What is Link Building?
Link building is the process of getting other websites to hyperlink to your website.
Links from relevant and reputable web pages play a vital role in SEO by signaling to Google and users that your website can be trusted.
Links are one of the most important signals Google’s ranking algorithm uses to determine the relevance and authority of a page.
- Anchor Text – Text within a hyperlink that describes the linked page’s content.
- Alt Tags/Attributes – Descriptive text added to images for accessibility and SEO purposes.
- Backlinks – Incoming hyperlinks from external websites that direct traffic to a specific webpage.
- Broken Links – Hyperlinks that lead to non-existent or inaccessible web pages.
- Brand Mentions – Instances where a brand or company name is mentioned on the internet, regardless of links.
- Citations – References to a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites.
- Deep Links – Hyperlinks that direct users to specific pages within a website, bypassing the homepage.
- Deindexed – When a search engine removes a webpage from its index, making it unsearchable.
- Directories – Online platforms that categorize and list websites based on specific topics or criteria.
- Dofollowed Links – Hyperlinks that allow search engines to follow and pass link authority to the linked page.
- Domain Authority – A metric that predicts the ranking potential of a website in search engine results.
- Domain Rating – A proprietary metric developed by Ahrefs to measure the authority of a website’s backlink profile.
- Editorial Links – Natural links voluntarily placed within the content of a webpage, typically based on merit and relevance.
- Evergreen Content – Timeless content that remains valuable and relevant to readers over an extended period.
- Followed Links – Hyperlinks that allow search engines to follow and pass link authority to the linked page.
- Footer Links – Links placed in the footer section of a webpage, often used for navigation or site-wide references.
- Guest Posts – Articles or content written by a guest author and published on another website or blog.
- Hidden Links – Links that are deliberately concealed from users but can still be discovered by search engines.
- Href – An HTML attribute that specifies the URL destination of a hyperlink.
- Image Links – Hyperlinks that are embedded within an image, allowing users to click on the image to navigate.
- Internal Links – Hyperlinks that connect different pages or sections within the same website.
- Link Exchange – Reciprocal arrangement where two websites agree to link to each other, often for mutual SEO benefit.
- Linking Domains – The number of unique domains that contain at least one hyperlink pointing to a specific website.
- Link Reclamation – Process of finding and reclaiming lost or broken backlinks to a website.
- Link Schemes – Manipulative tactics designed to artificially increase a website’s backlink profile for SEO purposes.
- Manual Penalty – A punitive action imposed by search engines on a website for violating their guidelines.
- Nofollowed Links – Hyperlinks that contain the “nofollow” attribute, instructing search engines not to pass link authority to the linked page.
- Noise Anchors – Irrelevant anchor text that provides little context to the linked page’s content. e.g., “click here.”
- Off-Page / Off-Site – SEO activities and factors that occur outside of the target website, such as backlinks and social signals.
- Outreach – Proactive process of reaching out to other websites or individuals to promote content, acquire backlinks, or establish partnerships.
- Page Authority – A metric that predicts the ranking potential of an individual webpage in search engine results.
- PageRank – Google’s original algorithmic ranking system that evaluates the importance of webpages based on the quantity and quality of their backlinks.
- Paid Links – Hyperlinks acquired through monetary transactions, often in violation of search engine guidelines.
- PBNs – Private Blog Networks, a group of interlinked websites created solely for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.
- Reciprocal Links – Links exchanged between two websites, often in a mutual agreement for link-building purposes.
- Reconsideration Request – A formal appeal submitted to a search engine after addressing issues that led to a manual penalty, seeking reinstatement in search results.
- Referring Domains – The number of unique domains that contain at least one backlink pointing to a specific website.
- Rel – An HTML attribute used to indicate the relationship between the current document and a linked document.
- Resource Pages – Web pages that compile and provide links to relevant resources, often used for SEO and backlink acquisition.
- Second-tier Links – Backlinks acquired from websites that are themselves linked to the target website, providing an indirect link influence.
- Sitewide Links – Links placed on multiple or all pages of a website, typically found in headers, footers, or sidebars.
- Sponsored Posts – Content created or promoted in collaboration with a brand or advertiser, often including paid links.
- Toxic Links – Backlinks from low-quality or spammy websites that can harm a website’s search engine rankings.
- Unlinked Mentions – Instances where a brand or website is mentioned on other websites but without a hyperlink.
- Unnatural Links – Backlinks that are acquired through manipulative or deceptive practices, violating search engine guidelines.
- URL Rating – A metric used to assess the strength and authority of a specific URL or webpage.
- Velocity – The rate at which a website gains or loses backlinks or experiences changes in other SEO metrics over a given period.
The Purpose of Link Building
The purpose of link building is to enhance SEO performance, expand audience reach, foster industry relationships, and potentially open up avenues for future collaborations.
At its core, it’s all about establishing connections and relationships.
When a website has multiple high-quality backlinks, search engines like Google interpret this as an indication of the site’s credibility and relevance to its topic or industry. This can result in higher rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
But it’s not just about increasing rankings.
It’s also about expanding your audience and getting more traffic to your website from diverse sources.
When a website with a considerable following links back to your site, its audience can potentially become yours, which contributes to audience growth and brand exposure.
Link building also fosters relationships within the industry.
