Link building is one of the four essential components of an effective SEO strategy, but it’s something law firms often get wrong. Building links to your website isn’t just about the number of links you get, but where those links come from.
Many lawyers and even marketers use outdated link building strategies that can actually end up hurting your site.
That’s why in this guide we are covering the tried-and-tested tactics you can use to build genuine links that will improve your site’s SEO, not hurt it.
What are Backlinks?
Have you ever been reading an article online, clicked on a link in the article, and been taken to another website? This is what’s called an outbound link—a link that takes users from one website to another.
Now, a backlink is when your site is on the receiving end of that link. In other words, when outside sites are linking to your site. These links work to not only direct users from other sites to your site, but can also do a lot to improve your site’s SEO.
Why Links Matter for Law Firm SEO
Backlinks serve as a sort of “vote of confidence” from one site that your site is a reputable source of information and worthy of being linked to. If other website owners are willing to link to your law firm, this often indicates to Google that your business (including the services and information you provide) is legit.
High-ranking, reputable, and well-established websites can direct what’s called “domain authority” to your site, thus increasing the authority of your own site. This makes search engines like Google more likely to trust your site and rank it high in the search results.
Are All Backlinks Good?
Many law firms get tripped up when it comes to their link building strategy by thinking that all links are good links. They may pay “link builders” or “link vendors” to find them links, only to be disappointed that their rankings are not improving, or are getting worse. What’s the deal?
Well, not all links come from reputable websites. Some come from spammy sites and others come from “link farms” that primarily serve to build links rather than provide users with valuable information. Google has gotten good at identifying these bad sites and can therefore essentially penalize your site for having these low-quality links.
Your goal should be to earn high-quality links from reputable sites, ideally within your niche and/or service area. This is an area where quality really is more important than quantity. Let’s talk about a few strategies for building links the right way.
8 Effective Law Firm Link Building Tactics
Before you go out and hire a link building expert, it’s best to become familiar with a few link building tactics that may work for your site.
This will help you create a more effective link building strategy and potentially notice when you (or someone you hire) is engaging in spammy link building techniques.
1. Free Directories
One of the fastest ways to build backlinks is to submit your business information to free (yet reputable) online directories.
These are directories that list various businesses that users may be looking for, or list legal industry-related businesses specifically. Remember, not all websites or directories are created equal, so we’ve done the work to identify the best ones:
Google My Business: A free platform where businesses can post their information; Google My Business also helps your business get found in local search.
Justia.com: Lawyers can claim or create a new profile, and each profile comes with two followed links to your website and blog.
FindLaw.com: You can claim and update an existing profile on their website or you can opt to create a new listing (paid option).
Avvo.com: Claim an existing listing or create a new one, including your company’s information and website link.
Yelp.com: Not specific to attorneys, but you can post your information here and optimize your profile for attorney-related keywords.
Bing Places: Similar to Google My Business, Bing Places is Bing’s own free platform for businesses to post their information and get found in the Bing search results.
HG.org: Free, basic profiles for attorneys; the links are “nofollow” but can still direct traffic to your site.
LawGuru.com: An online network where users can ask lawyers questions. They also have a free online directory.
2. Paid Directories
There are also paid legal directories online where you can create a unique profile for your law firm. These are a bit more exclusive and therefore require that you pay for a spot. Just be sure to check out the site first to determine whether it’s legit or a “link farm”.
A Note About Directories:
When submitting your business information to directories, make sure the details are 100% accurate and are exactly the same across all platforms. This will prevent Google (and users) from getting confused about what your business is and whether it’s legitimate. Pay special attention to your business name, physical address, phone number, website URL, and business hours.
3. Guest Posting
Submitting guest articles on other websites is another way to build backlinks to your site. It’s also a good way to get found by potential clients and increase your authority in your industry.
The easiest way to do this is to find publications you follow and reach out to them to see if they accept guest posts. Many of them will let you pitch your own topics or will assign you topics to write about.
Be wary of any sites that want to charge you for “sponsored posts”. Before you decide to pay for a guest posting slot, consider the site’s authority (you can use tools like SEMRush.com to look this up) and whether it’s worth getting published on their site.
You’ll usually be able to include a link to your own site within your author bio. Some publications will also let you link to your site within the body content of your article, but this is up to their discretion. They may set the links to “nofollow”, in which case, you are not benefiting from their site authority but you may attract traffic to your site.
4. Linkable Content
Linkable content is interesting, engaging content that other sites can’t help but link to. Many law firms create content users can’t find anywhere else, that provides a valuable resource, or answers a burning question in the industry. The goal is to publish something that other sites are itching to link to.
Some linkable content ideas include:
Try to think of some content ideas your target audience would be interested in. If you market this content online (and, ideally, get it to rank), you’re likely to attract links naturally. Or, you can advertise this content to websites directly (See “8. Outreach”).
5. Hosting Events
Hosting community-focused events is a good way to drum up some publicity and backlinks. Even if you’re unable to host in-person events, virtual conferences and webinars are still effective options to get more eyes on your business.
When advertising your event, you can pitch the details to other publications and businesses, asking them to promote your event. Chances are, they will link to your website (it’s recommended that you have a unique event page) and share the details on social media.
Another option is to host a scholarship for students and other members of your community. Then, other businesses, schools, and agencies will link to your site to get people connected to your scholarship.
6. Unlinked Mentions
Unlinked mentions are where another site may have mentioned you or your business name but did not include a link back to your site. An easy link building strategy is to find these mentions, reach out to the website, and ask them to link back to your site.
Ahrefs.com, a popular SEO tool, has a complete guide on how to find unlinked mentions and earn backlinks. If your business is mentioned anywhere online, it’s worth it to turn these into backlinks.
7. Online Forums
Community forums like Quora.com are where people go to ask questions and get advice from other users and experts. And legal questions are some of the most popular questions on the platform. This means there is ample opportunity for lawyers to drum up some recognition, help people, and earn links.
First off, your goal is to provide valuable and accurate information to users. Answer their questions thoroughly and they’ll be more likely to trust you. Then, you can direct them to additional resources or information on your website.
Quora itself may not always let you include a link, but users can choose to reference your website in their own content. At the very least, you might attract more traffic to your site or even land yourself a new client.
A lot of the above strategies involve creating content to attract links to you or publishing on outside platforms. But what if you are still struggling to earn links? Then outreach is a good option.
One of the best ways to identify link building opportunities is to scope out your competitors’ backlink profiles. You can use tools like SEMRush.com or Ahrefs.com to see where their links are coming from. Then you can reach out to these domains for guest posting opportunities or for them to link to some of your existing linkable assets.
This method of “cold” outreach often yields minimal results initially because you need to build trust with these publishers. But if your outreach emails explain the value your content will provide to users, publishers will be more likely to give you a chance.
Bonus: Ask Your Network
You might be surprised how many business owners in your network would be willing to link to your site, whether that be via guest posts or by linking to your linkable content. If you have buddies you would be willing to throw you a bone, this may be a quick and easy way to earn backlinks. Always keep your eyes open to link building opportunities!