logo2

Chapter 6

Link Building for Lawyers

What is Link Building?

In the realm of law firm SEO, link building stands as a pivotal strategy to enhance online visibility and credibility. Link building involves the deliberate cultivation of links from external websites to your law firm’s site. 

These links act as digital endorsements, signaling to search engines that your legal content is reputable and valuable. Link building for lawyers boosts search engine rankings and establishes authority within the legal domain. Additionally, it provides an alternative avenue for individuals to discover your online presence.

This guide unveils the intricacies of link building for law firms, empowering lawyers with the knowledge to strategically amplify their online presence and fortify their position as trusted authorities in the legal sphere.

Deciphering Google's Perspective on Link Building

Google doesn’t just count links; it evaluates the quality and relevance of each link to your website. Each link to your site is like a vote in your favor, a nod to your credibility and content quality. But here’s the catch: not all votes are equal. 

Google undergoes constant changes, consistently updating its algorithm and the factors influencing rankings. Despite these shifts, Google has explicitly stated that backlinks persist as one of their top three crucial elements determining search engine rankings.

  • Assessing Authority and Trust: Consider a link as a peer endorsement in the legal community. For instance, a link from a prestigious legal journal carries more weight than a generic directory link. It’s about building a reputation that resonates with both Google and your prospective clients.

  • Understanding Content Quality and Relevance: Google uses links to assess the relevance and quality of your content. For example, a link from a well-known legal blog to your article on ‘Trademark Law’ enhances the relevance and authority of your content on the subject.

  • Preventing Spam and Manipulation: Google has evolved to recognize and penalize manipulative link-building tactics. Google’s algorithm updates, like Penguin, aim to ensure that only ethical, quality-focused strategies thrive.

  • Encouraging Rich, Interconnected Content: Google appreciates a well-connected web of information. Your content should serve as a resource hub, with links that offer further value and depth to your readers.

Key Link Building Concepts & Metrics

Let’s decode some technical jargon:

Links vs. Referring Domains

Links, also known as Backlinks, are individual instances of one website providing a hyperlink to another. These links serve as digital pathways, connecting different web pages. When a website links to another, it is essentially endorsing or referencing the content on that linked page. Link quality and relevance are significant factors in search engine algorithms, influencing a website’s ranking in search results.

Referring domains, on the other hand, encompass the unique websites that provide these links. If multiple links originate from the same domain, they are generally considered as coming from a single referring domain. Search engines value a diverse range of referring domains, as links from a variety of reputable sources signal broader endorsement and credibility.

To break it down further:

Imagine being featured in a reputable legal publication such as Justia. If they include a link to your website in an article, that’s a backlink – a specific recommendation. 

Now, if this legal publication constantly mentions and links to your firm across various articles, sections, or categories, it’s still one referring domain, but you could accumulate multiple backlinks from different parts of their platform. So, you might have several nods of approval (backlinks) from this influential legal publication, all stemming from the same referring domain.

Below you can see Everspark’s current link profile. Notice we have over 4k links, but only 584 referring domains. 

In summary, links are the individual instances of one webpage connecting to another, while referring domains represent the unique websites hosting these links. Both play pivotal roles in establishing a website’s authority and influence in the competitive landscape of online visibility.

Domain Rating (DR)

Domain Rating (DR) is a metric developed by Ahrefs, a prominent SEO tool, to quantify the overall strength and authority of an entire domain or website. The DR is based on the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to the domain. The scale typically ranges from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating stronger authority and a greater likelihood of ranking well in search engine results.

In simpler terms, a website with a higher Domain Rating is considered more authoritative in the eyes of search engines. This metric is useful for SEO professionals and website owners to assess the strength of their site and compare it to competitors. 

Each tool employs unique algorithms and methodologies to assess the authority or strength of a domain, considering its backlink profile. If you’re utilizing SEMrush’s authority score, delve into a comprehensive explanation of SEMrush authority score here

Do-follow Vs. No-follow Links

A do-follow link, crucial for attorneys, signals to Google that your legal website is trustworthy and credible. It signifies the accuracy and value of your content, boosting the page’s credibility in the eyes of the Google algorithm.