When you link to another site, or they link to you, it often begins a professional relationship, which can lead to further collaboration and partnership opportunities.
Not all links are equal, though.
Search engines prioritize quality over quantity. Links from reputable and relevant websites are more beneficial than a ton of links from random websites. A backlink comes from a site in the same or similar industry, it’s typically more valuable than a link from a completely unrelated site.
What Makes a Good Backlink?
Most SEOs start this conversation by talking about “authority” and then mention terms like domain authority or domain rating.
Let me be clear here.
Domain Authority and Domain Rating are both made-up metrics software companies that market themselves to SEO professionals.
Google has repeatedly gone on the record to state that they do not use any form of ‘authority’ metric.
We’ve looked through Google’s filed patents and nothing in the literature supports that domain authority exists.
I repeat. Nothing at all.
Both domain authority and domain rating are primarily calculated based on how they gauge the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile.
Please note that Ahrefs’ DR metric is purely link-based. We don’t take into account things such as the search traffic of a given website, the age of its domain, or the popularity of a parent brand. It is also important to note that DR doesn’t account for backlink SPAM. In fact, large amounts of low-quality backlinks may actually increase your DR, not decrease it.
Moz updated the way it calculates domain authority in 2019 to use a machine learning model that attempts to predict how likely your website could rank on the SERPs, saying:
Moz’s new link index and new authority scoring model will now more closely resemble the search engines’ view of the web, so updated DA scores will be a more accurate representation of your site’s ability to rank in search. In other words, the new DA scores correlate better with the SERPs.
But goes on to clarify:
Domain Authority is not a Google ranking factor and has no effect on the SERPs.
There are six factors we use to evaluate the quality of a backlink. They are:
- Organic Traffic
- Anchor Text
- Relation Attributes
1. Organic Traffic
A better metric to use in lieu of domain authority is organic traffic.
If a website or webpage is getting a significant amount of organic traffic from Google, then we can reasonably conclude that Google already perceives it to be trustworthy and relevant.
Because Google wants to deliver the most relevant and reliable information available to people when they search for it. If they fail in that regard, people wouldn’t use Google Search. If people didn’t use Google Search, advertisers wouldn’t spend money on Google Ads. And if advertisers didn’t spend money on Google Ads, Google would lose $162.45 billion (58%) of its $279.81 billion in revenue.
If Google didn’t see a website or a particular web page as being relevant and reliable, it wouldn’t get very much of the total search traffic it has the potential to get from Google because Google wouldn’t rank it high in the search results.
Google supports this in its “How Search Works: Ranking Results” guide:
For example, one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent¹ websites link or refer to the content. This has often proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted.
Google: How Search Works
¹ My emphasis.
Therefore, instead of worrying about made-up signals by software companies to gauge how authoritative a website is in the eyes of Google, we can instead use how much organic traffic a website receives from Google as a better indicator.
Links from web pages relevant to your page are better than links from irrelevant web pages.
There are two reasons for this:
- Links from relevant web pages mean the traffic you are likely to receive from them will be more relevant to your firm.
- Patents filed by Google indicate they take the relevance of the page into account when assessing how much weight to assign to it in their ranking algorithm.
However, it’s worth noting that this is just one of several ranking factors Google considers.
Google’s patent titled Phrase-based indexing in an information retrieval system talks about a method where a document has a pair of scores they call outlink score and inlink score.
I’ll explain this using a library analogy.
Imagine you’re in a library looking for books about “gardening”. You ask the librarian (the search engine) for help. The librarian has two ways to find the best books for you:
- Method 1: The librarian first checks if the word “gardening” appears in both the book’s title (similar to the anchor text in a hyperlink) and the content of the book itself (similar to the content of a webpage). If it does, the librarian thinks, “This book is probably very relevant to what the person is looking for!” So, the librarian gives this book a high score and recommends it to you.
- Method 2: But what if the word “gardening” doesn’t appear in the content of the book? The librarian then checks if the book contains related words or phrases like “plants”, “flowers”, or “landscaping” (similar to related phrases in our system). If it does, the librarian thinks, “Even though this book doesn’t mention ‘gardening’ specifically, it talks about a lot of related topics, so it might still be useful!” So, the librarian gives this book a score based on how many related words it contains and recommends it to you.
In both methods, the librarian (the search engine) is trying to find the most relevant books (webpages) based on your query (“gardening”) to help you find the information you’re looking for more easily and accurately.
3. Anchor Text
Anchor text is good when it is helpful, relevant, and accurately describes what your page is about or what a person may expect to find by visiting your page.
In addition to the patent discussed in the section on Relevance, Google has talked about the relevance of anchor text in its ranking systems in several patents as well, including their original PageRank patent:
The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine…we associate it with the page the link points to. This has several advantages. We use anchor propagation mostly because anchor text can help provide better quality results.
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.
You’re better off not trying to control what anchor text you get, though. Google’s algorithm is sophisticated and actively seeks to identify manipulative behavior and penalize it.
4. Placement & Characteristics
Google’s original PageRank algorithm used what’s called a random surfer model.
The “random surfer model” is a concept used in search engines to determine the importance of web pages based on how often a hypothetical random user clicks on links.
However, Google filed a patent in 2004 that updated the original model to what we now call the “reasonable surfer model.”
This model operates under the assumption that:
…when a surfer accesses a document with a set of links, the surfer will follow some of the links with higher probability than others.
