Before you visit a restaurant or purchase a product, you probably read customer reviews. If the reviews are positive, you’ll give it a shot – but if they’re negative, you’re not going to give that company your business.
The same is true when someone is searching for a lawyer. But instead of sites like Amazon or Yelp, most attorney reviews come from a website called Avvo.com, which creates attorney profiles and ranks lawyers by rating. For SEO for lawyers, Avvo is the largest and most popular legal directory online – and if the $71.5 million the company received in funding last year is any indicator, that’s not going to change any time soon.
So, if you’re an attorney, what does this mean for you? Avvo is likely the first place a potential client will see you, so you need to make a good impression with your Avvo profile. That means your Avvo rating needs to be as high as possible – ideally a perfect 10/10 score. Whether you’re a bankruptcy attorney, a personal injury lawyer, a criminal defense attorney, or any other type of lawyer, this guide will explain step-by-step how to increase your ranking on Avvo.
- Step 1: How to Claim Your Avvo Profile
- Step 2: How to Increase Your Avvo Lawyer Rating by Completing Your Attorney Profile
- Step 3: List Legal Awards, Work Experience, and Publications to Score Points on Avvo
- Step 4: How to Request Peer Endorsements and Client Reviews (Testimonials)
- Step 5: Improve Your Avvo Lawyer Ranking by Listing Speaking Engagements
We’ll be upfront with you: perfecting your Avvo profile to achieve the maximum rating takes a little effort. However, it’s well worth your time if done correctly. Think of it as an investment in the success of your practice. After all, would you want to hire a lawyer with a 1-star rating? We didn’t think so either.
But before we delve into the nuts and bolts of improving your Avvo rating, let’s start with a quick overview of where the ratings come from, and how Avvo rankings work. Here’s how Avvo itself describes the function and purpose of an Avvo attorney ranking:
“The Avvo Rating is our effort to evaluate a lawyer’s background based on the information available in an attorney’s Avvo profile. We create the rating using a model that considers information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to information we collect from public sources like state bar associations and lawyer websites. Any information that affects the Avvo Rating is visible in an attorney’s profile.”
All attorneys who use Avvo.com are assigned a rating from “Extreme Caution” at a 1, to “Superb” at a 10. Here’s how the full scale breaks down:
When you’re up against thousands of “Superbs,” it’s simply not enough to be content with stopping at “Very Good” or even “Excellent,” and you certainly don’t want to be a “Caution” or “Concern.” To be at your most competitive, you need to aim for the 10.0 rating.
But how are ratings calculated in the first place? In the interest of impartiality, Avvo uses an algorithm to determine Avvo lawyer ratings, taking into account factors like:
- Career achievements
- Recognition within the industry
- Years of experience
However, beyond the built-in algorithm, there are still ways that attorneys can influence their rating, because there are many different components that go into achieving a 10 star rating on Avvo. Below, we’ll discuss how to:
- Claim your profile
- Get peer endorsements
- Get client testimonials
- Keep your profile accurate and up-to-date
- List events you’ve spoken at and awards you’ve received
- Make sure your profile is completed thoroughly
- Make your contributions to the site count
- Share legal articles and content you’ve published
- Share your courtroom victories and accomplishments in the legal field
If you’re a lawyer, you probably have a profile on Avvo at this very moment – even if you didn’t make one yourself. Before you can start making changes to your information, the first step you need to take is to claim your profile on Avvo.
If you don’t claim your profile, not only will you be unable to edit your information, you also won’t receive a numeric rating. Instead of receiving a 1 to 10 score, an unclaimed profile will simply receive a designation of “No Concern” or “Attention.”
In order to change your “No Concern” or “Attention” into a numeric rating, take the following steps to claim your Avvo attorney profile:
- Find your profile in the Avvo directory by typing in your first and last name. The screen should look like this:
- Next, pick a method of claiming your profile. You can use:
- Your email address
- Your phone number
- Check your phone, email, LinkedIn profile, or Facebook profile for a confirmation message from Avvo.
- Follow the directions in the confirmation message to complete the process of claiming your lawyer profile on Avvo.
- Choose a password for future logins.
