Should Lawyers Advertise With Avvo, FindLaw, or Google Ads?
Our comparison of advertising with Avvo or FindLaw vs. Google Ads for lawyers shows no comparison. Google Ads is the clear winner and the only contender.
My personal injury law firm advertised extensively with Avvo for several years and still did at the time I wrote this article (we now only advertise with Google Ads).
We also signed a one-year advertising agreement with Martindale Hubbell, but to be fair, I didn’t spend enough time setting up our profiles.
We have been advertising with Google Ads for a couple of years since giving up on Avvo. See our results with Google Ads for personal injury lawyers. We have a distinct advantage with Google Ads, but even without that advantage, Google Ads is the clear winner.
The reason that Google Ads is the winner is that Google owns the search engine and built in a substantial advantage for itself.
Our Experience With Avvo
We monopolized motorcycle ads on Avvo within a large geographic area approximately 150 miles across. We were at the top of a three-pack of ads in most of the areas and kept taking more areas as they were given up.
It seemed like a great deal because motorcycle ads on Avvo were very cheap, and motorcycle accident cases are worth more than most other personal injury cases.
Avvo yielded very few results but was still worthwhile because of the value of motorcycle accident cases and the low cost of Avvo ads.
We retained 3 cases worth $50,000 in legal fees from Avvo in the first two years, which made the advertising worthwhile because of the very low cost of motorcycle ads which was approximately $3,700 in two years. We also got some leads that weren’t viable cases, but at least they were legitimate leads.
After four years of advertising with Avvo, we stopped because, in the last two years, we didn’t retain any cases or get any legitimate leads. Avvo just stopped working. See below what happened and why Avvo just stopped working.
When Avvo was working, it was nowhere near as effective as Google Ads or our law firm’s website. Since we weren’t getting any leads anymore, we decided to cancel and spend the money on Google Ads, which will yield two cases for that amount.
I also paid for a “Pro” profile listing on Avvo with a 10 rating, and my profile indicates that my law practice is 50% personal injury and 50% motorcycle accident cases. I paid for the Pro profile because the Pro designation logo made the listing stand out from other listings, and paying for it removed competitor ads from my profile.
Note: At some point after discontinuing our advertising with Avvo, I noticed that the Pro designation logo was gone and was told that Avvo no longer uses it. They were probably forced to drop it.
Avvo now only removes competitor ads from the profile when paying. Without the Pro designation, I decided to stop paying for the Avvo Pro membership since two years of that money will yield one case on Google Ads.
Our Avvo rep was surprised we gave up our ads because he said we get so many calls and emails. But after we stopped getting some legitimate leads from Avvo, all the calls and emails were from salespeople or potential personal injury clients who had no case and already called every personal injury lawyer they could.
The screen capture below shows an example of the emails we get.
Why Aren’t Avvo and FindLaw Still Effective?
The simple reason is that potential clients who are looking to hire a personal injury lawyer no longer see Avvo, FindLaw, and other attorney directories when they look for a lawyer on Google. Why?
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Google knows when someone is looking for a lawyer, plumber, pizza shop, or is just looking for information.
Google changes the results page depending on the search intent. If the searcher is looking for a lawyer, Google morphs into the Google yellow pages, and the organic search results where Avvo and FindLaw might appear are below the fold, which is so far down the page that no one bothers to look there.
Avvo, FindLaw, and other attorney directories are simply no longer immediately visible when someone searches for a personal injury lawyer. Sometimes they are difficult to find, and with voice search, they can’t be found at all. But Google Ads can always be found at the top.
Avvo and FindLaw used to have a chance in the organic search results when there were three Google Ads above the natural search results. But Google added the local map above the natural search results, and now the local map has ads.
Today, Google Ads simply crowded out its competition. FindLaw Is well aware of the problem. My FindLaw rep admitted this to me. Furthermore, recognizing this, FindLaw now recommends and offers Google Ad campaign management.
On a desktop computer, the organic search results are now below the fold, so someone looking for a personal injury lawyer won’t see the top organic search results without scrolling down below the ads. On my computer, I had to scroll down below the fold to see Avvo.
The screenshot below of my desktop computer shows that only the ads were seen on the screen. On some monitors, someone may also see the map but will have to scroll down to see the natural search results.
The problem also exists on mobile. Most people search for a personal injury lawyer on their smartphones. Our results with Google Ads revealed that 92.3% of clicks came from smartphones, 5.1% from desktops, and 2.6% from tablets.
