Dmytro і а SEO Team Lead at Backlinkers. He has more than 5 years of experience in managing SEO teams. He shares practical advice and gives link-building ideas to improve your results.
Link Building Techniques for Lawyers: Analysis of the Link Profile of a Niche Leader
Are you providing legal services or running a legal site and wondering how to increase your website’s domain authority? Apart from creating quality content for your law firm’s website, link building is another vital component of search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engines like Google believe that reputable and high-quality websites have inbound links from other top-quality sites. In fact, the more high-quality inbound links a law firm site has, the higher it is likely to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know about law firm link building, including its importance and how to create a successful link building strategy.
Link Building for Lawyers and Law firms
It is no secret that the online legal market is cutthroat. But lawyers have a secret weapon: the rigorous training they undergo at law school and their daily practice of legal principles. This expertise gives them topical authority and the ability to create high-value content, leading to high-quality links from trusted websites.
As crucial components of law firm SEO, links act as votes of confidence for search engines. By developing a well-planned link building strategy, your law firm can reap numerous benefits.
One major benefit is how it enhances your law firm’s website’s domain authority and organic traffic. When reputable sites link back to your site, it demonstrates credibility and trustworthiness to search engines and online users, giving a boost to your search rankings.
However, not all links are good. Low-quality links are those from low-quality and spammy websites. A good link should provide value to the reader and appear as naturally as possible. So, when building links for your law firm, pay attention to these factors:
- The authority of the linked website. Websites that are trustworthy and have high domain authority, like the New York Times, are excellent for promoting your law firm’s website. This is because such sites show Google’s algorithm that you are also a credible source of information.
- The quality of content on the target site. When it comes to law firm link building, the quality of content is of great importance. Your legal site and the site that links back to you must provide valuable content to your target audience. For instance, if your blog post or services page features low-quality content, don’t expect any results in the form of an increase in traffic.
- The relevance of the site. You need to acquire high-quality backlinks from sites that are relevant. This way, you will show that your site belongs specifically to the law industry and that other websites that specialize in law link to you. Receiving such links not only helps you rank higher on SERPs but also the number of users who are more likely to be interested in your services.
- Variety of links on your site. Your link profile should be varied. That is, you need to try and build links not only from authoritative sources or near-thematic blogs but also from forums, social networks, news sites, statistics sites (if they can post relevant information about you), and so on.
How Effective Link Building Can Improve Online Visibility and SEO
Now, let’s look at how consistent link building and site authority can help you achieve outstanding SEO results and increase your law firm’s online visibility. For example, ForThePeople.com – USA’s most prominent personal injury law firm. They have a great link profile that grows day by day.
By analyzing their link profile, we can gain insights into how it’s constructed and its impact on almost half a million organic users each month.
- The increase in backlinks is smooth, without spikes or falls.
The increase of backlinks
- The site has the following metrics, according to Ahrefs:
- Number of unique referring domains: 8,618
- Number of backlinks: 181,862
Let’s look at the types of links this law firm website has. ForThePeople.com has 63% dofollow domains, most of which are from .com websites.
What is interesting is that they have a lot of links from different types of sites. But if you filter out the ones with low value, you can see that most are legal directories.
These sites contain information about lawyers, with a link to the site being analyzed.
In addition, due to their higher domain authority and valuable content, this website is also among the sites referred to in blog posts of legitimate sites. This means that they have quality content that other specialists in the legal industry are ready to distribute on their own.
What can this tell us:
- Building a website’s credibility plays a vital role in promoting trust in your law website.
- Creating high-quality and helpful content is paramount.
- The author of your content should be recognizable so that Google and users trust the information they write more. Preferably, they should have a profile on the site showcasing their experience and expertise.
The Dynamics of Backlink Growth
As we can see from the image above, this site’s number of backlinks grew quite evenly (except for a few minor gaps) until June 2017, when stagnation began. The graph shows that the dynamics of backlink growth decreased until April 2020.
