Step-by-step guide to boosting your legal website’s rank in search
In our previous post we talked about Domain Authority and Domain Rating, two measurements that allow lawyers to track their progress in search. Here, we lay out strategies for increasing those metrics and methods for measuring progress in search.
Get a baseline
As a first step, log into either Ahrefs or Moz Open Site Explorer and make note of your site’s Domain Authority or Domain Rating. Keep this data handy so you can use it as a basis for comparison later on. Domain Authority and Domain Rating are key metrics that should increase as more links are added to your site.
Here’s where you view Domain Rating on Ahrefs:
And here’s where you view Domain Authority on Moz Open Site Explorer:
Domain Authority and Domain Rating are great high-level metrics to track progress in search, but lawyers should also pay attention to the following metrics:
- Referral traffic from search engines (Google Analytics is really handy for this. Use the report that appears under Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source/Medium.)
- The fact that links are being discovered in Ahrefs and/or Moz Open Site Explorer
- Average position for core keywords in search (using Google Webmaster Tools)
A focused approach
In general, if lawyers are trying to improve the ranking positions of a group of keyword phrases on a page, they should focus on enhancing that specific page. However, it is not always practical to get links built to specific pages.
For example, if you were doing a scholarship link-building campaign, instructing a Webmaster at a university to link to a practice area page wouldn’t make much sense. The Webmaster would want to link to a page that has information about the scholarship your firm is offering.
That means that, for the most part, lawyers should focus on their home page or on another single page when building links. They can then rely on solid site architecture and ample internal linking to raise the Domain Authority of all pages on the site.
Avoid a disjointed, inefficient approach that involves trying to build links to many different pages. Instead, build links to a single page on your site and then link internally to other pages through your main menu or internal links in copy.
Category: easy to moderate
There are quite a few decent lawyer directories that are good places to get links. To get listed, you might need to pay a membership fee or provide verification of professional status. Although directory-site links might not make a huge impact, they are relatively easy to secure. If you are new to link building, this is a good way to learn. Plus, it teaches you what successful link building looks like in tracking software, and it’s a confidence booster.
Category: moderate to difficult
Guest posting involves submitting content to other site owners for posting. These links are generally harder to earn, and they require more effort, like writing blog posts. Depending on your network of professionals and business owners, it may be more or less challenging to land opportunities like this. Links from these sources tend to be higher quality because hypertext can be placed within web copy on a page. In addition, the sites may be more authoritative than directories, and sharing content with other sites presents a valuable marketing opportunity.
Blog and forum commenting
Category: easy to moderate
Use this strategy sparingly and be thoughtful about it. Links from forums and blog comments have a checkered past, but if you execute this strategy correctly, these links can be high quality and easy to get. Find relevant websites that have decent Domain Authority or Domain Rating. Then, look for areas on these sites where you can participate in forums or leave comments on blog posts.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s important to establish credibility before you start posting links. For example, lawyers participating in a forum might first provide a helpful resource before posting a self-promotional link. Some forums even allow for the inclusion of links in signatures.
This campaign is a strategy for getting links from authoritative .edu domains. It is extremely time and resource intensive. The basic idea is to develop a real scholarship that potential students can apply for and, if selected, receive a small monetary award. Once the terms of the scholarship have been established, lawyers should find as many .edu websites as they can. Store this information, which should include relevant contact details, emails, and phone numbers, in a spreadsheet.
After all the information is collected, reach out to these schools and let them know about the scholarship. Ideally, schools will want to share this opportunity with their students and will put a link to your scholarship page on their site.
Since educational domains are highly authoritative, this strategy has proven extremely effective in building traffic from search engines. To the right is a sample email template that gives lawyers ideas about how to reach out to schools and pitch the idea of a scholarship. Remember that all you’re looking for is a link to your site.
Whatever strategy is used, make sure you plan to do some volume and follow through. Link building is arduous and time consuming. Lawyers may not see results in search for months, and that can be discouraging.
Measure your progress
If you check in on your Domain Rating or Domain Authority on a daily or weekly basis, you will easily get discouraged. Good SEO and link building is all about the long game, and lawyers should set their measurement schedule based on the aggressiveness of their campaign.
For example, say a firm that has a modest amount of time to do SEO on its own is building links by guest posting once or twice a month and by submitting links to good directories. To track its progress, this firm may want to check its Domain Rank or Domain Authority once every quarter.
In contrast, if a firm has hired a reputable SEO firm to do an aggressive link-building campaign, it may see the needle move every 6 weeks or so, especially with Google’s ability to analyze link activity in real time.
Using your baseline data
This is where setting a baseline helps establish a basis for comparison. Keep your original data available and, when you check your Domain Authority or Domain Rating, record the new number to see if you’ve improved.
Also look at the other metrics we mentioned, such as search engine referrals and average position in search for keyword phrases. If Domain Rating and Domain Authority are increasing, traffic to your site from search engines should correlate closely with those increases.
Analyzing data this way can also help you identify weaknesses in your overall SEO strategy. For instance, if Domain Authority and Domain Rating are increasing but referrals from search engines are not, this might be a sign that your page titles and meta-descriptions could use some work.
Measuring progress in search is a lesson in patience. At its simplest level, it involves looking at where your site is now, implementing a link-building strategy, and following up later to see how things have progressed. The difficult part about this is that SEO campaigns can take many months to show results, so sticking with things and not losing site of the goal is essential.