Online search results provide a crucial source of new clients for any law firm. They have become the go-to resource when people need to find professional services, especially among younger Internet users. A survey from Inc. Magazine in 2017 found that 84 percent of online search users trusted online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend. We discussed the importance of this in "Do Online Reviews Affect My Law Firm's Revenue?"
However, positive online reviews aren’t enough to distinguish you from your competitors. Savvy attorneys now understand the benefits of a strong online presence. It’s likely that there’s only a marginal difference between your firm’s reviews and those of your competitor. Also, many firms have also invested heavily in their website design and search engine optimization, making competition online even more intense. You need to find a way to stand out from your online rivals.
Fortunately, Google has recently launched a new tool for professional services like law offices, financial planners, and real estate agents. It’s called Google Screened, and it’s something you should take advantage of immediately to get ahead of the competition.
The Background of Google Screened
Before digging into the benefits of Google Screened, it’s worth taking a quick look at its origins. Google Screened is the follow-up to an earlier program called Google Guaranteed.
Google Guaranteed is a way for search users to find in-home service providers — plumbers, painters, HVAC technicians, etc. — while gaining a measure of reassurance about the quality of the business. That’s because the businesses in the program must pass background checks before obtaining Google’s approval. Furthermore, Google offers a limited guarantee for the work of contractors who are certified under the program, with a $2,000 lifetime cap per individual user.
What are the advantages of Google Guaranteed for businesses? First off, Google Guaranteed businesses get a special badge that pops up in local search results. They also get more prominent ad placement than non-certified businesses, appearing above other ads, Google Maps results, and most other page elements.
More importantly, because potential customers feel they can trust Google Guaranteed businesses, they’re more likely to click on those ads, which means more revenue for firms that pass the certification process.
How Google Screened Helps Law Firms Grow
Google Screened takes the same ideas behind Google Guaranteed and applies them to professional services providers. Law firms that pass Google’s background checks and have at least a 3.0-star rating on Google’s platform can be certified as Google Screened.
Law firms that take the time to become Google Screened will obtain the same benefits as Google Guaranteed businesses. A law firm that’s Google Screened receives a special badge in search results, and its ads will appear at the top of the page. Like Google Guaranteed businesses, Google Screened law firms will appear above non-Google Screened firms, as well as any Google Maps results and other page elements. Finally, Google Screened firms that also have a Google My Business profile will have a “Google Screened” badge on their profile to indicate they’ve been certified to anyone who finds the page.
It’s hard to overstate just how valuable this tool can be for law firms looking to expand. Once you’ve completed the screening process, you can run Local Service and Local Search ads that will appear at the top of the results page, above many of your competitors. Furthermore, a Google Screened certification indicates to your potential clients that you’re trustworthy and reliable, which means they’re much more likely to click on your ads.
More clicks will usually mean more signed clients, fueling additional growth. Creating a Google My Business profile and becoming Google Screened also provides another pathway for potential clients to find you online.
Don’t Let Your Competitors Get a Jump On You
You can’t afford to ignore the opportunity presented by Google Screened. If you worry that it’s a waste of time, consider that rival law firms are already going through the process. Once they’ve been certified, their ads are going to start appearing above yours in search results, making it much harder for clients to find you.
Getting your Google Screened certification will give you a significant advantage until your competitors catch up. Even then, you’ll be competing on a level playing field. There’s no reason not to give the program a chance. You might be surprised by the results.
If you want to learn more about other digital tools that can help your law firm reach its full potential, contact Client Chat Live today by calling (808) 495-0231 or visiting our contact page.