Until May 2021, there had been fluctuations in the growth of referring domains. However, if you look at the approximate estimates of traffic, we can assume that at that moment, an organic increase in links began, and they tried to control it more or less.
Looking at domain growth on a 2-year chart, we recommend that law firm websites avoid the spike in their link growth, as seen between June and July 2022, as it could negatively impact your website. However, here we see that this is not a frequent occurrence. In this case, it was possible to avoid negative consequences.
If we group referring domains by Domain Rating, they will have the following distribution:
As we see, ForThePeople.com has all types of links – with the highest and lowest domain ratings.
In this scenario, let us pay special attention to domains with a rating of 30 and below. Most of these sites may be spammy and bring no benefit to your site. Therefore, we recommend reviewing them and disavowing spammy backlinks from time to time. This is because such links can:
- Demote your site in terms of rankings on SERPs.
- Reduce your SEO and link building efforts by lowering positions for keywords (especially those that are in the anchors of sites linking to you).
- Increase your chances of getting penalized by Google, as they send signals of untrustworthiness, especially if the site that links to you is non-thematic or focuses on prohibited topics.
Below is an overview of what low-quality links look like:
At the same time, when analyzing your backlink profile, pay attention to sites with higher domain authority but low or even zero traffic and keywords. This is because among them may be sites that have not been ranked for a long time, thus negatively affecting the growth of rankings on SERPs.
Tip: If you’re invalidating sites through the disavow tool, invalidate no more than 10% of referring domains at a time.
Anchor Text Analysis
Anchor text plays a vital role in boosting the performance of your site’s backlinks. These sets of clickable words provide more information to the reader while also telling search robots what your website is about. As a result, anchor text also influences your site’s rankings. The section below delves into the anchor text analysis of ForThePeople.com.
Upon reviewing this site’s backlinks, you can see which ones have a good anchor and which do not. As mentioned earlier, a good anchor text should offer more value to the reader. Readers should clearly understand what to expect when clicking the link.
Spammy anchors refer to anchor texts related to sensitive topics, such as porn, sex, and others. They could also be related to non-thematic topics. In such cases, it is best to disavow them as soon as they appear, as they can harm the legitimacy and credibility of your law firm’s website. As a result, this can lower your rankings on SERPs. They can also lead to penalties for the entire site or a specific webpage.
Since ForThePeople.com is still one of the top-ranking personal injury law firms in the United States on Google, it is clear that their team of SEO specialists will disavow such links in time. In the same light, we recommend that you do the same as part of your link building strategy.
And one more thing about spammy anchors:
Look at the sites that link to these anchors. These are clearly not high-ranking websites that are trusted. This could mean that such toxic anchors can be tricks of ill-wishers trying to get rid of a competitor or simply hurt rankings. Therefore, monitoring the quality of websites linking to your law firm’s website is crucial, especially as it becomes more popular.
From the rest of the anchor analysis, we can see 1153 “Empty anchors.”. Both ordinary users and SEO specialists can use such anchors, which is where there is no anchor text for the links pointing to the site in question. The main thing is to ensure that there is as little spam as possible.
Other popular anchors are the so-called “money anchors”:
- Police Brutality Lawyers – 639
- Police Brutality Attorneys – 355
- Truck Accident Lawyers – 187
Money anchors use search queries, so the user understands what will be on the page before clicking the link. They usually link to pages for specific services, hence their popularity. However, we do not recommend getting too carried away with them in terms of law firm link building efforts. This is because if you place the same anchor on a page too often, it may eventually drop in ranking. Thus, it is worth diluting your backlink profile with diverse types of anchors.
Brand anchors help to popularize your brand. Most often, they are used to promote your main page. They help make your backlink profile seem more natural and can also increase your brand’s search volume over time. Especially when you post links with such anchors on popular resources. Or it can help you make your marketing campaign non-SEO (when people start to Google you out of interest or need).
Generic anchors are most often placed by your partners or other users who want to share a link to your site. They are not so common in law firm link building, but you can use them to dilute, for example, a large number of money anchors to maintain balance.
