Link building is essential for lawyers, especially from trusted sources such as Lawyers.com, The Lawyers' Daily, and Canadian Law List. Having content authors mention you in digital spaces outside your own is a form of positive feedback and a vote of confidence.
On the front end, it builds authority, trust, and confidence in the eyes of your target audience and potential clients. On the back end, legitimate backlinks signal to search engines that your site deserves to be ranked high.
At dNOVO, we have worked through various link-building strategies over the years. This experience taught us that there is no one-size-fits-all, step-by-step template for all our clients. Each law firm and every lawyer will need a custom-tailored link-building strategy depending on their area of practice, budget, and goals.
If your competition appears on page one in search results, they must be doing their link-building right. In this guide, we strive to help you replicate or even exceed their success with proven approaches that you can start immediately.
What is Link-Building?
Link building is the method of obtaining hyperlinks pointing to your website from other sites. These links typically appear on blogs or web pages of individuals, organizations, or companies whose products or services are related to yours. It means that they cited your content as their source on a specific topic about lawyers. If their readers need more information, then they can be redirected to your site by clicking on the link.
Search engines also use these links to navigate between websites to establish connections, relevance, and content quality. This action is called crawling, and one of its purposes is to provide search engine users with the best results on their queries.
Additionally, link-building may be done within a website and its peripheral blog as well. Internal links can be added to the content of some web pages to direct readers to other pages or to blog posts, and vice versa.
For instance, if you offer different types of legal services, your Home Page could be designed as a summary of the website, with each section representing a particular service page. These sections can then include the links to those respective pages, forming a logical chain for any curious reader to follow.
Internal links also count in search engines' assessments of a web page's relevance to keywords, entered by their users when looking for answers, data, or merchandise. Here, business owners have full control of the space and can exercise creativity. Using graphics and interactive media, which bear their own footprints on the web, can significantly boost a brand's presence.
Marketers and law firm SEO specialists consider link-building as an important tool for promoting legal services. They are aware, too, that it is not a wholly creative endeavor. There is a scientific aspect to this process - let's take a closer look at how this works:
The Technical Structure of a Backlink
On the front end, a hyperlink appears as words, numbers, or images, usually in blue, sometimes in a different color, and at other times underlined. The idea is to stand out on a page as a signal to readers that it is clickable.
Behind the scenes, its HTML code looks very different:
This is called the backlink. It's how search engines read hyperlinks and is the basis of their interpretation and subsequent action on the content.
Here's the breakdown of a backlink using the example above:
Anchor Tag. The lowercase a at the beginning signals both the search engine and the browser that this is a link pointing to a different web location.
Link Referral Location. Next to a is the phrase href (hyperlink referral), equal sign, “URL” without spaces. URL is replaced with the web address of the web page, image, or downloadable file where the link is pointed. It may also be a series of characters starting with #, which directs to a specific part of a web page.
Anchor Text. This is the colored or underlined text visible to readers, which they must click to be redirected to the referral location.
Link Tag Closure. A front slash followed by the lowercase a ends the backlink.
Notice that we used the “nofollow” value in the backlink example above. This is a signal from an author to search engines that pointing to the targeted page is not an endorsement. Therefore, it should not be included in their page ranking calculations. Certain websites also use it when visitors are allowed to comment, and it becomes impossible to moderate external links (think forums, blogs, and editable Wiki pages).
Using “nofollow” is a critical link-building strategy to get on the good side of search engines, particularly Google. In fact, Google's Matt Cutts was one of the proponents of this idea. It became necessary in the wake of webmasters' overuse of backlinks to influence rankings on search results.Today, Google counts only the links with “follow” values.
How Search Engines Interpret Links
Primarily, search engines use links to find web content that best suits the queries of their users.
Organic traffic almost always originates from a search engine. A user would go to Google, Yahoo, or Bing and type keywords specific to a topic, product, or service they are looking for. They will then get the best results that match their keywords.
