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Is Martindale-Avvo Advertising Worth It?

Martindale Avvo

As a legal marketing agency owner, I get questions all the time from clients about paid advertising on the Martindale-Avvo network of websites.

I recently received an Email and thought I’d take a look at their platforms from a traffic perspective. Full disclosure, I was an employee at Martindale-Hubbell under Lexis-Nexis ownership 2010-2013.

In their letter to potential advertisers they say that their platforms: Martindale.com, Avvo, Lawyers.com and NOLO, have been rated as “Top 10” for the last 3 years, but make no reference of who rated them or based on what metrics (my guess is an article by Clio which seems to rank legal directories more on brand awareness than actual visibility on Google).

The Everest Legal Marketing study on legal directories suggests the contrary, but that’s not really the primary subject of this article.

What Does Google Analytics Say About Martindale-Avvo Properties?

From traffic I’ve seen on my client’s Google Analytics reporting using a Google UTM code to track advertising performance, often the thousands of dollars paid per year in advertising on Martindale-Avvo might produce 50-150 visits a year to our client’s websites. Admittedly that’s an imperfect indictment of their service, because of varied geography, practice areas and available advertising programs within their directories. Also, a lawyer may get leads from people who never clicked through to their website on the Martindale-Avvo profiles… an unverifiable, yet significant consideration.

The Best Part About Traffic from Martindale-Avvo Websites

I will applaud the Martindale-Avvo websites for the high quality traffic that is very often generated from their legal directories, which typically produce traffic with the longest “dwell” time on my client’s websites (typically 1:30 to 3:00 minutes which is high for a law firm’s website). That’s because traffic generated from legal websites are typically people who are very engaged in finding and hiring a lawyer.

I also see that these directories often provide traffic that navigates to contact pages more so than other Referral traffic sources (not including Organic traffic).

It could be argued that for these reasons alone it would be worth the advertising dollars spent on these platforms since one new client could more than pay for a year of inclusion, but you better have a very good tracking method in place to confirm your ROI.

What Search Phrases do Martindale, Avvo, Lawyers.com and Nolo Rank for on Google?

In my video, I discuss a lot about what these platforms DO NOT rank well for on Google. However, I don’t discuss what Martindale.com, Avvo.com, Lawyers.com and Nolo.com DO rank prominently on Google for. This is an important distinction because a key driving value of these directories is being found where people look for a lawyer.

A study from iLawyerMarketing in April 2023 found that 90% of adults 21-65 polled used Google as the primary platform to research a lawyer to hire. It stands to reason that we should know what search phrases these directories rank well on Google for since most people start their search for a lawyer there.

As complied by Ahrefs, here are each directory’s phrases they rank for on Google up to 30,000 phrases and their relative position:

*Limitations of this data: The data linked above is limited to the first 30,000 search phrases in descending order, these directories may rank on Page 1 of Google for far more than these phrases. Also, Ahrefs can’t possibly capture 100% of all variations or non-volume producing search phrases that these websites rank for.

As you scroll through the data, look for “top of funnel” search phrases that someone would use to find you. I think you’ll find that the vast majority of search phrases are legal and information-seeking in general, but not high-intent to find a new lawyer like “criminal defense lawyer“, “personal injury lawyer“, or “business lawyer“. Many of the phrases these directories are are visible for are the names of individual attorneys or law firms which doesn’t help an advertiser looking to gain a lead on a new client.

Updates Made to These Platforms

In the last few years, I’ve only seen two significant & impactful updates made specifically to Lawyers.com and Avvo. The first being in June 2022 when Lawyers.com removed the “follow” attribute to their profiles, followed shortly after by Martindale.com (this is a key benefit to SEO for your website). The second being when Avvo redesigned the attorney profile layouts in December of 2022 and subsequently removed the ability for a non-paying lawyer to display their phone number and link to their website – something I’m sure doesn’t align with Google’s Helpful Content update. Why would I go to a directory website where I can’t even see a business’ phone number?
*Follow me on Twitter here.

Do I Recommend Clients to Advertise on Martindale-Avvo?

At this point in time, I generally do not recommend that my clients pay for advertising on the Martindale-Avvo platform. Even though Martindale-Avvo is legitimate, it’s hard to prove ROI when their visibility and traffic is so compromised. I do recommend that my clients make the most of their free listings there, but in my video I discuss the lack of visibility for competitive search phrases. Conrad Saam, a former Director of Marketing at Avvo, also echoes my sentiment in an article and video from 2022 regarding some of the inconsistencies in traffic reporting and the general downfall of Avvo after a 2018 Google algorithm update.

There are isolated instances where I do recommend some of my clients invest in advertising on these platforms, but those instances are few and far between and I highly recommend that you discuss this more in depth with your marketing partner.

*Technical note: In the video I don’t address the possibility of organizing these directories traffic by search volume instead of CPC (valuable visibility). While admittedly this is a bit of an oversight on my part, I went back and found that these directories also have very limited visibility for higher volume search phrases in addition to high value search phrases.

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