Once you’ve claimed your profile, Avvo will start you off at a base level 5.9 rating, which is “Average” on the Avvo rating system. That way, you won’t have to dig yourself out of a 1.0 hole before you even start. (An exception would be if you had an endorsement prior to claiming your profile, in which case you’d start with a higher score.)
Now that you’ve claimed your profile successfully, you’re on your way toward a 10.0 rating. But there’s more work to be done.
Avvo is a website, not a mind-reader. You cannot receive credit for information that isn’t included in your profile. You could be one of the most renowned and accomplished attorneys in your field; but if Avvo doesn’t know that, it won’t help your Avvo attorney rating at all. That’s why it’s so critically important to ensure that your profile is as complete as possible. This simply cannot be stressed enough.
So how do you make sure your profile is thorough and up-to-date? What sort of information do you need to provide?
Fortunately, Avvo provides a “Profile Completeness” progress bar and checklist that make it easy to see exactly what your profile is missing, and where it’s been filled out. You’ll need to get your Profile Completeness bar up to 95%, which means you’ll need to complete fields for:
- About Me
- Client Ratings
- Contact Information
- Fees & Payments
- Peer Endorsements
- Practice Areas
- Speaking Engagements
- Work Experience
- Avvo Rating Badge
Here’s how this will display on your profile page…
…And here’s how it will display on your profile dashboard page (you won’t be able to see the expanded checklist from your dashboard view):
You probably noticed the little message beneath the “Profile Completeness” bar that says “Add Avvo Rating Badge to make your profile 100% complete.” If you scroll down on your dashboard, you’ll see a button to do this:
There’s no particular reason not to add a badge, but don’t fixate on this step. An Avvo Rating Badge might have a positive psychological impact on a potential client who’s viewing your profile, but missing a badge won’t affect your ability to achieve a 10.0 “Superb” rating on Avvo. Completing your profile will not increase your Avvo score, but you cannot attain a perfect 10 rating unless your profile is at least 95% complete.
Practice areas are an especially important section of your profile, because the terms you enter will directly impact the terms you appear for when people search Avvo. For example, imagine that you’re handling criminal defense lawyer marketing, and your firm works with many different types of criminal cases. If you indicate that you only handle DUI cases, you’ll only show up in DUI searches. Therefore, you need to be comprehensive and specific when selecting your practice areas.
It’s worth crunching some numbers to determine roughly what percentage of your caseload comes in from different matters (e.g. car accidents, drug possession charges, Chapter 7 bankruptcy). You can use that information to fill out your practice areas accordingly on Avvo, which creates a visual representation with a pie chart like this:
As you can see in the image above, there’s a link to “Edit your practice areas” whenever your firm decides to shifts its focus.
By the way: don’t forget to submit your bar number. This is an important step that many attorney users on Avvo overlook. Make sure you submit your bar number to Avvo to assist in verifying your identity and improving your rating.
While practice areas are exceptionally critical, neglecting any area of your profile will be detrimental to your ranking. Your profile is your place to show off your abilities, achievements, and qualifications. Have you obtained a sizable personal injury verdict for a client? Dramatically reduced a sentence? Received an award? Do you speak Spanish? Include all pertinent information, even if it seems insignificant. It can only help your score – especially if the information is recent.
Take, for example, the awards section of your profile. Let’s imagine you’ve won three awards: one in 2008, one in 2010, and one in 2015. While you should certainly list all three, you’ll get the most credit for the 2015 award, because it’s the most recent and thus the most heavily weighted in Avvo’s algorithm.
On a related note: do not forget to include the date on each award. If you fail to add a date, the Avvo attorney ranking algorithm will assume the award is old. Since old awards have a lower value, you won’t earn the full credit you deserve if the award is recent.
Don’t be modest about including each and every instance of professional recognition you have earned. Some examples of significant awards, achievements, and memberships you should definitely list on your Avvo profile, where applicable, include:
- Awards from law schools
- Legal committees you serve on
- Membership in the American Association for Justice
- Membership in the relevant bar association(s)
- Membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Positive ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Selection by Super Lawyers
Whether you’ve earned awards or not, you should list your general work experience in detail. Not only does this show potential clients that you possess the skill and qualifications to effectively handle cases like theirs – it may also increase your score. There are unconfirmed reports that listing a leadership position in a legal association may be weighted more heavily than other positions. In either case, providing dated and detailed work experience is essential to completing your profile – and in turn, obtaining a better Avvo rating.