The whole exercise takes just a few seconds, most of the time in less than one on Google. That's because search engines work 24/7 building their digital libraries. This process is called indexing and involves crawling on any and all content created on the web.
Just like in physical libraries, where a researcher can find printed materials using a title, an author's name, or the publication date, one can search for sources through a variety of keywords and phrases.
Secondarily, links help search engines determine the content's degree of importance relative to specific queries. When many high-quality websites include links pointing to a particular website, the latter is deemed very important. The results are then ranked accordingly, in order of 'importance.'
Naturally, the most relevant pages will be most visible. This means that, for most professionals and business owners, getting their website on page one is a high-priority goal. Higher rankings, after all, increases the potential of site visits - which can directly contribute to higher revenues.
Links are a metric in search engines' overall ranking algorithms. Google, in particular, uses them in its PageRank tool, which measures the quality of a page. Essentially, the more links a page acquires, the higher quality score it earns.
However, volume is not enough to rank a page in search results, though it may help law firms achieve short-term objectives. For long-term success in organic searches, it's important to build links with high-quality websites as well.
Quantity or Quality: Which Is More Important When Building Links for Lawyers?
Link building can be either planned or accidental. The first type includes strategies and actions performed by SEO specialists and marketing teams. They are well planned, carefully executed, and constantly monitored efforts designed to increase the volume of acquired links.
Accidental link-building, on the other hand, consists of the unplanned fruits of these labors. Their sources range from article citations and news features to Facebook Stories and Instagram reviews.
Planned link-building yields faster results for lawyers because it proactively seeks backlink locations. On the other hand, the accidental version requires a website's content to be established as an authority over time.
Despite this, quantity must never take precedence over quality. You must strive to strike a balance between the two.
It would be unwise and even damaging to create numerous backlinks from low domain authority (DA) and unrelated websites. However, high DA backlinks are an important aspect of SEO, they are only one part of an overarching successful SEO strategy.
We cannot overemphasize the value of high-quality links to a law firm website's ranking and organic traffic generation. Search engines' algorithms are getting more sophisticated with filters that can recognize low-quality source sites, which negatively impact a destination website's SEO.
Consider these aspects when scouting for quality sites to link from:
Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA)
Developed by the SEO experts at Moz, DA and PA are predictive tools that generate search engine result page (SERP) ranking scores for a website and its individual pages. You can run a targeted website or web page through either or both tools to determine their impact on your website.
Due to the influence of these scores, your site can benefit more from one link on a high-authority site such as The Guardian and Forbes - #64 and #67 in Moz's Top 500 - than from several small blogs.
Choose Relevance Over Authority
While links from a high-authority but unrelated website can greatly improve your site profile, those from a related site with a lower authority will provide a more positive impact overall.
If your law firm is located in Toronto, Ontario, The Lawyer's Daily (https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/)might be a better choice than the New York Times (#52 in Moz's Top 500), as it will be easier to establish a link. Once established, the link will also draw more focused, locally relevant clientele.
Quality of Content
Before reaching out to the owners of your prospective websites, thoroughly vet their content. Review each page and every article and look for red flags like unprofessional design, mediocre writing, lack of research, and plagiarism (a big deal for lawyers). Remember that these issues will reflect on your website if your links appear on their pages.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Explore other avenues where you can insert your links. For example, you can offer to write a guest posting on a blog that you have been linking out to on your website. Or, be on the lookout for related sites to whom you can submit PR articles.
These are just two link-building tactics lawyers can implement to achieve sustainable and long-term search engine ranking and organic traffic generation. We discuss these in detail below, along with 11 other approaches.
12 Law Firm Link-Building Strategies That Work
When creating a game plan for the backlink-building of your Canadian law firm's website, we recommend casting a wide net. Mix several techniques to cover as many bases as possible. This way, you will achieve success on a number of schemes even if the few others don't work for you.
