Like any service provider, you want good reviews. You want happy clients to sing your praises online in a veritable chorus so that others will be persuaded to hire you when they face a legal issue.
But unlike restaurants, hair salons, and other stores, your law firm has a more difficult time getting reviews. Because legal matters are often private or embarrassing, many clients do not feel spontaneously inclined to share their experiences with the whole of the Internet.
We get it. That being said—we beg, we implore, we urge you: Don’t write or buy fake reviews. Ever.
There are a number of companies out there that will write fake reviews for you. Some of these reviews may even make it past Google and Yelp’s strict review filters, algorithms specifically designed to spot and eliminate fake reviews from profiles.
But despite any temporary gains your online presence may get from fake online reviews, they are a truly terrible idea.
First, they’re unethical, deceptive, and just…slimy. Enough said.
In addition, they are eroding faith in all online reviews. Right now, consumers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from people they trust. Unfortunately, as more and more companies purchase fake reviews from unscrupulous review businesses, consumers increasingly lose this trust. This could someday mean that potential clients won’t trust your good reviews, even if they are one hundred percent real.
Finally, fake reviews can result in serious legal and financial penalties.
The New York Times recently reported that the state of New York is cracking down on deceptive reviews following an intensive investigation into companies that create fake reviews and those that buy them.
The New York attorney general said of the investigation, “What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising. When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement – but on Yelp or CitySearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice more deceiving.”
As a result of the investigation, nineteen companies have agreed to stop this misleading practice and pay $350,000 total in penalties.
The review site Yelp is also cracking down on fake reviews. The company is suing a San Diego, California law firm for posting fake reviews on its Yelp profile. The suit, which cites “breach of contract, intentional interference with contract, and false advertising,” is asking for $25,000.
So, if not by purchasing fake reviews, how do you get good reviews?
It starts with good service.
If your clients are satisfied with the service you provided them, you can bet that—more often than not—they will be more than happy to leave you a review. Just ask! Write them a thank you for working with your firm and ask them to leave you a review on your Google+ Local and Yelp profiles. It takes time to get real, positive reviews, but we can tell you it’s worth the effort.