If you are a lawyer or doctor, or have a client or friend that is a lawyer who runs a law website, they really need to read this and ask some complex questions.
Lets face it, there are many professions that don’t really think about marketing.
There are even some industries that are designed to be ‘marketing challenged’
Lawyers and Doctors are two such industries.
There are two simple reasons for this:
- both niches have extraordinary regulation and bureaucracy. The very idea of using your name or printing letterhead causes most professionals to pause, while less standard marketing ideas require the approvals of compliance and regulation committees.
- both niches require intensive educational requirements. This means the most talented and experienced professionals are likely to have career skills that are very tactical and precise in application. It is very rare to meet a legal or medical industry representative that has an in-depth expertise of new marketing trends.
So why am I writing about Avvo ratings?
Law firms and medical groups are slow to adopt digital marketing trends that are affecting their business model. While law firms and medical groups focus on revenue challenges at the organizational level, individual lawyers and doctors within the larger business entity are instructed to continue doing what they’ve always done.
It is estate planning lawyers in Atlanta and doctor level that professionals quietly go about their business. They rely on the organization to protect them against threats they do not have the expertise to understand.
This is where the entrepreneurial mind thrives, locking onto business models that can’t move as quickly as they can.
Enter Avvo ratings
The purpose of the Avvo ratings system is to create content that is specific to every single lawyer or doctor name.This content serves several purposes for a consumer including improving the ability to score a professional and find various pieces of information quickly. You can have a look at this site and ask experts about the same.
Once the AVVO ratings process has cultivated this data, the process of search engine optimization can occur (otherwise known as SEO.)
When SEO efforts are taken, the individual profile for each lawyer or doctor is purposely marketed in a way that it gets higher search engine results. This allows the people learn about them just by looking at their Home Page. This means that when someone types “Dr Jane Doe” in Google, that the profile page being driven by AVVO ratings shows up.
For many search engine experts this would be a difficult challenge.
(*difficult enough that Avvo raised 23 million dollars in funding to work on it.)
Why Avvo Ratings is dangerous to the individual
- it takes personal control of your online identity away in the guise of giving you easy control. Claiming a profile on a property that you do not own.
- you lost control of your “client review” process that is very important to long term growth, client relationship, and product/service planning.
- part of the Avvo SEO strategy is to rank for your name
Why Avvo Ratings is dangerous to the organization
Lets consider a larger organization with 100 or 1000 employees.
This could be a large law firm, state regulatory board, hospital or insurance group.
If we look at search engine optimization as a tool applied to the cumulative list of names at the organizational level, a certain percentage of these professionals will be “easy” to score on Google search results and others will be very difficult. As an SEO effort, Avvo is only particularly interested in the “easy pickings” that it can do at mass scale.
To provide a real example, we pulled 20 doctor names from Avvo in the Seattle area.
We then created variations of each name that would be common search variations.
- The name as it appears on Avvo
- Doctor, First Name, Last Name
- Dr, First Name, Last Name
- Dr, Last Name
- Doctor, Last Name
We then ranked all of those variations on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
This is the results for all the variations on Google:
- 10 – rating 1,2,3
- 1 – rating 4 thru 10 (1st page)
- 14 – rating 11 thru 30 (2nd and 3rd page)
- 27 – top 100
- 48 – no result
A comparative test on how the same 100 name variations rank for Linkedin.
- 6 – rating 1,2,3
- 4- rating 4 thru 10 (1st page)
- 17 – rating 11 thru 30 (2nd and 3rd page)
- 35 – top 100
- 38 – no result
Looking at the above numbers The Brown Firm in Savannah says we need to think about our business model being impacted by these numbers. If Avvo takes 10% of our online traffic based off a random list of employee names at a law firm or medical group, we now have the problem of understanding if a name Avvo is ranking for is one of our “top money earners” or “critical to our organization”
Case question: if we look at the names for all the professionals in your organization, what is the dollar value of traffic that lost to Avvo?
Avvo’s Ratings National Business Model
Avvo appears to have the ability to rank on the 1st page for 3% to 11% of the test group.
According to Google, Avvo.com has 439,000 pages indexed. This would indicate that Avvo has taken this effort on roughly 400,000 professional names.
If 5% of these pages ranked in the 1st page of Google, Avvo would have roughly 20,000 names it was earning top traffic from.
Assuming that 5% of the 20,000 names were “critical to our organization” – there are 1000 critically affected businesses on Avvo.
*In the legal and medical field, I would actually argue that a majority of employees are “critical to business” and would lump all 20,000 into the critically affected business segment.
The problem really isn’t Avvo Ratings. Avvo is simply taking advantage of a digital opportunity that most lawyers and doctors don’t know about.
The reality is that there are dozens of review sites that affect lawyers and doctors. There are also hundreds of other social media channels that most of these professionals don’t have time to understand, and the lack of time to develop subject matter expertise in digital business models results to inaction.
Where do you see competitive directories like Avvo going in the future and are there other industries you see this same trend?