1. Guest Posting or Sponsored Articles
In simple terms, guest posting means publishing content in your name on someone else's blog or website. It allows you to add a link to your byline, on the post itself, or both.
This strategy involves research and networking within your industry. Reach out to other lawyers, especially those you already personally know. Contact law firms, approach informal groups, and submit queries to associations. But of course, review their websites prior to communication to ensure they meet the parameters outlined in the previous section of this article.
As well, be ready with a counter-offer, like an invitation for the other party to also publish a guest post on your website. If you have existing arrangements of referring cases to other law firms, then they can be considered warm leads.
Related websites are another option. For instance, if you are an immigration lawyer, publishing a guest post on an immigration or employment agency website not only makes sense but will also be beneficial to you and them, and is likely to result in future collaborations.
When your request is accepted, the host may inform you that your links will be placed on the byline, footer, or blog roll. Try to negotiate having them on the body copy instead because that is prime SEO real estate.
Write unique content for each guest post to avoid Google's penalty on duplicates. Also, refrain from using your anchor text too much. Good things always come in threes, as the saying goes, and it applies to guest posts as well - on the title, in one sub-heading, and within the body should be enough.
Sponsored articles are similar to guest posting in terms of publishing one's content on the website or blog of another individual or organization. However, its nature is closer to a digital PR because it involves remuneration and the sponsor has the option to write the piece.
2. Linkable Content
Publishing valuable information on your law firm's website or blog works like a magnet that attracts other sites. Even those offering products and services that are only remotely related to your profession will link to your pages whenever possible.
High-quality content about the law is your gift to the digital community - one that continuously gives back. It is a worthy investment of your time and other resources. To maximize the benefits, consider publishing in a variety of formats.
Downloadable e-books in PDF are in-demand resources for students. You may compile these in an online library for easy access to instructional sites. Interviews with lawyers from different areas of specialization can also be helpful to journalists covering cases of public interest. This will reinforce your reputation as a trusted, valuable source of information.
Infographics and how-to guides are attractive materials that other websites could use as illustrations in their articles. (We discuss infographics in more detail below.) They can also stand alone as references. When done professionally, these evergreen images will generate backlinks again and again.
3. Local and International Law Firm Directories
Online law firm directories provide information on legal firms and lawyers on platforms available to the public. They include names, office addresses, phone numbers, and practice areas. Most importantly, they allow members to post links to their websites and social media profiles.
These databases come in various types, from free to subscription to lifetime membership with a one-time fee. Most will require an application for approval, which is relatively easy to secure if you are a legitimate license holder.
Canada-based legal directories are priceless sources of targeted traffic with a higher potential for conversion. They also present opportunities for partnerships with other law firms and can boost local brand awareness. For your reference, we have curated a list of the best Canadian legal directories here.
In addition to local law firm directories, national and international ones can do more than drive traffic to and increase the ranking of your website. They can be helpful for your business by sending clients who are looking for your expertise and by serving as a springboard for larger partnerships.
Because there is no limit to the number of directories you can join, being active in as many as possible is a wise move. However, proceed with caution. Not all directories are reliable sources of backlinks. You must exercise due diligence in vetting them in the same way you do other websites. That is, ensure they have a high DA, the pages are professionally designed, text and image entries are complete, and no links are broken.
Infographics are text translated into images. They are commonly used to visually present extensive data, such as financial trends and population statistics, which an audience would find difficult to digest. These images come in a plethora of formats - pie charts, tables, before and after comparisons, timelines, mind maps, Venn diagrams, and even cartoons.
The idea is to transform tedious and boring information into attention-grabbing and interesting visual content. Seasoned marketers post infographics on all platforms they manage, including websites, blogs, social media, and online store listings. For example, recently we created a new infographic for one of our legal clients - Grillo Law, personal injury lawyers in Toronto and published it on this page https://grillo.ca/how-to-choose-personal-injury-lawyers/.
For a link-building campaign, infographics are highly effective because they are infinitely shareable. And that should be the objective. Any image with an embed code can be shared on any platform across the internet. The code will then serve as the backlink to your site.
