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Is Avvo Hurting Your Law Firm?

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If you run a law firm, you almost certainly have a profile with Avvo, the law firm review and ranking website. And if you’ve earned a high rating on Avvo, say a 9/10 or 10/10, you probably posted an Avvo badge on your own website. After all, it never hurts to show off an award, right? But what if it does hurt—and it costs you clients?

That’s the conclusion that Dustin Christensen over at The Lawyerist has come to. He recently penned an op-ed there showing how Avvo’s badges contain some misleading links. These links exist to boost Avvo’s SEO at your expense, and can even draw potential clients to your competitors. Let’s look at how it works and what you can do about it.

The Value of a Badge

Having an Avvo badge definitely has value. To potential clients, the badge acts as proof that you’re as good as you say you are. Avvo ratings are based on client reviews as well as peer endorsements, meaning that Avvo has an air of objectivity. It’s like having four out of five dentists recommend your product.

Avvo knows that this kind of social proof is valuable, which is why the badge is such an ingenious idea. They don’t have to work hard to get attorneys to use the badges, and they promise that clicking the badge will take your potential clients to your Avvo profile. It’s a good deal.

But Avvo also knows that many attorneys or firm managers won’t look closely at the code behind the badge, or where else it links to. And that’s the problem.

Behind the Badge

As Dustin points out, the badge doesn’t just link back to your Avvo profile. Depending on where you (or a client) click on the badge, it can go to one of two places:

  • To your Avvo profile, as promised.
  • To the Avvo directory page for your city and practice area. In other words: a list of all the other lawyers you compete with.

And even if they do click the right part of the badge, it’s not necessarily a win. They’ll see your profile page, but now they’re off your website and onto a site that’s reviewed 4 million lawyers. They could keep browsing your competitors instead of calling you.

The reason Avvo does this is obvious: it’s for SEO. Every time a lawyer uses a badge it creates one more keyword-heavy backlink to an Avvo directory page. Ever wonder why Avvo ranks so high in the search results? This is why. (Google officially discourages this tactic, by the way. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a penalty on Avvo in the future.)

Stop Giving Away Clients

If you want to stop sending your clients to the Avvo directory, but still want the social proof of your rating, there are several things you can do:

  • Brag about your Avvo rating in writing, rather than using the badge icon. A 10/10 rating from Avvo makes a great bullet point on an “About Our Firm” page.
  • As Dustin suggests, simply save the Avvo badge as an image file—taking a screenshot if need be—and use the image without the link. Simple.
  • Alternately, use the image file and link it (only) to your Avvo profile, not to their directory. This still takes users off-site but not directly to your competitors.

Of course, these steps won’t knock Avvo out of the top search results unless hundreds of lawyers in your area all take them as well. But at least you won’t be sending your own potential clients straight to your competition.