Any law firm’s SEO campaign worth its salt has a backlink strategy. Backlinks have long been a staple of search engine optimization because they are one of the strongest ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm. While, there are other types of SEO factors involved in links, namely the anchor text of the link (the clickable words of the link), this blog is focused solely on the topic of backlinks and how they relate to your Google search rankings.
So what exactly are backlinks, why are they important, and how do you acquire them? Let’s tackle this subject one question at a time.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are simply links from pages on websites that are not your own that point to your website. Any time you’ve read an article on the web and clicked on a link to another site, you’ve clicked a “backlink.” Any time another domain links to your domain, you’ve earned a link back, or backlink.
Your website creates backlinks too. Any time you link to another domain’s URL from your blog, practice area page or attorney bio page, you’re giving that other domain a backlink from your domain. It is good for your website’s SEO to link to other high quality websites. Hopefully, your website can benefit another website that would want to potentially link to it.
Depending on a website’s size, domain age or other SEO factors, backlinks are assigned a value by Google’s search algorithm. To understand the value, let’s take a look at how Google views backlinks.
How Does Google View Backlinks?
The act of linking to another website is essentially an endorsement of that webpage. The words you choose as the anchor text (again, the clickable text of the link) should preview the subject of the page to which I’m linking. Fundamentally, Google based its algorithm in large part to these two concepts. When you link to a website, you’re essentially voting for it with your website’s equity.
Keyword rankings are kind of like elections in that the more votes you get, the higher your page will rank. However, some links, by virtue of their authority, count more than others. Think of them like delegates or superdelegates whose votes carry far more weight. These higher quality superdelegate backlinks hail from what Google has deemed high authority websites and webpages.
Without getting into the technical details, let’s just say that highest authority websites are the major websites of the internet that have been linked to millions of times like Amazon.com, CNN.com and even Google.com. Websites that are .Edu or .Gov possess more authority as well, since these domains are only issued to high authority organizations, so these types of websites don’t require as many backlinks to gain authority online. Other more lesser known but still high authority websites gain authority through their backlink profile.
Conversely, the lowest authority websites are actually not brand new websites but instead websites that Google has deemed spam. Since links are valuable, a cottage industry of link farm websites have propped up over the years. Google has taken huge steps to stop their effect so that nowadays these types of links are toxic to your website’s profile.
If your backlink profile has toxic links, you may want to take action. Your webmaster will want to consider getting these sorts of spammy backlinks removed from those websites or, if necessary, submit a disavow request with Google, which will instruct them them to not count those links in your website’s profile.
How to Get Backlinks – Simplified.
There are two main ways to get backlinks to your law firm’s website:
1. Create high-quality content on your website, market it properly to the right audience, and watch as other websites on the internet link to your beautiful content.
2. Engage in the somewhat shady practice of acquiring links from websites and bloggers that offer this service at a fee.
The first option is the natural way of things on the internet as well as Google’s obvious preference. The second option is essentially a “gaming” of the system that Google uses as a bedrock of its search algorithm. One is recommended; the other is unsurprisingly not.
Unfortunately for Google, and potentially for your law firm, the second option is utilized all too often. These are where most of the toxic links of today were purchased with the promise of high rankings yesterday. Be very careful of purchasing links as they could lead to a penalty from Google, a loss of rankings, and serious negative long term consequences to your website’s SEO. Remember to instruct your team to weed these out from your profile.
Key Takeaways for Your Firm’s SEO.
Like it or not, backlinks are a vital part of your law firm’s SEO strategy. They tell the search engines who is an authority for a given subject. In some competitive niches, law firms have tens of thousands of backlinks pointing to their website. The good news is that, a good link is worth a hundred so-so links, and a great link is worth a thousand so-so links. Always strive for high quality and earned links as your main link building goal.
If you’re interested in a backlink audit of your law firm’s website or interested in help building more backlinks and higher quality backlinks, contact the team at ONE400. Got any questions or thoughts on the matter? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll discuss!