Ranking documents based on user behavior and/or feature data
This patent indicates that the placement and characteristics of a link to our website affect how much “weight” that link has with respect to how Google factors it into its ranking algorithm.
Specifically, the patent proposes how features associated with three distinct areas might impact the weighting:
- Featured associated with the link itself.
- Features associated with the source page.
- Features associated with the target page.
Featured Associated with the Link
Examples of features associated with a link might include:
- The font size of the anchor text associated with the link;
- The position of the link (measured, for example, in an HTML list, in running text, above or below the first screenful viewed on an 800×600 browser display, side (top, bottom, left, right) of the document, in a footer, in a sidebar, etc.);
- If the link is in a list, the position of the link in the list;
- Font color and/or attributes of the link (e.g., italics, gray, same color as the background, etc.);
- Number of words in anchor text associated with the link;
- Actual words in the anchor text associated with the link;
- Commerciality of the anchor text associated with the link;
- Type of the link (e.g., image link);
- If the link is associated with an image (i.e., image link), the aspect ratio of the image;
- The context of a few words before and/or after the link;
- A topical cluster with which the anchor text of the link is associated;
- Whether the link leads somewhere on the same host or domain;
- If the link leads to somewhere on the same domain, whether the link URL is shorter than the referring URL; and/or whether the link URL embeds another URL (e.g., for server-side redirection).
Featured Associated with the Source Page
Examples of features associated with a source document (page) might include:
- The URL of the source document (or a portion of the URL of the source document);
- A website associated with the source document;
- Many links in the source document;
- The presence of other words in the source document;
- The presence of other words in a heading of the source document;
- A topical cluster with which there is an association with the source document; and/or a degree to which a topical cluster associated with the source document matches a topical cluster associated with anchor text of a link.
Featured Associated with the Target Page
Examples of features associated with a target document (page) might include:
- The URL of the target document (or a portion of the URL of the target document);
- A website associated with the target document;
- Whether the URL of the target document is on the same host as the URL of the source document;
- Whether the URL of the target document has anything to do with the same domain as the URL of the source document;
- Words in the URL of the target document;
- The length of the URL of the target document.
<div class="callout callout-info"><p><strong>Non-Exhaustive:</strong> The patent notes that this list is not exhaustive and may include more, less, or different features associated with a link.</p></div>
So what’s the takeaway?
Factors like link visibility and user interaction influence the importance assigned to hyperlinks by Google’s search ranking algorithm.
5. Follow vs Nofollow Relation Attributes
Hyperlinks can have attributes applied to them that specify the relationship between the current page and the page they’re linking to.
The value of the <span class="inline-code">rel</span> attribute can vary depending on the purpose of the link.
One common value is <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span>. And here’s what it would look like in the HTML code of a page:
The <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span> link attribute is used to instruct search engines not to follow or crawl a specific link on a webpage.
When a search engine crawler encounters a link with the <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span> attribute, it understands that it should not pass any authority or ranking value from the linking page to the linked page.
The <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span> attribute was introduced by major search engines, including Google, in 2005 as a way to combat spam and manipulate search engine rankings.
It was designed to provide website owners with a means to indicate which links they do not endorse or vouch for, such as user-generated content, paid links, or advertisements.
Google made a significant change to how it interprets the <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span> attribute in September 2019.
First, Google introduced two new link attributes: <span class="inline-code">ugc</span> and <span class="inline-code">sponsored</span> mean to provide us with more ways to tell Google how to evaluate links on our pages.
- <span class="inline-code">rel="sponsored"</span>: This attribute is used to identify links that are part of advertising, sponsorships, or paid placements. It is intended for links where there is an exchange of value, either monetary or in-kind. By using this attribute, website owners can provide transparency about commercial relationships to search engines.
- <span class="inline-code">rel="ugc"</span> (user-generated content): This attribute is used for links that are created by users in forums, comments, or other types of user-generated content. It helps search engines understand that these links are not necessarily editorially endorsed by the website owner.
- <span class="inline-code">rel="nofollow"</span>: This attribute is used when you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.
Second, Google updated its longstanding guidance on how its search algorithm would interpret the <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span> attribute saying:
When nofollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed. All the link attributes—sponsored, ugc, and nofollow—are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints—along with other signals—as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.
Evolving “nofollow” — new ways to identify the nature of links (Google 2019)
Hyperlinks don’t have these <span class="inline-code">rel</span> attributes by default, though.
They must be intentionally added.
When a hyperlink doesn’t have <span class="inline-code">nofollow</span>, <span class="inline-code">sponsored</span>, or <span class="inline-code">ugc</span> attributes it’s called a <span class="inline-code">dofollow</span> link in the SEO community (even though <span class="inline-code">dofollow</span> isn’t a term in the official HTML canon).
These are the types of links you want most. They act as clear signals from another website that they endorse your website.
That doesn’t mean the other types of links are bad, though. They can still send relevant web traffic to your site (which is why you want to rank higher on Google in the first place) and are still used as hints by Google’s search algorithms.
There are three places you can get links built to on your website:
- Your home page.
- Your sales pages (e.g. your practice pages)
- Everything else.
It is harder to get people to link to pages designed to make you money.
So get used to that.
