FindLaw vs. Avvo

This is a fairly long post – here’s a quick navigation menu to help you get to the section most interesting to you.

 

 

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, the author was employed by Thomson Reuters, which owns FindLaw. The intent is to be as objective as possible, and if there is any additional information to be shared or that is in some way lacking, please connect with him at once.

An Overview of FindLaw.com and Avvo.com

Quick Summary

FindLaw is a resource for both consumers and legal professionals. It was started in 1996 primarily as an attorney directory and has since become the most visited legal resource website in the country.

Avvo.com was started by a former travel company executive who wanted to provide a rating system for attorneys, mimicking the popularity of hotel reviews and the like on popular travel sites.

Services Offered

The services are perhaps the greatest differentiating factors between Avvo and Findlaw. The majority of what is reviewed here is specifically the comparison between the attorney directory and advertising capabilities, but the services are detailed in this section for your reference.

  • ¬†FindLaw
    • As a full digital marketing agency, FindLaw offers a more holistic approach to digital marketing for attorneys.
    • Offers website design, development, hosting and management
    • Premier Google Partner for PPC (pay-per-click)
    • Social media solutions (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn)
    • Content development and marketing
    • Paid social promotion (via blog posts and videos, on Facebook, Instagram)
    • Review management
    • Local SEO and citation management with duplicate suppression
    • Four key digital platforms – FindLaw.com, SuperLawyers.com (limited to selectees), LawInfo.com, and Abogado.com (the fastest-growing Spanish-speaking attorney directory)
  • Avvo
    • Avvo is primarily an attorney directory with a proprietary ranking system
    • The company also offers websites to clients, both template designs and custom designs
    • It offers attorneys the ability to advertise in various practice areas and zip codes/geographic areas
    • Also offers an option to display expertise in the community question forums

Similarities

Both FindLaw and Avvo

  • Provide an attorney directory
  • Provide a review system (by either client or other lawyer)
  • Offer advertising exposure to place law firms in front of potential legal consumers
  • Have legal content to help legal consumers find answers to legal questions

Differences

  • Legal Content
    • FindLaw.com has amassed 25M+ pages of legal content. Some of this is geared toward potential clients (how-to, frequently asked questions, about the law, etc) while some is geared toward legal professionals (case codes, definitions, etc.).
    • Avvo.com’s content is primarily user-generated by way of the community section of the site where consumers can post questions, and attorneys can reply with answers. There seems to be a strong correlation between the frequency and thoroughness of providing answers and a higher Avvo attorney rating, though the company doesn’t explicitly say this.
  • Attorney Directory
    • FindLaw.com profiles are twofold: The primary profile is a firm profile, giving details about the firm, contact information, and ability to add up to 10 locations (a great benefit for Local SEO). Additionally, up to 10 attorneys can have individual profiles as part of the standard profile package (you can add more attorneys for a nominal fee, which varies by state). All profiles allow photos, bios, resumes and information about the attorneys.
    • Avvo.com is primarily attorney-based profiles. You may claim your free profile to add some basic information about you and your practice (it is recommended that all attorneys do this).
  • Advertising
    • FindLaw.com has three primary opportunities for directory advertising: TopSpots (top 5 listings, limited availability); Spotlights (guaranteed Page 1); and Premium Profiles. These are listed in order of greatest exposure and lead generation opportunity.
    • Avvo.com leverages a rotating “block” allocation, where a law firm receives ad exposure for a defined number of impressions in a given month.

Pricing Structure

  • Findlaw.com advertisements are not based on clicks or impressions (though these are certainly meaningful metrics). The pricing structure is to secure a spot in either of the three primary advertising spots (TopSpot, Spotlight, Profile). The Findlaw.com profiles are paid – you cannot create a free profile.
  • Avvo.com is priced by how many impressions the attorney is willing to commit to, usually sold in blocks (e.g. 5,000 impressions/mo, 10,000 impressions, etc.). Avvo allows a free profile to be claimed.

Term Length

  • Most of FindLaw.com’s advertising is based on 12-, 24- or 36-month agreements, with deeper discounting available for longer commitments. Having been in business since 1996, the company believes that in the digital marketing world, the greatest return on investment will be seen in 12 months.
  • Avvo also likes 12-month contracts, but once they updated their advertising/pricing model a couple years ago, began offering 6- and 3-month contracts. It’s not abundantly clear what the retention rates are for the varying terms, but shorter commitments often indicate higher attrition rates, though this is a speculation.

Which is better for law firm marketing?

Ideally, both. Here’s why: In my various posts about optimizing return on investment and the idea of Macro-Conversion, the philosophy is simple – the more places your name and your firm’s name are seen online, the more likely you are to be contacted. Here’s why that’s important to you:

  • 74% of legal consumers hire the first attorney they speak to. So if you get the first call, chances are the business is yours (unless you have a leak in your intake system).
  • Referrals from past clients or attorneys actually begin researching you online (usually on their cell phones) before they call you. The more consistent your brand is online, the more likely you are to get those good referral cases.

TL;DR Recap

Both FindLaw and Avvo offer some pretty significant opportunities to grow one’s firm. And like was discussed above, the ideal answer is not an either-or scenario, but instead one the leverages both services. Because both are (or can be) effective, there is no clear answer, other than what each has delivered.

I’m in the habit of making data-based recommendations and strategies.If Avvo is driving good business, then it would be unreasonable for me to ask a client to eliminate a good source of revenue. Selfishly, the happier you are, the better off I am. That doesn’t mean only Avvo, or only Findlaw can drive business.

If you’re genuinely curious, let’s set up a strategy session where we sit down and review all the numbers, correlate that with your business development internally, and make some informed decisions together.