Avvo revisitedThere was a Facebook discussion about Avvo today precipitated by a legal marketing professional asking about the value of Avvo’s lawyer directory and related services. She had seen outdated content on lawyer Avvo profiles, but was observing more and more law firm websites displaying Avvo ratings and was curious about Avvo’s impact on search.

I offered that I was originally an Avvo skeptic. But as I have gotten to personally know Mark Britton, Avvo CEO and founder (@Mark_Britton), Leigh McMillan, CMO (@leighmcm), Sachin Bhatia, VP of Products (@sachbhat), Josh King, General Counsel and VP of Business Development (@joshuamking) and others on the Avvo team I believe they genuinely wish to help lawyers and consumers of legal services. Britton is passionate about not wanting to leave consumers of legal services (consumers or businesses) out of the equation when it comes to making an informed choice of a lawyer.

You do not see this passion to serve and to help from the larger companies serving our legal profession, nor can you approach their execs and leaders like you can at Avvo.

I explained not to worry about search in the sense of getting your lawyers found, worry about what people see when they search the name of your lawyer. That’s the most important search.

Avvo profiles will come up near the top of a Google search for the lawyer’s name. People may not be swayed by ratings, but they will be swayed by the conversational and knowledgeable way the lawyer answers questions on Avvo. They will also be swayed by recommendations from past clients, law professors, association leaders, business leaders, and fellow lawyers appearing on Avvo.

Heather Morse (@heather_morse), a Los Angeles legal marketing professional, drove the point home about a Google search on a lawyer’s name.

If you Google and Avvo pops up, it is important to that lawyer. Period. The less they do in social the higher it will rank, and there will be nothing to balance it out on the first page. So for that lawyer who doesn’t write or do media, doesn’t blog, doesn’t tweet, not on LinkedIn, Avvo might be the only thing other than their firm’s bio for a legal purchases see when they do their due diligence search.

Morse continued with her point on the importance of Avvo on a Google search for a lawyer’s name over on her blog.

I typed in the name of one of our partners, Larry Golub. Page after page of great content. He’s a frequent blogger, speaker at conferences, and media source for the firm.

He has an Avvo profile, but after page three of Google I stopped searching for it.

I did the test with a different partner, Marina Karvelas. While she does blog here and there, and has been a media resource, she is not a prolific blogger, speaker, content creator. Her Avvo profile shows up on page one of Google.

Larry does not have to worry about Avvo. Marina should to a minimal extent. She just needs to make sure that the information is accurate and up to date. Same with anything else that is popping up in the first 1-3 pages of Google (although recent surveys are showing fewer and fewer people are clicking to page 2).

Morse also does a nice job differentiating the importance of Avvo for consumer/small business lawyers and lawyers hired by corporate counsel.

Towards the top of my list for [college roommate and family law attorney] is that she create and maintain a robust profile on Avvo. Why? Because consumers are using Avvo to research and conduct their due diligence.

In short, if you are a consumer attorney in any way, shape or form, care a lot.

If Avvo is showing up in your Google search results, but you represent corporate counsel, just claim your profile and make sure the information is accurate. If you don’t like the results, work to raise your profile ranking in Avvo, or create more highly indexed and original content to bury it.

Why not use what Avvo gives you to cast yourself in a good light? A shadowed head does not look good for a lawyer in the Avvo directory. Nor does outdated biographical info that’s outdated because you did not update it.

Some folks get mad that Avvo is in effect making you update your Avvo bio because Avvo put what you find as outdated biographical info up without asking. But what are you going to do about it? Life’s too short to blame others for what you don’t like.

As I told the folks over on Facebook, if you have questions or concerns about Avvo, call any of the Avvo people I mentioned directly. I expect they’ll take the call.

Image courtesy of Flickr by so geshen.