Chapter 6: Off-Page SEO for Law Firms
Table of Contents
- 1 Off-Page Optimization for Law Firm Websites
- 2 Local Citations
- 3 Backlinks
- 4.1 What are Backlinks, and Why are They so Important?
- 4.2 What Qualifies as a Diverse Backlink Profile?
- 4.3 Quality Over Quantity?
- 4.4 If My Site Has Great Content But a Weak Link Profile, Will I Still Rank Well?
- 4.5 How Do I Get Links in a Way for Which Google and Other Search Engines Won’t Penalize Me?
- 5 What’s Next?
Off-Page Optimization for Law Firm Websites
Tactics for off-page SEO, like connecting your site to established links from local businesses, and generating reviews and ratings on Google My Business and other review platforms, can help your law firm rise in search results. SERPs are curated by relevance but also strength and signal.
With plenty of links to local organizations and businesses on an “In The Community” page and a reliable process of filling up a local listing with reviews, law firms can see dramatic results by focusing on local citations and external linking as part of their off-page SEO strategy.
We briefly discussed your NAP+W (name, address, phone number. and Website) information in the previous chapter about local searches. Your NAP+W information also plays a role in local citations for your business. Keep reading to learn more about location citations, why they are important, and the importance of consistency with your citations.
What is a Local Citation?
A local citation is merely a mention of your law firm’s NAP information on another website. You can find local citations on any website. Law firms often have citations on sites such as Avvo, Facebook, Yelp, and Bing. The more high-quality citations your website has, the higher the likelihood of being able to get visibility in, and traffic from, Google’s map results, also known as the local pack.
The Importance of Consistency in NAP+W Information
Different business data aggregators such as Infogroup capture and share your NAP+W information with other companies. When determining how you rank in local results, Google scans the web for mentions of your business name, address, phone number, website URL, and several other data points. It then compares that information to other data sources, including the major data providers. It may even check post office records, state business filings, and telephone records.
The cleaner and more consistent you make your information, the easier it is for Google to determine the right information. Thus, the easier it is to rank in your local area.
Earlier, we touched on the importance of having NAP+W (name, address, phone, and website) consistency on your own website. Did you know that search engines use NAP consistency across the web to aid in local rankings? Optimizing local citations is a key part of your local digital footprint as local rankings have become more and more important over time.
Backlinks sometimes referred to as external links, are when a website has a hyperlink to a page of another website. Backlinks are one of many quality signals that Google uses to determine what pages should rank at the top for a given keyword phrase.
Years ago, whoever had the most backlinks won. Today, it is much more about quality than quantity. High-authority links are a signal to search engines that there is something of value on the page that is being linked to.
Link-building is likely not a familiar term if you have not been in the digital marketing world long. In a nutshell, links from one website to another pass on authority and help search engines understand the overall topic and relevance of a particular site. We created an in-depth article on what exactly link equity/authority/juice is and why it’s important.
There are many ways to earn links back to your website. Here we will touch on a few of the main ones. However, keep in mind that there may be more opportunities for your firm beyond this list.
- Incredible Content. The best way to earn links to your website is to make it attractive to link to by creating stellar, unique content that other sites naturally want to link to. This can be easier said than done, but here at Consultwebs, we have a knack for creating one-of-a-kind special projects that earn links on their own.
- Local Citations. The local, legal, and business citations that we touched on earlier are also a great way to earn links since many citations also have an opportunity to link back to your website.
- Local Guest Blogging. Another great way to easily earn natural backlinks to your site is via guest blogging. Guest blogging or guest posting is exactly what it sounds like. A website will allow a guest to blog on their site in order to gain relevant content from the experts. In exchange, the author is given credit for their work and often a link back to their website. Chances are, the attorneys at your firm are already members of at least one or more local legal groups. Most of these organizations will have a blog on their website and often seek submissions from their members. Even if they do not advertise guest post opportunities, it is always worth asking about.
- Sponsorships. Gaining links via sponsorships is another way for firms to capitalize on existing relationships and create new ones. There are plenty of nonprofits seeking financial sponsorship, and many do this in exchange for a bit of marketing collateral, including a link back to the firm’s website. Our outreach specialists can help create new relationships with organizations or foster existing ones to create an effective marketing strategy.
- Social Profiles: Gathering links from your social profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin is a great way to optimize your law firm’s entity and create easy free social backlinks to your firm’s website.
- Press Releases. Your firm likely has many newsworthy happenings, but are you taking full advantage of these? A great way to make announcements about recent verdicts, community partnerships, or upcoming events is via press releases. The links in a press release are also valuable to search engines—a double win.
Backlinks are a crucial part of your SEO campaign and one of the four most important ranking factors, according to Search Engine Journal. A good legal SEO campaign should recognize that your backlink profile should be diverse enough in order to bring the most value to your website. Backlink quantity shouldn’t necessarily be prioritized over backlink quality.
For a successful campaign, you want to make sure that your backlinks have a little bit of everything pointing back to your site, for example:
- Top-level domains like .com, .edu and .org
- Image links
- Niche directories
- Guest posts
- Local directories
- Internal links
You can also link practice area pages to each other, location pages, and other pages within your own site, which can often provide benefits as well.
Social media platforms can be a great way to get backlinks too. Sharing blog articles or other industry news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provides an opportunity for your website to get backlinks from some high-authority sites, and get clicks on your content.
Quality Over Quantity?
A lot of people think that the goal of building backlinks is to get as many links as possible pointing back to your legal website in an effort to boost rankings. This is only partly true.
The quality of your backlinks plays an important part in how much authority your site will gain. If search engines find that you have tons of backlinks pointing to your site, but they are all from low-quality spam sites, it could adversely impact you. Google and other search engines might mark your site as spam and penalize you by moving you back multiple pages in the search results or altogether removing your listing.
If My Site Has Great Content But a Weak Link Profile, Will I Still Rank Well?
First, are you sure you have great content? When was the last time you looked at your analytics? Are people coming to your site and leaving quickly? Are they converting into leads? If you truly have great content, and it is reflected in how people interact with your website, you’re likely not going to need as many links as you might think to rank well.
Google wants to rank sites that solve the searchers’ query. If your site truly has great content, you have a much better shot at ranking well. But getting a few high-quality links to your pages will certainly help your results.
How Do I Get Links in a Way for Which Google and Other Search Engines Won’t Penalize Me?
Focus on creating valuable, actionable content that solves a problem, provides insights, and guides people to their desired end goal. Then start sharing it with your audience and others related to your industry. If you’ve truly made it your goal to provide value to those who view your content, as opposed to just trying to get links, then you’ll never have to worry about black-hat or gray-hat link-building tactics that could get you a Google penalty or negatively affect your results.
You’ve made it this far, so you’ve learned a great deal about SEO for lawyers. We’ve provided a wide range of information to help you organically increase your place in Google’s search rankings, which can also lead to increased business for your firm. However, you are likely left with the question: how do I know if implementing SEO for lawyers worked for me?
In the next chapter, we provide more information about how you can monitor your progress with the use of website analytics. Regular review of key benchmarks and metrics will let you know what is working. More importantly, website analytics also tell you what isn’t working, so you can make adjustments and continue to organically expand your law firm’s internet footprint.