Crafting an infographic is neither fast nor easy, but the benefits far outweigh the effort. To ensure that you are investing your time wisely, follow these nuggets of wisdom:
- Focus on a very specific topic that reflects your legal expertise and resonates with your audience.
- Make your infographic evergreen by avoiding trending or time-sensitive subject matters.
- Research heavily on accurate law data which are relevant to individuals, groups, and organizations.
- Hire a professional designer.
- Create a new web page or blog post to give others a substantial piece to link back to, and use the infographic to illustrate your article.
- Include a CTA (call-to-action) in your write-up, encouraging readers to share the infographic.
- Promote the infographic on all your digital platforms creatively, e.g. use Instagram and Facebook Stories instead of simply posting.
Offering your personal testimonial on a product or service that you have actually used is an ingenious method of acquiring a backlink. It also earns the company or provider brownie points when a professional (a lawyer, at that) leaves positive feedback on their site.
How does it work?
First, list down the products and services you have recently purchased and availed of, but only those that delivered satisfaction. These include office supplies, clothing, footwear, cleaning companies, restaurants, and your infographic designer.
Next, find out if they have a website, blog, or online store. Study their platforms thoroughly to ensure they are high-quality.
Then, if you are happy with what you see, reach out to them and offer to leave a good review. Most companies publish the name and at least one attribute (website address, social media handle) of their reviewers. They may also allow the attribute to be a clickable link.
Reviews are a gem to any company, and one given by a lawyer is golden. Exploit this distinction to your advantage. Also, make sure to write a glowing testimonial, but avoid reviewing rivals.
6. Online Forums
Also known as community forums, these social network platforms are the interactive versions of search engines. People convene here to ask questions, provide answers, and discuss issues. Many experts, including lawyers, participate in the conversations to provide professional advice.
The most popular online forums are Reddit and Quora, and they also happen to be relevant to lawyers. Legal questions are common in these communities, which means plenty of opportunities for link-building.
An unspoken but strictly followed ethic in both platforms is for participants to consider themselves as contributors, first and foremost. Self-promotion is frowned upon and done discreetly. It is important to keep this in mind when answering questions, sharing knowledge, and engaging in intelligent discourse.
Helping people with their legal dilemmas in an honest and straightforward manner will earn any lawyer both respect and recognition on Quora and Reddit. In turn, and in time, this altruistic behavior will also reward you with hard-earned and well-deserved backlinks.
While Quora will not always allow participants to include links in their comments, you can type out your website's name. Potential clients who are already following you in threads will be more than willing to look it up. Thus, you should employ the 'for more information on this topic; you can check out my website or blog' technique every now and then to pique their interest further.
Meanwhile, Reddit is a more link-friendly platform. Registration is required, but with it comes the privilege of contributing text, image, video, and linked content. Likewise, your account's profile is an excellent marketing spot. Here's how you can take advantage of this space:
- Customize your profile picture with your website's logo and name
- Write an informative biography, highlighting your legal expertise
- Submit posts directly to your profile and include links
- Moderate subscribers' comments on your profile page posts
As a bonus, other Reddit users are allowed to subscribe to your profile. This way, their front page will automatically show your profile-only posts.
With more than 1.5 billion users and being one of the most visited sites in the US, Reddit is more than worth any lawyer's while. Like in Quora, legal subjects are also popular in this community. In addition, it features niche groups called subreddits based on specific topics such as travel, cooking, crafts, business, and law.
While 'Reddiquette' dictates avoidance of posting self-promotional links, there is an effective way to insert those without coming across as a spammer: Provide high-value legal advice. This will allow you to naturally redirect them to your site or blog, given that the space is not enough for in-depth information - the best place to start is perhaps r/legaladvice, which has over 1.5 million members.
Pro Tip 1: As a new member or subscriber to a subreddit, establish your presence first before posting content with links. Actively engage in conversations, comment on other user's posts, participate in non-legal discussions, and especially, answer legal questions.
