Avvo in SEO Traffic Free Fall

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.

4.  Layoffs

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.

11 Responses to “Avvo in SEO Traffic Free Fall”

  1. In it’s heyday, AVVO was an excellent source of referrals if you invested time in answering their questions, especially when you could post relevant backlinks to your own site. Now it’s just a wasteland of garbage. All I get from it are calls from people wanting pro bono representation and emails from teenagers wanting to know if they can kiss their 15-year-old girlfriend without getting arrested. Thanks for this post, it’s the final nail I needed to stop paying for their pro listing service.

  2. Max Taylor

    I’ve answered over six thousand questions on Avvo since 2008, received 45 endorsements, and worked my way up to a 9.1 rating. But Avvo has not produced a single client.

  3. Our tracking service shows an overall traffic decline that started in 2015. But its not nearly as severe as the SEO decline you suggest. So their other traffic sources must still be performing reasonably well, but the quality of that traffic may not be as good. The most recent decline looks to be Covid related and our weekly and daily tracking suggests that they recently hit the bottom and traffic has started to rebound. That being said, they are still at the lowest point since we started tracking them in 2011.

  4. I tried Avvo paid advertising for a couple of months, maybe 18 months ago. They had a dumb demographic arrangement. I have clients from all over the country and they wanted me to pay but only get clients from my county only. I got as many clients from just answering questions.

  5. Great article Conrad. Thanks for sharing. Do you think the decline in the last year could be related to E.A.T.? Specifically, an Avvo content piece like “have-you-thought-about-the-legal-requirements-before-starting-your-business–1” is a little vague on the authority. It says “attorney Yoel Molina” but that’s all it says about the attorney and the attorney’s name doesn’t link to any information about the attorney. Then the content structure is confusing. Like the H2s on the page are actually all of the periods after each large number. Strange. It just doesn’t seem well optimized for Google’s guidelines on creating and managing good content.

  6. Seth Jens

    As soon as Mark Britton left Avvo it has been on a non-stop downward spiral. Not great leadership or direction there anymore. People that work there currently are losing faith on where Avvo will be in a couple years and I don’t blame them

  7. For “the record,” not that it makes it anymore scientific, but the rank tracking data covered ~ 250 legal head terms across four major markets. For the keywords we track, Avvo only appears on the first page for one keyword, namely, position 8 for “lawyer” in Houston, TX. At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s imperative to assess directory visibility in the context of your target search queries AND location. The performance of these directories swings wildly from one keyword universe and location to another.

  8. I’ve been advertising with AVVO for 5 years. Over the past 12-18 months, I’ve noticed a significant drop in overall leads and the quality of the leads that came in. I am now considering other options.