SEO for lawyers is multifaceted. It involves managing your on-site and off-site SEO, optimizing for local rankings, creating quality content, and more.
However, one critical SEO task that many law firms often overlook is link building – getting high-authority links pointing back to your website.
Quality backlinks can boost your website’s authority in Google’s eyes and generate higher rankings and more traffic.
Unfortunately, link building for lawyers is not always easy, primarily due to how competitive attorney SEO is. You need to develop creative link-building strategies to attract the right types of backlinks to your site and grow your traffic.
This guide highlights reasons why backlinks are a critical ranking factor and shares some tried-and-true ways to build links to your law firm’s website.
Why Backlinks Are a Top Three Google Ranking Factor
Google considers backlinks a top three ranking factor because they provide a “vote of confidence” from other websites to your website.
A backlink is essentially an indication that your website is a great source of information for searchers. By building quality backlinks, search engines will recognize that your content is legit and should be ranked higher in the search results.
Although your law firm website will earn some backlinks naturally by publishing engaging content, you’ll need to be a bit more proactive with link building if you want to improve your Google rankings faster.
But it’s important to note that Google values “natural” links and penalizes links that appear to have been bought. Always follow manual link-building practices to avoid any penalties that could hurt your overall attorney SEO efforts.
Traits of Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are essentially votes from other websites telling search engines that your content is credible, valuable, and useful. So, the more “votes” you have, the higher your website will rank in search engines.
Google’s original algorithm, referred to as “PageRank,” was actually founded on backlinks. But even with the thousands of algorithm changes Google has made over the years, backlinks still remain one of their top three most critical ranking factors.
But not all backlinks are created equal. So, if you want your law firm site to rank higher on SERPs, target quality backlinks. In fact, a single quality backlink is more powerful than a thousand low-quality backlinks. Overall, here are the traits of high-quality backlinks:
1: They Originate From Trusted, Authoritative Sites
Google uses the concept of “Domain Authority (DA)” to determine the authority of websites. The higher a site’s DA rating, the more authority it passes on to your site through a backlink.
Google puts a lot of weight on high DA links. You may notice a significant boost in organic traffic once a high authority site, such as Harvard, New York Times, etc., links to your website.
2: The Link is a “Dofollow” Link
Typically, search engines ignore links with “no follow” tags attached to them.
And most of the links with a no-follow tag are not valuable as for attorney SEO. For instance, links from blog comments, paid ads, and press releases tend to be no-follow. Always ensure your backlinks have a “do-follow” tag to enhance your search engine ranking.
3: The Link is From a Unique Domain
Getting backlinks from the same website over and over again has diminishing returns.
For example, if you get a link from website X for the first time, your search engine ranking will improve. But getting another link from the same website for the second time, third time, fourth time, etc., will not result in any substantial gain.
So, it’s usually better to acquire 10 links from 10 different websites than 100 links from the same website, regardless of its authority.
4: They Entail Your Target Keyword in the Anchor Text
An anchor text is simply the visible text portion of a link. You’ll want your backlink to have an anchor text that has your target keyword.
Some industry studies even found a correlation between keyword-rich anchor text and improved rankings for the keyword.
But be careful not to overly focus on keyword-rich anchor text since “Google Penguin” filters out sites that utilize black hat link-building strategies. It specifically focuses on websites that build links with exact match anchor text.
5: The Backlink is from a Relevant Website
When a website links back to your website, Google wants to know if the two websites are related.
For example, if you publish an article about chicken recipes, Google will put more weight on sites related to restaurants, chefs, etc., and less weight on sites related to IT, e-commerce, etc.
Inbound Links in Attorney SEO: Quality vs. Quantity
Less is always best when it comes to link building. Once you’ve published dozens of quality articles that resonate with your audience and optimized your website’s loading speed, the next step is to build links to relevant pages to boost your ranking. However, be careful not to move too fast.
If the quantity of backlinks was more vital than the quality, it would be quite easy for sites to trick search engines by gaining hundreds of spammy or unrelated links. That’s why Google’s algorithm updates punish websites that do that.
Just a single link from a popular news website, insightful blog, or a high-quality resource can provide greater SEO value than a hundred links from low-quality sources. If Google can trust the website pointing to your site, it will trust the backlink, too.
