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Acquiring Backlinks For Your Law Firm

A backlink is a link from someone else’s website to your website. In the eyes of Google, a backlink is kind of like a vote from someone else’s site that your site is a trusted resource.

It is important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. A link from an irrelevant site just does not hold as much value as an authoritative site that is also relevant to your field of practice. Also, take into account is if backlinks are handed out left and right, like a directory listing, or earned, like being used as a source for a news article.

Don’t have the time to optimize your firm’s site? Our search engine optimization for law firms service is the answer you’ve been looking for.

Good vs Bad Neighborhoods

While discussing links and websites, I often reference good and bad neighborhoods. As a visual, a website is like a house that lives in a neighborhood. If your house is in a good neighborhood it has more value in comparison to a bad neighborhood.

It’s easiest to define a bad neighborhood and focus on not associating it with those bad neighborhoods.

A bad neighborhood is one that is rife with illegal, illicit, and unethical practices. Websites that promote malware, hacking, illegal drugs, etc. are all good examples of bad neighborhoods. 

Bad neighborhoods may also be those websites that have thousands of pages, zero traffic, offer little unique content, and exist for the sole purpose of giving out links for SEO. You’ll usually come across these in the form of low-quality directories. Many of which will want to charge you a fee to submit to these no-name directories.

It’s a smart idea to stay away from bad neighborhoods.

The “rel” attribute and why it’s so important

Within the code of a link, there is an attribute “rel” that signals to a search engine how that link should be considered. A number of values exist that can affect the weight in which the search engine will give to that link. The three most important and likely values you will see are Nofollow, UGC, and Sponsored

  • Nofollow. This requests that a link note be followed and thus the site does not vouch for the site that is being linked to. According to Google, the nofollow directive can be ignored, at the discretion of their search engine.
  • UGC. This is an abbreviation for “User Generated Content.” Online forum postings, social network posts, and blog comments are examples of content that is generated by the users of the website. Thus, the UGC value is often used to let search engines know that the links are not vouched for by the website and a user of the site added the link.
  • Sponsored. Using a value of “sponsored” within the rel attribute informs the search engine that consideration took place for the link to be added to the page. Essentially, you sponsored the article and this link is added as part of an arrangement.
Rel nofollow example

The final option is that there either is no rel attribute or that the rel attribute does not contain a nofollow, UGC, or sponsored value. This is commonly referred to as a “dofollow” or “follow” link.

Note that dofollow and follow are not valid values for the rel attribute. It’s just an industry term that means that nothing within the page is included to hamper the link being considered by a search engine.

Robot Meta Tag

A robot meta tag can also be placed on the top of a page to suggest that a search engine views all links in any of the above. The most common use of this is to add a nofollow value. This would request that a search engine treat every link of that page as if it contained the nofollow value for the rel attribute.

The following tag will request that all links on the page not be followed by a search engine:

<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow”>

An additional attribute of noindex will request that the current page not be indexed by a search engine.

<meta name=”robots” content”noindex”>

A third option is to include multiple instructions, such as not to index the page and not to follow links.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”>

Often, you will also see the directive of “follow.” If no directive is given, the default directive for a page is to both follow and index the page. Additional directives exist as well.

Where to start with getting links to your law firm’s website

Even though the most valuable links are those that are awarded by other site owners within their articles, you want to be sure that your law firm’s brand is disseminated throughout the “good neighborhoods” of the Internet.

Directories and Citations

We want to create your digital brand. Your brand will be a driving force to the success of your law firm’s digital marketing. This includes your SEO success.

Therefore, the quickest wins will be the easiest ones. You want to start with the most significant social media platforms, general directories, and industry directories. Create full profiles on the directories and social media platforms.

Click here to read more about the top law firm directories

It’s not mandatory to add yourself to every directory out there. Just stick to the top directories that are most likely to give you additional referral traffic. If the sole benefit for paying for a directory listing is the hopes that your site will get better search engine placements, that budget is better spent elsewhere.

When adding your information to a directory, you want to make sure that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are constantly showing the same information. 

Blog Outreach

Reach out to blog websites to contribute can be a laborious endeavor. Once you find some resources that you can regularly contribute to, this will help to promote your reach and your ranking. 

One rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “If search engines didn’t exist, would this placement still be valuable?”

Asking that question will keep you focused on websites that will provide more benefit to your firm and keep you away from being penalized by Google for attempting to manipulate their results.

Your ideal target should be a blog that is topically similar to the practice areas that you cover. They don’t need to be exact. For example, a bankruptcy attorney might be able to provide value to a finance blog.

Another idea to contribute to a blog is to find links on a blog that were directed to a competitors site but no longer work. You can reach out to the blog owner, inform them of the error, and offer your article as a valid alternative.

Resource Pages

If you have information-heavy data, aesthetically pleasing visualizations of complex information, market studies, or a unique resource for your firm, it will be useful to reach out to similar, yet non-competitive, websites with resource pages. 

Here are a few items that you can add to your law firm’s website to pitch to be included in resource pages:

  • Downloadable checklists. Create a page for the checklist and recreate the checklist in PDF format. Add a link on the PDF to your website in case other sites add your PDF to their website.
  • Interactive statistics. People love to interact with websites. If you have a lot of stats, it would be a great idea to make a page where those stats are interactive. As a bonus, if you can automatically update the data, you can pitch that it is always up-to-date.
  • New/Better visualizations. Taking known information and giving it a different perspective is a way to repurpose information in a way to gain placements on resource pages.

Collaborative Outreach

If you’ve been in business for long enough, you will have a network of attorneys and vendors with whom you do not directly compete with. A couple of opportunities exist with your network.

First, you can help them by collaborating with them on an article that ties the similarities of your two firms. A personal injury lawyer can team up with a family attorney to discuss domestic violence. You can even bring in a criminal defense attorney into this conversation.

Those involved can each agree to promote the article. Since you are a contributing member of the article, a link back to your website within the article would not be unreasonable. Everyone wins in this scenario. 

Another idea is to leave testimonials for vendors that you work with. A website’s testimonial will often include a mention of your and your firm, along with the firm’s name linked back to your website.

Just don’t go crazy with these ideas, or any method I mention here. The idea is that these are just good marketing practices that can increase brand awareness and drive referral traffic. The additional bonus is the links will help to improve your organic ranking.

Don’t have the time to optimize your firm’s site? Our search engine optimization for law firms service is the answer you’ve been looking for.

The links you don’t want

One topic often not covered in the world of link acquisition is what links you don’t want. I find knowing this is just as important, if not more than the links that you do want. 

The adage, “you are who you hang out with,” holds true with your website. If you associate in the bad neighborhoods of the Internet, your reputation will follow suit. So, the first rule is to stay far away from the bad neighborhoods.

Next on the list of links you don’t want are links from websites that have a ton of links and very little traffic. It’s likely that they are just spam sites. They’re most likely ignored by Google and thus a waste of your time.

If I haven’t said it enough, the final site to stay away from is spam. If the article is junk, the site has little value, the grammar is horrible throughout, and half the site doesn’t work, you want to stay away.

Now, can you rank a site with trash links? Yes, you can. You can probably toss several dozen links at a page and get it to rank. Eventually, the sites will go away and you’ll lose ranking, or you’ll end up with a manual penalty and removed from the search engine.

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About The Author

Matthew Post, the co-founder of SEM Dynamics, has dedicated over two decades to building and optimizing websites. He has worked in-house for nationwide e-commerce companies as well as large local firms to increase customer engagements through conversion rate optimization and search engine optimization. His expertise covers both the development and growth of digital properties.

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