Strong SEO is not just a strategy that is structured around increasing your website’s rankings but rather a comprehensive strategy that gets your business placed on sites that a potential client may look for an attorney. The more comprehensive your strategy is the more likely you can attract a potential client from the search results even if it doesn’t come from a direct click from your website. These websites can also not only serve as a way to incrementally increase your traffic from the search results but also serve as a backlink. A backlink is a link on any page of a website that links to your law firm’s website. Quality backlinks deliver value to your site in three primary ways:
- Exposure: Whenever your URL appears as a link, your firm becomes visible on that site. More visibility increases visits to your website. Especially on websites that Google ranks highly such as YouTube; legal directories like Lawyers.com, Avvo.com and Martindale.com; or local search engines/business directories like Yelp.
- Referral Traffic: The more links that you have on relevant websites, the more traffic you’re likely going to get to your firm website from users clicking the link and visiting your site, increasing the likelihood of more leads
- Authority: When Google ranks websites, they assign more authority to those sites with quality backlinks from relevant, thematic and trusted sources.
Not all backlinks are created equal
A quality backlink comes from a relevant and trusted source. This can take shape in a listing on a directory, a blog or article or even a video on YouTube. Google and other search engines recognize as trusted sources, government entities, educational institutions, reputable local or legal directories, community websites specific to your area of areas you serve your clients, reputable organizations and social media websites.
Law firms use a variety of techniques to create backlinks. Firms might sponsor sports teams, donate to local or national charities, or get involved with community events. Additionally, attorneys from firms might provide legal commentary on local news channels, which can result in links back to their website. Other firms might offer scholarships to students that will generate backlinks to high schools, colleges or universities in the area. You should ensure you have links from a variety of different domains relevant to your firm’s location, clients, practice areas or the legal industry in general.
Types of Quality Backlinks
- Legal Directories. Reputable legal directories, including Lawyers.com, Avvo.com, Martindale.com and HG.org provide law firms with high quality backlinks. Depending on the site, firms may need to subscribe or may be able to list for free. The information available during the claim profile process may seem very similar across directories but sometimes valuable fields may not be available or displayed on your profile even if you have filled them out during the claim process. Some may allow basic information updates, but require you to subscribe for more valuable and/or lead gen fields. A field to add a link to your website is one of the most valuable fields within the profile because the more legal links a firm has, the greater its site authority will be. The more authoritative your site is to Google, the more likely they will rank you for relevant searches. Additionally, the backlink provides referral traffic which is anyone that finds your firm in the directory and then clicks the link on your firm’s profile that leads users back to your website. Visits coming from a legal directory are high intent searchers likely looking to sign up with an attorney ASAP, so these referral visits are likely to convert from your website.
- Law Schools (.edu links). Educational institutions, including your law school or undergrad alma mater, deliver quality backlinks to your site. Consider adding a link to your alumni directory profile or providing content to the school’s blog or site.
- Local Business Directories, like Apple Maps, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau allow your law firm to create a business profile that includes a backlink to your site. Don’t forget to claim and optimize your Google Business Profile, which will include a link to your site as well as appear in the maps section of Google.
- Charities and Fundraisers (.org links). If a law firm has contributed to a local charity or helped out or held a fundraiser it is not only a chance for a possible backlink but also some extra PR. Announcing your support for the local community or an area of service related to your practice in a blog post and/or on social media is a great way to create some interest in your firm and chatter within the community. It’s also a great way to get a backlink. Are there any local community sites where you can share your fundraiser?
- Local Networking & News Sites. Posting your next guest lecture as an event on Patch to get it out to the local community or asking for help or donations for your next fundraiser on nextdoor could help you build your reputation, name and exposure in your area. Offering your expertise to a journalist with a relevant piece for a major news outlet is a great way to get some PR, build your credibility and gain exposure. One website to get you started is HARO (Help a Reporter Out) which lets you find relevant stories that need a source and connects you with a journalist for an interview.
- Social Media Profiles. Establish your firm’s business profile on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and link back to your site.
One of the best and simplest ways to find relevant, strategic backlinks is to do a Google search for your practice area and geographic location. Check and see which websites pop up on the first or the second page. Look for directory-type websites that will allow you to submit your website URL. Also checking out what your competitors’ sites are listed and exploring what they are doing with their website is one of the best ways to easily and quickly target link opportunities. An offsite competitive analysis requires a link building tool and a little elbow grease. Check out how to do a competitive analysis for more information.