price shared a few of his digital marketing secrets with the Filevine Fireside. We learned how legal practices are selling themselves short if they don’t have an online presence, and we dug deep into what Google’s algorithm looks for in a website.

Specifically, we talked about what it takes to grow and maintain excellent SEO. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly hard work and perseverance that builds your digital presence. Great content and proper links are still the bread and butter for maintaining good SEO, but there are a few other rules that every marketer would do well to remember.

A law firm could have the best legal team around, use the most advanced case management software available, spare no expenses on answering services or data analytics, and still fail to find new business if they have ignored the importance of optimizing local search and prioritizing good reviews.

The Power of Local Search

Less than a few years ago, a giant law firm in California could own the number one Google ranking for personal injury across the entire country. In those days, Google’s algorithm was mainly looking for the fundamentals of SEO – solid content and well-placed links. But since then, their algorithm has changed to include something called the NAP – that’s “name, address, and phone number” for the layman.

The difference has been stark. It’s no longer possible for that big California firm to take the number 1 spot nation-wide because Google now prioritizes ranking based on location. Someone googling for a personal injury attorney in New York probably isn’t looking for a California law firm.

What does that mean for you? As a local law office, it means you don’t have to worry about owning nationally ranked keywords. Instead, focus on search terms that are popular in your area.

What do the Reviews Say

No one buys anything online that doesn’t have a majority of good reviews. It’s been that way since Amazon introduced online user reviews in 1995. This seemingly simple tool has completely changed the way products and services are sold online.

For lawyers, good reviews can be the difference between a growing practice and a struggling one.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple trick here – the best way to garner outstanding customer reviews is to be great attorneys. Give your clients the time and attention they need while representing them faithfully in legal matters. In the words of Seth Price: “If you do great work, good reviews will follow.”

But even the best attorneys can encounter a hostile or antagonistic client. What can you do about a negative review once it’s posted to Google?

Many attorneys will take a cue from John Wayne and dive right into the fray, fighting fire with fire. But this is rarely the best course of action. It smacks of defensiveness and sensitivity, and does little but reinforce any ideas the false review has spread.

Seth Price recommends a 24-hour rule instead. “Don’t do anything in haste,” he says. Even if your client is openly talking about their case, that does not nullify attorney-client privilege, and you don’t want a lawsuit on top of your negative review.

While it’s more than tempting to jump in and defend yourself, a more careful and deliberate tactic will serve you well here. Apologize to the offended client and make it clear to any other readers that this bad experience was a blip and not the norm.

It is far more effective to focus on cultivating happy clients and positive reviews than to waste time trying to put out digital fires.

Seth Price and Blue Shark Digital

Seth Price is the co-founder of the prestigious Washington DC law firm Price Benowitz. In addition to his legal practice there, he’s the firm’s business backbone. He focuses on getting data insights, strategic growth planning, and searching out the most talented and driven attorneys to join his team. He also owns and operates Blue Shark Digital, a digital marketing firm that helps legal practices build their SEO.