Why Link Building Is Important For Your Law Firm Website
What is link building?
You click on links every time you surf the internet. When search engines read the clicks that take you from one website to another, they store that information away in their database (called algorithms.) When it’s time to determine which websites make it to the top of the search engine pile, the sites that have links that get more clicks tend to get better positioning than those that get fewer.
Where do Clicks Come From?
- Review a list of websites that pop up from a search. Pick one. Click.
- Read a blog post with a link to information you want to check out. Click.
- Find a Facebook post with an interesting video from a company you follow. Click.
How it works
To search engines, all those clicks between sites translate into popularity. When search engine spiders find sites pointing to sites, and transmit that information to search engines, the algorithms give credit to both sides. Warning: algorithms can tell if the content of the information being linked is relevant to both sites and issue hefty penalties that can trash site ranking if it’s not.
To the search engines, links have become just as important as keywords. Keywords and links account for 80% of the criteria used by search engines to determine a site’s popularity. If appearing at the top of organic search results is important for your law firm, a good link strategy helps your website get there.
Why link building is important
If you don’t have a plan of action to build links between your attorney website (or your blog site or your landing pages, or your articles or anywhere else you promote your law firm on the Web) and the places where your potential clients are, you’re losing a lot of traffic.
How to start building links
Link building is a continuous process. It’ll take time to learn the basics and to create the right plan for your law firm website. A comprehensive linking strategy is difficult, but you can start a few link-building activities on your own:
Visit the sites that you like, and look at their link-building strategies. Don’t worry about the industry or whether they’re commercial sites. Focus on the links. Where do they go? Are they relevant to the company’s business? Where are they on the website? Are they simple to follow? Can you easily get back to where you started? Links are meant to improve the quality of visits, not make viewers confused.
If your clients have websites or blogs, ask them to link to you. Do the same for them. Add testimonials.
Check out your competitors’ links. Some of the same will probably help your business.
Link building isn’t a one-shot deal. Just like you have to keep your content fresh, your links need the same updating. Periodically test your links to make sure they still lead to live pages with relevant information. Search algorithms also measure the age of your links. You can’t set them and forget them, and keep a good position.
The Top 5 Ways To Build Quality Inbound Links
Building links has gotten a bad rap over the last few years, as there have been web operators—law firms included—who’ve gone about it the wrong way, and for the wrong reasons. However, building quality links—quality being the operative word here—still holds significance in driving traffic to your website, blog, and social media pages, and for valuable placement on the SERP’s.
To get you pointed in the right direction, here are the top 5 tips to building quality inbound links.
1. Create Worksheets and Useful Downloadable Documents
Are there worksheets, checklists, or other documents you can create that can help people in legal need?Create downloadable documents to provide users with legal guidance, and offer these free on your website.
For example, a personal injury law firm could offer a checklist on itemized steps an injury victim needs to take when involved in an auto accident. Free, downloadable, and useful documents are highly shareable.
2. Offer FAQ and Resource Pages
People love to link to pages that provide useful information—especially legal information that discusses important matters such as bankruptcy, medical malpractice, or child custody. Create an FAQ web page with short answers that links to posts on your blog that answer these questions in greater detail.
Also, create resource pages that contain searchable keywords. A resource page titled “Tips When Stopped By Police at a DUI Checkpoint” has viral potential.
3. Review Law Books and Related Media On Amazon
Your law firm can review law books and other related media, build a credible reviewer reputation, and display a profile with a link to your website on Amazon—all for free.
This is a great opportunity to become visible to a new audience, and be positioned as a go-to legal expert all at the same time.
TIP: Don’t use Amazon reviews for blatant self-promotion. Readers can see right through this, and traffic to your site will be hindered, not promoted.
4. Become a Guest Blogger
The key to successful guest blogging is choosing quality, relevant blogs to submit a guest post to. Reach out to the site owner, discuss your legal credentials and that you know what you’re talking about, and pitch them your blog idea.
