SEO for Lawyers: Why and How to Implement a Search Engine Optimization Strategy for Your Law Firm

Part V: Link Building for Law Firms

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Amy Geldean

Part V: Link Building for Law Firms

Search engines care about your law firm’s content, but they can only evaluate it if you’re getting enough votes of confidence.

One type of a confidence vote is a click through from searchers when they see your pages in their search results.

However, in order to appear in the search results, you must first obtain quality backlinks to your content from reputable sites.

Here’s what you should know:

How Does Link Building for Law Firms Work?

Google (and other search engines) understands the internet through links.

Both search engines and your visitors navigate the web with the help of links.

But Google also uses links to evaluate the authoritativeness of your law firm’s website. The more links you have from relevant and reputable websites, the better will your pages rank in the SERPs.

Now, defining what a trusted website means can get complicated.

Search engine algorithms don’t possess human reasoning and they can’t evaluate quality per se, so they substitute data on page quality with data on the quality and quantity of inbound and outbound links.

That’s why we use the terms page and domain authority.

Domain and Page Authority

Domain authority is not an official metric.

However, for the majority of SEO professionals, it’s an easy way to quantify the reputation of websites on the internet so they can build a good link profile.

DA expresses each website’s relevance for a particular topic.

For example, the National Law Review is a website with a strong domain authority in terms of legal topics. If you obtained a backlink from them to your site, you’d feel the effects of it on the placement of your pages in SERPs.

Conversely, if you got a backlink from someone’s personal blog that doesn’t have any domain authority for legal topics, you wouldn’t even notice it. Searchers looking for legal counsel haven’t found their blog useful.

Similarly, page authority expresses the relevance and quality of each page on your website, as defined by the number of backlinks that page got.

You can evaluate the domain authority of a website with the Domain Authority Checker.

The higher the score of your linking website is, the more “link juice” you’ll get.

For example, Nat Law Review has a grade of 69.

Do-Follow and No-Follow Backlinks

Finally, some backlinks should be do-follow, while others have to be no-follow.

Do-follow and no-follow are two link attributes that define whether a search engine should count those backlinks or not into your link profile.

For example, a link to your website from your advertisement should be no-follow – it shouldn’t be included in your link profile or considered by search engines when evaluating your law firm’s domain authority.

If you don’t tag a link you’ve obtained through link schemes or (paid) promotion with the rel=”nofollow” HTML tag, you could be penalized by search engines.

All the links you’ve organically attracted with the value of your content should be do-follow.

Different Types of Backlinks (and How to Get Them)

Now, not all links were made alike.

Google’s algorithms can actually recognize the placement and the context of every link.

Editorial Backlinks

Editorial backlinks are the most prized backlinks. They’re links a site gives to your site within their native content.

For example, if your local newspaper wrote an article on car accidents and linked to your personal injury content as a valuable resource on the topic, that would be an editorial link.

Search engines typically recognize editorial backlinks through their anchor text – the text that is hyperlinked.

Anchor Text

Source: Moz

So let’s imagine someone from your law firm was interviewed as an expert on personal injury lawsuits.

The anchor text could be something like:

“Attorney from XYZ law firm, John Doe, claims that settling personal injury lawsuits in Florida takes only a few months.”

Notice the keyword – “personal injury lawsuits in Florida.”

With that anchor text, you are being cited as an expert, while also including relevant keywords that place you in the context of the topic.

Other beneficial anchor text types are mentions of your law firm’s name (e.g. XYZ Law) and CTAs (e.g. Read more about personal injury claims).

Other types of editorial backlinks include:

  • Quotes
  • Interview links
  • Podcast interview links
  • Roundup links
  • Referencing your website as a source of information
  • Crediting your website as the original source of content (e.g. infographics)

How to Get Editorial Backlinks for Your Law Firm

Ideally, you’ll attract editorial backlinks organically.

Your content strategy will be so good that you’ll be linked to from news outlets and other legal websites.

Great Content Strategy

Getting editorial backlinks to your law firm’s website is much easier when you create comprehensive, evergreen resources on a topic.

For example, you could create the ultimate guide to personal injury lawsuits in your state.

In it, you should could absolutely everything personal injury leads may be interested in – from conditions and statute of limitations, to the process and expected damage reimbursements.

While your content strategy should include short blog posts on recent developments, make sure you focus at least 70% of your efforts on evergreen content.

It’s appreciated by leads and websites looking for sources on a topic.

