Legal Masterclass: The Biggest Changes to Google Reviews - 2021

Oct 13
min Read
Legal Webinars

[Webinar Transcript - October 2021]


Today, we're going to talk about some changes Google's made to their reviews platform just in the last couple of days. We're going to go through some changes through the summer, hit the most significant ones. Talk about changes they made in September, and then just one they made in the last couple of days. We'll also do a quick Google reviews 101 review as well, and walk you through some of that content. First, we'll just tell you briefly about who Kenect is and what we do. We'll try to get you out of here between 25 and 30 minutes from now.

Who is Kenect?

We are based outside of Salt Lake City, we're a text messaging platform built for law firms throughout North America. What we do is we allow you to keep your main law firm phone number, but make it textable. So, you're able to send and receive text messages to, and from that phone number, just by logging into Kenect. This allows you to communicate really efficiently, to generate new leads, to conduct video consultations, and to drive online reviews all with texting. We're integrated with the leading case management systems in the legal industry, we have over 4,000 customers, 40,000 users on the platform. We have dozens of partners across every specialty in the legal industry as well. So, it's used by a lot of law firms out there today.

Now, I should note, you do not have to use one of these systems in order to use Kenect, but you can. We're just simply saying we integrate with these. So, you don't have to be using one of these though, in order to use Kenect. So, how do we do it? Two way text messaging for your law firm, so you don't need to give out your personal cell number. Web leads straight from your website, video chat for virtual consultations, and online review generation and reputation management. So, why texting? Why are we so obsessed with it? Why do we worry about it so much? Well, 89% of your customers, your clients, would prefer to text with a business rather than make a phone call. It's that simple.

There is no equivocation about this, it's that simple. 98% of all text messages are opened within three minutes and 86% of clients find phone calls to be disruptive. Bottom line is texting is the way people communicate today for better or worse. I would even go so far as to say that the half of you are probably texting somebody right now, and that's okay, there's no issue with that. The beauty of texting is you can be doing something else. So, no more playing phone tag with clients, no more them playing phone tag with you. Just step out of a hearing, out of a meeting, whatever, in a hearing, in a meeting, and you can look at your phone and text your client back while using Kenect with your main phone number at your business. So, you don't need to use your personal cell, which has problems. Doing that has problems.

98% of all text messages are opened within three minutes and 86% of clients find phone calls to be disruptive.

You certainly don't need to get new cell phones for everybody at the office and have a work phone and a personal phone, just log into Kenect and you can send text messages. How does it work? You log in. You're able to send and receive text messages to, and from the Kenect text messaging inbox, with that main phone number. Your clients, by the way, do not need to download Kenect. They simply just receive text messages, just like they would receive any other text message. You just are able to send and receive those text messages really easily while using Kenect.

You'll also have the Kenect mobile app you can download on your device. With that mobile app, you can send and receive text messages, right on your cell phone. You can assign leads to other people at your firm. You can assign leads to departments, to individuals. You can even get alerts when a lead is followed up with, or is not followed up with. You can also send quick replies, request reviews, attach photos, videos, PDFs, attachments, do live camera stuff. So, do a live consultation via texting video. Request payments, schedule messages, and invite people to video chat. So, there's a ton of things you can do with text messaging and it's really, really a powerful tool to use.

As I mentioned, Kenect video chat, while you're texting somebody, you can send a receive text message, you can send a receive a live video chat in the text thread. So, you can really streamline intake by using this. It's really simple, requires no calendar invite, no additional software to download. It's available for both mobile and desktop. And a lot of law firms are using this for their initial consultations. Top eight ways firms use Kenect. To schedule consultations and send appointment reminders. To streamline their intake process and validate cases. To send case updates, to collect fees, to video chat with clients. To send and receive photos, videos, PDFs, attachments, DocuSigns. to generate online reviews as well, which is what we'll talk about today.