TIP: If you’re going to guest blog, be sure the site is a quality and reputable one. Despite what Matt Cutts has to say about guest blogging, it can still boost online visibility if done properly, so don’t try to game the system by submitting duplicate, keyword stuffed, low-quality content. If the website owner doesn’t catch it, Google will.
5. Publish Quality Content On a Regular Basis
Publishing consistent, quality content is the best strategy to build quality inbound links. By uploading fresh, valuable content frequently (daily is preferred), readers will share your links and posts. When you find something of value on the web, don’t you forward it? This practice is universal.
5 Creative Link Building Techniques For Law Firms
If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your site, creating quality inbound links is a must. However, effective link building is a science.
There was a time when webmasters could build thousands of links, and subsequently watch their site climb to the top of the SERP’s. Those days are gone. Link building is now scrutinized by top search engines, and it’s critical that you know how to go about it to keep your site in good standing with both viewers and SE’s.
Here are 5 creative link building techniques that will keep your web marketing for law firms efforts safe and successful.
1. Interview Experts
An easy way to build links is to interview experts related to your area of law—this can be anyone from doctors for personal injury, forensic scientists for criminal law, even lab experts for DUI defense.
How do you build links when you interview an expert? Simply ask them to share the interview with their readers on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. Chances are, they’ll love to share their exposure with their own followers, so accommodating your request shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Sponsor an Event
Sponsoring an event is a great way to build quality links. Conference sites list event sponsors, and they link back to their sponsors. Plus, when you sponsor an event, you can set up a booth, and make personal contact with possible clients.
The event(s) you choose to sponsor are entirely up to you, although they should correspond with your practice area; e.g. MADD events for personal injury, wrongful death, etc.
3. Sponsor a Non-Profit
Sponsoring a non-profit such as a MADD event, or a charity drive for a children’s hospital, is a great way to give back to your community, and develop contact links at the same time. You can give of your time, offer legal advice to those in need, and meet volunteers at the event who could be a source for otherwise untapped clients. It’s a win-win all around.
4. Take Quality Pictures
Everyone online these days is looking for images to use—especially free, high-quality images. If you’ve got a digital camera, take clear and professional quality photos of industry-related images. Put them on your website, and let viewers know that they’re royalty-free images available for download.
Just make it a requirement for people to link back to your site if they decide to use your images. The great part about this is that you’ll likely get relevant industry links, as legal professionals are the most likely to use these images.
5. Give Away Free Stuff
A great way to create inbound links is to give away free stuff—including legal pads, pens, post-its; anything that’s related to your brand, and preferably has your law firm’s logo on it. If you’re the law firm that gives away cool stuff just by linking to your site, or subscribing to your email (even better), you’ll establish a world of new followers.
Build Links To Build Your Audience
Establishing high-quality inbound links to your website is not an easy process and requires persistence, a few resources, and specific strategies. Here are a few tips to help channel targeted traffic to your law firm website and to allow it to perform better on search engines through link building.
Link a few keywords in your articles to other related blog posts or web-pages from your site. This will improve the quality of your audience’s visit by keeping them engaged on your webpage for longer, which improves the potential for lead generation. For example, you could link a keyword from your blog post about a particular government program- to a page on your site that introduces a service you provide for it. This will bring your website a higher assisted conversion rate.
Find blogs that your firm can potentially write content for. Google’s blogsearch tool can be especially helpful for this purpose. Contact the blog-owner explaining that you would love to write a guest post for their sites in exchange for an inbound link. Anchor the link to a keyword or phrase that you want to rank well in search engines and also include a small blurb at the end of the article that mentions your firm, just in case readers want to seek your website out for more of your content.