Pro Tip 2: The best days and times to post on Reddit are Mondays at 6-8 AM, Saturdays at 7-9 AM, and Sundays from 8 AM to noon. Most users are US residents, so base your posts on their time zones.
7. Local and Citation Directories
Compared to law firm directories, local and citation directories focus on businesses located in a certain locale. Some, like Yellow Pages and Yelp, serve a national customer base but deliver localized results.
For law firms and lawyers, listing in local directories is essential. After all, your main clientele must reside in your immediate environs. The nature of your profession necessitates meetings in person as well as attendance in local courts.
Getting listed on these websites also improves your Google local ranking. Appearing on top of page one of local searches definitely gives you an edge over the neighborhood competition. Thus, it is imperative that you create an impressive profile by providing accurate contact information, a comprehensive write-up of your services, and positive reviews. These attributes not only establish your authority but also contribute to your local ranking.
8. Legal Articles
Some legal e-magazines, websites, and directories offer free resources on various issues that concern the law. These are created by lawyers to answer questions posted by users. In return, the authors can include a link to their website in the content. However, this is not common practice. Some sites, like BestLawyers.com, Lawyer.com, and TheLawyersDaily.ca, allow it while others don't.
You can explore this avenue by reaching out to those entities mentioned and offering to contribute articles. It is recommended that you address queries related to your services. This way, your content will naturally flow into the text already existing on your website and/or blog, and the links you add will be relevant as well.
Finding websites that accept legal article contributions is as simple as searching for them on Google.
9. Sponsorship Opportunities
Giving back to the community can serve as a window for link-building. If a law firm or a lawyer is already supporting a charity or foundation, then this avenue is worth a second look. Check if the entity runs a website, and then review their calendar of events. Pay particular attention to the most recent ones and find out if the sponsors are published with links to their respective websites. If so, then it's a green light to sponsor their subsequent events.
Following the same principle, explore the vicinity of your law firm's offices for similar opportunities. Include the area around your home if you are an independent lawyer. Local organizations, churches, and university sports teams are good places to start. Your community involvement may even get you clients through word of mouth.
Important Note: Do not overdo this strategy, or you risk your website being tagged by Google as engaging in link schemes. This will negatively impact your site ranking.
10. Publishing Books
This is obviously not a short-term tactic, but a very effective one if you have already published a book or are in the process of publishing one.
The key to link-building using a book is to make a digital version of it so that people have a link to click. However, it doesn't necessarily need to be the e-book counterpart of the entire printed work.
You can obtain a digital footprint for your book in various ways:
Online Store Listings
Amazon Books and Amazon Books Canada are on top of this list, thanks to the retail giant's strong internet presence. Listing your book on the platform allows you to create an author profile where you can include links to your website, blog and other online content. Other online marketplaces to consider are Walmart, Barnes & Noble, eBay, Indigo, and Law Books For Less.
Online Media Outreach
Hire a PR specialist and launch a marketing blitzkrieg online by promoting your book simultaneously in online media outlets and on your social media platforms. The press releases distributed and published in various places on the internet will go a long way towards a successful link-building campaign.
Create a Landing Page
Leverage the content of your book by adding a page on your website with excerpts, or a key chapter. This could be the landing page for the links in your promotional materials and marketing collateral. It will also ensure that those who click will not be redirected to the online stores where the book is listed.
Publishing a high-quality book with valuable content that addresses the concerns and issues of many people can provide media and marketing mileage for a very long time. And with a strong online presence, it can sustain long-term link-building on its own.
One of our clients, Stacey Reginal Ball, an employment lawyer in Toronto, published Canadian Employment Law in 1996. To date, the book is still listed on Thomson Reuters and is used at universities to teach students. It is also considered an always-on-the-table book for many lawyers.