Referring Domains vs. Backlinks
A backlink is a hyperlink that points from one website to another, and you can have multiple backlinks from a web page or website. On the other hand, a referring domain is a website from which the target web page or website has one or more backlinks.
For example, if your web page has a backlink from Harvard, then it has one referring domain. But if it has a link from Harvard and Stanford, it has two referring domains. Consequently, if it has two backlinks from Harvard, then it still has a single referring domain.
20 Attorney SEO Link Building Strategies You Need to Know
If you want your law firm website to rank on Google, you can’t ignore quality link building. Whether you’re a total SEO beginner learning how to build quality links for the first time or an experienced SEO expert looking for new tactics that work, there are dozens of approaches you can take.
Here are 20 proven strategies that can help you earn those top-ranking positions on search engine results pages.
1. Ask Your Network
Asking law firms and bloggers in your network to link to your website is certainly the easiest way to build quality and relevant backlinks. Reach out to websites related to the legal industry to get contextual links pointing to your website.
If your network has a blog that references top lawyers in your state, make efforts to get on that list. You can also check out any local bloggers who can add your law firm as a trusted resource for people seeking legal services in your area.
2. Alumni Lists and Directories
Most universities and colleges have a section on their websites dedicated to their alumni, and some may be willing to link out. Check if your alma mater features an alumni page and ask if you can be listed with a link back to your law firm’s website.
Additionally, you can run some PR to get featured on alumni blogs. The University of Washington, for instance, periodically publishes features of their notable alumni and links out to their practice’s websites.
3. Guest Posting
Publishing guest articles on relevant websites is an excellent way to build backlinks. It’s also a decent way to find potential clients and establish your authority in your industry.
To get backlinks through guest posting, find publications you often follow and contact them to see if they do accept guest posts. Many sites will let you pitch your own topic or assign you relevant topics to write about.
In some cases, websites will try to charge you for publishing your guest post. Before you pay for a guest post, be sure to check out the website’s authority to ensure you’re getting value for your money.
Usually, you can include a link pointing to your own site within the author’s bio or embed the link within your guest post’s body content.
4. Q and A Sites
Q and A sites such as Quora and Reddit can earn you quality no-follow links that direct traffic to your site, provided you mention your site in your answer. Users often ask questions on these platforms, and you can provide professional answers based on your own expertise.
For instance, if a user asks what to do to get a marriage annulment, you can answer with clear explanations and then link back to your law firm’s website if they need more information.
5. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Although links from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are all no-follow, they can help drive traffic to your website. However, these listings usually cost money. The precise cost of a BBB listing will depend on your region as well as the number of employees you have.
Since BBB is a reputable site, you don’t need to worry about Google imposing any penalties on your website. By getting listed on a reputable site such as BBB, your website can receive significant referral traffic.
6. Chamber of Commerce
It’s also a nice idea to get a link from your local Chamber of Commerce. This is often a guaranteed link as long as you approach the right representatives to get listed. You may need to go through a simple application process, but gaining that authority link and potential traffic improvement are well worth it.
7. Publish Linkable Content
Interesting and highly engaging content can entice other sites to link to your website. Established law firms often create content that users can’t easily find anywhere else, forcing them to link back.
Be sure to create content that provides a valuable resource and answers burning questions in the legal industry. The ultimate goal is to publish content that other websites are itching to link to.
Some examples of linkable content ideas include:
- Online libraries
- Exclusive interviews
- Online tools
- How-to guides
Always think of content ideas your target audience would love. By marketing this content online, you’ll likely attract links naturally. You could also advertise your linkable content to other websites directly.
8. Local Listings
There are countless local directories that you can take advantage of to get your law firm listed. Besides the popular directories such as Yelp, Whitepages, and YellowPages, you can find other local directories that focus on your state or city, making them more relevant to your practice.
These smaller directories are also often easier to get listed on.
9. Niche Directories
Just like local directories, niche directories focus on a particular industry. As an attorney, you’ll want to find directories relevant to the legal industry, such as Avvo, Findlaw, and Justia.
Some of these legal directories provide followed links, but even those that offer no-follow links can help send traffic to your website. An added benefit of niche directories is that most of them allow you to gather client reviews, providing social proof to help you gain even more clients.
