Online surveyI’ve recently been asked the question of “should I get a sponsored listing on AVVO” by a few attorneys. First, the answer is NO! I’ve written on subjects related to AVVO a few times but haven’t specifically addressed the issue of whether the website’s paid advertising is worth it. Well, if you want to get ahead in your practice then I suggest avoiding AVVO’s paid ads (or any third-party advertising for that matter). Instead, you should focus on creating blog and video content which you own and control. Let’s look at two things. First, I’ll dive into why you’re better off focusing on your own content as opposed to AVVO advertising and, second, I’ll look at the incorrect belief of an attorney’s website not being able to compete against large directories.

I’ve written before on whether attorneys should use AVVO and discussed why it is a good review platform but is otherwise problematic for the legal profession. That article, however, dealt primarily with whether attorneys should spend time answering questions on the website’s Q&A service. I’ve also discussed the problem with an attorney placing AVVO badges on their website as part of my 30 days to a better law firm series. Both of those articles dealt with the same idea – the fact that you should be focusing your time and resources on building up your own website and not a site which belongs to someone else. Now let’s look at why your money is better spent on your own content rather than renting advertising space from a third-party.

Attorneys should invest in their own content rather than advertising on AVVO

I’ve written on the idea of investing in one’s own content, as opposed to renting ad space on other websites, several times. The same idea holds true in regards to AVVO’s “premium listings.” Let’s look at the effect of paying for such a listing and then compare it to the value created by owning your content. You’ll see that paying to advertise on another website amounts to burning money like this:

dollar bill on fire

Investing in your own content, on the other hand, allows your to keep your money just like this fine chap is doing:

Man hoarding money

Let’s start by looking at what happens when an attorney spends money on renting ad space. Let’s say one is paying $250 per month for a paid listing. Now let’s say that the paid listing is clicked on fifty times per month. The attorney paid five dollars per click. Now let’s say that the $250 turns into $5,000 in revenue. The attorney nets $4,750 ($5,000 – $250) before they pay all their other overhead. A pretty good deal right? WRONG! Here’s the problem – that $250 is gone and it is never going to generate anything beyond that initial $5,000. You have to pay the next $250 to get the next $5,000. This puts you in a trap of having to pay AVVO every month and it also forces you to unwillingly accept any price increases. It also puts you in a situation where you may base your practice on the popularity of a given platform (AVVO in this case) and run the risk of that platform not being popular tomorrow. I’ll be writing more on the cost and popularity risks tomorrow. The important thing to think of right now is that the $250 spent in month one is gone at the end of the month.

Now let’s look at what happens when an attorney invests in their own blog content. We wrote a blog post for a client on the issue of relocating a child out of state and that post has received 301 clicks through the first eight months of 2015. We charged our client $125 for that post. So, to date, the client has paid $2.41 per click. The important thing, however, is that the client owns that post on his website and it isn’t going anywhere. It is continuing to receive clicks in organic search and it will for the foreseeable future. So it’s not just about the clicks he’s gotten to date. He’s going to keep getting clicks from organic search without additional expenditures.

Investing in your own content is profitable. If the above-mentioned client’s thirty-eight clicks per month (301 clicks/8 months to date) generated $1,000 a month in revenue then the client’s net would be $875 the first month ($1,000 – the $125 initial investment), $1,000 the second month, $1,000 the third month, and so on. In other words, the client would continue to receive $1,000 per month in revenue with no additional marketing expenditures and his average cost per click keeps dropping over time. By investing in content, which he owns and controls, this client has created the gift that keeps on giving. Now blog on regular basis and you compound this effect which I just described.

Want to get ahead in your law practice? Investing in your own content, as opposed to paying for advertising like AVVO sponsored listings, is a good start.

Lawyers err by thinking that their website cannot compete against large directories such as AVVO

The appearance of AVVO in search rankings is one of the reasons why many lawyers feel they need to pay for a sponsored listing. That idea, however, is based on a false premise. It is true that large directories sometimes rank well for generalized search terms such as “my city divorce lawyer” or “my city criminal attorney.” The truth of the matter, however, is that people seriously looking for an attorney often search using “long-tail” terms. In other words, people requiring legal services often search using terms such as “lawyer for my city domestic violence case” or “attorney for ‘type of case’.” If you search for these types of phrases, which many people do, then you will note that large directories do not appear.

Our clients have seen significant traffic growth over time and long-tail searches are an important part of this success. I talked about the importance of long-tail searches in this video:

Are you feeling like you need an AVVO sponsored listing because you can’t compete against a large directory? My suggestion would be that such a feeling may be based on a false belief.

Want to grow your firm in an effective and sustainable way? Focus on investing in your own content rather than renting ad space from third parties.