SEO specialists most often use them when posting on forums and commenting on blogs, but sometimes they also use them when guest posting.
The simplest anchor you can get is the URL. They are willingly shared by the users themselves on forums, various sites, listings, articles, and many more. These anchors are probably the most natural and help dilute your anchor profile. Moreover, if your URL contains a keyword, it could also serve as a money anchor in a way. However, do not overdo it with their frequent use. Remember to always maintain balance.
How to Understand How Many and What Kind of Anchors You Need for Your Lawyer Site
How do you find out how many of these anchors you need? Just look at your performance and compare it with that of your competitors, and you will understand everything yourself.
When building a new website, studying the competition can help you determine the optimal ratio of anchor types for your links. This information provides insight into anchor frequency and the types of anchor text that can be used. On the other hand, if the site is already running, analyzing competitor anchors can improve and refine your link building strategy, resulting in more effective campaigns.
Link analysis helps you figure out which types of links are best for your site. And if you are doing a link audit for a lawyer site, it will help you understand which links should be removed first.
These indicators will help you understand the overall picture of the site.
Tip: Without additional analytical tools, for a new site, you can analyze 10% of your backlink profile, but it is better to look at all 100% in the link audit.
Let’s look at what types of links there are and what benefits or negatives they bring to link building for lawyers:
Spam links are low-quality or irrelevant links that are typically created with the intention of manipulating search engine rankings. They are often generated through automated processes, link farms, or by targeting unsuspecting websites.
For law firms, spam links can include links from unrelated or low-quality websites, directories, or forums. They may come from sites involved in link schemes or have excessively keyword-rich anchor text. These spam links can harm the reputation and visibility of lawyer websites in SERPs, potentially leading to penalties or lower organic traffic. It’s important for lawyers and law firms to regularly monitor and disavow spam links to maintain a strong online presence.
We saw that ForThePeople.com has a lot of spammy links. However, given the fact that the site ranks high in search results, we can conclude that SEO specialists often disavow them.
Outreach backlinks are obtained through a strategic outreach process where website owners or content creators reach out to other relevant websites to ask them to link back to their website/ web page. One of the most popular outreach strategies is guest posting. Essentially, this involves creating original, valuable content that includes a link to your website and then approaching relevant websites to publish your content.
For lawyer sites, outreach or guest post links are valuable in building a strong backlink profile and establishing credibility in the industry. Lawyers can collaborate with legal publications, industry blogs, or authoritative websites to contribute high-quality, informative content relevant to their expertise.
These guest posts often include a link back to the lawyer’s website, driving referral traffic and enhancing their website’s visibility in SERPs. It’s essential to ensure that these backlinks for lawyer sites come from reputable, relevant sources to maintain the site’s reputation and authority in the legal field.
As we can see, ForThePeople.com has about 15% of such links. However, assuming that SEO specialists monitor the site’s backlink profile and stop spamming, this ratio could be higher (the same goes for other types of links).
Low-quality outreach links
Low-quality outreach links refer to links obtained from unreliable or spammy websites through an outreach or guest posting process. These links are often of poor quality and can have a negative impact on the SEO and reputation of a website.
For lawyer sites, low-quality outreach links can harm their online presence in several ways. These links may come from websites with low domain authority, irrelevant content, or a history of engaging in link schemes. They can negatively affect the website’s position on SERPs, potentially leading to a decrease in organic traffic and visibility.
Low-quality outreach links may also raise concerns about the credibility and professionalism of the lawyer or law firm associated with them. Such links can hurt the reputation and trustworthiness of the website in the eyes of both search engines and potential clients.
It is crucial for ForThePeople.com to be cautious and ensure that any outreach links they obtain are from reputable, relevant sources that align with their expertise. Building a strong backlink profile with high-quality, trustworthy links is essential for a lawyer’s website to maintain a positive online reputation and achieve better SEO performance.