Most people hate being marketed to—especially when it’s blatant marketing. Getting other website owners to link to your informational content, tools, or other helpful resources will be easier.
If an opportunity comes up to get a link to one of your sales pages—take it. Otherwise, focus on getting links built to your content-rich pages and use internal links from them to your sales pages to increase their visibility.
How to Build Links
There are four ways to build links:
- You can add links to your website from other websites manually.
- You can contact other website owners and ask them for a link.
- You can create content so useful that people link to it naturally.
- You can buy links with money.
1. Adding Links
There are several websites where you can manually add links that direct people to your website. The two most common are online business directories and social media profiles.
These are perfectly acceptable and natural links. However, the barrier to creating them is very low—everyone can do it. Which dilutes the impact they’ll have on your rankings.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create them, though. They can still send very relevant traffic to your website if people discover you there.
Directories specifically catered to lawyers, like FindLaw, SuperLawyers, Justia, etc, are definitely places you want to create profiles on that link back to your website.
The most important directory for your firm is Google’s Business Profile program. Stop reading this article right now and go set that up immediately if you haven’t already.
2. Asking for Links
Asking for links is the most common way firms get websites to link to them.
Most common. But not the most successful.
It’s a brute force method that you can spin your wheels doing for minimal return. Webmasters are constantly bombarded by random people asking if they can guest post on their website or why they believe you should link to some new star-spangled awesome page they’ve created.
And they get deleted (or marked as spam) 98% of the time.
Plenty of people have learned the hard way what happens when blindly taking this approach and get their domain flagged as spam by services like Gmail and wonder why all of their emails end up getting automatically flagged as spam.
Common tactics used to get these sorts of links include:
- Guest Posting
- Skyscraper Technique
- Ego Bait
- Link Exchanges
- Resource Pages
- Broken Link Building
- Image Link Building
- Unlinked Mentions
3. Buying Links
Google has a word for buying links.
They call it link spam.
And here’s what they have to say about it:
<div class="callout callout-info"><p class="p_margin-small"><strong>Examples of Link Spam</strong></p><p>The following are examples of link spam:</p><ul><li>Buying or selling links for ranking purposes. This includes:</li><li>Exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links</li><li>Exchanging goods or services for links</li><li>Sending someone a product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link</li></ul></div>
If Google detects you’re violating their policies, they may demote your website in the search results or even flat-out remove it.
We detect policy-violating content and behaviors both through automated systems and, as needed, human review that can result in a manual action. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.
Google Search Documentation
So, officially, our recommendation is that you do not buy links.
Plenty of people do. Including SEO agencies you may hire. They’re wasting your money for the most part and will end up catastrophically damaging your firm’s reputation when Google catches them.
There’s a far better way that:
- Cost less
- Gets better links
- Doesn’t risk anything
By earning them.
The most effective way to get links is to earn them.
4. Earning Links
How do you do that?
By creating content that people would naturally want to link to.
Here are some common tactics that work well:
- Appearing on podcasts
- Creating newsworthy content
- Creating useful tools
- Creating statistics pages
People can’t link to think they don’t know about, though.
So it helps to promote tools and statistics pages you create in the beginning to make sure people know they exist.
Once you get these kinds of pages ranking well on Google, they’ll start picking up links passively over time as people are looking for them, find them, and reference them.
Link Building Techniques
Want to start building links on your own but don’t know where to start?
Below you’ll find a list of 16 common link-building techniques, including best practices and implementation advice.
#1: Guest Posting
WHAT IS GUEST POSTING?
Guest posting is a strategy where attorneys can publish content on another person’s website and obtain a link in the process. It may involve reaching out to and/or collaborating with other attorneys, other business owners, or industry associations and groups to land guest-posting opportunities.
GUEST POSTING BEST PRACTICES
Guest posting has been in the spotlight as being negative for link-building. Lawyers need to be careful not to overuse the strategy. Follow these best practices for a good experience with guest posting:
- Only publish content on reputable websites.
- Look for opportunities with people you already know.
- Do not use the same uncommon anchor text phrase too much (site owners do not naturally use target keyword phrases that a lawyer is trying to rank for, and they definitely do not do it over and over again).
- Try to get links placed in the body of a published post as opposed to the footer, blog roll, or byline.
Contrary to what you might think, the first step in guest posting is finding an audience for your content; that is, identifying a website accepting new content/guest submissions whose audience mirrors your own. Start with your own sphere of influence – for example, associates, other firms you might refer cases to or get cases from, other business owners, etc.
You can use simple Boolean queries to aid in your search (note: “lawyer,” “legal,” “attorney,” or another appropriate related keyword can substitute for “law firm” in the examples below):
The best way to do outreach is to email your contacts and offer to collaborate on content. In any form of collaboration, there needs to be a mutual exchange of benefits. Obviously, no one knows your network of contacts like you, so this will require some judgment on your part. Just bear in mind that cash is not the benefit I’m recommending, but it can be something like collaborative content.
Remember to choose the sites you guest blog on wisely. Check out their backlink profiles, DR (Domain Rating), DA (Domain Authority), indexed pages, organic traffic, etc. If possible, publishing content with the same topical relevancy (i.e., other law firm sites) is ideal.
However, if you can naturally link to an internal resource (such as car accident statistics on a car safety blog), that approach will also work.