A Podcast is a series of recorded audio files that you can upload to the internet so that others can listen to or download it to any digital device at their convenience. All episodes revolve around a particular theme, and most podcast hosts require a subscription.
In short, it is the digital age version of a radio talk show; only it's not live.
With all the technology available on the market, anyone can produce their own podcast, even in the comfort of their homes. And there are no strict rules, either. They can run from one minute to 3 hours, feature a solo or a drama cast, and be released daily, weekly or monthly.
The production process may be different from creating content for a website or blog, but the elements are the same: Your subject matter should be relevant to your target audience. Each episode must focus on addressing a particular legal issue. Any information you impart needs to be accurate.
Statistics are promising as well. Compared to other large countries like the US, Australia, Germany, and South Africa, Canada boasts the highest percentage of monthly podcast listeners. In 2020, one out of three Canadians tuned in to podcasts on a monthly basis.
For these attributes, podcasts are an excellent strategy for lawyers in both marketing and link-building campaigns. While the medium is audio, it is possible to acquire links to your website in addition to the authority and online presence you can establish among your target audience. Here's how:
Add a Podcast Page to Your Website
Giving a space for your podcast produces several linkable assets which you can promote on other platforms. Create comprehensive content about your program, including an overall description, a sketch for each episode, and links to other pages on your site for reference.
This is also the place where your audience can listen to or download the audio files, and learn a bit about you and your law experience.
Find a Podcast Hosting Site
Alternatively, you may house your podcast in a separate digital location. Podcast hosting sites offer free and paid plans depending on your requirements. Most come with an author profile page that can include links to your website or blog.
The main advantage of using a hosting site is having a captured audience. Subscribers to these sites are both producers and listeners. Thus, there is always a chance that members will stumble upon your material while browsing.
Feature Guests in Interviews
This is a strategic partnership with colleagues in your legal circle and persons of authority. You can acquire links from their digital assets when they promote your podcast. In return, they may also interview you in their podcast, or you could offer them a guest posting on your blog.
Create Transcriptions and Videos
As your podcast library grows, take advantage of the opportunity to create additional pages for related material such as transcripts and video files. Invest time in building links on each piece to boost traffic to your website.
12. Legal Awards and Associations
Legal award-giving bodies feature a profile page for every recipient. This is a prime spot for link-building and conversion because an award or nomination acts as solid social proof from your peers. Recognition is given to outstanding law firms, in-house legal teams, independent lawyers, deals, and cases.
The Canadian Law, Canadian Bar Association (CBA) National, Best Lawyers, and Law Society Awards are annual events that confer these milestones. If you have not received one yet, there is another way to create an opportunity in this area: Submit a nomination, not for yourself but for your peers, and inform them about it. The gesture may be returned through your nomination, or at the very least, a collaboration.
From a client's point of view, legal associations like the Toronto Lawyer Association, Federation of Ontario Law Associations, and Kingston Criminal Defence Lawyers' Association function in a similar way to directories. Here, they are presented with a selection of law firms and lawyers with their corresponding expertise, contact details, and website links.
For lawyers, this can be a link-building opportunity because other individuals visit association sites for various reasons. Students may go there for information, journalists for a reliable source, and researchers for data.
Final Thoughts On Link-Building For Lawyers
Link building is an essential aspect of any website's SEO strategy. It completes the loop of search engine ranking, organic traffic, leads, and conversion. Without external links pointing to your site, it could be virtually impossible to locate. This leaves your competition a winner by default.
In this article, we presented 12 different tactics which have been tried, tested, and proven to work in the link-building campaigns of any law firm or independent lawyer. They are purposely diverse so that you can use at least five approaches matching your specific practice and profile.
Each of these techniques may be implemented alone or in conjunction with the others. Your selection could be done simultaneously or one after another. The key to your link-building success lies in careful planning, thorough execution, and conscientious follow-through.
If you require a professional law firm marketing agency to run your link-building campaigns, reach out to dNovo Group for a free consultation. We can discuss how our team can assist your business growth through SEO.