This way, you’ll get plenty of editorial backlinks because you actually have a great resource.

It could even become a go-to resource that’s quoted, linked to, and cited as a reference, improving your link profile, your rankings and your EAT score all at the same time.

Additionally, proving your expertise by creating legal go-to resources could help you get interviewed by relevant websites.

If you follow content creation best practices we’ve covered in the previous chapter, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone:

  • Make your formatting engaging to the reader
  • Optimize for Position Zero by using H1-H5 tags and questions
  • Use internal links to link to other relevant pages on your law firm’s website
  • Link to other trusted pages (e.g. Nat Law Review for research)
  • Use visuals to keep readers engaged

HARO and SourceBottle

Another way to get editorial backlinks is by using HARO (Help a Reporter) and SourceBottle – websites used by journalists and bloggers when they need sources to interview about a topic.

For example, a journalist that is writing an article on personal injury lawsuits could post to these sites, looking for a lawyer to interview.

Then, they’d link to your website from their article because you’re essentially their source.  

As a rule of thumb, it’s good to show personality and simplify complicated legal terms when answering source requests.

If you’ve already prepared a resource on something related to the topic (for example, a guide on a practice area), you can even send links to the reporters.

Guest Posting

The simplest way to get an editorial backlink is to put it there yourself. And that’s exactly what happens with guest blogging.

When you guest blog, you’re creating content about your area of expertise for another site. Then, you can reference your own content and link to it within the text.

Fortunately, a lot of publications offer guest posting opportunities.

You can find them by Google searching for “law firm” or “attorney” or “lawyer” + “contribute” or “write for us” or “guest column” or “guest post.”

Make sure you double-check websites before you reach out to them with a guest post idea:

  • Domain Authority
  • Reputation
  • Target Audience
  • Traffic

Your time is hard to come by, so make sure you select only the websites with the highest reputation in the legal area. The more specialized they are, the better. 

If you find a local news outlet that doesn’t only cover the law, that’s fine, as well.

Editorial backlinks from news sites can be equally beneficial, especially since you won’t be just getting link juice, but leads.

Make sure your guest post is as good as the posts you publish on your law firm blog.

If no one sticks around to read your post, Google could devalue the backlink.

So when you’re reaching out to the publication, make sure you have a topic in mind and know which searcher intent you want to satisfy.

Legal guest posting is all about benefits. Offer something to the publication, and they may just give you the chance to reach their audience.

After all, receiving editorial backlinks is all about providing value.

If you create good resources and clearly explain the benefits, you’ll be on your way to building a healthy link profile.

Self-Created Links for Law Firms

Editorial links are the ones that have the most “link juice,” i.e. they influence your law firm’s rankings the most.

However, self-created links (links you place yourself on different platforms) can help search engines create a better image of your site.

Not to mention that adding links to your pages and websites is a great way to help leads navigate to your practice area conversion pages.

The first place you should add your links to is your law firm’s Google My Business profile.

GMB profiles are great SERP real estate; they often appear within the first three results for local searches.

As you polish your GMB profile and receive reviews, you’ll start appearing in the top three law firms for your target practice area.

You can imagine how having a link to your website there may come in handy.

If you have official law firm social media, share your links.

However, make sure you’re actually using those social networks – not just creating profiles to add your links.

It’s good to use them if your potential clients are using them, as well. You can even promote your content to get social signals and quality backlinks.

Stick to a few social networks and use them to the fullest capacity. If you share links to your content, engage with commenters and leads.

You can link to your law firm website from your professional profiles, as well.

Again, it’s a matter of helping Google understand your EAT score.

And in addition to SEO benefits, you’ll also be attracting more leads than if you went without a link in your profile.

You can even connect with the editors of publications and other influencers in your practice area by using social media and posting your content.

It’s a flywheel; the more people know about your law firm’s website, the more backlinks will you attract.

Message Boards for Legal Topics

Another good way to create a healthy link profile is by participating in Quora and Reddit threads.

Both sites essentially function like message boards.

People ask questions related to their interests, you can discuss different topics with them, and then – if your content is relevant – you can link to your content.

Quora is a Q&A site with almost 2 million people who want to know about legal topics. It’d be a shame not to use it to attract backlinks to your website.

Quora’s link value lies in profile links and self-created links.

For example, you can respond to a question about tax law in greater detail than everyone else on the thread.

Then, you can simply link to a blog post in which you wrote more about it, pointing leads and other readers to an insightful resource.