Forum and blog links
This link building approach involves actively engaging with online communities, sharing valuable insights, and contributing to discussions related to the lawyer’s field of expertise. By including relevant links within the content or forum posts, lawyers can drive traffic back to their website and increase their online visibility.
Submitting links to directories or online listings is another form of building links manually. Lawyers can submit their website to relevant directories or industry-specific listings, ensuring that their website is listed alongside other reputable and relevant sources.
The advantage of this type of link is that it provides a level of control and direct involvement in the link building process. Lawyers can choose directories that align with their target audience and industry. By actively participating and sharing valuable content, lawyers can establish themselves as trusted authorities in their field, attracting both website visitors and potential clients.
However, it’s important to note that this type of link building should be done ethically and in compliance with search engine guidelines. Quality and relevance should always be prioritized to ensure the effectiveness and long-term benefits of such backlinks for lawyer sites.
ForThePeople.com may have more than 2% of such links, because we saw above that many lawyer profiles link to the site. As for manual links, we recommend using them in your link building strategy.
Home page links
Home page links are essential for lawyer websites. These links, placed on other reputable legal directories or relevant websites, play a crucial role in driving traffic, improving rankings, and enhancing credibility.
By building links to their home page, lawyers can increase their visibility, attract potential clients, and establish themselves as authorities in their field. It’s important to focus on building links from trusted legal sources, adhering to ethical practices, and following search engine guidelines. With strategically placed links to the home page, lawyer sites can effectively boost their online presence and attract the right audience.
ForThePeople.com has about 1% of such links, but the quality of the sites is important here, not the number of them. Therefore, take this into account in your link building strategy.
Link Equity Distribution
The site in question has the following link equity distribution:
Main page (2326 ref domains – 21% of all backlinks)
Other popular pages are:
- Police Brutality Lawyers (2214 ref domains – 20% of all backlinks)
- Commercial Semi Truck Accident Lawyers (980 ref domains – 9% of all backlinks)
- Insurance Claim Lawyers (605 ref domains – 5% of all backlinks)
As we can see, this is one of the most popular and competitive services. Considering the size of the site, besides the main page, 79% of link equity goes to pages featuring services, articles, attorney profiles, and so on.
It should be noted that in order to understand how many links you need to your main page, and how many to all other pages of the site, we recommend that you analyze the link equity distribution of 3-4 similar sites in order to understand what needs to be done.
The ratio of dofollow and nofollow links is important for lawyer sites due to its impact on SEO and online reputation. Dofollow links are recognized by search engines as endorsements and contribute to the website’s authority and rankings. Having a balanced ratio of dofollow links indicates to search engines that the website is trusted and reputable within the legal industry.
On the other hand, nofollow links do not pass on link equity or contribute directly to SEO and link building efforts, but they still have value in diversifying the link profile and driving referral traffic. A balanced ratio of dofollow and nofollow links helps lawyer sites maintain a natural and organic backlink profile, improving their search engine visibility and overall online presence.
Some specialists say that the ideal ratio of dofollow and nofollow links is 60% to 40%. As we can see, ForThePeople.com adheres to this standard. However, in practice, you can achieve great results with a ratio of 65% to 35% and 70% to 30%. To eliminate the guesswork, analyze 3-4 competitors to understand what ratio might work for you.
Now you know everything there is to know about link building for lawyers. To sum up, here are some conclusions you can take with you:
- Monitor the health of your backlink profile: disavow toxic links in time, analyze the anchor text of links that point to your web pages to avoid penalties from Google, and maintain the “health” of your site.
- Use a variety of link types to build your backlink profile: remember that you shouldn’t use only one type of links. Variety is recommended. And also look at the quality of the sites linking to you. This shows your users and Google that you can be trusted.
- Keep track of your link growth: If you get spammed, react to it promptly and invalidate bad links. This practice is quite common among law firms.
- Try to keep the ratio of dofollow and nofollow links at 60% to 40%.
And keep in mind the most important piece of advice: if you do not know what to do – analyze your competitors. They can help you define your course of action and steer clear of things that can harm your link building campaigns.