In today’s technology-driven world, establishing and maintaining an online reputation is absolutely essential for everyone, no matter who you are, or what industry you’re in. How you appear on the web will affect both your popularity and credibility as an attorney. Due to the importance of having a strong online reputation, we’ve compiled a list of 9 tips to help you improve your online presence today.
Search Yourself Online
As a starting point, go on Google and search any keywords relating to you, such as your name, your law firm, and your location. What you see when you search yourself is what your clients will see, so be sure to respond to any offending results that may turn a potential client away, such as hate comments or competitor attacks (If you need some help responding to negative reviews, read up on our guide to help you get started). Keep your work and personal profiles separate - if anything personal shows up, change the privacy settings so they are hidden from search engines.
Get A LinkedIn
If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn account as soon as possible. This free business-oriented social media site allows you to present your professional qualities and connect with other individuals. It can help you find new opportunities that match your skills, but most importantly, it allows others to find you: Google usually lists LinkedIn profiles higher than other websites when someone searches your name. A basic LinkedIn account with a professional photo, work experience, and a set of skills will be enough to increase your credibility and build your reputation.
SEO And PPC
SEO and PPC differ in many different ways, but their main purpose is to help your website gain more traffic and market yourself towards an online audience.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is where you add keywords and modify your websites so that they are ranked higher on search engines. It’s a free way to boost your popularity, but it can be very time-consuming. On the other hand, PPC, or Pay Per Click, is where you pay advertisers based on how many people click your ads. It’s different from SEO because you’ll receive almost immediate results and don’t have to do that much extra work. However, PPC can become very costly for competitive keywords, which can cost up to $100 per click. So which one should you focus on, SEO or PPC? It depends on what your goals are and what your budget is. Regardless of which one you choose, advertising is a crucial aspect to maintaining your reputation and is well worth the investment.
Interact With Your Audience On Social Media
The best way to build your reputation is to engage with the people that follow you. Social media has evolved into a powerful communication tool, and creating online profiles to tell your story will inherently help you build your online reputation. Always be respectful and appropriate when writing, but don’t be afraid to be controversial and take a hard stance on an issue. If you are not familiar with how to use common social media sites or don’t have the time to post regularly, check out our other resources to give you a jump-start.
...But Don’t Over-Promote Yourself:
There’s nothing more annoying than someone who irrelevantly backlinks everything they post, or is constantly trying to drive the reader to buy their product. Over-promoting is unproductive and makes you appear desperate and unprofessional. People will ultimately stop reading what you write, and others might mark you as a spammer. Worse, putting too many keywords (a.k.a. keyword stuffing) can hurt your SEO and ultimately push your page ranking down on search engines results pages.
A little self-promotion here and there can be beneficial. However, keep in mind that it’s much better to fully connect with a smaller audience that is genuinely interested than to promote yourself to a larger one that is apathetic towards you. Content is king in this day and age, so make sure that everything you post is providing your audience some sort of free value.
Over 90% of consumers say that they trust online reviews written by others. It’s not a bad idea to start creating profiles on review sites or contacting professional reviewers. Collect as many reviews as you can, and respond thoughtfully to all of them, especially the negative ones. Doing so shows that you respect others’ opinions and makes you appear friendly, which will encourage others to visit your profile.
Track Your Reputation
Ideally, you want to be able to catch anything negative before it turns into a viral online crisis. Using keyword trackers such as Google Alerts or Feed Reader will allow you to see everything posted that mentions you. If you see anything intriguing, leave a comment that offers a new perspective. Conversely, if you see anything that might threaten your reputation, take action to resolve the issue sooner rather than later.
Use Competition To Your Advantage
No matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone who will be competing for your audience. Don’t let this stop you, but instead, make the most of it. Offer to write articles for your competitor’s platforms and backlink your profiles (but again, don’t sell your services). The goal here is to provide quality content that will hook readers and make them want to learn more. By doing this, both you and your competitor will benefit, and readers will share your article, inherently spreading your brand.
Realistically, a shining online reputation isn’t something that you can create overnight. It takes time to leave a good impression on your audience. Don’t try to rush anything: establish your reputation early, continue to develop and maintain it throughout your career, and you’ll be rewarded.