Chris Dreyer* – Ranking your law firm website with back links or otherwise involves what appears to be an increasingly complex web of requirements, SEO consultants, software and knowledge that you may, or may not possess.
The number one ranking factor for web pages in search is links. Link building remains one of the more challenging aspects of improving SEO. It’s also one of the easiest ways to get a site into trouble with Google.
There are a variety of techniques ranging from guest posting to directory listings, as published by LawPracticeAdvisor.
Guest posting hasn’t always been a fool-proof method for building links but it’s still a good strategy as long as lawyers are careful. If you team up with a site that is already getting negative attention from search engines or using services that aren’t reputable, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Remember to choose the sites you guest blog on wisely.
Here are some tips for finding good sites:
- Check their backlink profiles: This means looking at the sites that are linking to them. Are they reputable? Do they have a lot of spammy sites pointing at them?
- Check Domain Rating: Domain Rating is a proprietary metric from Ahrefs that measures the authority of a domain between 0 and 100. The higher the rating, the more authoritative (and reputable) the domain.
- Stick to domains that are relevant to your practice area or to law in general.
- Don’t use sites that use questionable curation tactics like allowing anyone to submit content without a thorough editorial process or a pay-to-play model.
While scholarship programs are still a cost-effective way to get highly authoritative backlinks, their use is becoming more wide-spread and hence less effective than in years past. Google could potentially devalue these links in the future. They are however still a good method for getting good quality back links.
Scholarship programs are an indirect way to get links from typically higher quality educational websites. They require some investment (nothing outrageous but at least $500 dollars) and time to perform outreach to colleges as well as local communities. The first step is creating a legitimate scholarship with eligibility requirements.
Once the scholarship is created, create a page on the firm’s website highlighting the details of the scholarship (including how to apply, details of what it offers, etc.).
Once it is set up, attorneys should reach out to educational institutions and let them know that the scholarship is available to their students. Colleges love to promote opportunities for funding to their students and most will include your scholarship on their scholarship resource pages.
While links from .edu domains don’t carry more weight than equivalent .coms, .nets or any other domains, they do tend to be more authoritative because of the organizations that use them.
Social Media Link Building
Lawyers should actively share links to their website in social media. While many of these will be no-follow (do not pass link juice), it’s still a good way to get exposure for your brand, get traffic to your site, and perhaps get a few do-follow (do pass link juice)backlinks in the process.
Another benefit of sharing links to pages online is that there is the potential for them to get shared by followers and followers of followers. Content that spreads across the web in this fashion often has more chances of getting natural inbound links built to it.
Try to get your most shareable content out on these channels to increase the chances that others will share it with their own networks. Make sure it’s highly relevant to the audience and very useful content. No matter what you are posting, try and ensure that there is always a link leading back to your website.
Besides sharing links in posts on popular networks, lawyers can also add links in their profiles.
Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn and other popular networks all provide an area where you can insert a link to an external website. For example about.me allows you to fill out a profile with a link.
Infographics are a fun and interesting way to display data. People like them because they are fun to share especially if they’re well done. A tactic (which is by no means original to me) is to create an infographic (either yourself, with a designer, or on one of the many infographic generation websites) and then place an embed code at the bottom of the infographic encouraging people to embed it on their own websites.
Siege Media has an excellent embed code generator on their website. Once you have your image created simply paste the URL into the text boxes provided and you can easily generate the snippet of code to place on your blog or website.
The idea is that people will find the information useful and want to share it (via the embed code) on their own website or blog. Since the image of the infographic is (or it should be) hosted on your domain, each time the code is embedded it creates a backlink to your site.
If you haven’t started a blog at this point, you really need to. Having a blog by itself isn’t going to help your site rank better in search.
It’s how you use the blog that’s important. Adding a blog affords the following link building pluses:
- The ability to rank for additional keyword phrases
- The opportunity to generate content that people will want to link to
- The opportunity to build other links to other pages on your site that may not get a lot of attention
- Greater opportunity for your content to be shared online
- Fresh content added on a regular basis for search engines to index
High Domain Rating Directories
Directories are in the category of low-hanging fruit. This means that they don’t offer the greatest benefit but they are easy to get. Many of the directories with high page ranks are paid versions.
Local directories are important sources of local links. Because attorneys often target local markets, these are good links to have because they provide signals relevant to the location of the searcher.
Local chambers of commerce will often have directories of local businesses. I would definitely recommend submitting to Moz Local and Yext as well. Yext has a partnership network of around 50 of the top websites such as: Yelp, YP, eLocal, etc.
Lawyer-specific directories such as Personalinjury.com are great industry specific-links for your site. You’ll find both paid and free versions of these all over the internet. Be careful when submitting your site to any directory. Do your homework and make sure the site is reputable. Does it have a high page rank? Are your colleagues or competition listed there?
Below is a list of niche personal injury directories that are paid. Topical relevancy is an important factor for ranking. If the co-citation keyword mentions are related to your practice area it may benefit you in search.
TheInjuryGuide.com ($75) a PR2 site.
FindCarAccidentAttorney.com Basic listing 149.95/year, standard 34.95/month, Sponsored listing 49.95/month, and Featured listing for 74.95/month a PR1 site.
Enjuris.com (Free for 180 days then $45 per/year) a PR2 site
AccidentPersonalInjuryLawyers.com ($250/year) a PR1 site.
You can find a good list of paid legal directories to get you started here.
Collaborating with colleagues, other businesses or even clients is one of the best ways to get high-quality editorial links to your site. This could be in the form of guest posting, joint marketing efforts, or even just an honorable mention on each other’s websites that you are in collaboration in some way.
Citations are simply mentions of your law firm name on some other site. Many of these sites also allow firms to put links to their websites in profiles.
Again, low-hanging fruit here and some of them may be no-follow. In any event, they still carry some weight and people will follow them to your site.
Yext is by far the most comprehensive citation site and the service can push out data to dozens of websites in a matter of days with one click. Other services are UBL (Universal Business Listing), Moz and Bright Local.
Law firms and attorneys can sponsor organizations, events, sports teams and foundations. These entities often have websites that links can be placed on. It’s probably not a wise idea to go out and sponsor something just for the link but if you already do, remember to ask for the link.
Any time lawyers do business with another organization, there could potentially be an opportunity for quality back links.
*Chris Dreyer is the CEO and Founder of Rankings.io, an SEO agency for lawyers. Chris has been featured in numerous legal and search marketing publications such as Legal Ink Magazine, Law Marketing, Attorney At Work, Moz, and more. With over 12 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Chris has helped hundreds of law firms get first page positions in search engines using innovative campaigns that are difficult for competitors to recreate. He is dedicated to helping lawyers get more leads and win more clients.