Google Reviews

All right. Google reviews overview and some changes here. All right. What are Google reviews? Clients or really anyone using Google can review your business and leave a star rating. And I see your question. By the way everybody, ask questions. I'll hit them all. I see yours, Ian, and I'll make sure I address it at the end here. So, anyone using Google can review your business and leave a star rating. They don't need to be your client. There's no verification to ensure that they're your client, they simply need to have a Gmail account and they can leave Google reviews.

Why do Google Reviews matter so much?

Why do reviews matter so much? They matter because they matter to clients. 93% of clients use reviews as the first step in choosing a law firm. 91% say they trust online reviews as much as they would trust personal recommendations. That's the first and perhaps most important reason is that reviews matter because they matter to your clients. Additionally, they matter because they matter to Google. The top listing receives around 50% of the total clicks. 98% of the clicks are in the top four. They rank firms based on the number of ratings and reviews that those firms have. So, if those firms, if you don't have ratings and reviews, you're not going to be listed very high at all.

Why does Google care so much?

Well, they want to produce the result a searcher would like to see. So, Google really just cares about giving the searcher a great experience, and that's what they care about. So, keeping that in mind, and with that in mind, it tells you why they're worried about reviews so much, is they want to serve up the best companies when someone searches for a business. Now, let's go through some of these changes. I should back up and say two things about these changes. Sometimes Google will test changes, but not roll them out to everybody. And oftentimes, they will test changes with high traffic businesses like restaurants, where they get a ton of data in a hurry. So, keep that in mind.

The other thing to note is some of these changes are not going to roll out to everybody. Some will only go to these businesses. So, keep in mind, I'll point out if there's a change that is an actual change versus a test as we go. Now, this is one that is a change for all businesses. Google is now highlighting and placing preference on businesses that post photos and replies. This is important to note. Now, what does this mean? It means that you should reply to every review and it means that you should post photos. Now, you might be saying, "Look, we're not a restaurant. We don't have fancy dishes to post." That's fine, you don't need that. All you need, all you really need is to post pictures of something.

So, maybe it can be your conference room, perhaps it could be your office, your lobby, in front of your office. Most law firms take that obligatory once a year picture of everybody who works there out in front of the building, that's fine, but also take more casual pictures. Take pictures of you in a meeting. Take pictures of you out at lunch as a team. Take pictures of your food when you're out at lunch, just post pictures. Google really just wants to see interaction on your Google My Business profile. Google has also launched a new tool to help users more easily report a negative review. So, when you're in your Google My Business page, just click on manage your reviews and you can easily report negative reviews. This is a big change. It used to be much harder to do that, now it's pretty easy.

Google My Business Listings

Google in June also tested something they're calling sentiment in their Google My Business listings. Essentially, it's measuring punctuality, quality, and responsiveness. Now, one thing I should mention, the number one reason law firms get negative reviews is because of the perception that they are not responsive, that they don't communicate effectively. That matters. So, Google is now testing, adding this sentiment in their Google My Business listings, so, that way people can easily see if they are punctual, if you do quality work, and if you're responsive. Now, we're biased. We believe the number one way to improve your responsiveness is by texting.

I will totally admit our bias on this, but that is the number one reason law firms get negative reviews. Previously, featured reviews were apparently random and not representative of more relative customer experiences. But now, these reviews are showing up at the top. So, before, these three reviews that they would just post at the top were random, now they apparently are pulling out more representative ones. All right, this is one that is starting with restaurants, but we're hearing that it will roll out to all local businesses. Now, why is this important? Well, what it's basically doing is it's putting your rating average, that zero to five star rating, on Google maps and is shoving it in the face of everybody who searches.

That's a huge deal because it's basically slapping you in the face with the star rating that you have. Massive deal, huge deal. So, you've got a situation where if someone searches in Google maps, they're seeing your reviews. This is a big change. Google's also now showing a new label called areas served. This is going to be a big part of Google going forward. And it really does answer a fundamental question, which does that attorney serve my area. What it's trying to do is make sure you don't get garbage leads from people who are not in your area and you can't help. And also, trying to make sure that someone who searches does not get information for a law firm that does not apply to them or serve them.