Here’s a simple framework to follow when producing your content, whether you are having someone produce it for you or doing it on your own:
- Consider your audience: Lawyers should remember that any content produced should answer some consumer intent. After all, most searchers will arrive at your content with some question in mind (even if it’s hypothetical), so the content needs to address that query in some way to be of use to them.
- Content should be in-depth: Do not just submit guest posts that are low quality. Google now considers metrics (such as traffic from the originating source), so if the content is of low quality, the authority of the link may be minimal. Look at similar pieces of content on the web and enhance yours with many more resources, angles, arguments, and other elements that make it truly useful to your audience.
#2: Lawyer-Specific Directories
WHAT ARE LAW FIRM DIRECTORIES?
Directories are basically listings of websites, similar to the Yellow Pages of days past. There are numerous lawyer-specific directories on the web; they vary from subscription-based, free, or even one-time fee-based services.
In terms of links, some legal directories are extremely authoritative. They often have areas for firms to submit names, phone numbers, practice areas, links to social profiles, and, of course, links to websites. Lawyer-specific directories are topically relevant links for attorney websites.
Lawyer directories are one of those linking opportunities that are
relatively easy to obtain but also easy to get into trouble with. Here are
some things to watch out for:
- Look for directories that have a high DR and/or DA (Domain Rating from Ahrefs and/or Domain Authority from Moz)
- Find directories that are actively being curated. If you see missing images or broken links, beware.
- Decide if a directory is reputable before listing your website. If it looks low-quality or suspicious, it’s probably not a good idea to list your site there.
The type of directory determines the process for submission; however,
every directory is different.
- Paid Directories: Typically, there is a review process for websites. Lawyers have to fill out a form, submit a payment, and then their site will be published after a brief review process by the directory owners. Sometimes, however, all lawyers need to do is fill out a form, submit their payment – and that’s it.
- Free Directories: The standard for inclusion in a free directory is generally a bit more lax. Lawyers merely need to fill out basic information, add their website, and submit. There may also be an approval process.
#3: Scholarship Programs
John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, has stated that this tactic has been abused and Google is devaluing links on financial aid pages. See John’s comments here. That said, I want to bring your attention to the word “devaluing,” as this doesn’t mean “without value.” Think of video games:
if you have a weapon in a competitive game that’s overpowered, the developer may “nerf” it…but that doesn’t necessarily make it useless,
just less useful than it once was.
WHAT ARE THEY?
This link-building strategy involves creating a scholarship, then contacting university financial aid departments to have the scholarship listed on their site. In return, you receive a source of .edu links (still authoritative, even if they are somewhat devalued), as well as the positive PR from
As mentioned above, digital marketers have really abused this tactic, and these financial aid pages now contain thousands of scholarships, where they once held dozens (at most) only a few years ago. This, in turn, dilutes the value of the authority from the page.
- Create criteria for application to the scholarship.
- Build a page on your website to promote the scholarship.
- Generate a large list of schools you can contact for outreach.
- Customized outreach converts better than a generic broadcast.
This one will require a relatively minimal investment in time and money.
Step 1: Create a Scholarship
Come up with a scholarship that has a name, an award amount, rules or criteria for applying, and a submission and review process, as well as a page on your website explaining all of this. Creating a scholarship that speaks to a hot-button social issue is a great way to gain more traction.
One simple method of differentiating your scholarship is through the criteria (e.g., essay, video, infographic, etc.) that you use for applying to your scholarship.
Step 2: Create a Page
This is the page you will ask schools to link to. It should contain all the information about your scholarship, including what it is, how students can apply, deadlines, application materials, etc.
This page should live on your website and be linked to all other pages on the site.
Step 3: Curate a List of Schools
Attorneys can use search operators to find lists of schools in search engine results pages. Simply type in site:.edu “Keyword” + “resources” or site:.edu “Keyword” + “scholarships”. This will produce a list filled with .edu domains that have scholarship pages or resources pages (which typically contain links to financial resources for students).
Use a tool like SEO Quake or another tool to export search results from the SERPs. Once you have all those sites in a spreadsheet, it’s much easier to manage them and add contact information.
Step 4: Getting Contact Information
In the next step, you’ll be doing outreach, contacting these institutions to tell them about your scholarship. It will be at the discretion of these universities to decide if they will post your scholarship on
their financial aid site.
The key component is not to ask for the link but rather to provide value to the university and its students. By offering tuition assistance to students, the link should follow organically. Again, this is an exchange of mutual benefits.
Step 5: Outreach
The final step is actually sending emails to schools to tell them about your scholarship, where to find it, and how students can apply.
Portions of your email can be templated, but you’ll have better success with a personal touch. Be sure to thoroughly explain the scholarship and provide a link to the scholarship landing page.
One common misconception is the idea that .edu links inherently carry more authority than .com, .net, etc. The reason .edu links are typically more powerful is that many universities, through marketing and prominence, have authority generated by the number of links pointing back to them. Smaller universities (i.e., those who do not market themselves heavily) are not necessarily all that authoritative.
#4: Link-Building on Reddit
WHAT IS IT?
Reddit is a very active social forum with all sorts of different topics (including law-related ones). Link-building on Reddit involves building a profile as a trusted account and consistently placing links to your website’s resources (where applicable). Lawyers can either submit links or text posts (with hyperlinked text in them) on Reddit, but there is a specific strategy that should be followed.
