The rules of search engine optimization (SEO) are constantly changing and evolving, but one strategy that remains effective is acquiring high-quality backlinks. Backlinks can improve the ranking and visibility of your law firm’s website on search engines. It’s important to remember that not all backlinks are equal, though. While a handful of high quality links can improve your law firm SEO, poor links can have a negative effect. So what makes a high quality backlink?
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from a web page outside of your own website that direct users to a page on your site. Backlinking is an SEO tactic that has remained important for any SEO strategy time and time again. In fact, Google has stated that backlinks are one of the top 3 ranking factors.
According to Ahref:
- The more backlinks a page has, the more traffic it will get
- Most top-ranking pages get ‘followed’ backlinks at a rate of 5%-14/5% a month
- 43.7% of top ranking pages have some reciprocal links
There Are Three Levels of Backlinks:
According to Google, the three tiers of backlinks are: low, medium, and high quality. In Google’s estimation, low-quality backlinks are webspam. They are viewed as fake links or ones that have been added to “game” the system.
Medium links offer actual value and are easier to attain than high quality links. High quality links provide the most value, but they tend to have high editorial standards that make them hard to achieve.
There Are Three Levels of High-quality Backlinks:
Nobody can say for sure how link quality is measured, and what makes a high-quality link is somewhat subjective. However, there are three core elements that most experts agree on. When you understand the elements, you’ll have a better idea of how you can use link building to improve your law firm SEO.
It’s essential that website owners choose to link to your site because it makes sense and adds value and not because you have paid them to or manipulated them in any way. If a link doesn’t seem natural, Google will view it as spammy and will either ignore it or punish the site by demoting them in search engine results.
Today’s search engines look for social proof of how credible web pages are. Google has a PageRank algorithm that measures the importance and reputation of web pages, and here’s how they define that:
PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.
The higher the number and, even more importantly, the higher the quality of backlinks a website obtains, the higher its chance of ranking for competitive keywords. Think of PageRank as more of an algorithm than a metric.
Search engines pay attention to the relevancy of both the page and domain of a backlink. Make sure sites that link to your law firm’s website are aligned with the subject matter. Backlink relevancy is extremely important for law firm SEO. For example, having a link from a fitness site will not do as much for you as having one from a legal journal or business site. It’s important to understand that the choice of words used in the anchor text is key because it tells the reader what the page being linked to is about, but also, search engines use it as a relevancy signal when ranking the page being linked to.
How to Acquire High Quality Backlinks
1. Add Testimonials
You can acquire a large quantity of links by adding your firm’s testimonials to reputable external websites. Try to find relevant directories that have a high domain authority. You can easily check their domain authority using Moz.
2. Reach Out to Website Owners
You can also try reaching out to the owner of reputable websites. Try performing a google search and see if there are any articles out there that mention your practice areas but aren’t on a competitor’s site. Reach out to those sites’ owners and see if they’d be comfortable linking out to a relevant blog you have. You can even offer something in return to entice them.
3. Link on Websites That Mention You
You can view which websites already mention you using a tool like Buzzsumo. Then, identify which websites mention you but don’t link to your site and offer them a URL they can use.
4. Leverage a Legal Content Aggregator
There are different content aggregators out there like JD Supra where you can publish your content. When you publish content on these websites, make sure the article links to relevant pages on your website.
5. Reach Out to the Media
You can reach out to journalists or use a tool like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Showcase that your website can be used as a source if they’re discussing a topic relevant to your expertise.
Other Tips for a Strong Backlink Strategy:
- The most valuable backlinks are those placed directly within the content (not in the footer or sidebar).
- The number of outgoing links a web page has also matters. A backlink from a website (domain) or from a web page that links to hundreds of other URLs will be less valuable than the one from a website with just a few outgoing links.
- You can use some tools to understand how well a specific page will rank on the search engine result pages. For example, Moz has a Page Authority (or PA) score that mimics Page Rank and can be helpful in understanding how links are helping or hindering your page performance.
- Use tools like Ahrefs, Majestic, SEMrush, or Spyfu to check your website’s backlink report. Make sure they are high-quality links and look to remove any links that look too spammy or are completely irrelevant.
- You may also want to check if your backlinks are marked as nofollow or dofollow. According to Google, nofollow links do not pass any Page Rank, so they will not help your search engine rankings. Try to get as many dofollow links as possible.
Related: SEO for Law Firm Websites eBook
The bottom line is that high quality links are natural, highly relevant, and very reputable. While your goal should be to obtain high-quality links, you can still derive value from medium quality links. Just make sure to avoid low quality links that can actually hurt your law firm SEO efforts. Furthermore, unethical ways of link building, such as purchasing links from a link farm, is deemed a black hat SEO tactic and can get your law firm website de-indexed or banned from a search engine.