We have focused on two of the highest ranking and most visible ‘directory listings’ already: Google & Facebook. Now it is time to turn our attention to the next tier of directory listings, industry-specific and local directories. First up is Avvo.
In case you have been practicing law out of a cave for the past few years, Avvo, which has been online since about 2007, is a website that provides information about lawyers and legal information. It has an online directory of just about every lawyer in the United States who is registered with a bar association. It also has a huge question and answer system for consumers to post questions and for lawyers from around the country to answer. It has some other services, but those are the two that we really care about for this challenge.
One of the reasons we focus on Avvo early on in this process is that they rank very high in search results for a lawyer or law firm’s name. Especially the lawyer search. If you are a lawyer and use an incognito or private browser to Google your name with the word lawyer or attorney after it, you will likely have your Avvo profile show on the first page.
Furthermore, Avvo’s lawyer directory listings have a concept of an Avvo rating, which is based on a number of undisclosed factors along with the ability for other lawyers to leave peer endorsements separate from where clients can leave reviews.
Having all of that information provides a great deal of confidence to a consumer who is referred to you for legal services. If they search your name and visit your Avvo profile, you can have a high Avvo rating, a number of endorsements from other lawyers in the community, and ratings from former clients, all in one place. That is more than enough to encourage the referral to contact your firm.
Unfortunately, if you have never visited your Avvo page your rating is probably around a 5 or 6, and you likely don’t have any peer endorsements or reviews. That changes today.
Today’s challenge is to claim and optimize your Avvo profile. If you have other lawyers in your firm, please share this challenge with them because each lawyer should claim and manage their Avvo profile independently.
A side note: Avvo has spurred a lot of controversy over the years, winning all the legal battles regarding their directory and on the other hand recently losing some battles in the bar associations for some of their newer services. Findlaw, SuperLawyers, Lawyers.com have similar models, just not as well executed, but for some reason, everyone seems to have a strong positive or a strong negative opinion about Avvo. But, regardless of your opinion, let me be very clear. Avvo always ranks well in the search results. When optimized correctly, you can almost guarantee your profile will rank for your name thus providing a great source that you can almost control to help protect your referrals.
Let’s get started.
- Visit https://www.avvo.com/find-a-lawyer and search for your name
- If you have not claimed your profile it will say “Claim Your Profile”
- Click the Claim Your Profile button and you will be able to verify that you are the lawyer on the profile one of four ways: email, phone, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
- Avvo, based on scraping bar association sites and other sources likely has your phone number or email correct so those are the least intrusive methods to verify your identity. However, if the email or phone number is wrong, you can claim using your LinkedIn or Facebook profile. Then you can update your profile with the correct email and phone number later.
- Once you have claimed your profile and created a login. Navigate to your Avvo profile where you can update your information.
- The more complete your Avvo profile the better your rating will be. Similar to LinkedIn, if you have used that before, Avvo provides a profile completeness guide on the right side of the profile edit screen.
- Work to get to as close to 100% as you can. Come back and login later if you need to gather some information. It seems that you can’t get a perfect 10 score unless your profile is at least 95% complete.
To help you out, let’s start by looking at a 10.0 rating profile in the 2 images below and discuss key points in creating your Avvo listing. As mentioned above, getting to 95% is key but let’s discuss things that we believe matter to the consumer and things that matter to Avvo’s rating.
- Nice Headshot—If ends up on your profile, your headshot is the first thing they see. You use your law firm’s logo in most all of your other directory listings, but on Avvo, you want a professional headshot. If you don’t have one, I recommend getting one. It only costs a few hundred dollars to bring in a professional to take great photos of your staff and your office. If your headshot is 5 or more years old, you may look different so try to keep it to a headshot that actually looks like you. Also notice that if you don’t have a nice background image from your office, you can use a clean solid background. Our in-house designers suggest that you should not use the patterned gray backgrounds that make it look like your photo was taken at Sears Photo Studio in the late 1980s.
- Reviews—We will talk about reviews later in this challenge, but notice that highlighted above the Avvo Rating is the consumer reviews. This is a recent change in the past few years as the Avvo Rating used to be the most prominent number, but it reinforces the importance of clients reviewing you on Avvo.
- Avvo Rating—Your goal should be to get to a 9 or 10. Unless you are a new lawyer, you should be able to get an 8 or 9 relatively fast and a 10 with a just a little bit of extra effort. As far as we believe, consumer reviews do not factor into your Avvo Rating, but peer endorsements do. Try to get at least 12 peer endorsements from your legal colleagues.
- Avvo Pro—Not required, but it is about $50 per month. It may have a small impact on prospective clients because “pro” sounds better next to a photo of someone who does not have that designation, probably not enough reason to shell out $600 per year. But the much more important reason is that if you are a Pro account, Avvo does not advertise other local attorneys in similar practice areas on your profile. This prevents someone who visits your Avvo profile from seeing other lawyers in your community that could also help them.
- Headline—I am surprised how few lawyers take advantage of the headline on their profile. Use this to put your tagline you created in your NAP and more tab.
- Photos—This is an opportunity to include not just photos of your firm, but social proof such as images of awards.
- Answers and Guides—Avvo encourages you to get involved in their community. Take a look at some questions each day and answer a few. When you answer questions Avvo claims their data shows that “attorneys who answer 15 or more questions per month, receive 10x more contacts than those who don’t.” Note, we do not believe that answering questions increases your Avvo rating.
- Awards—In addition to endorsements, awards are an area to help increase your rating. Any awards you have put them here. Avvo puts a weight on recency of the award, so be sure to include the date of your award. If you have won an award multiple years use the most recent year. Be sure to think about every recognition you have earned.
- Legal Community—Avvo also gives a lot of weight to your involvement and leadership in the legal community. If you have served in positions for your local bar association, been published in legal journals, or presented anywhere about legal topics be sure to list them.
Now that your Avvo profile is claimed and updated, keep working on getting peer endorsements, awards, and getting involved in the legal community to work your way to a 9 or 10 rating.
If you are feeling aggressive today, other legal directories that rank well that you may want to work on are Lawyers.com and Findlaw.com, both have free listings available so don’t start off thinking you have to pay for the directory.
Tomorrow we will talk about directory listings that help Google and your prospective clients understand that you are a recognized member of the local community in your city.