When it comes to ranking high in Google’s search results for legal services, there is one factor that is more powerful than any other for a law firm’s SEO strategy. You might think that it is the content on your firm’s website or how impressive your website is to look at but it is neither of these. It is actually nothing that exists on your website at all.
So what is it? It is the links that point to your website from other websites. These are known as backlinks in the SEO industry and they are by far, the most powerful factor that must be considered and understood if you wish to out rank your competitors in Google.
Backlinks you must avoid!
You might have come to the conclusion that you just need to get as many backlinks as you can to improve your law firm’s rankings in Google but this is very wrong. There are many kinds of backlinks that you must avoid as these will do far more harm than good.
Bad backlinks can lead to a Google penalty and some of these penalties can be so harsh that your entire SEO efforts can be wiped out with a total loss of rankings. For this reason we will now explore the types of backlinks you must avoid before moving on to the good ones.
Don’t buy links
The fastest way to earn your law firm a penalty in Google is to buy backlinks. This is against Google’s guidelines and it is very easy for Google to identify low quality backlinks especially if you acquire many of these.
You have probably seen lots of cheap online packages that offer hundreds or even thousands of backlinks for a small amount of money. Avoid these if you want to improve your law firm’s SEO results as these sort of links will almost always do more harm than good.
Don’t leave spam comments
If you wish to comment on other peoples blogs or on forums that is great but if you do this with the intention of getting a link back to your firm’s website by dropping in a link to your website within your comments then you are asking for trouble. This is classed as spamming and is definitely not something a law firm should wish to be associated with.
Google is also against these types of links so again this practice will likely do more harm than good.
This should not be confused with genuine comments on forums or blogs and there can be rare occasions when you are able to a link to a page on your own website that is relevant to the discussion but it should be beneficial to the discussion and genuine.
Don’t register lots of domains
Believing that registering lots of domains will help is probably one of the most common misunderstandings about SEO amongst law firms. If you have been told that you need to register lots of domains related to the legal services you provide to help your SEO then you have been misinformed. This will do nothing but waste your budget on domain registrations that will have no positive impact on your SEO results.
Don’t build your own backlinks
You might be tempted to try and setup multiple websites and then link from these to your main law firm’s website but this is a bad idea. This will also usually do more harm than good as this is also against Google’s guidelines.
Obviously if you have a second site such as a WordPress blog on a different domain then this is fine but do not use it for the purpose of building more backlinks to your main website. It is fine to naturally link to it a few times but if every page contains a keyword based link back to your main website then you are asking for trouble.
Good backlinks for your law firm
So now that we have considered some of the ways not to build backlinks due to them resulting in more harm than good for your law firm’s SEO, it is time to look at the kind of backlinks that are good.
Good backlinks are obviously none of the above types of backlinks. They are instead genuine, relevant and coming from respectable sources.
Genuine backlinks are important as these are within Google’s guidelines. A genuine backlink is one that exists naturally as it adds some meaningful value. For example, listing your law firm on a legal directory is an excellent way to build a genuine backlink for your law firm as it is natural for a law firm to be listed on a legal directory. It is also natural for the legal directory to link to your firm’s website as many people will want to visit your site to learn more about the firm or the legal services you provide.
So the rule for backlinks being genuine is that they need to have a reason to naturally exist. This is extremely important as artificial backlinks is something Google is very much against.
Google works on an algorithm based on relevancy as this helps them to present relevant search results for the myriad of things people search for. This relevancy is also built into Google’s evaluation of the backlinks that point to your firm’s website and this evaluation of your firm’s backlink profile is the biggest factor for determining where your law firm will rank in Google’s results in relation to your competitors.
The more relevant a backlink is, the better it is. For example, acquiring a backlink from a legal directory not only ticks the ‘genuine’ backlink factor mentioned above but it also ticks the ‘relevancy’ box as a legal directory is naturally highly relevant to a law firm.
At this point you have probably come to the conclusion that getting a backlink from a general business website or anything not highly relevant to the legal sector is bad but they are not really bad if they are genuine. Such links will not usually be as powerful though for your SEO results and so the more relevant they are to the legal sector, the more powerful they will be for a law firm.
Backlinks from respectable sources
So we now understand that we need genuine backlinks that are coming from highly relevant (law related) websites. The final thing to consider is if the backlink is coming from a respectable source.
A respectable source for a backlink is one that is coming from a website with a reasonable amount of integrity. For example, if you acquired a backlink from somebodies blog about legal issues but the blog was created for the purpose of building backlinks and not providing anything of value to human readers then this would be classed as a website (source) that was not respectable.
So whilst it might seem genuine to get a link from a legal blog and it would also seem highly relevant, it does not pass the ‘respectable source’ evaluation, if the website is full of low quality articles crated for the purpose of creating backlinks.
However, if the legal blog did have lots of high quality articles and was providing something of real value to human readers, then it could pass the ‘respectable source’ evaluation.
Conclusion of backlinks for law firms
From the above we have learned that backlinks are essential if you wish to rank above your competitors in Google. We have also considered the types of backlinks that should be avoided as well as the type of backlinks that will benefit your law firm’s backlink profile.
The most important thing to remember is to avoid the bad backlinks mentioned above and to consider backlinks from the perspective of them being genuine, relevant and to evaluate if they are coming from respectable sources (websites).
The easiest place to get started would be to focus on legal directories such as LawFirms.co.uk, as legal directories have a genuine reason to link to your law firm and they are also highly relevant to the legal sector. Unfortunately there are many low quality international legal directories on the internet which would offer no value to your SEO efforts but you should focus on the UK based legal directories as they are more relevant (remember, relevancy matters for backlinks) to a law firm based in the United Kingdom.
A great place to start would be with a LawFirms.co.uk membership as this includes 11 legal directories. You can also learn more about why your law firm needs to be listed in legal directories here, as there are many more reasons why you would want to list your law firm in legal directories.