92.3% of Google Ad clicks from people searching for a personal injury lawyer came from smartphones (red). 5.1% Desktop searches (blue); 2.6% tablets (orange).
On a smartphone, Google Ads takes up the entire screen. Below the Ads are the map, local listings, questions, and then organic search results.
I had to swipe my screen 3 times to get to the natural search results with LegalMatch at the bottom of the screen, 4 times to see FindLaw, and 5 times to see Justia and Avvo.
Mobile Voice Search
But the problem gets worse on mobile with Google voice search, where Avvo, Findlaw, Justia, and LegalMatch can’t be found.
The number of people using voice search to find local businesses is skyrocketing because it works really well, and it’s so easy. According to dialogtech.com, “65% of 25-49 year-olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day.”
Below is a screenshot of what Google shows when I asked Google to “find a personal injury lawyer near me.” Google showed its local business listings, and it’s not even possible to scroll down the screen to find natural search results. Google didn’t even show Google Ads, but they are now selling Google Ads in the local business listings.
If you’re not in Google local business listings, you won’t be found when someone does a voice search for a personal injury lawyer.
This is the screen shown on my phone after a Google voice search to “find a personal injury lawyer near me.” Users cannot scroll down to see any other results.
Avvo and Findlaw vs Google Ads
Nothing can compete with Google Ads for personal injury lawyers because, well, Google owns the ad space.
While Avvo returned more than it cost in the first two years, it was no match against Google Ads even when Avvo was working, and it no longer works. Google Ads are consistent. We know exactly what we will get with Google Ads.
When people search on Google for a personal injury lawyer, they can click on your Google Ad or call button and reach you directly.
When people reach you through Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, or LegalMatch, they have to:
- Search on Google for a personal injury lawyer;
- Scroll down the Google results page past the ads, map, and local listings;
- Click on a link to Avvo, FindLaw, or one of the other lawyer directories;
- After clicking on one of the lawyer directories, they have to search for a lawyer all over again.
This is the Avvo search page someone will find after clicking on the link to Avvo. From here, hopefully, someone will search in your city and find your ad on Avvo.
After searching in Google and clicking on Avvo, someone will have to search a second time on Avvo, where maybe they will find your ad on Avvo.
Advantages of Google Ads
- People find you directly on Google
- People don’t have to search twice
- Your ad gets seen when organic search results usually don’t
- Works immediately – you will get cases within days
- Consistency. We know exactly what we will get with Google Ads
- Get as many or as few cases as you want
- Pause your advertising when you want
Disadvantages of Google Ads
- Requires a larger advertising budget than Avvo or FindLaw
- Requires account management
Advantages of Avvo, FindLaw & Other Lawyer Directories
- Gives you added exposure
Disadvantages of Avvo, FindLaw & Other Lawyer Directories
- You can’t get as many cases as you want
- It’s difficult for people to find you
Comparison of Avvo, Lawyers.com, FindLaw, Super Lawyers, Justia & Yelp
Interested to know which of these lawyer directories have higher rankings in the Google organic search results? Everest Legal Marketing compares the Google search results for the top legal directories and provides the results annually.
Their results show that FindLaw is the clear winner, especially for personal injury lawyers. You can see a graphic of their results in Los Angeles, and you can download an Excel file with the results for Houston, Chicago, New York, and Jacksonville.
Improve Your Results from Google Ads, Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, or LegalMatch
Whether you’re advertising with Google Ads, Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, or LegalMatch, you can improve results by using a vanity phone number in your online ads.
Improve Your Results from Google Ads
If you’re advertising with Google Ads or plan to, read 3 Tips Will Save a Fortune With Google Ads In 3 Minutes
What’s Your Experience With Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, LegalMatch, Google Ads, or Others? Leave a comment below!
If you have had a good or bad experience with Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, LegalMatch, or any other legal directory, or if you have any other information you can provide to compare Avvo and FindLaw vs. Google Ads, please post a comment about it below.
Philip L. Franckel, Esq., is the author of this article.
Phil Franckel is the owner of 1-800-HURT-911® and over 1,100 domain names. He is a personal injury lawyer and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association. He is an expert on branding, advertising, marketing, and SEO. He has been doing SEO since 1994. Phil Franckel has written and produced TV commercials for lawyers and other industries and has been a consultant to owners of vanity phone numbers. Phil has a blog about lawyer advertising at LawyerAdvertisingBlog.com. Phil Franckel began his first business in 8th grade, owned businesses in various different industries, and worked freelance for ABC Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Baseball. In his spare time, Phil Franckel is the Commanding Officer of the Communications Bureau of the NCPD Aux. Police Section.