Link building for law firms is essential in 2020, just as it has been for the past several years.
Links continually land atop the list of most important ranking factors and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Now, that is not to say that if you have thin, lousy content paired with poor on-page SEO, that links will fix that issue.
In today’s competitive search engine results page (SERP) you must have good content, a well structured website, and a plan to build quality links. If you are not sure whether your site is “healthy” it is a good idea to start with a website audit.
There are plenty of law firm link building guides that offer a list of “what” to try, but we are going to look at the “why” today, so that you can start to make better informed decisions when it comes to link building.
Competitive Analysis & Strategy Development
The exact number of links your law firm needs will vary based upon your existing link profile, your location, and your competitors.
This means that understanding how to conduct a competitor link analysis is a very important first step.
Here is a look at what you should consider when comparing your link profile to those of your competitors.
If you are not familiar with planning a full strategy, you are probably better suited to work with a company offering a fully managed link building service. This will ensure that you get links with a solid strategy behind them, allowing you to get the best possible impact from your budget.
If your in house team does have experience in planning or you are a law firm SEO company looking for help with link acquisition, a service such as guest posting or blogger outreach may better suited your needs.
Today, we are going to share some valuable tips that will help you with your law firm link building whether you decide to go it alone or eventually outsource your link building.
In either case, the first thing you must understand is what the different types of link building are.
Recently, we pulled together a list of some of the best link building services, which includes an introduction to the various link building tactics. If you are not familiar with link building, that article is a good place to start.
Alright let’s get to it.
Law Firm Link Building in 2020
The first thing I want you to take away from this is that there are numerous tactics that can be used to build links to your law firm website.
Some tactics are low impact while others can really drive some serious growth. Spend too much time on the wrong tactics or sites and you are bound to be disappointed.
Free & Paid Law Firm Directories
Take for example, free law firm directory listings. This tactic appears in most articles talking about law firm link building, often followed by paid law firm directories as the next step.
Rankings.io has compiled a list of directories that you can view here: https://rankings.io/legal-directories/
But, before you start blindly listing your business, I want you to stop and consider why you are doing so.
From a pure SEO perspective, a lot of directories are not going to have much of an impact on your rankings.
For years Google has been targeting and de-indexing low value directories across many industries, including legal directories.
Before adding your law firm to paid or free directories, you should first look at the potential for it to send quality referral traffic to your firm.
Doing so will ensure that even if the link doesn’t have much SEO value, it won’t have been a wasted effort.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with a quick check of traffic using a tool like Ahrefs.
Does the Directory Offer Real Value?
A site with little to no traffic isn’t likely to be a good source of referral traffic. A directory without traffic is also a warning sign that it may have been penalized or even de-indexed.
Let’s grab a couple of examples from the list on Rankings.io for a quick comparison of traffic.
Here is the traffic estimate for findlaw.com
And here is the traffic estimate for personalinjurywarriors.com
As you can see, findlaw.com site has an organic traffic estimate of 3 million monthly visitors while personalinjurywarriors.com has a traffic estimate of just 1 monthly visitor.
While it is likely that those numbers are not exact, they do offer a great means of comparing the two sites.
To our earlier point, findlaw.com is more likely to send referral traffic, making it a better choice.
What About SEO Value?
Now, when we switch back to pure SEO value, you could argue that the niche specific nature of the second site makes it a good for SEO sake.
Some would also point out that the second directory has a decent DR (domain rating) so it could offer some short term SEO benefit.
In this case, we would pass the second directory, especially since their site traffic estimate has recently decreased heavily, indicating a potential underlying issue.
We believe that a good, modern link building strategy should focus on sites that are relevant with a strong history and no red flags like a recent major traffic drop.
In fact, our full screening criteria includes over 30 checks to weed out low value sites.
While those are just two examples sites, the thought process is what you or your link building agency should be applying when deciding where to seek link placements for your law firm.
This way of thinking also applies to other tactics such as blogger outreach.
Blogger Outreach & Guest Post Link Building
As discussed in the Best Link Building Services of 2020 guide mentioned above, link building and guest posting are both link building tactics in which you contribute content to a site in exchange for a link back to your website either in the author bio or the main content of the post.
This type of link building is extremely effective, because it can offer SEO value and the potential for referral traffic.
