By Chris Casseday
If linkbuilding isn’t a piece of your digital marketing strategy, you’re missing out. Your website backlink profile—simply put, all of the websites linking to your law firm site—is a key ranking factor and most will tell you that it is safe to assume that it is the number one factor that Google takes into account. With this in mind, our team recently wrapped up an eye-opening research effort where we examined over 50 top-ranked law firm websites across the country. We analyzed over 1,000 links for firms located in Houston, Denver, Seattle, Huntsville, and Cincinnati.
Why did we focus on top-ranking websites? Well, if the site is ranking well there has to be a reason for it—and a strong backlink profile is usually a big one. The goal of this effort was to grow our already extensive list of target backlinks that we can add for our clients. We have been growing our master list over the course of several years, but we believe that it is crucial to take a step back and look at the competitive landscape for new opportunities to utilize. The great news about this effort was that several of the link opportunities that we identified were already on our master list. The awesome news about this effort: we found quite a few new link opportunities too!
SO WHAT DID WE FIND?
We found through our research that our assumptions were correct; all of the top-ranking websites that we examined had better than average backlink profiles. It is clear that these firms have placed resources towards strategically growing their backlinks or have gained links naturally—which we consider a nice bonus, but not very common in the legal industry.
There were some common link types that we came across during this research effort. We’ve outlined the types below along with a few examples along the way to get you started.
Everyone knows about Avvo, Find Law, and Martindale but do you know about ILRG, Law Link, and Lawyrs.net? These are legal specific directories that could feature your firm’s information, and that includes a backlink to your site. There are hundreds of legal directories out there, and adding your information usually only requires a few minutes.
Your law firm is a business too, so why not explore general business directories as well? There are thousands of these online so it is very important to explore each one to figure out if the effort to get the link is worth your time. In other words, does the business directory provide a “follow” link that carries a good domain authority? For example, a link from Yelp is great, but that is considered a no-follow link (yes, you should still have a Yelp listing). When focusing on building new links to your website, you want to prioritize opportunities that provide follow links to maximize the SEO impact. An example of a general business directory that you should consider is Alignable – the site provides a follow link and has a domain authority of 60!
Tip: Need help determining if a link is a “follow” link? You can use your web browser by either inspecting “Elements” or viewing the page source. If HTML code makes you go cross-eyed then you might want to use a browser extension or software tool. Feel free to shoot us a message if you need help.
Do you have visual content like infographics or digital brochures? It is worth exploring the wide variety of graphics focused directories online, such as Visual.ly. Several of these directories allow for the graphic designer to be credited and you can usually include a link. We recommend creating visual content for your website, so why not try and use this content to get links as well?
Have you or your firm ever been mentioned online by a local news outlet? Did the news outlet include a link? The answer is most likely “no” unless you asked the author for a link. If you are already mentioned, it is much easier to get the link added—all you have to do is ask! But how do you know if you are mentioned online? The answer is simple: Google Alerts. After you’re done reading this article, go add your name, your firm name, and anything else that is unique to you as an “alert” and you will be notified as Google indexes new content that includes the words that you choose.
Again, there are thousands of directories online. Some of them are completely free, some provide “premium” features for a fee, and others require a one-time payment or monthly fee before your listing will be published. While it may be easy to pass over these paid directories because they require an additional fee, you may want to give them a second look. A paid directory, HG.org, is a legal directory that costs $195/year but it provides a strong link (domain authority: 72) and we have had clients get great leads from it too!
During our research it became clear that there are countless local-specific websites that will feature law firm information. Some of these are free and some are paid. Some great places to check within your community would be your local chamber of commerce website and then you can always sponsor sports teams or donate to a charity, which usually provides an opportunity to gain a link.
This one requires more work than the others mentioned above, but it can provide some of the best backlinks. By implementing this strategy for clients, we’ve built links on Avvo, Huffington Post, ABA, Nerd Wallet, and many more. If you target the right websites and create great content it is possible to get links that carry a great deal of authority, which provides a great boost to your backlink profile. With a little bit of research, you can find sites that accept guest post content, like Attorney At Work, and you’ll be on your way to building great links!