Write an article that features and links to the websites of interesting bloggers, or related professional organizations and events in your industry. Inform them about your article before you publish so that they are inclined to share the post with their social networks once it goes live. For example, because Canadian immigration law is also related to tourism, an article that lists Canada’s best festivals can link to and be shared by the festivals’ websites and social media accounts. Always be sure to incorporate a short byline about your law firm at the end of your articles, stressing the need for a related service that your law firm offers such as temporary resident permits.
Comment on Other Blogs.
Search for popular, influential blogs related to your law firm’s industry and leave a thoughtful comment in response when appropriate. Not only does this help the blogger by increasing the value of their post, it also builds brand awareness, gives your website greater referral traffic and may even lead to an opportunity to write a guest post for them in the future.
5 tips for improving your website’s link profile
As Google continues to refine its search algorithm, it is becoming more important for attorney search engine optimization to build a natural link profile for your website. A link profile consists of the:
(a) types of links (directories, forums, press releases, blog posts, etc.)
(b) anchor text used (the words which make up the link)
(c) time period over which these links were acquired
a. Link types
1. The best way to create links from directories Google considers good is to reach out to partners, vendors, trade associations, local Chambers of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, business.com, etc.
2. Do this by sending press releases with links to your website. Use your personal name or the web address as the anchor text of these links rather than the keywords you want to target. Why? See #3 below.
b. Anchor text
3. When the anchor text for nearly all of your links is limited to a few high-demand keywords (e.g., Milwaukee disability lawyer), your link profile shouts “unnatural!” Using your own name or your domain name for some of the links will balance the high-value keyworded links.
4. Build links to your interior pages as well as your home page. This will help you further vary the anchor text used.
c. Link pacing
5. As with most long races, a steady pace is best. Instead of building dozens of links in a few weeks and then turning your web marketing for law firms attention elsewhere, you should create a roughly even number of links each month and permanently continue your efforts. Think “slowly and continually.”
With spring just around the corner, thoughts turn to website housekeeping and strategic reviews. The legal SEO industry has been turning its attention to the thorny issue of “link building,” mostly driven by a number of comments and explanations made by Matt Cutts on the subject towards the end of February 2014. As Cutts is the head of Google’s anti-spamdexing team, his opinion matters, because it can earn your firm’s website penalties if you fall fowl of Mr Cutts’ priorities.
Now would be a good time to review your law firm’s backlink strategy, or, if you don’t have one, you should consider creating one. You may not know what that task entails. However, don’t worry, this roundup contains tips, explanations and guides.
An expert may have told you that links are no longer important in SEO. If that is the case, you should read this article on Search Engine Journal quickly before you make ill-informed strategic errors for you law firm’s Web pages. As well as explaining that links are still important for SEO, the piece gives a few quick tips on building a backlink strategy. If you a practice manager and have an IT team to do this sort of thing for you, treat this as an executive summary.
If you still think Google has removed the importance of links from its algorithm, take some advice from the company’s Mr Spamdex. If you are now convinced that your firm needs to focus on link building, we have some advice and tools for you in the following links.
This article from Search Engine Land covers the topic of auditing existing backlinks to a site. Jon Ball explains why, when and how to do it. This advice should get you on the runway if your practice already has backlinks.
This Search Engine Journal article explains some free tools you can use to try to work out whether your law firm’s website has been hit by a rank-crippling penalty for the links that point to it.
Another Search Engine Journal article explains a tool you could try when auditing the links that point to your law firm’s website.
If you’re cash-strapped, you might also like to read this article, which is one of an array of recent articles on link building produced by Search Engine Watch.
Others that might help you with your law firm’s links are:
- Link Building in 2014 is All About Building Your Brand & Reputation
- 5 Examples of ‘Spam Link Building Tactics’ Done Right
- Matt Cutts Shares 4 Ways Google Evaluates Paid Links
This article, which is on Search Engine Journal, explains a source of high value links that will get your law firm’s site boosted up the search engine results pages.
Once you have identified the backlinks that are damaging your rankings how do you get rid of them? This article from Search Engine Watch explains how to remove the damage done by links on other sites to your firm’s site.