The one thing you should avoid is just showing up and posting links. Even if those posts are helpful, lawyers need to first become helpful members of the community. To do that:
- Interact with other members without posting links first.
- Find and respond to legal questions at least a few times per day on Reddit.
- Participate in other discussions that may not relate to legal-specific posts.
- Comment on other members’ posts at least a few times per day.
- For every handful of posts you respond to, you can then post a link to your own website.
- Be careful, as the community is very sensitive to spammers, and you can find yourself banned quickly for posting too many self-promotional links.
I’ve mentioned this previously, but again, consider the mutual exchange of value. By helping consumers (in this case, Reddit users) solve problems, you can strategically incorporate links back to your website’s resources in a natural way. This lends itself to a more evergreen (permanent) type of link vs. jamming in links that will eventually be filtered and removed through moderation.
The first step is to create an account on Reddit. Once you do that, fill out your profile on the site by creating a user name and setting your preferences.
For the most part, lawyers can just begin reading and posting. As time goes on, you may develop preferences as to how you like content to appear or how you want to configure notifications, for example. Other than that, the main thing to keep in mind is to not be a salesman on the platform.
WHAT ARE THEY?
An infographic is a graphical representation – such as a chart or a diagram – of data. They are essentially big images that combine otherwise data points (that may be dry to read in text form) into a visually appealing and interesting piece of art. Infographics inform people about a topic but do it in a way that makes it entertaining and easy to digest.
Some infographics are interactive, while others are just static images. They can be posted to pages, blog posts, or social media sites.
Here are some tips:
- Find data that is appealing to your audience. For example, here’s an infographic on how to choose the best personal injury attorney.
- The data used in the infographic should be interesting or helpful.
- Use a designer to help you or one of the many tools available to generate infographics.
- Keep your topic simple and focused.
- Use as many visual representations of data as you can.
- Promote your infographic aggressively in social and on your website and/or other’s websites.
- Make it a reasonable length (do not make a huge image 10,000 pixels long).
- Add adequate spacing so that the information is easy to digest.
- Craft a catchy headline for the top of the infographic to grab the reader’s attention.
- Ensure your data is accurate and up to date.
- Cite your sources at the bottom of the infographic.
The first stage is gathering data and creating your infographic. Lawyers have access to lots of data in a variety of different places. Here are some sites where you can mine information for your infographic:
Lawyers may also have access to their law schools’ research library and/or databases. These are treasure troves of data that can be used for infographics.
We mentioned some infographic creation tools earlier, and those are great for creating an infographic yourself. For lawyers doing it on their own, it’s best to use one of those services unless you have a knack for design.
The best route is to have a designer do the work for you. It will save time and come out looking much more professional.
Once you have your infographic, it’s time to promote it. The first place attorneys should place it is on their website or blog. After that, it’s just a matter of sharing the link for the infographic.
Encourage people to share the infographic and try to get it placed on other websites. If you have the image on a page of your own site, you can place embed code so that people can easily paste it into their own websites.
#6: Link-Building with HARO
WHAT IS IT?
HARO is an acronym for Help A Reporter Out and is a free service in the North American market. It helps reporters get content and leads for stories and also helps users get publicity. HARO is owned by Cision, and content sourced by the service is used by the AP, American Express, Gannet, Fox News, and other major news outlets.
Lawyers can use HARO for building both links and authority online. News stories submitted through HARO get distributed all over the web, helping attorneys get exposure for their firm or private practice. They can also include links in content that takes readers to their site.
The key to HARO is submitting references from a unique perspective. At the end of the day, HARO is trying to create content that engages the audience, so offering dry quotes gives you a very small chance of getting quotes. Being interesting and offering a fresh point-of-view is the best way to stand out in the crowd and have your quote used.You can sign up for HARO here.
#7: Testimonial/Review Link Building
WHAT IS IT?
Remember that exchange of value that we’ve mentioned several times? Businesses need social proof to aid in their conversion efforts, and one strategy for acquiring links is to write reviews or testimonials for products and services that you actually use. Oftentimes, the company will link back to the attributing source. Not all websites allow this, but many have a field where a reviewer can leave a URL as a reference for their testimonial. An ancillary benefit of this tactic is that even if they don’t allow a link, the goodwill engendered may make them receptive to future collaboration.
Virtually any service a firm uses can potentially be a target for this strategy. For example, office supply, staffing, and cleaning companies (or any other services a firm uses) usually love getting reviews.
- Reach out to any service company or affiliate the firm uses and see if a review can be left on their site.
- Use a link to your home page. Links to other pages may look questionable to site owners, so they may not want to post your review.
- Consider the unique selling proposition or value that you received from the service (not just how great they are) and incorporate that into your review/testimonial.
WHAT IS IT?
A blog is an online publication (typically conversational or informal), focused on a specific set of topics. Blog topics may range from very general topics (e.g., sports) to very specific (e.g., just curling). You are reading a blog right now.
For lawyers, blogs are positioned to attract inbound links, build a brand, and support social engagement/community-building. Attorney blog content is frequently supportive of the top of the funnel (e.g., “Steps to Take After a Car Accident,” “Car Accident Safety Tips,” etc.).
Blogging for your firm should be tailored to your audience as well as the firm’s business objectives. Here are some high-level best practices that should apply to most blogs:
- Content should be posted consistently in terms of both scheduling and quantity.
