How would you like it if a group of non-attorneys critiqued your legal services without your permission… and then published their opinion online for the whole world to see?
What if those non-attorneys weren’t people but robots? And what if all of your prospective clients really trusted those robots’ point of view?
Welcome to the often-unfair world of lawyer referral websites. Among the most popular is Avvo.com, an online attorney database that works a lot like the hypothetical we described.
Even if you don’t know what an Avvo rating is, you’ve probably encountered colleagues bragging about it on their websites.
More to the point, even if you’ve never asked for an Avvo rating, you almost certainly already have one, so it’s something you want to take seriously. After all, your prospective clients will.
Avvo auto-generates its attorney database by mining the information available in state bar directories. With your name and contact information in place, its computer algorithms go to work on assigning you a star rating on a scale of 0 (ouch) to 10 (“superb”).
A 10-star Avvo rating is hard to come by, but it means a lot to the general public, where people are skeptical about lawyers and want to make sure they choose the right ones.
We talk to a lot of lawyers who are curious about their Avvo ratings — and especially about how to raise them. Here’s our guide to achieving a 10-star rating in Avvo (or at least getting a lot closer to that goal than you are now).
How Avvo Determines Star Ratings
Your Avvo star rating is determined by a long series of factors, and the site is secretive as to how it weighs each one.
But just as we’re able to take our clients to the top of the Google search results despite the search giant’s secrecy, it is entirely possible to reach a 10-star rating in Avvo if you know what their algorithms are looking for.
Generally speaking, Avvo divvies up your attorney attributes into three categories.
Simply put: how many years have you been in practice? Time is one variable none of us can control, so if your J.D. is still hot out of the oven, you’ll just have to wait a while on this one. But there’s good news: its impact on your overall rating is hardly definitive.
2. Your Professional Ethics Record
There isn’t a lot you can do to impact this category, either. Just like a late payment can haunt your credit score for years, any old run-ins with the ethics board can ding your Avvo rating. But the Avvo robots are merciful, at least. Long-ago infractions appear to take a smaller toll.
3. Credentials & Recognition
Fortunately, the bulk of your bio falls within this category, and you can exercise a lot of control over how Avvo sees you. The parts of your profile relevant to this score include:
- Where you’re licensed
- Where you’ve worked
- How many state bars, bar associations, and other organizations you belong to
- Articles you’ve published
- Awards you’ve won
- Peer endorsements (from other attorneys)
- Client testimonials (different from Avvo user reviews — see below)
- Where you went to law school
- Who you clerked for (if anyone)
- Your ratings on similar websites, such as Super Lawyers and Martindale-Hubbell
Testimonials and Endorsements vs. User Reviews
Avvo allows its own website users to enter a review of you or your firm. They can also submit questions for you to answer publicly. While all those things can make a good impression on the public, they don’t directly impact your rating.
Rather, it is the endorsements you provide in your own profile (testimonials from clients and/or peers) that matter.
Spruce Up Your Own Profile
As with so many things in life, you ultimately get out of Avvo what you put into it. The best way to improve your Avvo rating: claim ownership over your own profile and then add information to it.
The first part is easy. If you don’t already control your own Avvo profile, following these steps:
- Visit Avvo.com
- Click on “Find Lawyers” and search for yourself.
- Next to your name, you’ll find a link labeled “Is this you?” Click it.
- Avvo will contact you to verify that you are who you say you are.
- Avvo will provide you with a PIN number. After they’ve contacted you, enter that PIN.
- Click “Create an Account” to set up your username and password.
Once you’re logged in, edit your profile and start adding information! Use our “Credentials and Recommendations” list above as your guide.
In a short period of time, you can begin to make real inroads toward an improved Avvo score. While there’s no way to guarantee a 10-star rating or ensure overnight success, just a little time and effort (don’t overdo it — you’re a busy person) goes a long way.
You Can’t Buy a 10-Star Avvo Rating
As with love and happiness, money can’t buy a better Avvo rating. While the site does offer premium membership profiles for professionals, signing up won’t get you a single extra star.
Let’s Grow Your Practice Using the Web
At Black Fin, we keep an eye on attorney directory services because it’s where we got our start. Long ago, our founder, Gerrid Smith, created the world’s largest lawyer directory online. Today, he’s focused on results-driven online marketing and SEO services for law firms.
There’s a lot you can do to build your brand and grow your firm online. Avvo is only one small piece of the puzzle. Contact Black Fin and find out what we can do for you today.