If you are part of a law firm team that aggressively pursues marketing, you likely rely on digital marketing (and word of mouth) to bring new clients through your doors. Backlinks function like a combination of both–they “recommend you” to Google’s good graces.
First, what is a backlink and how does it work? A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from one webpage to another on different sites. If it is YOUR backlink, it lives on someone else’s website and links to a page on yours. Backlinks have a tremendous impact on search engine optimization (SEO). If done the right way, your site will build a higher page authority and domain authority resulting in better organic ranking. If, however, you try acquiring backlinks through outdated practices (directories), Google may regard you as being spammy, low authority, and banish you to the bottom of the ranking pool well out of reach from connecting with members of your target online market.
This is precisely why most law firms turn to reliable digital marketing agencies who know how to build high-quality backlinks. There is a reason why someone facing a serious criminal charge turns to you rather than a part-time paralegal; it is the same reason why top SEO agencies are your best bet for getting pristine backlinks that will enrich your site, rather than dethrone it.
So Why, Specifically, Do Law Firms Need Backlinks?
Let’s just get to the point: whether you are a law firm, a country club, or you have a shop that sells zombie apocalypse survival kits, and you undoubtedly want your website to rank above the competition in Google reaching the right consumers, backlinks can be your best friend. But one can easily argue that law firms have an even greater need for backlink acquisition. Here’s why:
- Top Competitive Market – According to ‘Law Technology Today’ law firms and lawyers wage the fiercest industry battles to stay competitive and grow their client base. High-Quality backlinks put you up top.
- Compliances – There are certain things a law firm may want to rank for, but legal issues limit their ability to put “liable” content on their website. Backlinks help you rank for popular search terms you aren’t allowed to print directly on your site.
- Online Reputation – Let’s face it, the majority of your potential clients don’t know how to tell a good law firm from a bad one. All it can take is one bad online review for people to unfairly judge your firm, and it could cost you some ideal clients. And let’s face it, people love to badmouth good lawyers. Strategic backlinks can push your website’s ranking above the potentially harmful negative noise, and even bury them.
Unfortunately, website admins aren’t going to link to your site unless there is something in it for them. If you don’t already have an established relationship with the potential link bearer, you need to create one, and this takes a lot of time and perseverance. Directly e-mailing the site administrator / manager / editor is the best method for making contact, but there is an art to doing it the right way:
- Fulfilling a God Complex – When we get big, we tend to think of ourselves as being the biggest, and the same is said for valuable sites with high domain authorities. Your letter should begin by telling them how their content has helped your team problem-solve some popular industry issues, and that you read their blog religiously. Whether you call it brown-nosing or buttering them up, once you make them feel good, they will want to read more of your letter in case you have other amazing things to say about them.
- Prove Your Love – So you read their blog all the time? Now prove it to them because chances are they get hit on all the time. Choose a recent blog they wrote, point out a few things you found of value in it, and let them know how it improved your own internal efforts.
- Quid Pro Quo (Sort Of) – Tell them you shared their blog with your sphere of influence and include an unpublished article you wrote on the same topic that complements theirs. Make sure it links to a few of their internal pages (and one of your own). Point out that you have the same reader audience type, and that you feel your content would add value to their efforts. If they agree to your “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” approach (and it works all the time) keep it running and don’t let the relationship grow cold.
Remember, these guys pay someone who is either internal, or they use a paid source for their blog (their senior management team isn’t cranking these out on their lunch break). If you can get on their good side and give them high-quality content they don’t need to pay for, you could both wind up in a win / win situation.
Check their Domain Authority
Before you start the outreaching process, first make sure the websites you are writing to have a high domain authority. In case you don’t know, domain authority is a calculated metric that predicts how likely a site will rank on Google. It is based off several data points that range from content quality, bounce rate, social shares, backlink profile, user engagement behavior, and a number of other factors. Google uses a machine learning and artificial intelligence hybrid algorithm to help determine a site’s value.
Remember when you were 12 years old on the playground and kids were selected one-by-one to play on baseball teams? The guys who were better players were always chosen always first. This is how you should scout your potential backlink opportunities. If you link up to a bunch of low-domain sites, you will simply be part of a losing team. If you link up with the MVPs, Google will associate you as being an All Star.
How Specific if their Industry to Yours?
If you belong to a group of attorneys that specializes in family law, and you have a link from your golf buddy’s website for a plastic surgery clinic, and from your friend’s car dealership site, Google will likely regard such a link profile as spammy and devalue your authority. If you link to a government site or a popular blog that offers legal advice, great! If you can link to one that gives advice specifically for child custody or divorce, even better! Links that aren’t relevant to your site come up as being “toxic” in SEO audit reports. This is yet another reason why so many law firms utilize SEO agencies; they benefit from having a clean bill of digital health because any links afflicted with plague (created by competitors or non-competitive sources) will be disavowed.
Seek Backlink Variety
If you have built a great relationship with a link source, and 80% of your links come from their domain, you lack the depth of variety and richness Google looks for in awarding higher domain authorities. Think about it this way: If one big wig sings your praises again and again, people listening will lose interest. If hundreds of big shots celebrate you, people will pay attention. Google is no different. The people clicking on these backlinks will bring traffic from multiple venues rather than a limited few, and therefore demonstrate that a broader consumer audience loves you, versus clicks from the same old crowd.
Major SEO Considerations in Backlink Acquisition
There are several compelling SEO considerations that delve into a much deeper pool surrounding how backlinks should be implemented. These include anchor text, keywords, on-site and off site content structure, meta, understanding the history of Google Penguin updates, and many more fine points that any Google-partner digital marketing agency can execute with one hand tied behind the back. Whatever your SEO direction for 2017 looks like, make sure a healthy backlink strategy is front and center.