- Write about information that is helpful to your target audience.
- Blog posts should be long enough to support your topic and cover it with sufficient depth.
- Posts should link out to external resources when necessary to validate the information.
- Posts should link internally to other posts or pages on the site where necessary for maintaining reader engagement or helpful for answering user intent.
- Blog posts should be easy to read and scan. Formatting (headings, short paragraphs, and images) should be used to break up the content and make it more digestible.
Regarding implementation, Harsh Agrawal has a great comprehensive resource on starting a blog that you can read here.
#9: Local & Citation Directories
WHAT ARE THEY?
Local/citation directories are websites designed to provide website and other related contact information for local businesses to a local customer base. These directories are not specific to law practices. Even though a directory may have a national presence (such as Yelp or Yellowpages.com), they deliver localized results for users.
Local directories serve an important function on the web. They are often some of the first websites people see when searching for local service providers like attorneys. They often have elements like reviews, navigation, descriptions, and contact information that make locating local businesses easier. In fact, Google specifically calls out directories as a means of improving your local rankings.
- Join as many high-quality location-based directories as you can find.
- Fill out profiles completely with contact info, biography, images, keywords, video, etc.
- Join as many high-quality location-based directories as you can find.
Go after the well-known local directories first. They include:
- Apple Maps
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Facebook Business
- Merchant Circle
- Better Business Bureau
#10: Legal Article Contribution
WHAT IS IT?
Legal article contribution is the strategy of creating content to answer specific queries of consumers, providing a resource for learning about specific legal issues. Many popular legal directories offer this service.
However, only a few (e.g., lawyer.com, lawguru.com, personalinjury.com) allow you to include a <span class="inline-code">dofollow</span> link back to your website.
Again, beware: some sites (like Avvo, Nolo, HG.org, and others) allow you to contribute legal content but do not provide a <span class="inline-code">dofollow</span> link back to your site.
One strategy that I highly recommend is linking to the most topically relevant article on your site. For example, if you’re contributing content on the legal implications of car accidents, link to a car accident landing page. I regularly see attorneys link back to their home page; this is a mistake, as linking to a relevant page is more helpful to the consumer.
- Perform a “submit legal articles” (and other similar variations) search to identify outlets that accept contributions.
- Once you identify a candidate that accepts legal content, evaluate previous submissions to see if they allow backlinks to be included.
We’ve referenced this article previously, but our Legal Directories post contains many sites that will accept legal content contributions.
#11: Sponsorship Opportunities
WHAT IS IT?
Law firms and attorneys can sponsor organizations, events, sports teams, charities, and/or foundations. These entities often have websites where links can be placed. This is an example of an existing relationship that can be leveraged for SEO purposes.
Here’s an example of an extremely authoritative sponsorship opportunity. It’s not for the faint of heart (at $10000/year), but the link itself is a powerful DR 94.
Here are some tips when looking at sponsorship opportunities for linking:
- Look at your existing relationships first.
- Make your linking strategy with sponsorships part of a broader branding campaign.
- Look at your existing relationships first.
- One word of caution: this link-building practice can be seen as toeing the line between white and black hat SEO. A donation is typically to support a cause, so I don’t see this as an exchange of goods, but you could make an argument that this qualifies as a link scheme(which Google prohibits).
#12: Crowdsourcing & Legal Roundups
WHAT IS CROWDSOURCING?
Crowdsourcing involves using the internet to generate buzz and solicit support from a large number of people. Fundraising platforms (like GoFundMe) are a good example of crowdsourcing, but it can also include sites that have nothing to do with raising money.
Lawyers can leverage crowdsourcing websites to get links in a couple of innovative ways: they can insert links on crowdsourcing sites that call on a community to answer questions or use crowdsourced content to get links. An example of this would be a legal roundup.
WHAT IS A LEGAL ROUNDUP?
A legal roundup is a post that gathers input from professionals in a given field on a single topic. They are meant to provide varying viewpoints on a popular question that a consumer might have.
For lawyers, content roundups can help portray their firm as an authority
in its space. Legal content roundups can be about virtually any topic,
from when you should hire a DUI attorney to how assets are split
during a divorce.
CASE STUDY: THE DOLMAN LAW GROUP CONTENT ROUNDUP
The Dolman Law Group is a personal injury firm in Clearwater, Florida. Ranking for car accident-related terms has proven extremely competitive for law firms like theirs, so it can take a creative approach to SEO in order to get them ranked on the first page of Google.
SO HOW DO WE DO IT?
We reached out to numerous attorneys asking them to participate in the roundup and answer this question:
“WHEN DO I NEED TO HIRE A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER?”
Here’s a sample of a similar email that we used to reach out to these attorneys (thanks to Shane Barker for the modified content).
After compiling and formatting those answers, we assembled them into a blog post, then promoted it in collaboration with Dolman Law Group.
Legal roundups are a great link-building tactic because they promote trust with website visitors, create useful content that visitors actually want to read, and encourage links from contributors and other site owners.
One hypothesis that I have regarding why this post performed so well is that Google is actively seeking experts on a topic. What better source could you find than having 16 qualified experts weigh in on a given topic?
#13: Publishing Books
DOES BOOK PUBLISHING GARNER LINKS?
Writing a book opens up linking opportunities on sites where you can submit your book as well as third-party news recognition.
