Onsite SEO for Lawyers: Internal Linking Best Practices
Chris Dreyer | August 08, 2016
What is it?
Internal linking refers to the way pages on the same domain are linked to one another. Link authority or ‘link juice’ flows from page to page across domains and the same is true from page to page on the same domain. The way pages are linked together on a website is important for SEO. A good internal linking structure1 can help all pages on a website benefit from improvements made to only some pages.
Internal links can take different forms on a website. They can be a part of the site’s main navigation system and they can also be hyperlinked text in the copy on web pages. They could also be images or buttons. Matt Cutts (Google’s former head of web spam) illustrates how internal linking works2 on his blog.
In this particular scenario Cutts is talking about PageRank flow and how it is distributed among linked documents on a website. He talks about how the bottom left document has 9 points of PageRank and 3 links to 3 separate documents. The ‘Link Juice’ that is passed is equivalent to 9 divided by 3.
That is an extremely basic example and Google’s algorithm has become much more complex since this example was published. It does however illustrate how the flow of ‘Link Juice’ works and its importance in SEO.
There isn’t one strategy for internal linking that can be implemented on all lawyer websites but here are some best practices.
- Link to practice area pages using the target keyword for that page as anchor text from blog posts
- Link more popular pages to less popular pages
- Ensure that visitors can get to the home page from any other page on the site
- Link to pages that you want to do well from the home page (the home page tends to get the most links)
- Make common sense connections among pages on your website to enhance the user experience
- Make links natural and not forced
- Try to use text in your linking whenever possible
- Ensure that all links are do-follow (links are do-follow by default)
- Vary anchor text as frequently as possible (using the same text all the time can lead to an over-optimization penalty3)
- Use synonymous terms to your target keyword phrases as anchor text
- Avoid site-wide linking in the footer or sidebar of your website
- Make sure you check that your internal links are working
Attorneys should start by analyzing their site for internal linking opportunities. The Internal Link Analyzer tool4 can show you how the pages on your site are linked together already. This can more or less give you a place to start. Attorneys who haven’t done any sort of linking other than their menus will probably not find much.
A good place to start is with blog posts. Although it may be a tedious process, spend some time reading through existing blog posts and see where text can be linked to relevant pages. For example a personal injury lawyer blogging about disabled drivers could link to practice area pages about auto or truck accidents where appropriate.