So, this is good for both the consumer and the business, but it is going to be a big part of Google going forward. All right, this one's going to apply to just a few of you, not all of you, but those of you to whom it applies, know why this is a big deal. So, actually, Google is now allowing you to merge location and business reviews into one spot. Now, 93% of you who just have one office, you're like, why is this a big deal? If you have multiple offices, you know why this is a big deal. It's huge. Google has now made it really easy to merge those.

Number of Reviews From the Web

All right, this is a new one that they just launched towards the end of September. Google is now including the number of reviews from the web on Google My Business. Now, we said at the outset, Google reviews are the single most important marketing activity you can engage in. The more Google reviews you get, the more money you're going to make because you're going to get more cases. So, that means Google reviews matter more than Facebook and Yelp and Babble, they just do. They just do, because Google reviews impact rankings, which is the most important thing. So, we've said that, and we'll continue to say that. Having said all that, Google is now at least showing the number of reviews you have on other platforms.

Now, we still believe you should get Google reviews first, but if someone will leave you multiple reviews, ask them about Facebook as well. All right, Google's removing the site manager role. Some of you are going to be impacted by this, some of you won't be. Essentially, what you're going to notice is that when you go to log in to change something, it's going to have a different role for you, which is going to impede your access in some cases. So, just make sure you're aware of this. You can easily create another user and easily have another site or change it to a manager role. So, just be aware.

All right, these last two, I think are significant. This was one that was made in the last two days of September. And then the last one, we'll hit on on the next slide, was an October change. Google is now testing estimated cost near you in the local pack. This implies that local ads and Google My Business will be more integrated. So, what they're going to basically allow users to do is they're going to ask reviewers, how much did your services cost when you worked with this business? And they're going to be able to put your fees in. So, you will, when someone searches going forward, increasingly see how much you charge. That's a huge deal for obvious reasons. So, make sure you're always fair, you're always clear on what you're going to charge so these estimated costs look reasonable when people see them.

All right, this was one that I think on its surface may not apply to law firms, but I actually think it does, and here's why. Google started testing offer posts. So, essentially, on your Google My Business listing, you could actually create an offer. Now this applies, I think obviously, more directly to companies that sell products, but you could also do this for law firms. You could also do this for types of law that you want to practice and aren't into now, or limited time offers to waive certain fees. You can do all sorts of stuff here. Just get creative, because I'm telling you, this is a huge opportunity if it's treated correctly.

Upcoming changes, we expect there to be more changes that are focused on video. We also expect there to be an increased prominence placed on thoughtful reviews. All right. So, what do potential clients want to see in your reviews? They want to see quantity and they want to see reasons. You've got to have at least 50. Now, I hear some of you saying, "Gosh, how is that going to happen? I don't have 50 clients in a year." That's fine. You have three or four years in the past, go text those past clients and see if you can get new reviews from them. Also, recency, make sure you're constantly getting new reviews. It's not good enough just to go and say, "Okay, we're going to go get a 100 reviews in October and then never worry about it again. You can't do that. You've got to get consistent reviews every single month.

Steps for review gathering:

1. Have an internal process. Make sure that you have an internal process designed to get you more reviews. Now, what is contained in this process? Number one is you've got to make sure you know who you're asking. Do you ask everybody or just the people that love you? Number two, you've got to make sure you know how you're asking. Are you texting? Are you emailing? Are you asking a person? Number three, you got to know when you're asking. Are you asking when they are happy at the end of a case, but before they've paid you, maybe after they've paid you, or perhaps maybe when they have a great meeting during the process? Regardless, make sure you know when you're asking.

2. Have an internal owner. Make sure you know who's in charge of getting reviews. You've got to know who's in charge of getting reviews. At some law firms, if you're large enough, you could have a marketing person do this. If you're not large enough to have a marketing person, you could easily have an office manager, receptionist kind of person do this. It doesn't really matter who does it, just make sure someone is.

