I recently had a legal client who came to me with a troubling complaint about Yelp. Turns out, they worked their butts off to get Yelp reviews, only to have all of the reviews “filtered” (i.e. taken away) by Yelp. Why? Because it was in violation of Yelp’s rather stringent policy against asking customers or clients for reviews.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Does it mean you shouldn’t use Yelp as a review aggregator or even to host your law firm’s listing? After all, there are a number of other business listing and review sites:
There’s the Better Business Bureau and ConsumerAffairs which collect customer reviews in the hopes of informing the public about the quality of service or product a company offers. There are sites like Yellow Pages and Manta that offer businesses a place to set up a profile and allow clients to leave reviews. Of course, there’s always Avvo, which is a lawyer directory and review site designed specifically to help the general public find good legal counsel.
That said, these review sites don’t have one thing that the likes of Yelp or Google My Business have. And that’s search engine clout. Sure, you could copy reviews from those sites onto your own, but that requires work. Why not use a review platform that plays well with the search engines and that is well-trusted and already highly utilized by consumers?
In other words, I think we need to talk about the value of a Yelp listing and, more importantly reviews for your law firm.
The Value of Yelp Reviews for Your Law Firm
Let’s start with the basics: client reviews and why they’re valuable for any business. It’s as simple as this:
In 2017, a Bright Local survey revealed that “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”.
That’s a huge deal, especially for the legal industry. Think about it: how likely is it that someone in need of legal assistance has a family member, friend, or colleague who has run into the same type of issue and can recommend your services? Probably not all that likely. And, so, having online reviews from clients would serve as just as strong a testimonial to your services as a personal recommendation.
Let’s also talk about the value of reviews as they pertain to the legal industry. According to Review Trackers, 83% of consumers consult with online reviews as a way to find and assess the quality of a lawyer. That means that roughly four out of every five people that end up becoming your clients did their research on you first.
Now, let’s bring this all together: the value of Yelp reviews for law firms.
The Bright Local survey found that consumers trust Yelp and Facebook above all other review platforms—including the Better Business Bureau and Google. So, if you were thinking about ignoring Yelp in your online marketing efforts because you think that Google My Business, Facebook, or Avvo is easier to use or more effective, think again.
Yelp has been around for almost 15 years now and it’s managed to drum up an impressive number of customer reviews in that type. As of Q3 2017, that number was at 142 million. Clearly, this is a platform that your clients trust and, beyond that, one that they’re likely very familiar with.
In addition, Yelp is a platform trusted by the search engines. Let me show you what happens when you search for lawyers in Bing:
In addition to providing local results for layers in Philadelphia, Bing also sorts them based on their Yelp reviews—which they clearly display as a trust mark under each link.
Now, let’s say prospective clients don’t do a search in Bing for “lawyers in Philadelphia”. Let’s say they know that they’re interested in the Sadek and Cooper Law Offices and so they search for that.
See what Bing did there? The law firm gets its own shout-out in the sidebar, replete with not only their Yelp star rating, but also actual reviews.
Bing isn’t the only one that loves Yelp reviews either. Google does too:
Google will never promote Yelp’s reviews within the Google business sidebar (because they have their own reviews to push). However, what you’ll notice in each of these examples is that Yelp is almost always the first set of reviews offered when you search for a business in Google. Facebook is the only exception to that rule. And, in every case, those review pages show up on the first page of results—which is huge!
Obviously, Yelp reviews are a necessity if you want prospective clients to find you in organic search. The problem now is to figure out how to get them.
10 Tips for Getting Yelp Reviews from Your Clients
Okay, so now that I’ve made the argument for getting Yelp reviews, I need to explain how to go about doing them… because it’s not going to be that easy. When you do, though, know that these reviews will go a long way in earning clients’ trust even before they become your clients. And, as a lawyer, trust is an indispensable tool in your line of work.
So, here is what you need to know to get Yelp reviews from your clients the right way
- First and foremost, lay claim to your page, fill it with details, and monitor it regularly.
- Review your local ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to ensure that you understand the rules around client testimonials.
- Review Yelp’s rules, since the wrong move could cost you dearly if it violates their rules against direct solicitation of reviews.
- When talking to clients in person, bring it up in a natural way. “Check out our page on Yelp” is a good way to approach this. If you explicitly ask them for a review or push them to leave a five-star rating, you may find yourself in hot water.
- Be sure your site and Yelp profile are updated with information regarding the services you offer as well as how long you’ve been in business. These are two key details 48% of people look for when reading law firm reviews, so it would be nice to publish those details where your soon-to-be-reviewers can find them.
- Also, on your website, include a Yelp badge that links directly to your page. You can also create a Yelp reviews widget that pulls the latest ones into your site—this would be great on the home page, the About page, as well as your blog.
- Add a link in your email signature to your Yelp page as well. It doesn’t need to explicitly ask for reviews, just include the Yelp logo and “check us out” message.
- You can also use your most shining Yelp reviews in marketing material. Just be sure you get permission from the reviewer to use it and that you include the Yelp logo beside it.
- Put up “Find Us on Yelp” signage around your firm. You can send Yelp a request for one here.
- According to Yelp, “Taking the time to respond to reviews and provide great customer service will go much farther in building a great reputation for a business on Yelp.” And it’s true. 30% of people from the Bright Local survey said that they use a company’s response to reviews as a key factor in their decision-making process.
Getting reviews for your law firm needs to be an essential part of your marketing strategy as evidenced by the 83% of people who use them to research a lawyer before taking next steps. There’s also the search engine aspect to consider too. With Bing and Google putting such a heavy emphasis and trust in Yelp reviews, this is a platform you really can’t afford to skip.