10. Hosting Events
Consider hosting community-focused events to drum up publicity and backlinks. Even if you can’t host in-person events, webinars and virtual conferences are still effective options to get eyes on your legal practice.
When advertising your event, pitch the details to other businesses and publications, asking them to promote the event. Chances are, these publications will link to your website and share the details on their social media networks.
Another viable option is to host a scholarship for students in your community. That way, schools, agencies, and other organizations will link to your website to connect people to your scholarship.
11. Blog Directories
Consider publishing helpful blogs on your law firm’s website and get them listed in blog directories. Just make sure that these directories are relevant to your industry and service area. To find relevant directories, simply search the term “blog directories” in Google, and you’re certain to find several viable options.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) provides a comprehensive database of sources that journalists can reference in articles and magazines. When you sign up for free HARO updates, you’ll be able to respond to journalists’ queries and possibly get featured in top publications.
Typically, getting featured may likely get you a link back to your site and earn valuable media coverage.
Other than creating content to attract links naturally to your website or publishing on external platforms, outreach is another effective link-building option. Begin by scoping out your competitors’ backlink profiles.
SEO tools such as SEMRush.com or Ahrefs.com can help you see where their links are emanating from. You can then reach out to these domains for guest posting opportunities or to have your links embedded in some of their existing linkable assets.
14. Social Media
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, provide options to include links back to your website.
Although most of these links are no-follow, they can help drive significant traffic to your website. Some case studies have also revealed that social media mentions can be great for SEO.
15. Unlinked Mentions
A website may mention your business or website but fail to link back to your site, resulting in a scenario known as “unlinked mentions.” An easy link-building strategy is to locate these mentions and reach out to the website to link back to your site.
An SEO tool such as Ahrefs.com can help you find unlinked mentions and earn backlinks. If your legal practice is mentioned anywhere online, it’s worth turning all these mentions into backlinks.
16. Crowdsourced Posts
Crowdsourced content includes posts where other websites or publications are looking for industry experts to contribute to an article, often in exchange for a do-follow backlink. Typically, it takes just a few minutes to give a response, but you can benefit from that link juice for several months or even years.
17. Content Marketing
Once you’ve published enough quality content on your website, strive to market it across platforms to gain as much visibility as possible. For example, you could share it in your email list or on social media platforms and other outside publications.
The more visibility you give your content, the more likely you’ll earn extra backlinks from users who love your content.
18. Don’t Just Stick to Your Practice Areas
Don’t just create content that fits neatly into your practice area(s). Think outside of the box – what related questions or issues might prospective clients have?
Generate content that touches on broader informational legal issues – like what to wear to court, unusual local laws or rules, or whether or not it’s legal to own a certain type of weapon or pet. These types of posts can draw attention from other content creators and might just get you a backlink.
19. Networking/Offline Marketing
Consider attending in-person networking events to create new connections that could result in backlinks. While your goal should be to establish genuine relationships, look out for different link-building opportunities.
You might find someone willing to interview you on their website or YouTube channel and offer you some valuable links back to your site.
Despite what many digital marketers suggest, newsletters aren’t “dead,” provided they deliver quality information users want to read.
If your website keeps up with current legal news, offers unique content users can’t find elsewhere, or has interesting legal information, you can earn tons of email subscribers and links back to your newsletter.
Is it Better to Build Link Myself or Outsource?
The majority of attorneys choose to outsource link-building processes due to a lack of adequate time or resources to execute decent link-building.
By attempting to build links on your own, you can easily shift your focus from your core business goals. So, it’s best to outsource link building to a trusted attorney SEO agency to get your pages ranking better in Google and other search engines.
If you know the kinds of pages you want to boost via backlinks, an outsourced legal SEO expert can step in to help you get some juicy links.
While the legal industry may be highly competitive, with legal practices fighting neck and neck to rank higher in the search results, following these simple tips will earn you backlinks to improve your personal injury lawyer SEO.
At LawRank, our primary goal is to get attorneys on Google’s first page. Contact us today to learn more about SEO for lawyers and how our best law firm SEO strategists can help your law firm rank higher on SERPs. We can also assist you with web design, PPC for lawyers, and local SEO.