Over the next few months, we will be covering SEO fundamentals for law firms on this blog. Today, we are focusing on off-page SEO and the concept of link building. Link building is an important SEO strategy for law firms that have websites with low domain authority. Domain authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single score. If you’re focusing on optimizing your law firm’s website for search engines (and hopefully you are), then read on for a basic guide to why link building matters and how best to do it.
In the original days of the internet, search engines just used text to rank pages. Then, keyword strategies came into play making the text more complex. Next, search engines noticed that the pages that tended to be most relevant (therefore, the ones that should rank higher) tended to accumulate links from other websites. The more links a site had, the more relevant it was supposed to be. Then, search engines got even more sophisticated and the type of links started to matter – those that are deemed most meaningful to the content and those that came from high domain authority websites count more. And now, to complicate matters even further, the complex algorithms search engines use rank links and deem some more popular and important.
Now that you know why links matter – what can you do about it?
We know external links play a role in ranking. Due to the complicated and ever-changing search engine algorithms, we never know how much they really matter versus other ranking factors.
Here’s what we do know:
- The best links are those that come from high domain authority websites sites. High domain authority websites usually are sites that have large amounts of traffic such as newspaper and other media sites. Other high domain authority sites are websites that are educational in nature. Thus sites from colleges and other academic institutions typically have a high domain authority
- Content is key. Therefore, law firms should focus on creating content that is educational and useful so that other websites will want to link to it. A page describing your practice areas of services is less likely to be linked to than one describing a substantive topic, answering a question or explaining a process. Think informational rather than promotional.
- Create a plan for cultivating more links. That is a complex science and many firms struggle with it. One suggestion is to ask for links from organizations that your attorneys write or speak for. If one of your firm’s lawyers is giving a presentation at a bar association, ask the association if they can link back to the attorneys bio on your website from their website.
- Avoid link spamming. Google considers spamming any activity that is intended to mislead search engines and give higher rankings than what is deserved. Doing things like posting on non-related sites or discussion boards just to display links falls into this category.
- Also, be careful of “clickbaiting”. Make sure that the description of your pages that appears on search engine results pages match the content that the visitor will find on your site once the click on to it.
- Beware of “black hat” SEO and agencies that promise to build link farms to improve your site’s domain authority. Google typically catches on and your site will get penalized.
- Again, create content that other site owners will want to link to. The higher the quality of your content, the better chance you will have of acquiring valuable links.
Link building is an important strategy and a key component of SEO fundamentals for law firms. Along with other SEO tactics, link building will enable your firm to improve its search visibility and generate more qualified traffic to your website. If you need assistance in link building or in developing a comprehensive SEO strategy, feel free to reach out to us today.