Link building is a contentious issue among the SEO fraternity. Many like to quote the fact that Google’s ranking algorithm now contains 200 different factors and is no longer a link-based calculation as it was at the search engine’s creation. Others counter that those 200 factors don’t all have equal weighting in the Google algorithm and if you get a Google employee drunk, they will eventually blurt out that links are still at the heart of the algorithm. So you would be right to be confused on this topic.
A key part of link building is finding out where to get rankings-enhancing links from. This pursuit is called “link discovery” and there have been a number of articles on the SEO news sites on this topic over the last week. These articles appear in Search Engine Watch, Moz Blog and Search Engine Land.
This Moz Blog article is a summary of a link building guide recently produced by Moz. As a busy lawyer, you may not have time to read the full guide, but this summary should give you some ideas about directions you should take to look for link sources for your law firm’s website. It opens with a cracking recent quote from Google’s Matt Cutts, which answers once and for all the question of whether link building is worth the bother. It is.
This is another important article on link discovery from the Moz Blog this week. It explains tools you can use in order to see the links your competitors have attracted and to test the value of the links pointing to your own website Pages. The article draws you towards getting your hands dirty with technical stuff. So if you are a complete technophobe, pass this article on to whomever deals with the technical aspects of your law firm’s website.
If you are a little too busy with your legal work and you are not that into SEO topics, then this Search Engine Watch article should be more to your taste. The article outlines the general purpose of link building and proposes some strategies on how to go about the task. The writer also includes links to further reading if this article whetted your appetite enough to give you an interest in link discovery and link building.
Over at Search Engine Land, Julie Joyce, an SEO consultant, warns us all not to overdo link building. Note, however, she doesn’t say link building is a waste of time. In fact, reading about her experience, link building seems to be a major part of her job. Joyce points out, though that what works now might not necessarily always gain favor with Google. The company has a habit of suddenly taking against certain linking strategies and this could either ruin your rankings, or cost you a fortune in consultancy fees to get those links detected and removed.
This article reinforces Julie Joyce’s point. Not so long ago, link schemes were all the rage because they helped companies with their rankings. Now, they are frowned upon by Google. The landscape changes all the time in SEO and you need to keep track of developments in order to keep your law firm’s website appearing on page one of search engine results.
Penguin Pleasing Link Building
Google has just finished rolling out an update to its Penguin filter. Penguin is meant to penalize dirty tricks that distort the relevance of entries in the search engine’s results pages. A particular focus of this update is a scrutiny of the purity of links into a site. So, with that in mind, it would be a good idea to review the links into your law firm’s website.
Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Roundtable have some particularly educative articles this week that will get you up to speed on the topic of link building.
First up, here is the announcement of the Penguin rollout as reported in Search Engine Land. There are no details of the intended targets of the filter’s new version. This is because Google sometimes hints about the purpose of its ranking adjustment updates and sometimes just leaves it to the SEO community to analyze the effects of the update and work out how to alter websites to please (or cheat) the new normal. You will note that they don’t always release the version number of an algorithm update.
As the quality of the sources of backlinks are a major part of Google’s ranking mechanism, Google introduced a disavowal tool to enable website owners to disassociate from certain links pointing to their Web pages. This is because external backlinks reside on other people’s websites and a website owner has no control over their quality. This makes backlinks a potential weapon for dirty tricks. Read through this article to get to grips with the concept of disavowal in case you need to implement this for your law firm’s website.
If you are a sole practitioner and far too busy chasing clients to bother doing your own link building, you may need to hire an expert to do it for you. This easy read will give you just enough knowledge on the topic that you can bluff your way through interviewing a link builder.
This Search Engine Watch article describes a tool from Majestic.com that could aid your law firm to better target its linking strategy.
Still on the topic of tools, this article includes a review of a tool called Peek, which is a link discovery tool. If you plan to improve the backlinks to your law firm website, maybe this tool could help.