The Power of Link Building for Attorneys
One aspect that’s essential to run a successful law firm SEO campaign is link-building. The rules of SEO and link-building are constantly evolving and changing, and the need to keep up with these trends cannot be over-emphasized.
Link-building is one of the most complicated SEO tools, but it is also very effective and will allow your website to rank better on search engines.
What is Link Building?
In its simplest form, link building is increasing the number of links to your website (inbound links). Inbound links are the same as backlinks (or incoming links).
A good link-building strategy has the power to boost your SEO and improve your rankings on search engines. Inbound links should come from reputable sources covering relevant topics.
When another website links to yours, it shows Google that your content is valuable. It also gives people another way to find you online.
Understanding the Difference Between Links and Referring Domains
Links and referring domains are used interchangeably in the SEO industry, but they mean different things. What’s the difference between a backlink and a referring domain? We’ll explain via an example.
Justia is a well-known legal directory. If they link to you, you have one link from the Justia site and the Justia site is now a referring domain. But because Justia is a legal directory, they might link to you 500 times from different parts of their directory. In that case you would have 500 links but only 1 referring domain.
Why does this matter? Because Google has said that repeated links from the same domain has diminishing returns.
As such, your primary concern should be increasing the amount of referring domain linking to your site, not the amount of links.
Below you can see the LawRank’s site current link profile. We have over 12k links but only 279 referring domains.
Why is Link Building Important?
It’s simple: there’s a strong correlation between backlinks and organic traffic. The more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it tends to have.
In fact, top-ranking pages on Google have 3.8 times more backlinks than pages that rank below them.
So, investing time and resources in link building is quite important if your goal is to rank organically at or near the top of Google’s search results page.
Links Are a Top 3 Google Ranking Factor
Getting other websites to link back to your website is beneficial for Google ranking.
Backlinks signify to Google that your website is worthy and helpful to users.
So, when top-quality websites backlink to your page, the Google algorithm ranks it as a reputable and top-choice site.
This also makes it possible for the website to earn a top spot on search results.
Should I Buy Links?
Backlinks in Google ranking take two major forms: natural and purchased links.
Natural linking is the best type of backlink, usually stemming from great content.
If a law firm’s website contains adequate and rich information, other websites will reference such a site as an authority and hyperlink back to it. This takes time and requires an effort that may take a while to be fully achieved.
Additionally, persistence is required in creating great content since backlinks are not equal; a backlink from Forbes has a different effect on the SERP than that of budding (average) websites.
However, if there is a good mix of both – backlinks from high-quality websites and average ones – your website will perform well in Google ranking (though it may take time).
Purchasing links is not the best way to go about building links. Google algorithms frown at black hat SEO, which often entails the purchase of links or cutting corners to amass backlinks. In the end, Google ends up banning websites that dubiously build backlinks.
Buying links – rather than generating them organically – is expensive, too. On average, it costs about $361 to purchase a backlink (as of 2018). That’s a lot of money for a practice that’s frowned upon by Google and can potentially derail all of your efforts to gain natural links and rank organically.
Keep in mind that backlinks by themselves don’t have an automatic effect on the website.
Google puts a lot into consideration when measuring the rank a website should get based on backlinks. First is the relationship between your website and the websites linking back to your website.
The content on your website and the linking website must share similarities. An attorney website getting backlinks from a fitness page will not have as much of an effect as a link from a reputable business page or another law website.
Link Building and Search Traffic
A backlink is a recommendation saying, “this a great place to access credible information.” Aside from ranking, your website traffic also increases because users on a page are likely to follow the backlink to your website.
Increased traffic means more visitors, a higher chance of conversion, and better brand exposure.
A key benefit of increased search traffic is the long-term advantages for your firm.
As an attorney, the goal of your website is to generate more traffic and have more conversions to enjoy higher revenue. As you enjoy these, your website also becomes the go-to page for many users who find your content helpful and easy to understand.
As mentioned at the onset, the quality of backlinks matters as much as the number, if not more. So this begs the question: what makes a backlink high-quality?
What Makes a Backlink High-Quality?
Since it’s established that high-quality backlinks are crucial to ranking, it’s imperative to see what makes backlinks high-quality.
A high-quality backlink is one that comes from a high-authority and reputable website. A high-authority website is ranked highly by Google and trusted by users.
A backlink from a top-rated website is simply saying that your website is credible and can be trusted. As such, the value attached to such a website rubs off on your website and improves your ranking.
Types of backlinks also influence the ranking and performance of a website. Before we delve into the analysis of the best backlinks, below are the common types.
A do-follow backlink is the most common and valuable. As an attorney, a do-follow backlink is an indicator to Google that your website is plausible. It likewise means the information on the page is accurate and trustworthy. To that end, the Google algorithm regards the page as credible and helpful to users.
A no-follow backlink is less valuable and not often used. For the most part, it’s considered valueless as many websites use it to tell the search engine to ignore particular websites.
