By Chris (Tres) Homer
It has been no surprise that Google loves customer reviews. They made it a ranking factor, put it front and center in front of searchers, and even allowed people to read all of the reviews right from the SERP. The most recent change by Google further showcases just how important reviews are for a local business:
Google now allows users to leave reviews on a local business without requiring the use of a Google account.
What does this mean for your law firm? Everything.
Google has always been the primary place to obtain reviews due to the tremendous SEO boost and the benefit from user trust. But main reason that users did not leave reviews was because they had to either create an account, or use an account in which Google made you use your real name due to their Plus platform.
Users can now leave reviews without an account and without using a real name. This is awesome, but it might also lead to some issues.
Now that people can leave a review without having an account, or even an email associated with the review, this increases the chances that people can leave false, negative reviews. This will lead to a couple interesting developments.
First, Google will have to make sure that their review filter is refined to not allow false reviews to appear under your law firm’s local listing. Many review sites already have script review posting filters. Yelp, for example, won’t even post a new account’s first few reviews. Google will most likely continue to monitor reviews from IP addresses, as well as frequency and relevancy of these reviews.
Second, it will mean that you have to pay attention to the new reviews more closely than before. With the ability for anyone to leave a review, it will (and should) lead to more reviews. But quantity doesn’t always mean quality. We recently set up review notifications for our clients because of this. Account Managers and clients will get an email when they receive a review, which will allow for efficient monitoring and managing.
Regardless, now that anyone can leave you a review, you should ask every client that likes you to leave you a review—at least until you have more than your competition.