Avvo is “the Web’s largest free expert-only question and answer forum and directory, where people get legal or health advice every 10 seconds.” From free answers straight from lawyers in real time to seeing peer and past client reviews, the Avvo site contains valuable consumer and professional information. But Avvo is not only designed for consumers. Many lawyers and law firms have benefited from the free service. Several lawyers even report gaining clients or referrals after answering questions on Avvo and working to expand their profiles. That’s pretty good for a free service!
Ratings are a key aspect of each Avvo attorney profile. Before calling an attorney, a potential client can find that particular lawyer’s Avvo rating. Attorneys who have never claimed or updated their profiles on Avvo do not receive a score (only “Attention” or “No Concern”), but can still be reviewed. Client reviews do not affect the rating, but they do act as testimonials for those visitors looking at your profile. To read a more detailed explanation of the Avvo attorney rating system, see the Avvo site.
New York Bankruptcy attorney Michael Schwartz, a Consultwebs client since 2005, has a high Avvo rating that has undergone several changes in the Avvo algorithm during his three years of maintaining a profile. Michael’s current profile has all sections completed and includes several photos, awards and peer endorsements. As he points out, “Someone can go from a 6 to an 8 based on the information they include… You can’t be modest; you have to list what you’ve done and let the algorithm list you as it will.”
Michael’s profile includes his involvement in the Avvo community. Michael has posted 390 legal answers and is a level 13 contributor (the highest level is 20). Although this does not affect his rating, it reflects well on his experience and acts as further confirmation of his expertise in the field of bankruptcy law.
Michael says that, in his experience, “Avvo gives skeptical clients a place to learn what other clients have said and thought about you in a non-biased environment. You can’t control what they say. You might occasionally get a call, but it’s more a place for people to voice their thoughts.”
Michael suggests that any lawyer wanting to improve his or her rating “listen to what Avvo wants. It takes time to put in the data, but they make it simple enough…They give you several categories as to how you rank. You have to see where you’re the weakest and then work on those areas.”
Based on Michael’s experience and the experience of other attorneys, we have compiled some suggestions on how to improve your law firm’s Avvo rating:
1. Complete your profile and keep it updated.
- Make a note of areas where your profile is weak and focus on those areas to gain a higher rating.
- Include dates in your information so that Avvo can give you credit for keeping things up to date as well as your length in the field.
- Add photos; profiles with pictures are seven times more likely to be viewed.
- Record any speaking engagements at legal events on your profile.
- Write for peer-reviewed law journals and association/alumni newsletters to gain additional recognition.
2. Contribute by answering questions and posting legal guides.
- You can sign up to get emails whenever a question pops up in your area of expertise; this feature, combined with the mobile availability of Avvo, makes answering questions much easier.
- The answers you contribute show up in search engine results, which share your expertise with a larger audience than just those posting on and visiting Avvo.
3. Solicit reviews from current & past clients
- The Clients’ Choice badges are based on an average of the reviews on your profile. For example, if you have 5 positive reviews and 1 negative, the good outweighs the bad. Often, people who have had a great experience will not think to positively review you unless prompted.
4. Respond to the negatives
- Negative reviews can be publicly replied to; responding to an upset individual may help turn a negative review into an example of your compassion and willingness to go the extra mile to ensure your clients’ satisfaction. See our article on how to respond to negative online reviews for additional suggestions on reputation management.
- Commenting on any disciplinary actions in your profile can help explain why it took place and ease potential clients’ concerns.
- To broaden your online exposure even more, share your Avvo contributions on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, your blog and your website.
- Settings can be fixed to automatically share activity from Avvo to Facebook and Twitter to save the extra step of posting.
For more suggestions, see Avvo’s recent webinar on How to Maximize your Avvo Profile.
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