Word of mouth counts. Before they try a product or service, consumers want to know what other people think, especially when significant expenses or consequences are involved. The more data points, the more educated the decision.
Hiring a lawyer is no exception. The costs are relatively high—and so too, often, are the stakes—making word of mouth particularly important in the legal profession. As a lawyer, if you aren’t paying attention to online reviews, you should be. More and more decisions and transactions are being done via the Internet every day, which means building your online cred can yield major benefits in the near future.
But not all review sites are created equal. Say you want to find the right hotel for your next vacation. Most people would tell you to go to a site like TripAdvisor. Why? Because it specializes in travel. If you want to hire a handyman, most people will direct you to a site like Angie’s List. Why? Because it specializes in home repair.
Reviews on sites that are relevant to your business carry more clout and lead to higher conversion rates. According to a recent Avvo survey, only 15 percent of legal consumers care if a lawyer appears in a general consumer review site (like Yelp), but 29 percent say that it’s important to see your name in an attorney directory. Moreover, 50 percent of legal consumers say that a lawyer listing is among the most valuable tools for resolving a legal issue because a good lawyer listing is where consumers can get all the information they need to make the right decision. People want to know about your specific practice area, how many years you’ve practiced, the fee options you provide, and what law school you went to, among other things. Also, people value other lawyers’ opinions of you.
People will search online for the source that gives them all this important information. And that source is not Yelp. So, it’s not surprising that while Avvo has 8 million monthly visits, Yelp reports only about 562,000 app and mobile searches for attorneys each month. While Avvo generates over 130,000 calls to attorneys monthly, Yelp generates only 8,200 calls via app and mobile (and even fewer from the desktop site).
Yelp certainly helps customers determine where to get the best burger or which florist has the freshest flowers, and there is tremendous value in that. But if your end game is to get more exposure as an attorney, which in turn leads to more phone calls and more cases, then it matters where your clients leave reviews about you. Don’t quote me on this, but I’m not sure people want to find a lawyer on the same site they’d use to find a masseuse. Unless you’re a lawyer who also offers killer massages.