Don’t just respond with one line and a link to your content.

Quora isn’t Yahoo Answers. Don’t be afraid to go into detail, write about personal experiences, provide anecdotes, and communicate conversationally.

Now, the links you place in your answers on Quora automatically have a no-follow attribute.

However, Quora’s results often appear in the first few results on SERPs for certain queries.

If your answer is in the thread, more people will see it when searching for the same questions. And if you’re also mentioning your law firm’s name, you’ll be improving brand recognition and your EAT score indirectly.

Not to mention that you’ll be opening up the door to quality backlinks because more people will see your content.

Reddit is more wary of links, but you can still get backlink juice for your law firm’s website.

Quora sorts questions and answers by topics, whereas Reddit sorts them by communities. Each subreddit is focused on a particular interest.

As a lawyer, you can participate in the following subreddits:

[Please embed: https://external-preview.redd.it/AY5sEQ_6jzGmEQjSWkb4DjPTzInvW8OXkJ4EakY4aVQ.png?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=5be12439cb640c5690433f0550570879ab1c952f ]
Source: Reddit / Leobreacker

Depending on your practice areas, you can search Reddit for other communities. New communities pop up every day, and it’s good to get integrated early.

Your main focus on Reddit should be participating in the community:

  • Engage other users
  • Comment on posts
  • Offer helpful advice

At first, avoid posting links. Redditors (Reddit users) are extremely wary of self-promotion.

However, if you often participate in the community and you truly want to link to a contextually-relevant resource (that just happens to be written by you), you will be able to do so.

You should find and participate in other legal message boards.

There are plenty of legal advice message boards online.

Make sure you find the ones that cover your practice area, get a lot of views, and preferably, have more than a few posts about your state.

Directory Links

Directory links are another type of links you can create yourself.

Again, they come with SEO benefits (even though not as many as editorial links) and immediate benefits in terms of lead generation for law firms.

Apply to legal directories that have a high domain authority.

 Some of the directories are completely free to submit to and they’ll list your information without a fee.

However, others require a one-time fee, or even a subscription fee. Make sure they’re worth the fee by checking their DA and their reputation.

A backlink from a trusted directory like Avvo and Justia could improve your rankings and your EAT score.

However, a backlink from an irrelevant directory could hurt your link profile, so tread carefully.

You can also apply to local directories.

If your city or state has a local directory of service businesses, consider applying to it.

Not only will you be reaching your leads, but you’ll also be improving your local relevance and giving your rankings a boost.

When it comes to local, Google is learning from numerous online directories to shape their local SERPs.

They even claim that adding your law firm to local directories will help you rankings.

Not to mention that being locally relevant is a great way to improve your EAT score, which is the future of search engine optimization.

Make sure your profiles are strong and contain all the relevant information, including appropriate keywords.

Links Your Law Firm Should Avoid

Not all links were made alike. In fact, some can actually hurt your rankings and even lead to Google penalizing your website by removing it from search results.

Don’t participate in link schemes.

Don’t exchange links with other law firms or businesses in different industries.

If someone promises they’ll point hundreds of links to your website, steer clear.

It typically means the person offering is participating in a spammy link-building scheme that Google will recognize and penalize their (and your) site for.

Make all of your press release, advertising and sponsored post links no-follow.

The general rule of thumb is: if you’re paying for the link, it has to be no-follow.

Press releases used to be abused in the past, leading to Google considering them a link scheme nowadays.

Don’t keyword-stuff your content or your anchor text.

Remember anchor text – the text that is hyperlinked and should ideally contain keywords? While that is true, make sure you don’t overdo it.

Switch things up by using your law firm’s name or different wording as anchor text every now and then.

If you’re using irrelevant directories to build your link profile, think again.

Relevant and contextually-appropriate directories such as local and law directories can be a great help for your rankings.

However, general directories that aren’t really used by searchers and foreign directories will just hurt your SEO in the long run.

Sidebar and footer links aren’t going to help you improve your law firm’s domain authority.

These types of links are typically featured in link-building schemes. However, Google’s algorithms know how to recognize an editorial link that signals its value.

A link in the footer is just a piece of code that factors very little into your rankings.

The key to link building is in doing it as naturally as possible.

While you may need to “boost” it a little by participating in message boards and reaching out to relevant publications, don’t forget about content quality.

In the long term, you’ll attract more leads with quality content than with spammy tactics.