A no-follow link holds limited value in comparison. Frequently regarded as less influential, websites use no-follow backlinks to signal search engines to “disregard” specific sites. This is often due to an inability to vouch for the accuracy of linked information. Additionally, reputable sites, inundated with backlink requests, may utilize the no-follow attribute to mitigate spam and maintain the integrity of their own link profile.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. It is typically underlined and in a different color than the surrounding text to stand out. Anchor text provides context about the content of the linked page and plays a crucial role in SEO, as search engines use it to understand the relevance and topic of the linked page.

Well-optimized anchor text can contribute to higher search engine rankings for specific keywords.

Why Is Link Building Paramount for Lawyers?

Link building for attorneys is not just beneficial; it’s transformative. It’s about enhancing your firm’s visibility and establishing it as an authoritative, go-to source for legal expertise.

Boosts Online Visibility

A robust backlink profile can catapult your firm’s visibility in search engine results. 

A study published on Backlinko found that the number of domains linking to a page was the factor that had the highest correlation to rankings in Google.

The number 1 ranking page on Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than pages ranking in positions 2-10.

What Makes a High-Quality Backlink?

Link equity, often referred to as “link juice,” signifies the transfer of authority or value from a linking page to the connected page or pages. The magnitude of this transfer relies on factors such as the topical relevance and authority of the linking page, along with the overall authority of the site hosting the linking page.

Google considers diverse factors when assesses the quality of a backlink. These factors include the authority of the linking domain, relevance to the linked content, and the organic, non-manipulative context of the link placement.

High-quality links come from authoritative, trustworthy sources and are integrated seamlessly into content, providing genuine value to users. 

Here we will dive deeper into the elements used in Google’s algorithms to determine the overall quality and impact of a backlink on a website’s search engine rankings:

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is a great indicator of the quality of a referring domain. If a referring domain consistently drives substantial organic traffic, it suggests that the domain is authoritative and trusted by search engines. 

This, in turn, reflects positively on the quality of the backlinks originating from that referring domain, as search engines recognize it as a valuable source of information. 

Monitoring organic traffic from referring domains helps assess their impact on your law firm website’s overall visibility and authority.

You can check out a website’s organic traffic using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz Pro, and Google Analytics, each offering unique features for in-depth SEO analysis.

Relevance

In the realm of link building, relevance holds paramount importance, impacting not only the SEO value but also enhancing the efficacy of outreach efforts. 

A backlink from a reputable legal blog that delves into the specific legal niche your firm specializes in holds far more significance than a backlink from an unrelated source, like Joe’s Pizza place. The context and relevance provided by the legal blog contribute significantly to the value of the backlink, aligning more closely with your firm’s expertise and target audience.

Why? Google consistently refines its algorithm, increasingly prioritizing relevance, and this extends to how links are evaluated and treated. It’s about ensuring the link adds context and value to your content.

Link Type

A mix of no-follow and do-follow links contributes to a more natural and diverse link profile. Search engines may view an abundance of do-follow links as potentially manipulative, but a mix with no-follow links signals a more balanced approach. Natural link profiles are less likely to raise red flags with search engines, as they mimic the organic way websites accumulate links.

While the do-follow backlink remains the most valuable, no-follow links from reputable sources can still drive traffic and enhance your website’s credibility. Users often trust content linked from authoritative sites, irrespective of the link type, contributing to a positive user experience.

Link Placement

The 2004 Google patent on PageRank (one of Google’s core ranking systems) emphasizes the importance of link analysis in assessing the quality and authority of a backlink. While the patent doesn’t explicitly detail specific link placements, it underscores that the context and position of a link within the structure of the web are critical factors.

Simply put, not all links are equally likely to be clicked. Because of this, they carry different levels of importance.

A link within the main content is typically more valuable than one in the footer or sidebar. It’s the difference between being quoted in the main body of a legal journal versus a brief mention in the appendix.

Anchor Text & Link Destination

Effective anchor text should enhance user experience, provide context to both users and search engines, and align with the content it links to. The linked page should offer additional, relevant information. 

