Remove Harmful Backlinks Pointing To Your Law Firm Website
Tanner Jones discusses how a law firm website’s backlinks can affect its performance in search rankings, and some helpful tips on removing harmful links to increase audience, leads and cases from the web. Topics covered include: how links have changed over time, Penguin penalties, analyzing links, how to disavow bad links, other steps in link removal and the importance of a healthy backlink profile.
Low quality links can hurt your law firm website
It’s time to start thinking comprehensively about what you’ve done with your web marketing efforts, up to this point, and identifying ways to clean up your web campaign, where it needs. A lot of law firms have invested in search marketing campaigns over the years.
Whether they knew about it or didn’t, their SEO providers have likely built links to their websites, in an effort to get the rankings, to get the traffic and get the cases that they’re looking for. The problem is some of those links are actually hurting you today, more than they’re helping you. We want to identify ways to evaluate those links, and help you clean those up so that you can improve your rankings and get the cases you’ve been looking for.
So it starts with understanding why Google is looking at links to evaluate your website. When Google first created their search engine, they used links as a method to evaluate how popular a website was. The more links that were coming into your site, pointing to you, the more popular you were, and the more authoritative your business appeared, and the better Google ranked your site.
Algorithm changes have altered link building – Penguin penalties
But like anything else, people started to manipulate the algorithm. They started building tons of links in an effort to get quick rankings, and Google figured it out. And so over the last couple of years Google started implementing an algorithm update that they refer to as ‘Penguin’. And I’m sure most of you have heard of the Penguin algorithm update.
Penguin focuses on evaluating the quality of the links that are coming into your site, but also the relevance of the links that are coming into your site. And they penalize websites that are attempting to manipulate their algorithm.
So links that are coming from international websites, or links that are coming from completely irrelevant businesses, or websites that have nothing to do with the practice areas on your law firm site, those are the ones that likely were impacted by Google’s Penguin update. And in a lot of cases, they were penalized, dropped completely from the search results because of that link building strategy.
Use tools to diagnose your website’s backlinks
So now that you understand exactly what Penguin is, it’s important to take that information, bring it over here, and diagnose exactly what your website is doing right now when it comes to links. You can use a number of software tools. Ahrefs is one great one that you can evaluate all of the links coming into your site.
And so once you have this list, then you would need to go through and you need to determine how relevant these links are to your business. Now this can be a pretty extensive process, and I encourage you if you’ve never been through this process before, to find someone that understands the business, understands how to evaluate these links and someone that you can trust.
They can work through this list with you and determine the good and the bad. You want to note anything that’s bad, anything that you do not approve of or anything that you feel as completely irrelevant to your business. Once you’ve ran that extensive backlink audit and you’ve determined those low quality links, the next step is being able to tell Google that you do not approve of these links. And that process is called the disavow process.
Disavowing bad links with Google Webmaster Tools
Now, you want to take this all the way down here, and you want to open up Google Webmaster Tools. In your Google Webmaster Tools account, you’re going to be able to submit a disavow request. Now this disavow request tells Google that you do not approve of the links and you do not wish for them to consider these links anymore.
Once you’ve submitted that disavow request, you need to understand that, that is simply a request to Google not to consider it. The next step is actually finding a way to get those removed. Now this step can be pretty extensive and you have to understand it can take a lot of work in order to do that. But that’s the best case scenario is to make sure that those bad links, those low quality, irrelevant links, are no longer attached to your website.
So you’ll take this process all the way over to manually contacting the webmasters of those sites that you do not approve of. That can be through the form of written communication, can be through the form of picking up the phone and calling the webmaster, and there’s a number of ways, or a number of responses that you’re going to get from these webmasters.
And when you start weighing the difference in starting new, creating a whole new domain and starting with a clean slate to working with an existing domain with low quality links, you have to evaluate the costs of this outreach process and being able to contact these webmasters and asking them to remove the links.
Ultimately, you’re not going to get all of these links removed and it’s important to understand that. The disavow request tool is there to be able to tell Google that you don’t approve of them, but again, best case scenario is that you get these links removed manually.
Build quality links to replace bad links
You also have to understand that, there’s a number of other ways to build links, quality links, links that Google is currently favoring. So it’s important that you have a process where you’re building them on an ongoing basis.
Check out the six proven strategies where you can implement the processes to get these high-value links, and start building the domain authority and get the rankings that you’re looking for. To turn these concepts into cases, you have to act.