Avvo is a free online resource that attorneys can use to post numerous details about their education, career, accomplishments, and significant cases. It’s also useful for sharing any legal articles they have written, either directly on the site or in the form of a link to their firm’s website. The site also provides a great forum for attorneys to exhibit their skill, knowledge, and thought leadership by answering legal questions from potential clients directly. Perhaps most importantly, the review and ranking section can serve as a tremendous asset for potential clients looking to vet you and your firm, so it’s imperative that you leverage this element of the site to the best of your ability.
Lastly, the fact that Avvo doesn’t require any membership fees or dues makes the site an especially valuable resource for individual lawyers and small firms, who typically don’t have a big marketing budget.
The Upside of Avvo
Avvo has sought to create a type of transparent and accessible platform for researching attorneys that simply did not exist before its creation, and they’ve largely succeeded in this endeavor. As a result, the site serves as a terrific resource to separate you and your firm from competitors.
For instance, if a peer attorney or firm has been disciplined in the past by the state bar association, that information is required to be posted on Avvo. Furthermore, attorneys who do poor work on behalf of their clients are now subject to public, highly visible reviews from those clients. For some attorneys, this can be troubling (see below), but for those attorneys who claim their profiles, update them regularly, provide quality legal assistance, and serve as a true asset to their communities, Avvo provides enormous value.
When utilized properly, the site can also have a major positive impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, as potential clients who search for you online will likely find your Avvo profile on the first page of a Google search. This provides quick and easy information for clients looking to research your legal acumen, and it also gives you a great opportunity to promote yourself, your knowledge, and your successes in a way that is earnest and fact-based. A well-crafted Avvo profile can create a level of familiarity and trust between you and your potential clients, pushing them further down the lead funnel and closer to your client roster.
Perceived Drawbacks of Avvo
Perhaps the most common complaint leveled against Avvo is the regular occurrence of unclaimed profiles. Many attorneys have searched the site and discovered (often to their chagrin) that they already have a profile, which they had no role in creating. Unfortunately for attorneys who would rather not participate, there’s nothing you can do about this. Avvo uses information that is available to the public to create the profile independent of the attorney’s participation, which means that you should strongly consider claiming your profile immediately if you have not already done so.
If you choose not to claim your Avvo profile (which we always recommend against), you do have the option to reach out to Avvo representatives directly to rectify any incorrect information by emailing [email protected]. If they are able to verify the information, they will update your profile without requiring you to claim it.
Another concern that some lawyers have with Avvo is related to the site’s ranking system. Unlike other platforms that are based largely on peer reviews, Avvo’s system is based on attorney participation with the site. Generally speaking, the more you participate and make updates to your profile, the higher the ranking you’ll receive.
However, the obvious silver lining here is that you ultimately have a great deal of influence when it comes to your Avvo ranking. If you fully complete your profile, regularly update it with new articles or successful cases, and play an active role in answering questions and generating positive reviews, you can make Avvo work for you rather than against you. (And if your competitors are claiming their profiles and actively participating while you hang back and do nothing, it will work against you.)
One final and significant issue that many attorneys have complained about is the lack of oversight regarding Avvo’s client reviews. Avvo does have a proprietary approval system in place, but if a fraudulent or unfair review makes it past this admittedly thin line of defense, there is currently no mechanism to remove the review. And while client reviews do not factor into the ranking algorithm, their presence can affect your rating on the site and cause potential headaches for even the most skilled and reputable attorneys.
While we think the concerns about the site’s review screening system are valid, our stance is that this is all the more reason to claim your Avvo profile and maintain an active presence on it. By dealing with negative reviews directly, you can lessen their impact or even convert them into golden marketing opportunities.
Avvo Best Practices
If you haven’t already done so, the very first thing you should do after reading this piece is to visit Avvo.com and claim your profile. Adopting a laissez-faire attitude and accepting an aspect of your online presence that you have no control over can only create headaches over your branding and marketing efforts in the long term.
Once you have claimed your profile, here are five tips to get the most out of Avvo:
- Post your resume: As previously stated, much of the Avvo ranking algorithm has to do with the amount of information on your profile page, so be sure to include your full resume or curriculum vitae. This should include a brief commentary on your personal legal philosophy as well as your education history, career benchmarks and achievements, awards and recognitions, and community engagement.
- Add media: Profiles with media components such as a photo and video are more likely to receive views from potential clients; not only that, but putting a face to your name is a simple and effective way to increase trust and inspire confidence. By including video, you can answer frequently asked questions or provide a little background on yourself and/or your firm. In fact, we encourage including informative video content on all of your web platforms.
- Answer user questions promptly: You would probably be surprised by how many attorneys don’t know that the Q&A section on Avvo exists. Even those that do know about it don’t always check their profile on a consistent basis to see if any new questions have been asked. Be sure to monitor your profile regularly and provide thorough and thoughtful answers to your users’ questions.
- Acquire peer endorsements: Endorsements from your fellow attorneys can have a significant positive impact on your Avvo ranking, and they can also work to establish your credibility. It’s comforting to potential clients to know that the attorney they are considering for their case is a respected and admired member of the legal community.
- Request client reviews: As with other similar platforms, client reviews are an essential element of your Avvo reputation. These reviews do not directly impact your ranking, but they undoubtedly influence your potential clients’ decision-making. One way to solicit more reviews without a lot of manual follow-up is to create an automated email campaign that launches after the successful completion of a client’s case. This email should thank them for their business and encourage them to leave a positive review.
What’s the Verdict?
Clients want to know that they are working with an experienced, trustworthy attorney. By posting your education history, career benchmarks, and significant cases, you can prove your merit and encourage potential clients to contact you and discuss their case further ― whether that conversation occurs as a Q&A session on Avvo or a free consultation at your office.
If your rankings on the site are low or your reviews lack luster, be proactive and take steps to remedy those problems directly. It’s possible that the issue is just a misunderstanding, and by approaching potential problems like negative reviews with candor and professionalism, you can likely communicate an accurate sense of your firm’s philosophy, values, and unique selling points to your prospective clients and anyone else who happens to be reading. Even in the worst case scenario, it’s an excellent chance for you to prove your professionalism, courtesy, and decorum in the face of adversity.
Overall, the fact of the matter is that whether or not you like or use Avvo, your potential clients definitely do like it and are using it. Think of Avvo, then, as a virtual handshake with your clients: would you rather look them in the eye and engage in professional discourse as you provide a firm, reassuring grip, or would you elect to push away and avert eye contact as they try to decide whether you’re the right person to handle their case?
Contact LaFleur Today!
If you have any questions about how to claim, manage, or optimize your Avvo profile, we would love the chance to speak with you further. Our content experts have years of experience leveraging this resource to provide the most value, and we’re eager to do the same for you.
Even if you choose to manage your Avvo account in-house, we are glad to provide helpful advice. Our agency handles the entire spectrum of legal marketing strategies, from paid search to branding exercises, so please reach out today by completing this simple form or by calling (888) 222-1512 and learn more about what LaFleur Legal Marketing can do for your firm!
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Fairley, S. (2014, May 3). 10 steps to get the most benefit from your Avvo listing. The National Law Review. Retrieved from http://www.natlawreview.com/article/10-steps-to-get-most-benefit-your-avvo-listing
Pfeifer, W. (2016, July 7). What is Avvo and the Avvo lawyer ranking system? The Balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-avvo-and-the-avvo-lawyer-ranking-system-2151221