For a long time my law firm has put time and effort into reaching more clients through our website. We’ve tried a number of different tactics over the years to achieve that goal, including content marketing and a strong social media campaign. But one of our most successful strategies was actually one of the simplest.
I’d like to tell you how you can boost foot traffic to your brick and mortar business the same way we did. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we got more clients by doing essentially one thing–asking for more reviews on Google.
Immigration is probably the largest practice area at my law firm. For the longest time we’ve tried to rank first for the keyword “richmond, va immigration attorney.” Even though we hadn’t been showing up as the first result, we would typically appear on the first page a few rankings below some more established local firms.
We realized that we could probably grow faster if we ranked first for this very niche and local keyword.
We had already been doing everything right–creating original and relevant content for our website, making sure our page load speeds were under 1 second, and interacting with clients via social media. For a couple of months I assumed that these more established firms that weren’t pursuing online marketing as aggressively as we were still ranked higher due to the age of their domain–and that’s probably true.
Not willing to give up, I started to look to other potential factors.
Each month, I get an email from Google My Business with some pretty interesting information. The following image is an email I received from the month of August 2017:
While those aren’t bad numbers–it’s great that 1,469 people found us on Google that month–I started to wonder what could happen if we doubled the number of people that found us, called us, visited our site, or asked for directions.
Even though we had done everything right for content marketing, as I looked closer at my Google My Business profile for Tingen & Williams, I realized we didn’t really have any more reviews than our competitors.
So to recap, our goals were pretty simple.
First, we wanted to improve our Google keyword rank for the phrase “Richmond, VA immigration attorney” so that we would be the first result. While we’ve consistently been in the top three results, having the number one spot would make a huge difference.
Second, in turn we hoped this would increase the number of people who called us, asked for directions to our office, or visited our website. Our ranking on Google, and the numbers we were looking at indicated that some number of people were searching for Virginia immigration lawyers, finding us, and ultimately going elsewhere.
Finally, we set a deadline for checking back with the project. We decided to take a close look at this problem starting in September of 2017, and we’d look at our numbers again at the beginning of February 2018. If our approach wasn’t working by then, we’d try a new one.
The biggest mistake that small businesses make when it comes to marketing is putting all of their eggs in one basket. Instead, it’s best to adopt a few different approaches, and to develop them simultaneously. That way, you’ll have a backup if one solution fails to pan out.
To that end, we made the following changes over the next month. One is a small change, while the other one took a bit of work on our part.
Potential clients almost always prefer locations that they know. Simply put, it’s easier to go to the firm that you know than to try to learn the directions to a new place.
To improve that navigation experience, we added a Google map to our website’s home page. We had already put a Google map on the contact page, but I wondered if our ranking in the map listings wouldn’t improve if we put a map on our website’s home page.
At first I was worried because adding the Google map actually increases our home page load time by about a quarter of a second. But I assumed that the potential for greater traffic numbers outweighed a slightly slower page load.
Best of all, this change cost us very little in terms of time or money. Because it was such a simple fix, it became possible to adopt a second solution.
This was our big project and—as you’ll soon see—the work we put in paid off.
Essentially, one of the factors Google uses to ranks companies includes something called “review signals.” In short, Google knows that a business with more reviews, and more positive reviews, is a legitimate business with happy customers. Additionally, on the non computer side of things, potential clients are much more likely to sign up with a firm with multiple good reviews. This is because good reviews indicate fidelity and trustworthiness—pretty important qualities when choosing a lawyer.
However, as it stands, there’s not a lot of incentives for clients to leave reviews on Google. You have to navigate through a couple of pages, and it takes time—something that everyone is short on. And frankly, most people just don’t think to leave reviews on Google, even if they’re happy with a service.
So, we decided to just start asking. That’s it. When we completed a matter and our client was satisfied with the service, we just asked if they would leave a Google review.
It seems simple, but the mere act of asking a happy client to leave a Google review can have a huge impact. Doing so reminds them that Google Reviews exist, and it makes them feel good about helping us grow.
We also had some branded “#LAWYERUP” t-shirts made, to give to clients when they come to pick up their work authorization or green card. By giving the client a t-shirt and asking for a review at the same time, we give them a physical reminder to actually write a review for us.
As a result, over the course of the month we went from having 17 5-star reviews to 78. Needless to say, that was a pretty huge improvement, and it had a big impact on our numbers.
So how did we do? The numbers we received in February speak for themselves:
Nearly twice as many people found our business on Google over the month February as compared to last August. Additionally, nearly three times as many people asked for directions to our office or called us. Pretty impressive results. We know that the change in numbers wasn’t directly due to additional content marketing, because we took a break on content creation as we prepped content for new practice areas.
Now, there was one other positive result that came out of this project:
That’s right, we are now the top map listing when people in our area search for “Richmond, VA immigration attorney.” Not a bad result after just asking for more reviews.
The biggest take-away from this project was the importance of simple solutions. Asking people to leave reviews doesn’t seem like much, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day. Despite this, it had a huge impact on our business, and has helped us reach even more clients.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.