Often when websites use the no-follow backlink, it’s because they can not vouch for the accuracy of the information on a website being linked.
Also, popular and credible websites get lots of backlink requests and often use the no-follow backlink to reduce spammy links.
The co-citation optimization approach happens when two different websites mention a particular website in their content. These high-quality websites do not necessarily need to hyperlink, just a mention from them would suffice. Due to this, it’s commonly called a backlink without a link.
Text attribution isn’t necessarily link-related. It’s when a publisher makes a reference by giving a brand credit in its content or campaign. This approach simply creates awareness but does less compared to when a link is included.
What Type of Backlink is Best?
Every business needs a measure of each of the examined backlinks. A combination of all link types shows the search engine the website has spread naturally over time. Of course, the do-follow backlink remains the most valuable of all.
An ideal website with adequate and well-built links must have a good number of do-follow links. However, no-follow links, co-citations, and text attribution may be equally important.
The no-follow link may seem disadvantageous on the surface. However, some tests have shown it can improve the ranking of a website. While the complex basis of this is largely unknown, the effect is undisputed.
Given the importance of each of these backlinks, it’s imperative to work hard on your content. Organic ranking is the best way to go, meaning high-quality content is instrumental in attaining success.
Paid advertisements convert way less than organic content because web users are naturally inclined to use information or services from none advert websites.
Additionally, the moment you stop funding your advert, the conversion rate starts to decline. For organic content, the conversion rate stays for a long time since it grew naturally.
Link equity refers to how a link from one website can pass authority to another. Link equity – or link juice – is often associated with PageRank, Google’s first ranking algorithm.
Whether a backlink will generate link juice – and how much – depends on a lot of different factors, including:
- What’s the relative authority of the referring domain?
- How many links are coming from the referring domain?
- What’s the referring domain’s HTTP status?
- What type of link is it? (no-follow vs. do-follow)
- Where is the backlink on the referring page? (e.g., in the featured text, sidebar, footer, advertisement)
You’ll get the most link juice out of a do-follow backlink that’s located in the main text of an authoritative website. The higher quality the link, the more equity you’re likely to get out of it. Also, the fewer external links the referring domain uses, the more equity that flows through yours.
The more equity, the more appealing your firm’s website will be to Google.
Harnessing the Power of Link Juice
Let’s say you’ve gained one backlink with a huge amount of link juice. That’s great! However, at first, that juice is flowing to the specific page that’s linked by the authoritative site.
The good news is that you can get that link equity to flow throughout your law firm’s website with a strong internal linking strategy.
For example, we’ll say that you’ve gained a high-quality backlink with tons of link equity to your “NYC Car Accident Lawyer” page. On that page, you link internally to almost every page in your car accident SILO and many of your resource pages.
Some of the link equity transfers through those internal links and benefits those other pages on your website. So, even though you just got one backlink to one page, you can spread the benefits across your site with a few internal links.
Keep in mind that link equity isn’t necessarily forever. The authority flowing from a backlink can dilute or disappear over time. That might happen if the referring domain increases the number of pages it links to, if there are duplicate pages, or if pages aren’t redirected properly.
Law Firm SEO Best Practices for Building a Backlink Portfolio
So, what can you do to build links to your law firm’s website? There are a number of different strategies you could use – some good, some bad.
The best way to go about building backlinks is to use the white hat strategies. This method focuses on people (target audience) rather than trying to please the search engine in a bid to rank high. It’s important to comply with Google’s terms of service, but your audience should be the focus.
When the audience comes first, your effort will focus on providing high-quality content and services, which will positively impact the performance of your website and business.
A few ways to achieve this include:
One excellent way to build links is to take advantage of guest posting opportunities. You create a piece of great content for publication on someone else’s website – usually one that’s reputable and has a lot of traffic.
Carefully insert a backlink to your law firm’s site in the text of your guest post, thereby increasing your website’s visibility. This method has been highly successful, as both you and the target publication benefit from the deal. The publication gets content, and you get a quality backlink.
How can you find guest posting opportunities? You could collaborate with colleagues, business owners, and associations to get a guest post opportunity.
You can also hunt for a reputable website with similar content to your page or slightly related. For example, an ideal place to guest post is a legal platform either belonging to an association or another attorney.
However, a business page may work, too. How? Some business pages may have the habit of creating content on tax laws and other business-related laws. Guest posting on such subject counts.
Some websites are popular, but the value of the site may not be easily spotted.
Take the effort to check the:
- Backlink profile
- Organic traffic
- Indexed pages
- Domain authority and rating
All these factors help to ascertain the value of such a website.
Additionally, also consider the audience before guest posting. Ask questions like: “is the audience similar to mine?” and “will my content benefit them?”. Consider these before creating content, as it will improve the quality of your content.
In the end, try not to create backlinks using the same anchor text across all the pages you guest posts on.
