There are dozens of attorney rating services online. Some function only to review the quality of an attorney’s or firm’s legal services. Others operate as a rating resource and an online lawyer directory. Avvo.com is perhaps the most well-known of these services.
If you’re an attorney, you most likely have an Avvo profile—even if you didn’t set it up. Avvo creates a profile for every licensed attorney it can locate, including 97% of attorneys in the United States. It rates lawyers based on “the information the lawyer has included on their profiles [and information] from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals.”
What does an Avvo rating mean?
A lawyer can receive the following score based on the information in their profile:
- 10 – 9.0 Superb
- 8.9 – 8.0 Excellent
- 7.9 – 7.0 Very Good
- 6.9 – 6.0 Good
- 5.9 – 5.0 Average
- 4.9 – 4.0 Concern
- 3.9 – 3.0 Caution
- 2.9 – 2.0 Strong Caution
- 1.9 – 1.0 Extreme Caution
An attorney who claims and completes their profile on the free legal directory will typically have a higher Avvo rating than those who do not. In fact, “Avvo does not provide a numerical rating for profiles that have not been claimed….”
Does a High Avvo Rating Matter?
It’s no secret that many attorneys dislike Avvo. Some have even filed defamation suits against the service for poor Avvo ratings. Critics believe the site’s ratings are misleading. For instance, an elite attorney might only receive an average rating for simply failing to claim their profile. Other naysayers find fault with their lack of control over information on their profile.
Like it or not, Avvo is among the most dominant rating and referral services in the legal industry. And it’s only getting bigger. Internet Brands, Avvo’s parent company, even included the brand in the name of its entire online legal network: Martindale-Avvo.
Not surprisingly, Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other search engines publish lawyer’s AVVO ratings in their search results—often in the first pages of their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for a user query.
Avvo often appears high in Google’s organic search rankings for target keywords. This is particularly true when a user searches for the “best” attorney or lawyer in their area.
As you can see, Avvo is the fourth organic result to appear for the query “best personal injury lawyer in clearwater.”
Avvo ratings also appear near the top of searches for a particular attorney or firm (branded searches).
Search engines and prospective clients care about a high AVVO rating. So should you. Your AVVO profile is an indispensable legal marketing tool and critical component of Attorney SEO. If you haven’t claimed or completed your profile, you are missing out on scores of leads from potential clients.
If you do not have an Avvo rating, potential clients might view you as an unknown quantity and contact an attorney who does. If you have a bad Avvo rating, prospective clients will likely scroll right past your firm. Achieving a high Avvo attorney rating will give you a more robust online presence that can direct potential clients to your firm and enhance your SEO campaign.
What Are Some Other Benefits of a High Avvo Lawyer Rating?
A high AVVO rating can be valuable for a law firm’s “offsite SEO.” Offsite SEO refers to strategies and tactics to improve your SEO that do not involve making changes to your website. “Link-building” is an essential feature of offsite SEO.
One way to increase your authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines is to obtain quality backlinks to your website. When another website links to yours, it shows Google that your content is valuable. Legal directories are a powerful way to gain authoritative backlinks to your website.
A good Avvo rating will also help you rank well in internal Avvo attorney searches.
For example, say a user searches for a personal injury lawyer in New York City on the Avvo website.
As you can see, this search yields 4,680 results. That’s a ton of competition. After the paid advertisements, you’ll see that the top results are attorneys with a 10.0 Avvo rating.
Thousands of people use Avvo every day to find attorneys in their area. Most people searching for an attorney probably won’t go beyond the first page of results – so having a high Avvo rating is critical if you want to stand out from the crowd.
How Does Avvo Calculate its Ratings?
As mentioned above, Avvo calculates attorney ratings based on
- The public data it collects on each attorney; and
- The information an attorney has included in their profile.
It collects public data from various sources, including state bar associations, court records, and other sources on the internet.
Avvo uses a mathematical model to weigh the information it collects and rate an attorney from one to ten. Its algorithm evaluates experience, professional achievements, and disciplinary sanctions, among other things. It examines years licensed, education, peer endorsements, associations, awards, publications, and speaking engagements.
An individual attorney is going to be most familiar with their experience and achievements. They can add this information to their profile—which often increases their rating. However, Avvo does not share how much weight it gives this information in order to “maintain the neutrality and integrity of the rating.”
In other words, attorneys can’t game the system to boost their rating.
Tips for a Higher Avvo Rating
There are tried and true ways to increase your rating. And many of them are quite simple.
- Claim Your Attorney Profile
Most active attorneys have an Avvo profile. Avvo took the liberty of setting it up for you! The first and most simple way to increase your rating is to claim your profile.
On the Avvo homepage, click “Grow your practice.” This will direct you to the page below where you can claim your profile.
Input your first and last name and your geographic location to find your profile.
- Complete Your Profile to 95%
Completing all the sections of your profile is time-consuming, but it’s well worth the effort to increase your rating.
When you have completed your profile, your progress will show 95%. Many lawyers choose to omit the fees and payment section since the cost of their legal services may vary. This omission will keep profile completeness at 90%.
If you reach these points, your profile is finished. You cannot get to 100% unless you add the Avvo Rating Badge, which is not necessary to increase your rating.
- Highlight Practice Areas, Licenses, and Work Experience
Add practice areas to your Avvo profile. The platform also allows you to provide a description of the practice area to provide additional information for potential clients, referring attorneys, and others viewing your profile.
The practice areas you select directly impact which Avvo users will see you. Your profile will only appear in the search categories that match your practice area. So, if you only select personal injury, you will only appear in user searches under that topic in your geographic area.
It’s best to break your main practice area into subcategories so you can appear in multiple different search results.
For example, you might break criminal defense into assault, violent crime, DUI, and sex crimes. You will also list the percentage of your practice that you devote to these areas.