On a related note, be sure to include links to articles you have published. The extent to which publications impact your lawyer ranking on Avvo.com is unconfirmed, but you should still include them under the “Publications” section of your Avvo attorney profile. These links to your blog, for instance, can also boost your SEO for personal injury lawyers and other firms alike.. Examples of published content could include:
- Articles or essays that were published in law journals or reputable newspapers
- Books and eBooks
- Your legal blog
You’ll find the “Publications” section nearly all the way at the bottom of your profile, just above the section for “Speaking Engagements” (which we’ll cover in a few minutes). To create more publications, simply click the “Add” button in the section header, shown below:
While the bulk of your Avvo information will come from you directly, you’ll also need to provide some external information, such as peer endorsements, in order to improve your position in the Avvo rating system.
The importance of Avvo peer endorsements are plain common sense. If you see a laptop review that says, “This is the best laptop I ever bought!” you’re far more likely to check out that laptop than its competitor with no endorsements, aren’t you?
This video gives an easy-to-follow tutorial of how to both give endorsements to other attorneys, and solicit endorsements for yourself. Skip to the 1:10 mark to start watching how to both give and receive peer endorsements, one step at a time. (For those interested, video content prior to 1:10 covers logging in and claiming your profile.)
However, in case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s how to request a peer endorsement on Avvo. It’s incredibly fast and easy, so there’s no excuse not to do it.
- Navigate to your profile dashboard.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click the link that says “Request Peer Endorsements” (see image below).
When you click the “Request Peer Endorsements” link, a window will open displaying a form where you can enter up to 50 email addresses and write a brief message.
You can also request an endorsement by taking these steps:
- Navigate away from the dashboard to your profile page.
- Scroll down to the “Peer Endorsements” section.
- Click the “Request” button in the section header, pictured below.
While all endorsements are helpful, it’s important to be aware that some are worth more value than others, depending on their source. Avvo endorsements can come from:
- Family members
- Fellow lawyers in the community (“Lawyer in Community”)
- Lawyers you’ve opposed on a matter
- Lawyers you’ve worked with (“Worked with Lawyer on Matter”)
- People who have worked for you (“Worked for Lawyer”)
You will see your peer endorsements about midway down your profile page, beneath client reviews and above professional licenses.
For obvious reasons, endorsements from other attorneys are the most valuable. Here’s how many points your Avvo score will increase from endorsements, depending on who they come from:
- “Lawyer in Community” = 0.1 point increase, up to 1.2 points
- “Lawyer in Community” after 1.2 point threshold = 0.1 point increase for every two endorsements, no apparent point limit
- “Worked with Lawyer on Matter” = 0.3 point increase, up to 1.2 points
- “Worked with Lawyer on Matter” after 1.2 point threshold = 0.3 point increase for every two endorsements, no apparent point limit
Client reviews are less important in Avvo’s lawyer rating system, because they do not increase your rating. However, even though client testimonials will not add points to your ranking, they will still have a positive mental effect on the people who are browsing your profile, which makes them worthwhile. Client reviews reassure people, bring a humanizing element to your profile, and make you seem more promising and approachable. If someone sees that former clients were happy with your performance, they’re more likely to retain your services – even if Avvo doesn’t recognize it mathematically.
Requesting client reviews is as easy as requesting peer endorsements. Here’s how to request a client review on Avvo:
- Navigate to your profile dashboard.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click the link that says “Request Reviews” (see image below).
Like clicking the “Request Peer Endorsements” link, clicking the “Request Reviews” link will bring up a screen displaying a form template with a brief message. You can overwrite the message with something more personal if you prefer not to use Avvo’s boilerplate copy.
An important note about client testimonials: remember never to betray client confidentiality when listing testimonials. By providing a recommendation, your clients are doing you a favor. Do them a favor in return by respecting their privacy.
