April 8, 2016
by Lori Shecter
First of all, know is that AVVO is a startup. Yup, they just closed a $71.5 million round of funding lead by previous Expedia executive Mark Briton. What that means, is it is going to be awfully hard to beat their paid OR organic search results. Second of all, remember that AVVO is more or less the YELP of lawyers. What that means is that the advertised attorneys come to the top of their search. Exactly what does that mean for you?
First, let’s understand that this is about search. Search comes in two forms: Paid Search and Organic Search. Forgive me if you already understand this, but I feel it is an important part of the entire AVVO odyssey.
NOTE: there is a lot of contradictory evidence as to whether paid or organic search results in the highest conversion rate.
Paid Search: I live in NY and I need a divorce attorney. I search “Divorce Attorney NYC”. The first thing that comes up is paid results. That means the “advertiser” has paid anywhere from $8 to $25 for every click they receive. Keyword “Divorce” is a very competitive and expensive because there are so many divorce attorneys in NY. Click doesn’t mean convert – that is up to good design on your landing pages. Here is an example of paid search results: Notice who is at the top? AVVO. Why? let’s go back to their $75 million of funding. Get my drift? OK, but after that is Balloulaw and Julioportillaw.
PAID SEARCH RESULTS (Note the 2.9 MILLION results which means 1 attorney for every household in Manhattan. REALLY?)
Organic Search: You have enough articles and keywords on your website to make you show up on page 1 or 2 of search results without paying for keywords. Organic search is always going to come after paid search results in Google, Yahoo or Bing. And since we all have the attention span of a gnat, if I am going through a rough divorce I might just click on the first thing I see, rather than go past the paid results to see the naturally surfaced up divorce attorneys. Also, organic results come after the “Google” places.
NOTE: Make sure your firm has Google Places set up.
And now finally, organic search results. But guess what? Who comes up first? AVVO. Why? Because they spent a lot of money to get there.
ORGANIC SEARCH RESULTS
But we also see the Martindale-Hubbell site, research.lawyers.com right up there . I know nothing about response rates of ads on this site, but I believe it’s worth investigation.
What happens next? “Ah,” I think, “a review site.” There for sure I will get my dream divorce attorney who will screw my soon to be ex to the wall. Or at least, get me a good settlement. (That is exactly what I will think.)
NOTE: AVVO doesn’t always come up as the first organic result, but it is always page 1.
I click on AVVO. I see a bunch of “sponsored” results both at the top and to the right. I consider myself on the smart side, so I figure the more “believable” result is the one not sponsored. But then, how is that attorney coming to the top? We go back to the Yelp secret sauce. No one knows for sure.
Back to “to advertise or not to advertise”
First of all, you can now tell your partners about the $71 million in funding, which is why they are seeing AVVO all over television. Can advertising hurt? No. Can it get you matters? That is unknown. However, the 5 attorneys I spoke to that advertised with AVVO have not gotten any matters. If you do decide to test it, don’t box yourself in for a long term commitment. Know that it is a flat fee with no guarantees of delivery or clicks. In addition, your ad is competing with their new legal FIXED FEE matching service. Do you want to compete with that? I doubt it.
And now SEO
Let’s take a look at the divorce attorney with the highest organic ranking. His website url is Newyorkdivorceattorney. com. You can’t do any better than that from an SEO perspective. Do I like the design? Well, my design aesthetic and his conversion rates, might be two different things entirely.
Lori Shecter is the CEO of We Are Immediate, a boutique web design and development company based in NYC dedicated to giving all companies a digital experience. Join our Facebook Legal Marketing Group ask questions and get answers.
Member of the Legal Marketing Association