Backlinking is often cited as an important part of any effective SEO strategy—but it can be difficult for law firms that don’t have the resources, connections, or time to devote to it. Learn more about backlinks and how to best utilize them for your small law firm here.
What is Backlinking, and Why Does it Matter?
In simple terms, a backlink is a link to your law firm’s website from another place on the web. Google (and other search engines) consider backlinks to be a mark of authority. Think of backlinks as a sort of “vote of confidence” for your firm’s website: when other reputable sites link to you, it typically means that they trust you (and your content) enough to recommend you to their readers. When Google notices this, they also feel confident about presenting your site in its search results.
How to Build Backlinks
There are a few different link-building tactics your firm can easily utilize. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ones.
News & Public Relations
It’s important to build media relationships. These connections make it more likely that local news stations and publications will write about your law firm. News sites often have high domain authority ratings, making them a slam dunk for link building.
Another way to attract the attention of local news is to get involved in your community. When you host or sponsor local events, you can reach out to the media for coverage. This is a great backlinking move if you can direct traffic to a landing page on your website that contains info about the event.
“Helping your local community through your legal expertise builds trust and brand awareness about your attorney business in your neighborhood,” explains marketing director Chintan Zalani. “Further such events are promoted online and could help your firm’s website get mentions from event websites like Meetup.com, Eventbrite.com, and more.”
“One of the best ways to build backlinks is to submit your business information to free (yet reputable) online directories,” points out SEO expert Jason Hennessey. “These are directories that list various businesses that users may be looking for, or list legal industry-related businesses specifically.”
While submitting your law firm’s info to online directories doesn’t create a huge boost to your SEO performance on its own, doing so in tandem with other SEO strategies generates authority and lets Google know that you’re legit. That being said, it’s pretty much always beneficial for your firm to be seen in as many places as possible—especially in places where clients are looking for representation—so there’s really nothing to lose but a little bit of time by submitting your info to free online directories for law firms.
Here are some of the top FREE directories your law firm should be on:
General Business Directories
*These sites offer upgrades to bolster your marketing efforts, but we don’t recommend small law firms do this. We’ll explain in the Myths & Misconceptions section below.
If you’re willing to pay a fee, there are also some options for paid law firm directories. These sites, including Lawyers.com and Nolo.com, generally get more traffic and have a higher domain authority. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll get good results for your money, it’s a simple SEO strategy worth considering.
Is there a website you follow for legal industry updates? How about a daily or weekly digest for attorneys? If these publications feature guest posts from attorneys and other legal minds around the country, reach out to them and ask if they’re accepting submissions.
“Do you have insights on how to grow a law firm? Or a strong data-backed opinion on a popular subject in the legal industry? Then high-value blogs and websites may be interested in a guest post by you that will help fellow attorneys,” Zalani says. “The SEO benefit in such a one-time guest column is that these websites typically offer a backlink or two to your website from your author bio. Occasionally links in the body of your article will also be permitted.”
Depending on the outlet, you may need to come to them prepared for a pitch, or you may need to ask what sorts of topics they’re looking to cover. Either way, the article you write is a prime spot for backlinks to your firm. Getting your name out there as an authority on legal topics is helpful, too—not only for your search engine performance, but also for your reputation in general.
Creating valuable content sets your small law firm up for lots of backlinks. Blogs, infographics, case studies, and informative videos are all types of content you can create. Not only are they great for an overall content marketing strategy, but they can benefit your SEO by providing ample opportunity for backlinks, too.
Other content ideas include ebooks, interviews, and how-to guides. For example, you could create a video or ebook that explains the general process of filing for a certain legal proceeding in your area. Doing so makes a potential client feel at ease, making them more likely to trust you. Finally, when your content is shared via social media or other legal publications, you get valuable backlinks and social proof that your small law firm is one to be reckoned with.
- The best place to get started with content marketing is writing blogs. Learn more about how blogs can benefit your law firm here: 3 Reasons Blogging is Essential for Law Firms
- If you’re too busy to write blogs, there are some other ways you can start creating linkable content that will build backlinks for your firm. Learn more here: Don’t Have Time to Write Legal Blogs? Try These 4 Ideas Instead
Tips & Tricks
Follow vs. No-Follow Links
Not all backlinks are created equal. Besides domain authority, there’s another factor than can affect the impact of backlinks to your firm: follow tags. In simple terms, “follow” tags mean the link will pass authority to the linked domain. “No-follow” tags, on the other hand, tell search engines not to follow the link in its indexing process.
There are also other tags that are used to disclose things like sponsored posts and advertisements. It’s important to keep these SEO practices in mind and factor them into your firm’s overall search engine performance. Remember that, when you earn backlinks, a lot depends on the website that’s linking to you and their SEO methods.
Research & Reach Out
“Unlinked mentions are where another site may have mentioned you or your business but did not include a link back to your site,” says Hennessey. “An easy link building strategy is to find these mentions, reach out to the website, and ask them to link back to your site.”
While there are tools you can pay for that will find all of your unlinked mentions, we recommend a simpler tactic for smaller law firms: Googling your name.
Use Community Connections
Check to see if your alma mater’s website has a section dedicated to alumni. If it does, make sure you’re on it. Do this for each of your partners. If the school has a blog, even better—offer to write guest posts in exchange for valuable backlinks. You can then promote your post on your website and social media pages, creating SEO boosts for your firm and your school alike.
In addition, look into ways your firm can sponsor local sports teams and school organizations. Not only is this great for PR and general branding, but posts and articles about any events they put on will have a good reason to mention your firm and give you backlinks.
Offer yourself up as a source for reporters and other content creators. Sign up for an account at Help A Reporter Out, or follow hashtags like #journorequest on social media. You may not always be selected for inclusion in an article, but when you do, it’s a prime backlinking opportunity. Plus, the more you put yourself out there as a source, the more likely reporters will grow to recognize you. This is especially beneficial for small law firms if you keep your media connections local.
Myths & Misconceptions
Leaving your law firm’s digital advertising and website management to sites like FindLaw may be tempting, but they use basic templates and don’t allow much control over how you advertise. FindLaw could get you to the top of search results faster, but not without a hefty fee—and certainly not without making you look like every other client they have. This makes sites like FindLaw an especially egregious choice for small law firms.
In a similar vein, don’t be fooled by disreputable link vendors who promise to get you lots of links. The methods we’ve listed are the above-board way to build links. Link vendors will simply charge you a fee and buy cheap, low-authority links that are far more likely to harm your rankings than improve them. (Google can and will track down on spam!)
“Be wary of any sites that want to charge you for ‘sponsored posts,” Hennessey warns. “Before you decide to pay for a guest posting slot, consider the site’s authority (you can use tools like SEMRush.com to look this up) and whether it’s worth getting published on their site.”
Get Quality Backlinks for Your Small Law Firm with Kirkpatrick Creative
Your small law firm has budget and time restraints that larger ones don’t—but you also have a better opportunity to build trust and goodwill in your community. This personal edge is your key to getting backlinks that will boost your firm’s search engine performance.
For that reason, it’s a better move for smaller law firms to partner with an experienced advertising agency instead of trusting their digital presence to an online company. A personal relationship with an ad agency allows you to more effectively tell your story and connect with potential clients.
Finally, while link building is a solid strategy for now, Google’s algorithm could change without warning in the future. That’s why you need an experienced firm to help you out with SEO. We’ll use the proven methods that are known to work, and we’ll keep a close eye on algorithm changes and take advantage of the ones that will benefit your small law firm.
Contact Kirkpatrick Creative today for small law firm advertising that’s engineered to work. We’ve been helping law firms in the South for years, and we have the expertise you need.