Like awards, peer endorsements, and membership in legal organizations, speaking engagements are also valuable for increasing your Avvo.com attorney rating. However, there’s a right way – and a wrong way – to utilize your speaking engagements.
Namely, you will only earn Avvo points for speaking engagements if you are able to supply a link back to the event. (Supplying links makes the process more transparent and lends credibility for viewers who are browsing through your profile.) You will gain 0.1 point toward your Avvo rating for each speaking engagement you are able to link to.
If the event occurred a long time ago, or there’s no website associated with the event for some other reason, there may still be a way to get credit. In this scenario, you could write up a press release summarizing the event, including as much information as possible – the golden rule on Avvo. You can then link to the press release, which may solve the issue.
However, you should also be advised that Avvo vets each link for quality, authority, and accuracy. If the press release exists only on your website, Avvo may reject the link. Nonetheless, it’s worth a shot. If Avvo accepts the link(s), you’ll see a slight increase in your rating on Avvo for each speaking engagement you list successfully. Unlike peer endorsements, there does not appear to be a point threshold for how much you can increase your attorney rank on Avvo.com based on speaking engagements.
To list a speaking engagement on your Avvo profile, follow these steps:
- Navigate to your profile page (or click “Go to profile” on your profile dashboard).
- Scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the page.
- Click the “Add” button in the “Speaking Engagements” header (see below).
Every attorney on Avvo.com has a numeric “Contributor Level.” Here’s an example of what this looks like on your profile dashboard…
…And here’s a different view of Contributor Level rankings:
Contributor Levels, which range from one to 20, are your “reward” for answering the user-generated questions submitted to Avvo’s popular “Ask a Lawyer” feature. But are they really that rewarding? In short, is it worth your time to answer Avvo questions?
From a ranking standpoint, probably not. Answering questions – and in turn, earning a higher Contributor Level – will not add points to your attorney score on Avvo.com. On a similar note, it is a poor utilization of your time to write legal guides for Avvo. Considering how time-consuming they are to prepare, review, and submit, Avvo’s legal guides yield a poor ROI, frequently getting lost in the overwhelming volume of content on the site.
You are much better off writing the guide on your own website. Depending on how critical the guide is to your practice, you can make it highly visible to site visitors by featuring it prominently on your homepage. You do not need to depend on Avvo to become known as a legitimate and reliable information resource. Think of Avvo as a support pillar for your website – not the other way around.
A typo will make your Avvo profile look sloppy to site visitors, and an omission will rob you of potential points that could be added to your rating. Don’t sabotage all the hard work you’ve put in: last but not least, give your attorney profile a once-over (or twice-over) to make sure everything is current and accurate.
If information on your Avvo profile is incorrect, out of date, or not dated at all, it’s going to hurt your ranking. For example, if Avvo thinks you received an award two years earlier than you actually did, its algorithm won’t be as impressed by that award during its analysis of your profile, as we mentioned earlier.
Avvo.com is a tremendously powerful tool for attorneys, and having a strong Avvo rating — ideally a 10/10 — can help direct a significant amount of business to your practice. But in order to harness Avvo’s full strength, you need to ensure your attorney profile has been filled out as thoroughly as possible. If you follow these simple tips, your Avvo rating should start to climb.
Having an attorney profile on Avvo.com is great. If you have any external profiles that you can link to, that’s even better. Try to provide the most comprehensive view of yourself possible, showing that you’re active and reliable outside of Avvo, too. If you belong to any other groups that rate attorneys, like BestLawyers.com or SuperLawyers.com, let Avvo (and your potential clients) know. It shows that no matter where or by whom you’re being rated, you’re consistently found to be skilled and knowledgeable, and that can boost your Avvo ranking significantly.
One important thing to keep in mind: when linking to your Avvo profile from your website, make sure you add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the links. This will help ensure that they are not viewed as reciprocated links, and you can retain as much of the benefit of having links from your activity on Avvo to your website.
Avvo and similar lawyer directories are great tools for validating your skill and experience, but remember: Avvo and other attorney directories form only a small part of a healthy digital marketing campaign. If you would like help increasing your firm’s online visibility, give Majux a call at (215) 309-1631. We help law firms from all over the country build revenue-producing digital marketing campaigns that bring more clients to their practice.