Consider this scenario: 

Law.com publishes an article titled “New Changes to Texas Labor Laws in 2024,” providing content that aligns with the title. Within this article, they decide to include a link pointing to your site. In essence, you’ve secured a backlink from the referring domain “Law.com.” A high-quality backlink from this source could utilize anchor text such as “employer requirements,” seamlessly linking to your blog post that details the updated requirements for employers as outlined in the recent changes to Texas labor laws

Law Firm Link Building Strategies For A Robust Backlink Profile

There are multiple ways to approach crafting a robust backlink profile:

 

  • Diverse Link Sources: Aim for a mix, from legal directories to editorial links from well-known publications. Each source adds a different layer of credibility and visibility. There are various online directories for lawyers, including subscription-based, free directories, and one-time fee-based options. Build links from highly reputable directories specific to the legal profession including : 
    • Avvo
    • FindLaw
    • Justia
    • HG.org
    • Lawyers.com
    • Martindale
    • Mediate
    • National Trial Lawyers
    • Nolo
    • SuperLawyers

 

  • Content Marketing: High-quality, engaging content like detailed legal analyses or insightful commentary on recent cases naturally attracts backlinks.

     

  • Community Involvement: Active participation in legal forums, Q&A sites like Avvo, or local bar associations can establish your firm as a thought leader and attract natural backlinks.

     

  • Regular Monitoring: Use tools to monitor your backlink profile, much like you’d keep track of your firm’s reputation. Spotting and addressing harmful links is crucial to maintaining your site’s health and reputation.

     

  • Relationship Building: Forge connections with industry influencers, legal bloggers, and law firms. Collaborations can lead to shared authority and backlinks.

     

  • Competitor Analysis: Occasionally monitor which links your competitors are obtaining. This may help you identify new relevant sources for your website as well. You can do so with tools such as Semrush Backlink Gap.

The Importance of Link Disavowing for Law Firms

The quality of your backlink profile is just as crucial as its size and diversity. Not all backlinks are beneficial; search engines, particularly Google, penalize websites with low-quality or spammy backlinks. Such penalties can result in a significant drop in rankings or even removal from search engine results altogether.

This is where the importance of link disavowing comes into play. Link disavowing tells search engines like Google to ignore certain links to your site that are harmful or spammy. 

Here’s a deeper dive into why it’s a critical practice for law firms:

Protecting Your Firm’s Online Reputation: Law firms rely heavily on trust and credibility. Links from spammy or unethical sites can tarnish your firm’s online reputation. By disavowing these links, you signal to search engines and potential clients that you do not endorse or associate with such sites.

Maintaining Search Engine Rankings: Search engines aim to provide users with the most relevant and reliable results. Part of Google’s algorithm assesses the quality of a site’s backlink profile. Too many spammy or low-quality links can lead to a drop in rankings or, worse, a manual penalty. Disavowing these links helps maintain your site’s integrity and rankings.

Recovering from Penalties: If your site has been penalized due to a poor backlink profile, disavowing the harmful links is often a necessary step toward recovery. It shows search engines that you’re taking action to comply with their guidelines.

Improving Link Profile Quality: Regularly auditing and cleaning up your law firm websites backlink profile through disavowing keeps it healthy and focused on quality over quantity. A clean, authoritative backlink profile is more effective and sustainable in the long run.

Staying in Control: While you can’t control who links to your site, you can control how those links affect your SEO. Disavowing gives you control over your backlink profile and, by extension, your site’s SEO destiny.

Implementing a Disavow Strategy for Law Firms

Regular Monitoring: Use SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to monitor your backlink profile for suspicious or harmful links. These platforms provide comprehensive insights and analytics that can help you closely monitor the quality and integrity of your backlinks.

Thorough Evaluation: Not all low-quality links are worth disputing. Evaluate whether a link is genuinely harmful or just low value. Disavow those spammy, irrelevant, or dangerous sites that are part of a negative SEO campaign.

Documentation: Keep records of your disavow file and the reasons for disavowing certain links. This documentation can be crucial if you ever need to discuss a manual penalty with Google.

Use Google’s Disavow Tool: Submit your disavow file through Google’s Disavow Tool. This process tells Google which links to ignore when assessing your site, helping you maintain a healthy and authoritative backlink profile.