Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. Frank is our resident authority on SEO and PPC advertising and is a frequent contributor to a number of blogs.
Clients Will See Your Avvo Rating
Any attorney that engages in any sort of online marketing knows Avvo.It is the preeminent lawyer review site and one of the most visited lawyer directories. Just as Yelp can make or break a restaurant’s reputation, client reviews on Avvo can do the same. It is critical for any lawyer to actively manage his or her online reputation, as a neglected online presence could suddenly become a liability.Whether you hope to use Avvo as a lead generation source or not, any potential clients that searches your name on Google is likely to see your Avvo profile—ignore it at your own peril.There are best practices in online reputation management that you can employ to ensure that your rating stays as high as possible. This guide will walk you through the calculation of your Avvo rating and what you can do to maximize it.Table of Contents
Why Bother Actively Managing Your Avvo Rating?
Who Actually Reads Avvo Reviews? Everyone.
Would you hire a web design or SEO company without checking their online reviews? Have you ever checked Yelp or Trip Advisor to check a restaurant’s rating?In both of these cases, you are about to make a decision that is nowhere nearly as risky as hiring an attorney, yet think of the effort that you’ve expended in choosing the right restaurant for a Friday night out. Your clients are probably doing even more research than you did when you had your website built. At some point during this process, they will Googld your name and see your Avvo rating.Anyone that enters your name into Google is likely to find your website, then your Avvo profile. Here is an example of typical search results for a local attorney in Cherry Hill:
The Good Reviews Will Drown Out the Bad Ones
By actively maintaining your Avvo rating by monitoring it and soliciting reviews from happy clients and acquiring peer endorsements, you are preparing against the inevitable negative review.Even the best attorneys have an occasional unhappy client, and as you probably already know, people are much more likely to leave a review when they are unhappy than if they are happy. It is virtually inevitable that you will receive an unfavorable review from a client at some point in your career; if you have dozens or hundreds of positive reviews, it will mitigate the impact of the negative reviews.By adopting a system for soliciting client reviews and peer endorsements, you will greatly increase the likelihood of sticking with your reputation management plan. You will need the following:
A template email that you can send to clients upon successful resolution of their legal issues. While it is nice to write a custom note, you are going to find yourself too busy to actually write it. This will likely result in you not asking for the review at all.
A set time to request the review. By timing it properly, you will increase the percentage of clients that actually leave a review. Our experience has been that the best time to request the review is right after a client gets what they want, so don’t wait too long to send your email.
A list of colleagues that would be likely to leave a review.
What is the Avvo Lawyer Ratings Scale?
It is a rating scale of an attorney from 1-10. Each rating has a corresponding qualitative description of it as seen in this chart:
10.0 – 9.0
8.9 – 8.0
7.9 – 7.0
6.9 – 6.0
5.9 – 5.0
4.9 – 4.0
3.9 – 3.0
2.9 – 2.0
1.9 – 1.0
This rating—along with ratings from Yelp, Facebook, and other websites—may often be pulled into the search engine results when someone searches your name. If you do not actively maintain your Avvo profile, there is a possibility that you may have a rating that is not reflective of the quality of service that you offer. There are attorneys with stellar reputations that do not have 10/10 Avvo scores simply because they never completed the profile.
Prospective clients will Google your name and there is a very high chance that they will see your Avvo rating.
How Are the Avvo.com Lawyer Ratings Calculated?
Avvo.com’s algorithm is a guarded secret. Former Marketing Director Conrad Saam has stated that Avvo’s algorithm is like a “resume scoring application” and the company has stated little more than that.The company has stated that:
“The Avvo Rating is calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in your profile. If it’s not in your profile, then we don’t know about it, and if we don’t know about it, then we can’t give you credit for it. Adding relevant information (the more current, the better) to your profile can translate into points toward your rating.”
In other words, give the site as much information about your career as you can. The more you give it, the more it has to rate you. As outlined in the previous section, some people will jump to huge conclusions about you and your practice based on your Avvo rating, so take the time to fill it out.SEOs believe that the following are all criteria that weigh in the algorithm:
Years in practice
Accolades and achievements
Completeness of the profile
Number of reviews
“Contributor points” (outlined in the next section)
User site signals
SEO professionals have noticed that reviews and peer endorsements seem to impact Avvo’s rating more than publications and activity on the Avvo forum, but the company has yet to corroborate this anecdotal evidence. It has only gone as far as to say that endorsements state ‘this is a strong lawyer in my community.’The completion of the “cases won” section of the profile is likely to weigh in the algorithm. In addition to being a direct signal that the information included in the profile is complete, sharing a track record of successful resolutions will likely decrease the amount of users that “pogostick” (view your page and quickly leave to visit the next). If Avvo’s algorithm is anything like those that power most search engines, it is tracking user engagement. If a large number of visitors quickly leave a profile page, the algorithm would likely demote it.