If you hold licenses to practice in multiple states, list each of them. Holding additional licenses, including past licenses, can raise your Avvo rating by as much as a point.
Adding work experience helps Avvo users understand your area of expertise. It also helps to paint a picture of your legal career. If you worked as a prosecutor before turning to criminal defense work or defended insurance companies before becoming a personal injury lawyer, that past experience can be extremely beneficial in your current practice. It’s helpful for others to have access to this information.
Accordingly, Avvo gives your work experience significant weight.
Complete all fields in the work experience section, including duration, to get full points toward your Avvo rating.
- Note Your Professional Awards and Associations
Avvo has acknowledged that it factors awards when rating an attorney. Some attorneys believe it places too much emphasis on awards.
Regardless, listing your awards will elevate your profile. If you have a noteworthy award, distinction, or designation, input it into your profile—even if it’s only a BBB rating.
Be sure to note when you earned the award or designation to get full points toward your profile. Avvo regards recent awards more highly than older awards.
You will enhance your Avvo profile and rating by listing all business or legal organizations in which you enjoy membership.
Again, you should complete every field, including position and duration, to earn full points toward your Avvo lawyers score.
- List Your Cases and Publications
Recording your most significant settlements and judgments displays your personal injury skills to Avvo users. It also increases your Avvo rating. Continue to add your notable trial and settlement victories after you complete your profile to raise or maintain your rating.
Likewise, listing your publications and speaking engagements shows your authority in your practice area.
Your publications can be as lowbrow as a blog. If you’ve written or presented something informative, list it.
- Request Peer Endorsements
Avvo weighs peer endorsements highly when rating an attorney. You can request peer endorsements from members of your legal community to improve your Avvo score.
To request peer endorsements, click the request button in the Endorsements section. This page will allow you to send an endorsement request to up to 50 attorneys.
Other lawyers can also endorse you from the Endorsements section of your profile. Avvo tends to factor endorsements from attorneys you’ve worked with and against most highly.
Does Answering Questions or Creating Legal Guides Increase My Avvo Rating?
No, answering questions and creating legal guides does not increase your Avvo rating. Likewise, Avvo reviews do not seem to affect ratings. Only the information Avvo collects from your profile and public records will influence your ranking.
Legal guides are typically not a good use of your time. These require a significant amount of time and energy to produce and are seldom seen by Avvo users due to similar content already on the website.
Answering user questions will not increase your Avvo score, but it can have other incidental benefits on your attorney SEO campaign. Avvo awards points to lawyers for connecting with and answering questions for the Avvo community. The more questions an attorney answers, the higher their contributor level. The more you interact with the Avvo community, “the easier it is for potential clients near you to find your profile and contact you.” This process enhances your local SEO efforts.
The Avvo questions serve another important purpose: they can give you a sense of what legal questions people are asking in your area. This, in turn, can provide ideas for blog posts, resource pages, etc., for your website. If your website content is relevant and responsive to the questions users have in your area, SERPS will take notice.
AVVO Rating FAQs
Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about Avvo ratings.
Do I Have to Pay for My Avvo Profile?
No. Avvo profiles are free for attorneys. The site does offer enhanced profile services for a monthly fee. But these services do not increase your rating.
Does Avvo’s Paid Advertisements Increase My Attorney Rating?
No. Advertising and other forms of payment do not elevate your profile rating.
How Long Does It Take to Increase My Rating?
The answer is every lawyer’s favorite: it depends. Your rating could increase almost instantly as you claim and fill out your profile. Avvo recalculates scores as you provide new information. Some information necessarily takes longer to verify, and the site will update your score once it has reviewed that information.
It may take time to increase a negative rating that is based on factors other than profile incompleteness. Avvo gives some information less weight over time. For instance, its mathematical model reduces the weight of certain disciplinary actions and industry recognitions as time passes. For Avvo, “the most recent information matters the most.”
Can I Get Rid of the Avvo Rating on My Profile?
Maybe. Avvo allows attorneys to request the removal of their Avvo rating if they have not been disciplined and are not seeking clients. If Avvo approves your request, it will not include you in search results. Avvo will not adjust ratings or remove attorney profiles.
Can I Embellish My Experience or Achievements to Increase My Rating?
Bad idea. State rules of professional conduct prohibit attorneys from making false or misleading statements about themselves or their services. If you post false information on your public profile, you could get in trouble with your state bar. Incidentally, this misconduct could lower your Avvo rating.
LawRank Can Help You Increase Your Avvo Rating and Grow Your Business With Law Firm SEO
You’re interested in improving your attorney rating on Avvo. Why? Because you want to compete with other firms, increase your caseload, and ultimately grow your law firm, right?
Think bigger. Think SEO.
SEO involves taking measured steps to get your law firm’s website to rank organically on Google when someone conducts a relevant search. The higher you rank on a Google SERP, the more likely you are to get clicks, web traffic, and convert visitors into paying clients.
Avvo isn’t just an attorney directory. It’s also a great tool for SEO – which means that it can be leveraged to improve your rankings in organic searches and the local pack. The higher your AVVO rating, the better. If you’re having trouble improving your score, or just don’t have the time because you are, in fact, a busy practicing attorney, consider turning to law firm SEO specialists – like those at LawRank – for help.
At LawRank, we assist attorneys and law firms increase their online visibility and achieve top rankings on SERPS. We’re an SEO company for lawyers that handles all aspects of digital marketing, including managing all of your lawyer directory profiles.
LawRank will complete a full analysis of your SEO project and explain what challenges might lie ahead – and address how we’ll overcome them to get your law firm to rank.
Contact us for a free quote and learn about our history of ranking law firms like yours on the first page of Google for competitive keywords in competitive markets.