Link building for law firms is essential in 2022, 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. However, as part of a well-planned law firm SEO campaign, links are a powerful tool.
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 an SEO audit for your law firm.
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.
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 blogger outreach may better suit 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 hire a link building agency.
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 techniques, which includes an introduction to the various 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 2022
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’s website.
Some tactics are low impact while others can really drive some serious website traffic. Spend too much time on the wrong tactics or build low-quality links and you are bound to be disappointed.
Free & Paid Legal 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 paid and free 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, so including them in your link building campaign is a waste of time or resources.
For years Google has been targeting and de-indexing low-value directories across many industries, including legal directories. There are plenty of reputable legal directories out there, you just have to take the time to identify them.
Before adding your law firm to free or paid 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 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 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 one.
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-quality backlinks.
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 for Law Firms
Blogger outreach 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.
This tactic is generally part of a good link building strategy, as it allows you to get high-quality links from other websites in extremely relevant content.
Taking the time to find guest posting opportunities on relevant websites that share your target audience is a great way to create backlinks on high-authority websites. Since this type of outreach requires someone from the other site to review and approve your submission, it is known as an editorial link.
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.
Some submission-based link building tactics have even been flagged by Google as a type of link scheme. Remember social bookmarking and GSA Search Engine Ranker? Both methods of building backlinks links relied on submitting content and both methods caused some serious ranking issues.
Editorial link placements have worked since Google first started counting links as part of their ranking algorithm.
Google for many years has been a proponent of editorial link placements, which is exactly what blogger outreach and guest posting seeks to achieve. However, if you don’t take the time to focus on high-quality backlinks, you can lose traffic to your law firm’s website by triggering a penalty or algorithmic filter by creating low-quality guest post links.
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 other 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 resource or broken link building.
Pairing Tactics Into a Link Building 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 backward 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. Law firms that spend time creating content that offers real value to the reader are more likely to acquire natural links, website mentions, and shares on social media sites.
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 quality backlink, 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.
- 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 opportunities and acquire link placements using this timeless tactic.
- Local SEO Link Building – learn some effective tactics for building links that help with map pack rankings & geo-relevancy.
Attorney Link Building FAQs
Building links from other websites can be tricky. Build the wrong type and your Google search traffic will plummet. Below, we look at some questions about how to get more backlinks, without finding your site on the wrong end of a Google penalty.
How Can I Build Links Competitors Can’t?
Existing relationships are one of the best ways to get links that competitors are unable to re-create. Connections you made in law school, other services you partner with, and fellow attorneys could all be a source of do-follow links.
How Do I Know If a Site is Accepting Guest Posts?
A lot of sites advertise that they are accepting posts, however, many of them are low quality. If you find a site that you think would make a great link, just take the time to reach out and ask. The worst they can say is no.
Does Linking to Other Websites Help?
As you may know, increasing the number of unique referring domains pointing to your website will help increase rankings and traffic. However, what you might not know is that linking out to other trustworthy websites can also be helpful as part of your overall strategy.
Do Search Engines Treat Law Firm Websites Differently?
Yes. Since legal questions and legal advice fall under YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) they are held to a higher standard for content and links.
Should I Optimize Internal Links?
Yes, you should link internally between relevant pages on your site. A good internal linking structure can help your site rank higher and attract more traffic. Potential clients will also benefit from this practice as it makes finding related information much easier.
Is it Ok to Buy Links?
Paid links are extremely common – although frowned upon by Google. Buying links can help you boost the number of referring domains pointing to your site, in turn, boosting your site authority. If you carefully screen paid link opportunities, you can use them as part of your strategy while staying on the right side of the Google algorithm. However – it is ultimately up to your firm to weigh risk vs. reward when deciding whether or not to include them as part of your strategy.
Are Scholarship Links a Good Idea?
Getting links from scholarship pages can be risky. In a recent manual action penalty, Google cited scholarship links among other questionable links. If you don’t take the time to make sure you are getting a quality backlink, almost any tactic can backfire and cause issues for your law firm’s website.
When it comes to building links, free directories, paid directories, guest posts, broken links, and content created to naturally attract links can all work together effectively – so long as you focus on quality and relevancy.
Inbound links have been one of the top-ranking factors for many years, and this is not likely to change in 2022.