Posting one of the first three answers to a question (+10 pts)
Answering a question within the first hour (+5 pts)
Agreeing with a recent question’s answer (+2 pts)
Commenting on an answer (+2 pts)
Publishing a guide (+15 pts)
Marking another attorney’s guide as helpful (+2 pts)
Helping Avvo maintain quality forums and information
Receive an “I agree” vote on one of your answers (+5 pts)
Receive a “Marked as helpful” vote on one of your answers (+5 pts)
Receive a “Best answer” vote from a question’s asker (+10 pts)
Receive a “thumbs up” vote on one of your guides (+3 pts)
Receive a “Staff Pick” designation for one of your guides (+40 pts)
Educating others through Avvo
Participate as a guest-blogger (+100 pts)
Guest-host a webinar (+1,000 pts)
Speak at a Lawyernomics conference (+10,000 pts)
Most of these bullet points describe activities that would be good to engage in even without a point system. By sharing your time and expertise, you create authority and a reputation in your industry. Forums like Avvo’s now allow that authority and reputation to potentially spread throughout the world.
Steps to Getting Started with Avvo
1. Claim your profile
Naturally, the first step is to find your profile. You can find your profile by searching here.Find it your profile and claim it.You will need to verify your identity by using LinkedIn, your email, Facebook, or phone number.
2. Fill out your profile to 95%
It does take a bit of time to fill out your profile. Grab your laptop, put on some Netflix, and fill it out until it reaches 95%You can only get it to 100% by adding an Avvo Rating Badge to your site, which won’t actually benefit you in any way, so don’t bother.
3. Fill out your areas of practice
This is a step that you don’t want to get wrong.For some areas of practice, it is entirely possible that the Avvo directory is sitting at the top of the search results on Google. This means that a prominent placement on Avvo will likely result in client inquiries.Fill out your practice areas as truthfully as you can, but remember that if you’re a personal injury lawyer that focuses primarily on catastrophic personal injury vs. car accidents, be sure to note your practice areas to reflect that.
4. Add all of your state bar licenses
The completeness of the data that you provide will be reflected in your score, so be sure to provide as much as you can. At the same time, don’t share anything that you’d rather not share—if you were disciplined by the Nevada State Bar in 1992 and have been practicing in Minnesota ever since, don’t list your Nevada Bar license.
5. Share all of your work experience
This is possibly the most important step.In addition to the benefits of providing more information to the algorithm, people want to know about your background.Would you hire an attorney without knowing where he or she has worked? It’s also important to include accurate start and stop dates; some believe that it helps your rating. Others believe that it’s simply better at telling prospective clients your story.
6. List any awards you’ve received
While some argue that it is necessary to list awards and recognition in order to get a 10/10 Avvo rating, a brief look at the site shows that this is not the case.On the other hand, having a number of awards and honorary memberships listed under your profile is likely to catch the attention of visitors, sending user signals to the algorithm that indicate that people are finding what they want when they get to your profile. This may be a case of it being beneficial to make your profile for people and not algorithms.
7. Add Cases to your Portfolio
Adding details about the sorts of cases that you’ve successfully handled is another way to increase positive user signals. A long list of successful outcomes is likely to catch the attention of visitors.
8. List any organizations with which you are affiliated.
Are you a Million Dollar Advocates club member? List it.School board memeber? List it.Share as much information about yourself, the organizations you are affiliated with, or anything at all that reflects well on you.
9. Share any publications you’ve authored
If you’ve ever been published, it increases your “authority” in the eyes of potential clients (and the algorithm). Be sure to keep it professional—as riveting as your Harry Potter fan fiction may be, it’s not going to help you paint the picture of professionalism.
10. List conferences or CLE events where you have spoken or taught
Demonstrating that you have spoken at some conferences will help your Avvo rating. It’s also important that you include a link to the even; without it, you may not get the “Avvo points.”
11. Request Peer Endorsements
SEO studies have shown that peer endorsements are a strong factor in Avvo’s rating system. It is imperative that you request them from anyone that will give them.
The site will ask how you know each other. It will give you the following options:
Fellow lawyer in community
Worked for lawyer
Worked together on a matter
Opposing counsel on a matter
We’ve seen “worked together…” and “opposing counsel…” impact the Avvo Rating 3x more than the other options, so keep that in mind when answering this question.