Social media is an excellent avenue to increase awareness and start the link-building process.
First, create accounts on major social media pages. In that way, you facilitate the growth of the business. Remember, creating an account isn’t the pinnacle of this approach. Content creation and Ads are essential.
Create and post content that enlightens and arrests the attention of the audience, then include backlinks to your websites.
One of the best practices for growing a business is to focus on the consumers/audience. This forges a relationship with customers and potential ones. And a relationship with the audience is a great way to increase your business’s reach and get referrals.
Consider using influencers on social media sites to spread backlinks and create awareness.
You should also consider creating accounts on Reddit or similar platforms. Immense yourself in these communities. Blend well, occasionally comment about topics that relate to your service, and drop backlinks to your website – but don’t overdo it to avoid a ban.
An attorney website at the early and budding stage is far from reputable. To begin the process of link building and credibility, start from directories. Many of these directories are free tools. However, some are subscription-based.
There are highly reputable directories specific to the legal profession.
Some of these platforms enable the linking of social media pages and websites:
- National Trial Lawyers
Other non-legal platforms like Yellowpages and Yelp also afford you the opportunity to add your business in their legal categories.
You can check online for reputable legal directories to which to add your attorney firm, thereby increasing your reach and beginning the long journey to link building.
An additional benefit of this approach is that some publishers choose to create content based on businesses in a relevant locality. Your business may be cited on such pages.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
Help a Reporter Out – or “HARO” – is a platform that connects journalists with sources. It’s free, and when you sign up you’ll get daily emails with requests for input on upcoming news stories, articles, blogs, and other publications.
When you find a request that’s related to your practice or on a topic for which you’re an authority, you submit a pitch – complete with a link to your firm’s website.
If that pitch is accepted, you’ll not only get a nice little blurb or quote in an article or blog, but you’ll also have secured a quality backlink for your portfolio.
Broken Link Building Practices
For many SEO campaign brands, utilizing broken link building is another way to build a website properly. This method, which is almost similar to link-building, comes with great advantages when undertaking your campaign.
A constant influx of new web pages and websites on the internet causes others to become inactive or disused due to their poor ranking. These outdated websites or web pages often generate broken or dead links when accessed by a user.
Broken link building, a whitehat strategy, is quite effective in repairing broken and dead links, either by recreating the content or replacing the broken link with a corrected link.
This strategy is preferred by most and has become commonly used during SEO link-building campaigns. It can be hugely successful depending on how well you can fix broken links.
Creating great replacement content is the best way to achieve this method, as most webmasters would only accept quality content. To undertake this method, you can use tools designed for fishing out broken links, which are then repurposed to make a webmaster’s job easier.
Popular tools for this include Ahrefs, Google Analytics, and Screaming Frog.
As a bonus, you’d be getting a link to your website, which would give it inherent value.
A unique way to ensure your website ranks on top of search result pages is to employ a link reclamation strategy. This method is one of the easiest in a link-building campaign. It focuses on starting a search for the reclamation of links related to your website or content.
What you are doing is going on a hunt to reclaim links that should have been attributed to you but were neglected. Now you have to understand that your brand or website has to already have wide reachability and coverage, which might have made your link eligible for link reclamation.
Once you have located the content, contact the webmaster to reclaim the link. The webmasters are almost obligated to do the needful and give your website the required backlink, thereby increasing your ranking score. This method works well for recognized brands and websites and can turn out great results.
Finally – Create Quality Content
Hands-down, the best way to get quality backlinks to your law firm’s website is by producing quality content. The more compelling and helpful your content, the more inclined other websites will be to link to you.
And, research suggests that the length of the content you write matters, too. Longer content tends to attract 72% more backlinks than shorter content. Aim for 3,000 words or more to attract attention and gain authority.
Blogging is a great way to create quality content and gain backlinks. In fact, companies that blog typically get 97% more backlinks than companies that don’t.
The Importance of Disavowing Bad Links
Even the most earnest efforts to remain ethical in your link building cannot prevent other websites of questionable repute from linking to yours. Unfortunately, Google has no way of determining the intent behind those links. They may even penalize you for these low-quality links even when you had nothing to do with them.
Fortunately, there’s a way around those penalties. You just need to know how to find and disavow questionable inbound links.
Link disavowal entails asking Google to not consider certain backlinks to your law firm’s website as a ranking factor. Why would you want to disavow a backlink when they’re so important? This is typically necessary when you’ve purchased links or obtained a link in violation of Google’s terms of service.
If you’re unable to get the link removed, Google has a tool that allows you to disavow – or deny responsibility for – backlinks for the purposes of Google’s analysis.
Use it with caution, because you don’t want to accidentally disavow high-quality links. But check it regularly. When you come across obviously questionable backlinks, use the tool to disavow them and avoid penalties.
Up Next: On-Site and Off-Site SEO