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Basically, Google is the internet these days. Nobody says, “Go search this on the internet.” They say, “Google it.” Google’s goal is to deliver to the searcher — you, me and your potential client — the most relevant content as quickly as possible. And now searchers can get just about all the information they want about you and your business without even clicking over to your website. In fact, today, 34 percent of searches made on Google get no clicks whatsoever.
To achieve this, Google is giving searchers more information about you directly on its search results page. For example, it has rolled out three products that provide potential clients with information about your law firm before they get to your site:
This means that Google search results are becoming your new “home page.”
All three products — Messages, Questions and Answers and URLs for appointments — are accessible from your Google My Business dashboard. They appear in your local Knowledge Panel in Google. If Google really is becoming your home page, but also giving you a say in providing potential clients with information about your firm, you will definitely want to take advantage of it.
Google Messages is a new feature that allows clients to contact you directly from Google’s search engine. Clients never need to visit your website to get in touch with you. All they have to do is click on the message icon in your local Knowledge Panel to start communicating with you or your intake team via their phone’s messaging app.
Once someone submits a message, it will go directly to a phone number you specify in your Google My Business dashboard. The only thing you have to change in your intake process is making sure you have someone able to answer text messages and respond quickly.
So, why is this important, and should you think about incorporating texting into your intake process? Consider:
People want businesses to communicate with them through texting now more than ever. Simply providing the option gives you a competitive advantage and will allow you to tap into a larger market. Setting up text messaging only takes about five minutes (though you will likely want an intake system in place before you implement it).
If you do decide to add Google Messages to your firm’s intake process, you want to commit to it 100 percent. Otherwise, it could end up hurting you. Take a look at the screenshot above. There is an obvious, bright orange line on the Knowledge Panel that states how quickly you respond to messages. If you are slow to respond to potential clients’ texts, that sentence will change to say something like, “Typically responds in a few days.” Google’s messaging feature could harm your reputation if you are not careful to respond — and you might also start seeing negative reviews from people who love texting.
Questions and Answers is a new product that allows clients to ask you questions which you can answer directly in your local Knowledge Panel. This is a crowdsourced feature as well as a business-sourced product. What this means is that both you and other Google users can respond to potential clients’ questions.
Google envisions that people will be able to get answers to their questions and make decisions more quickly. Essentially, this product is competing with the FAQ page on your own website. However, you can anticipate FAQs by quickly adding a handful of top questions that people ask you about your business and answer those ahead of time. Make sure you moderate this feature, as it can include crowdsourced content.
Tip: Make sure you answer the questions thoroughly, not with a yes or no, even if the question isn’t open-ended. Since people could come back later and change the question, make sure to repeat the question in your answer before answering it. For example:
Q. “Do you require payment upfront?”
A. “No, we do not require payment upfront. Our services are based on a contingency fee, meaning our fee comes out of the money awarded to you.”
Google has expanded the ability to add a “make appointment” URL in your Knowledge Panel. This means that you can incorporate your scheduling software directly into Google, allowing clients to book appointments right from your search listing.
The setup process for scheduling an appointment is simple. Go to your Google My Business dashboard and paste your appointment scheduling URL into the input field. If potential clients are interested in your business, they will be able to book an appointment directly with you in as few clicks as possible.
To get more business, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to get in touch with you. Taking advantage of these new Google features will help drive more leads to your business and ultimately convert into real clients.
Be proactive. An hour of setup time now could be the difference that sets you apart from your competition.
Our final word of advice: Check out your competition. How many are already using these tools?
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