3. Use texting, not email. Email, if you ask most law firms, what they will do is they will email and say, "Hey, leave us a review." You will get reviews between one and 2% of the time if you do that, it just won't be very frequent, won't work well. However, if you text, you will get reviews between 35 and 45% of the time. It will make a massive difference.

Emails versus texting

So, how does it work?

If you're using Kenect, you can send a text message. It's got your logo, it's got your firm's name, it's got a customizable templated text here. You click on the button or you send the text out and this can go automatically, by the way. They click on the link, they click on Google, they leave the review. If you do this, they will leave you reviews between 35 and 45% of the time. That's a big deal. It's better than the one to 2% of the time that a email is going to get you the review. So, steps to success here. Take control, don't let angry clients determine your online reputation. Get your great clients to leave reviews. Two is build a repeatable process. Find a point in your process where you can easily ask happy clients for reviews. Number three is use text messaging, not email. Kenect is 35 times more effective than email at collecting reviews. Four is respond and start marketing. Always respond to every single review. It's really important.


All right, to conclude, I want to go through this case study and then I want to take your questions. So, it's a case study with a law firm called Carey Leisure & Neal in Tampa. They initially started using Kenect to help them with their intake process. But once they got into it, they realized it helps them throughout their entire firm. So, basically, they realized it impacted every single department and every person. They do live video chat to help with intake. They've seen an 80% percent increase in Google reviews in just three months. They're now able to text clients, past clients, and future clients. They're able to live respond, or automatically respond to every single message. They now prefer to do their client meetings face to face because they have this. So, it's a really significant and impactful tool for these businesses, for these law firms.

Read the full case study


Ian, "Are these messages individually and manually sent?" Yes they are. And because they're individually and manually sent, and not mass sent, we don't have issues with compliance, because it's just you texting as if you were texting from your personal self, but you're texting from your business phone number. Dana says, "Why won't my reviews go up?" Great question. Most law firms don't ask for reviews, they just hope people leave them reviews. You've got to aggressively ask. If you do not aggressively ask, it won't work.

Now, if you are asking and people aren't leaving you reviews, that means you're probably emailing instead of texting. You've got to text, otherwise people won't do it. Multiple location slide. Yes, Cameron, you just log in to Google My Business. I'll send this deck out, our team will, so you can see that. But essentially, in your Google My Business area, there's going to be a little dropdown that says multiple locations and you can combine those reviews. Cameron asks, "If you need a minimum of 50 reviews and one location has well over, but another one has well under, do they consider the combined total?" Yes, if you combine them. If you don't combine them, they will think of them as separate.

How will the estimated cost feature impact law firms that work on a contingency or percentage basis? Right now it looks to be an open field, so they can literally put in what the contingency fee is or how the percentage works. So, it's kind of up to the review or how they want to state their price. So, just another reason, again, to communicate clearly about what that is. So, just again, I know there's going to be different models. There's 10 to 12, I've heard, in the last couple of weeks, different models of law firms fee structures. There's no right or wrong, but just make sure you're clear about it so there's no surprises.

Let's see. Logan says, "Do you see downside to requesting a huge review shortly after initial consult?" That's a really good question, Logan. So, here's what I would suggest. I wouldn't request the review in the initial consult, but what I would say is this, during the initial consultation, when you're using Kenect video chat with them, I would literally say to them, "Hey, look, our goal is to get a five-star rating and review from you. That's our goal. And if we do that, what that probably means is we were very responsive, we communicated effectively, and we probably did really well in your case. So, we really want that five star review. So, I'm going to send you the link to leave that right now and then we'll send another one if you don't. But we really want that review. We really are focused on that, on you being successful and us being a great partner." So, I don't know that I'd ask during the initial consult, but I would for sure prep them for asking, if that makes sense.

Stephanie says that, "Something happened this weekend, we lost review." Can I assume you mean with Google? Not that I'm aware of. Google will sometimes go in and clean up what they see are fraudulent reviews or spammy reviews, perhaps that's it, but I have not heard that.  Good questions, everyone.

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