Not to mention, editorial link placements are the type that have worked since Google first started counting links as part of their ranking algorithm.
Editorial vs. Submission Based Links
Directory submission links are for the most part just that- submission based links.
Some submission based links like local citations are helpful for Google maps rankings while others such as free web 2.0 blogs offer almost no value.
Google for many years has been a proponent of editorial link placements, which is exactly what blogger outreach and guest posting seeks to achieve.
As with above, organic traffic and relevancy should both be taken into consideration.
The difference with this type of link building comes in the high potential value that comes from low traffic/low domain authority sites that are Geo-relevant.
As such, Geo-relevant sites with low third party metrics (organic traffic estimate, domain rating, and domain authority) can still be extremely valuable.
Geo- Relevant Link Building for Your Law Firm
Let’s say for example that you have a personal injury law firm serving Portland, Oregon. Through competitor prospecting, you can find 3 local newspapers, a local chiropractor that treats auto accident or workplace injuries, and even a local non-profit organization website.
While these sites may have low metrics, they serve one purpose: extremely well- creating Geo-relevancy which is very helpful in ranking in the map pack and organically for location based keywords.
But again, before you go down this path, stop and ask yourself why you may or may not need certain tactics. Here are a few considerations:
- Is your primary goal referral traffic or higher organic rankings?
- Are you trying to build brand recognition?
- Can engaging with other local sites help you build trust (and leads) from within your local area?
Link building is extremely helpful for SEO, but it can help you in others ways as well.
Taking the time to consider what your end business goals are will help you choose the best tactics to reach them.
Sometimes your main goal is simply to rank higher or for more keywords. In these cases blogger outreach and guest posting are both great options, but it also opens the door to other tactics as well, such as niche edits or broken link building.
Niche Edit Link Building
Niche edits (a.k.a. Curated links) are a type of link that is added into an existing piece of content on a website as you would with broken link building.
How it is added can vary by service, but the desired outcome is to get a link to your site added into a relevant piece of content on a quality website.
This link building tactic is best suited for improving SEO rankings and generally isn’t the best option for building brand awareness or generating high volume referral traffic.
If you are not familiar with this tactic, you should stop and read “What are Niche Edits” to get a better understanding of what this tactic is.
Once you know what niche edits are, you should now think back to your why. If you identified your goal as improving organic rankings, this could be a useful tactic, when paired with blogger outreach. As with most things in life, diversity is important when it comes to link building.
Pairing Link Building Tactics Into a Strategy
A strategy is the overall plan of action. Tactics are the individual actions that can be taken to reach the goals of the overall strategy.
Understanding your “why” is the most fundamental step in building a strategy. Your business goals and desired outcome are why you are putting together a link building strategy in the first place.
Using End State Planning you can use your end goal to work backwards to a link building strategy, which will in turn help to map out which specific tactics are best suited for your project.
This approach should also help you uncover deficiencies in your current website content. If you are lacking content that reaches your idea buyers, you may need to revisit your content marketing strategy.
We have put together a free and comprehensive guide to content marketing that you can view here: https://stellarseo.com/content-marketing-strategy-guide
Having a purpose built strategy is by far the most effective way to craft a link building campaign. Once you have a solid plan in place, the next step is putting it into action and securing quality link placements.
While there is too much to cover here, we have put together some great resources that will help you learn more about what makes a good link, along with some other planning resources.
Here are some helpful resources to get you started:
- The A.R.T. of Link Building – learn what makes a good link and how to evaluate potential sites before outreaching to them.
- Link Building History – learn where link building started, what mistakes were made along the way, and what to watch out for.
- Natural Selection: Creating a Winning Anchor Text Profile – learn how to choose anchor texts and what to avoid to prevent inadvertent penalization from your link building efforts.
- Broken Link Building in 5 Simple Steps – learn how to find broken link building opportunities and acquire link placements using this timeless tactic.
- Local SEO Link Building – learn some effective tactics for landing impactful links for location focused link building.
In addition to those resources, you can find several more useful guides throughout including a look at the top 3 link building tactics to use in 2020.
Remember as you prepare a new link building strategy or revisit and update your existing one, take some time to set clear end goals that will help build the right plan for your law firm