Obviously, writing a book simply to acquire some links is a poor use of your time. However, if it’s something you’re already doing or have done, you can leverage that content for links.
CASE STUDY: THE HACKARD LAW FIRM
Michael Hackard of The Hackard Law Firm is an experienced elder law attorney. He wrote a book on the subject and featured it online and on Amazon.com.
SUBMITTING TO AMAZON
Amazon.com is a great place to get links after submitting your book. As a part of this process, you can create an author profile.
Authors can submit Author Updates on the platform; these are direct links to their website, including blogs, practice pages, and other content.
These are high-quality, do-follow links from an extremely authoritative domain.
As a side effect, attorneys can also get natural links from media sites based on the value that they provide to consumers.
If your book addresses or solves a problem (particularly one of timely importance), then links from media sources should naturally follow. Check out the link earned below for Hackard’s site on Foxbusiness.com.
More than any other tip, I can’t stress enough how valuable a PR specialist will be in garnering media attention when you begin outreach for your book.
You also should have a landing page that discusses your book. This will allow media sources (such as those who interview you or promote your book as part of your PR outreach) a place to link rather than simply sending consumers directly to Amazon’s listing. The key here is you want the media to link to you, not Amazon.
WHAT IS PODCAST LINK BUILDING?
Producing a podcast is a great marketing strategy for lawyers. In addition to that exposure, you can earn a link for your site. There are two primary methods of acquiring links from podcasts: 1) from podcast hosting companies/profile pages and 2) from podcast blog transcriptions
PODCAST HOSTING COMPANIES/PROFILE PAGES
There are many podcast-hosting companies on the internet. When you create an account, you’re typically allowed to make an author profile page, which you can link to your website. It’s not as easy anymore to get links on notable sites like Apple or Stitcher, but there are still opportunities out there.
Below is Lawyerist’s podcast syndicated on another site which includes a link:
PODCAST BLOG TRANSCRIPTIONS
Many podcast owners actively promote their blogs by transcribing interviews into content for their sites. Frequently, they’ll include reference links back to the interviewee. Here’s an example of a popular podcast utilizing this tactic:
Free PR with Cameron Herold
#15: Ultimate Guides
WHAT IS AN ULTIMATE GUIDE?
As you might expect, an ultimate guide is a piece of content that is all-encompassing on a subject. They’re typically over 10000 words and cover the subject matter in a very thorough manner.
Ultimate guides are great for link-building because of their versatility in a marketing space. In other words, they can be used in a variety of different scenarios and re-purposed over and over to promote a law firm.
They are also excellent for ranking web pages for highly competitive keyword phrases: these phrases often need something that sets them apart from the other pages ranking for those terms.
One of the main benefits of an ultimate guide is that it naturally includes related phrases and synonyms (for which you can rank). This creates a natural incentive for sites to link to you (because of the added organic reach). Simply put, more people will see the post and have the opportunity to link to it.
Many times, these are repurposed into ebooks and downloadable
guides. In those situations, you can submit ebooks and PDFs to their respective directory type.
Lastly, consider the skyscraper technique and its applications to ultimate guides. Ahrefs’ description of the technique says:
“Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
- Find a relevant piece of content with lots of backlinks;
- Create something way better;
- Ask those linking to the original piece to link to your superior content instead.”
An attorney’s ultimate guide should:
- Be at least 10000 words.
- Incorporate related words and phrases into the subject matter.
- Cite sources.
- Answer common consumer questions.
- Include some element of additional navigation (e.g., a table of contents).
#16: Legal Awards & Associations
HOW CAN LEGAL AWARDS AND ASSOCIATIONS HELP YOUR SEO EFFORTS?
Frequently, legal awards or associations will include a profile page for their recipients and/or members.
The criteria for inclusion vary: some are peer-nominated, others are based upon years of experience, and even others are gleaned from minimum case values (such as the Million Dollar Advocates Forum).
These can be great links because of their topical nature, but they also improve website conversions due to perceived value derived from social proof.
An attorney’s ultimate guide should:
- When you’ve identified a quality legal award, nominate your peers and let them know of the nomination. Without asking, this may be a method of naturally getting reciprocal nominations or setting up future collaborative opportunities.
- There are many legal award scams out there. Do your due diligence to evaluate the quality of the link and its legitimacy…unless you’re Zippy the Chicken, of course.
Here are a few legal directories and associations:
Link Building Services
Most attorneys hire a link-building specialist or marketing agency to help get the links they need. Here are the common services purchased and how much you can expect to spend:
Content Creation and Promotion Services
Agencies that do this create high-quality content for your site and promote it to earn links.
They may engage with bloggers, influencers, and press contacts to share your content and garner backlinks.
Pricing for this type of service can vary widely based on the quality of the content, the difficulty of the industry, and the level of outreach.
Expect costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month.
Link Building Outreach Services
Unlike content creation services, this type of service is aimed at getting links to pages you already have.
People who provide this specialize in contacting other websites in your niche to request backlinks.
They typically have established relationships with site owners, which can make the outreach process more efficient and effective.
Pricing for outreach services often depends on the number of links built and the quality of those links.
Many charge on a per-link basis, with prices ranging from $50 to $500 per link, and most require you to purchase a minimum number of links per order.
The cost typically depends on the quality of the desired backlink.