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12 Inbound Link Strategies for Lawyers

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Read Chris Dreyer's latest articles on JD Supra.

Inbound links remain an important factor for ranking a website. Building links is also one of the most challenging optimization tasks because it takes a lot of time and sustained effort to be successful.  Fortunately there is more than one strategy that attorneys can try (and the list below is by no means complete).

Guest Posting

Guest posting hasn’t always been a fool-proof method for building links but it’s still a good strategy as long as lawyers are careful.  If you team up with a site that is already getting negative attention from search engines or using services that aren’t reputable, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Remember to choose the sites you guest blog on wisely.  Check their backlink profiles, page rank, domain authority, indexed pages and curation practices.  If any of these values are suspect (i.e. low or no page rank, weak domain authority, no indexed pages) that could be a red flag.  Try and also stick to blogs that are relevant to your practice area or the legal niche in general.  The idea is to get links that look natural and that provide editorial value to readers.

Scholarship Programs

Scholarship programs are an indirect way to get links from typically higher quality educational websites.  They require some investment (nothing outrageous but at least $500 dollars) and time to perform outreach to colleges as well as local communities.  The first step is creating a legitimate scholarship with eligibility requirements.

Once the scholarship is created, create a page on the firm’s website highlighting the details of the scholarship (including how to apply, details of what it offers, etc.).  Once it is set up, attorneys should reach out to educational institutions and let them know that the scholarship is available to their students.  Colleges love to promote opportunities for funding to their students and most will include your scholarship on their scholarship resource pages.

While links from .edu domains don’t carry more weight than equivalent .coms, .nets or any other domains, they do tend to be more authoritative because of the organizations that use them.

Social Media Link Building

Lawyers should actively share links to their website in social media.  While many of these will be no-follow (do not pass link juice), it’s still a good way to get exposure for your brand, get traffic to your site, and perhaps get a few do-follow (do pass link juice) links in the process.

Another benefit of sharing links to pages online is that there is the potential for them to get shared by followers and followers of followers.  Content that spreads across the web in this fashion often has more chances of getting natural inbound links built to it.

Try to get your most shareable content out on these channels to increase the chances that others will share it with their own networks.  Make sure it’s highly relevant to the audience and very useful content.  No matter what you are posting, try and ensure that there is always a link leading back to your website.

Besides sharing links in posts on popular networks, lawyers can also add links in their profiles.  Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn and other popular networks all provide an area where you can insert a link to an external website.  For example about.me allows you to fill out a profile with a link and they are a PR 7 property.  For more information on social SEO, here’s a great post by Niel Ferree.

Infographics

Infographics are a fun and interesting way to display data.  People like them because they are fun to share especially if they’re well done.  A tactic (which is by no means original to me) is to create an infographic (either yourself, with a designer, or on one of the many infographic generation websites) and then place an embed code at the bottom of the infographic encouraging people to embed it on their own websites.

Siege Media has an excellent embed code generator on their website.  Once you have your image created simply paste the URL into the text boxes provided and you can easily generate the snippet of code to place on your blog or website.

The idea is that people will find the information useful and want to share it (via the embed code) on their own website or blog.  Since the image of the infographic is (or it should be) hosted on your domain, each time the code is embedded it creates a backlink to your site.

Accident Maps

The attorney accident map is a proprietary service developed by Attorney Rankings and Netmidas.  It’s a form of link bait that can be targeted at local news outlets, bloggers or government entities.    Lawyers can provide useful information to users about traffic accident data in a specific geographic location.  This is perfect for personal injury attorneys. It’s awesome for PR too because it portrays the attorney using it as someone who promotes accident safety rather than an “ambulance chaser.”

This creates an opportunity for others to link to your page and share the content. There is also a sharing widget attached to the map so others can share it on their own social networks making more inbound links to a page on your site.

Blogging

If you haven’t started a blog at this point, you really need to.  Having a blog by itself isn’t going to help your site rank better in search.  It’s how you use the blog that’s important.  Adding a blog affords the following link building pluses:

  • The ability to rank for additional keyword phrases
  • The opportunity to generate content that people will want to link to
  • The opportunity to build other links to other pages on your site that may not get a lot of attention
  • Greater opportunity for your content to be shared online
  • Fresh content added on a regular basis for search engines to index

Here’s a great tutorial on how to start an attorney blog.

High Page Rank Directories

Directories are in the category of low-hanging fruit.  This means that they don’t offer the greatest benefit but they are easy to get.  Many of the directories with high page ranks are paid versions.

Local directories are important sources of local links.  Because attorneys often target local markets, these are good links to have because they provide signals relevant to the location of the searcher.

Local chambers of commerce will often have directories of local businesses.  I would definitely recommend submitting to Moz Local and Yext as well.  Yext has a partnership network of around 50 of the top websites such as: Yelp, YP, eLocal, etc.

Lawyer-specific directories such as Personalinjury.com are great industry specific-links for your site.  You’ll find both paid and free versions of these all over the internet.  Be careful when submitting your site to any directory.  Do your homework and make sure the site is reputable.  Does it have a high page rank?  Are your colleagues or competition listed there?

Below is a list of niche personal injury directories that are paid.  Topical relevancy is an important factor for ranking.  If the co-citation keyword mentions are related to your practice area it may benefit you in search.

You can find a good list of paid legal directories to get you started here.

Collaboration

Collaborating with colleagues, other businesses or even clients is one of the best ways to get high-quality editorial links to your site.  This could be in the form of guest posting, joint marketing efforts, or even just an honorable mention on each other’s websites that you are in collaboration in some way.

Citations

Citations are simply mentions of your law firm name on some other site.  Many of these sites also allow firms to put links to their websites in profiles.  Again, low-hanging fruit here and some of them may be no-follow.  In any event, they still carry some weight and people will follow them to your site.

Yext is by far the most comprehensive citation site and the service can push out data to dozens of websites in a matter of days with one click.  Other services are UBL (Universal Business Listing), Moz and Bright Local.

Interviews

Try to land an interview with some other website owner or blogger. See for example Mitch Jackson's interview by Larry Bodine. You might collaborate with another business owner who’s audience would find your expertise valuable.

Here’s a couple interviews we’ve done in the past:

Forums, Groups, etc

There are attorney-specific forums and groups like on LinkedIn where lawyers can be an active member. You can contribute comments and add links when appropriate. The key to success here is to be helpful and don’t spam the forum or group.  No one will pay attention to your content if it’s useless and self-promotional.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Law firms and attorneys can sponsor organizations, events, sports teams and foundations.  These entities often have websites that links can be placed on.  It’s probably not a wise idea to go out and sponsor something just for the link but if you already do, remember to ask for the link.

Any time lawyers do business with another organization, there could potentially be a linking opportunity.

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