Lawyer need authority – both on- and off-line, if they are to succeed. And when it comes to online presence, “domain authority” (DA) is a key requirement.
It is something that was developed by Moz and is a key ingredient to SEO success and to ensuring that your site receives good traffic and a good ranking.
Being able to actually change your site’s DA is something that some webmasters and SEO experts think is largely beyond the ability of average site owners – or even those with more than average ability.
But there is little doubt that you can do some key things to increase your DA, and they’re outlined here.
What Exactly IS Domain Authority?
But first, let’s examine domain authority to find out what it really means.
- Domain authority is based on a lot of factors but they ultimately come down to the ‘link profile’ – that is, how many backward links are pointing to your website and how authoritative those sites are.
- A top domain authority number is 100. Sites like Facebook and Google have it, so it’s unlikely you’ll hit that number, but that’s not a concern.
- DA is difficult to influence directly. You can’t change your DA score like you can change your meta tags.
How to improve your Domain Authority
The key here is to have a good link profile for your site.
Essentially you need to develop a good link profile by having (a) good links and by NOT having (b) bad links.
Sounds simple, right?
So to rid yourself of bad links you can request their removal and if you have no success in having that done then you can disavow them.
However getting good links is more of an issue.
There are at least a couple of options you have here – one is to find a good SEO agency that can help you obtain secure and high quality links.
Any good SEO provider will explain that having backlinks is the most important part of SEO.
But having said that, a good link profile is also a lot more than just having backlinks.
You need to take care to ensure you have a quality service working for you because obtaining poor backlinks will just further hurt you and cost you in terms of both your SEO costs and your overall website performance.
So there are risks there. You need to have quality, authority links, not spammy links that will damage your profile. You need links with high “DA” – domain authority.
But there’s a better way, which ideally suits lawyers who are focused on delivering quality services and content.
This is ‘content marketing’, which is something else we will be providing more (content) about because it is a key towards obtaining quality backlinks and building your domain authority – not to mention your authority as a lawyer generally.
So what about helping get your domain authority sorted?
Step #1: Ensure that your technical SEO is in place
Attending to all the technical aspects of SEO is absolutely important as a foundation. It may not be sexy to optimize your robots.txt or map out a URL structure, but without these important features, you won’t have effective SEO. First things first. Technical SEO comprises the core of a DA-improvement effort.
As Moz explains, to improve your DA, you need to improve your overall SEO, and that includes all the details that SEOs know and love — site structure, navigability, breadcrumbs, URL structure, meta tags, header tags, word count, keywords, alt tags, etc. SEO and content marketing require one another. They actually go together.
Make sure that your SEO is up to par before you go further in the pursuit of higher DA.
Now, we get into something that has a more direct impact upon DA — your content.
It is the content that will build your backlinks, your readership – and your new clients.
By writing quality content you also spread the net in terms of capturing more long tail keyword phrases that are likely to create more traffic. For instance, a quality article of length (800-1000 words) will not just be about – say – drunk driving legal issues, but it will capture any number of related keyword phrases:
- DUI driving
- DUI law
- good drunk driving attorney
- best drink driving advice
- how to get off a DUI charge
- drink driving laws in (geographic location)
- and so on
This is the way you will create better organic links.
There is more to this than just the keywords and links though.
Quality content will also develop your own authority and value for clients (and prospective clients).
Don’t be boring and dull. Bring your own insights into your writing.
If you want a great guide to content marketing then you can’t do better than this here.
If you want a few quick tips though consider doing one or more of these:
> Say something a little – or even a lot – controversial. People are stirred by controversy and a viewpoint that may be challenging. If you have strong views on an aspect of the law or whatever, then use it, express it.
> Develop case studies. People love to know what others have done. So when it comes to establishing compelling content about your law firm or about the law in your chosen areas then use a case study.
> Provide some study, research or interesting statistics you may have learned or even developed yourself. Studies and such research are always of interest so put it into your content.
Step #3: Use Internal Links
Never underestimate the value of internal linking, which make your site more compelling and will help attract the search engines to the content’s relevance and overall quality.
As your site is indexed and crawled, the internal links will form an important part of the process such that your overall ‘authority’ will be better recognized as well as helping to develop a more cohesive “whole” and holistic approach to your area’s of interest.
By drawing these interconnected parts together you are creating a strong ‘spider’s web’ which interconnects and creates much greater strength than a singular strand.
As you develop more content you also have the opportunity to create even more links throughout the site, thus further increasing your domain’s authority – and your own.
Step #4: Link Housekeeping – Remove Bad Links
Here’s a job for your SEO group or “web guys”, which is defined and simply time-based. It’s the rather tedious but necessary one of removing bad links.
Often bad links have been bought by SEO companies seeking to increase your site rankings. Bad idea then, worse idea now.
You need to remove these to maintain and enhance your domain’s authority, but also to avoid the spammy links that will damage your authority ranking.
Although boring, this is a job that will pay dividends and is frequently overlooked or simply avoided by webmasters. Many do it too late when they’ve been penalized by Google. Don’t wait that long and check it every couple of months.
To find bad links there are at least a couple of things you can do. Often they will come in via comments with bot-driven comments such as: ‘great article, love the info, hope you can elaborate more about the topic soon’.
The “comments” may even include your name, so take care. Using exact keywords is another giveaway, as are clearly spammy links to keyword phrases that the “linker” is attempting to build.
Disvow links – To remove them you can write to the webmaster of the appropriate site or you can “disavow” them using this method and telling Google not to take them into account when ranking your site.
Low quality pages – You can also check which pages on the site are linked with bad backlinks and then delete the pages (404 or 410 pages) rather than the links themselves. That process is not going to work all the time for the simple reason that you will generally want the pages and you do not want too many 404 pages (as they’re labelled) either because that can send the wrong signal to Google.
Explaining how to remove toxic backlinks is outside the scope of this article, so let me point you to some resources. This Quick Sprout Traffic University video helps you understand whether you’re at risk for a penalty, and this article on penalty recovery will show you exactly what you need to do to clean up your link profile (even if you haven’t been penalized).
Step #5: Be patient
If you are doing exactly what I’ve explained in the above steps, your DA will rise. One of the factors that doesn’t get a lot of notice in discussions of higher DA is the domain age factor.
Generally speaking, the older the domain, the higher its authority. I examined the link profile of a website and discovered some historic domains. These historic domains had high DA levels.
To find out the age of a domain, you can use the free Domain Age Tool provided by Webconfs.com.
Domain age doesn’t automatically translate into domain authority, however. If the domain falls into disrepair, maintains outdated SEO techniques, lacks fresh content, or builds up a cruddy link profile, it will lose its DA.
As you pursue content marketing, you will gradually see your DA rise. My point is that it takes time. Be patient. SEO wins don’t happen in a day. They happen over the long haul.
Finally . .
There is a great deal of content about on how to improve your DA. Much of it is good, but much of it is not. The key point here is to know that you can’t simply tweak your site to improve your site’s DA, because improving authority is part of a bigger, content marketing strategy that you should be implementing.
By focusing on content – not a difficult thing for lawyers to do when writing about their areas of expertise – you will be improving your DA and helping to drive more business to your law firm.
So start building your content ‘library’ and a schedule for adding quality content to your site and employing the tactics outlined and you’ll find your law firm’s authority and DA will improve.