The legal directory, Avvo looks to be in complete SEO meltdown mode. As the guy who architected Avvo’s SEO ascendancy, I take no level of schadenfreude in this… but four different data points over the past few months suggest to me that Avvo is suffering a complete SEO traffic meltdown.
Avvo was sold to Internet Brands (parent company of Nolo, Martindale and a panoply of other legal brands) about two years ago and quickly saw the abrupt departure of most of the C suite. Since the acquisition, we’ve seen little (if anything?) innovative coming out of the company and it looked Internet Brands’ plans was to simply focus on operating efficiencies and milk the cash cow.
It looks like the cow may be dying. Four data points corroborate to paint a story of a site in rapid decline.
1. SEO Ranking Failings
According to rank tracking data, Avvo’s appearance in high value Organic Search results (think “car accident attorney Seattle”) has plummeted from a consistent 2% of market share to….. zero. In general, I eschew using SEO ranking as an indicator of success; however, it can be used when looking at competitors… which include legal directories when you are a law firm competing for keywords.
The chart below showcases a study of 4 short tail legal keywords across the country as tracked by legal marketing nerd, Gyi Tsakalakis. This past week, Avvo fell below .05% marketshare and simply doesn’t register at all. Now, their longer tail, Answers product may still be bringing in traffic, as may name search queries (although that has become much more competitive since I left) but they seem to be no longer appearing for high volume, high converting, money keywords.
2. Ahrefs Traffic Value Data
I looked at Avvo on the Ahrefs Traffic Value graph, which shows a record low number for Avvo. The traffic value graph is essentially a combination of keyword rankings cross referenced with the value (defined by PPC data) of those keywords. Like all of these third party tools, its horrendously inaccurate; however, directionally informative, but if you lend any credence to this type of data, the value of Avvo’s traffic has dropped by 90% from its zenith. Also note while Ahrefs does show a drop in traffic overall, the traffic value shows a much greater loss – again suggesting these changes are in Avvo’s performance in high value keywords instead of the more generic name or longer tail, informational searches.
3. Ad hoc Comments by Lawyers
This drop in marketshare has been noted by lawyer advertisers. We’ve been hearing from individual lawyers noting a precipitous drop-off in leads coming from Avvo. I’d be curious if anyone has similar experience…. feel free to share in the comments.
About 3 weeks ago, Avvo quietly laid off a portion of their sales staff. I don’t know how large those layoffs were, but from what I’ve been told, employees were informed jobs were safe and secure only to have the firm do an abrupt about face just weeks later. How do I know this? I’ve been interviewing ex Avvo people (yes Mockingbird is hiring during this uncertain time.) The timing of the layoffs coincides with what we’re seeing as an overall decline in ranking performance.
This may be temporary, it may be addressable, it may be related to COVID, it may be a strange shuffle in Google’s algo, but at this point, the present doesn’t look great for Avvo. Note – I did reach out to Avvo for comment last week, but they have not gotten back to me.