The Attorney’s Guide to Link Building

The Attorney’s Guide to Link Building

| November 10, 2016

Links are perhaps one of the most important factors1 in ranking web pages. They are at the very foundation of Google’s algorithm and are the key method of navigation from website to website all over the globe.

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In SEO, there are numerous different ways to acquire links. Some strategies do not involve a lot of effort, whereas others require significant amounts of time, effort and ingenuity (although they offer big rewards). This post is a compilation of the best link- building strategies on the web for lawyers, along with best practices and implementation tips for each one.

What is link-building?

At the most basic level, link-building is the practice of obtaining links from external websites that lead to a target website. A link (or hyperlink) is typically text wrapped in an HTML anchor tag with an “href” attribute.

Links can also be images, or entire block-level HTML elements.

Lawyers can place links manually on other sites they own, on social accounts, directories, forums, and other sites that allow for direct access to place links. More sophisticated link-building involves generating content that compels other site owners to link to. It may also involve clever strategies for creating scenarios where other site owners must place a link to an attorney website.

Chapter 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.

A guest post could be an interview, a blog post, an article or even, sometimes, a press-release style piece of writing.

Guest Posting Best Practices

Guest posting has been in the spotlight as being negative for link-building2.  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 (for example, AVVO, American Trial Lawyers or Legal Ink Magazine).
  • 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.
  • Avoid guest-posting services – they are on Google’s radar as negative spam sites.

 

Implementation

The first step in guest posting is having content to publish. This typically comes in the form of blog posts or articles. Lawyers must either produce this content themselves or have someone else do it.

Lawyers who have their content produced should have it written by a JD. Lawyers producing content on their own should ensure that it is well written. Here’s a simple framework to follow, whether you are having someone produce content for you or doing it on your own:

  • Consider your audience: Lawyers must consider who they are writing for. If the goal is to attract clients, for example, the content cannot be dry and technical. It should provide answers to common client problems.
  • Content should be in-depth. Do not just submit guest posts that are shallow, 400-word articles. 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.
  • Ultimately, the owner of the site the guest post is appearing on will have the most say in what they want it to look like.

Once you have the content written, outreach is the next step. 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.

The best way to do outreach is to email your contacts and offer to collaborate on content. Obviously no one knows your network like you do, so use your best judgement on how to approach people about guest posting.

Remember to choose the sites you guest blog on wisely. Check out their backlink profiles, PR, Domain Authority, indexed pages, etc. Also, try to stick to blogs that are relevant to your practice area or your legal niche in general.

Further Reading

http://backlinko.com/the-definitive-guide-to-guest-blogging3

https://www.marketdoc.com/ultimate-guest-blogging-guide/4

https://moz.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-advanced-guest-blogging5

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/guest-blogging-tips-for-lawyers/6

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/an-attorneys-guide-to-guest-blogging/7

Chapter 2: Lawyer-specific Directories 

What are law firm directoires?

Directories are basically listings of websites.  Lawyer-specific directories are those website listings that contain legal services.  Numerous lawyer directories on the web are subscription-based, free or one-time-fee based services.

A subset of lawyer directories are extremely authoritative in terms of links.  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 great topically relevant links for attorney websites.  There are both paid and free versions of these all over the internet.

It is also important to note that many lawyer-specific are not reputable8.

Best Practices

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)
  • Check to see if your competition is listed there. If they are, chances are you should be, too.
  • Look for reputable directories. Check out the website before listing your website.  If it looks low-quality or suspicious, it’s probably not a good idea to list your site there.

A big help for lawyers is to just have a guide to point out sites that are good to be listed on.  Here’s a list of the top 100 law-firm directories.

Implementation

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.  Sometimes there may be an approval process.

Further Reading

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/best-free-law-firm-directories/9

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/paid-attorney-directories/10

http://www.legalinkmagazine.com/2015/04/7-free-legal-directories-cannot-ignore/11

Chapter 3: Practice Area Niche Directories

What are they?

These are directories just like those described in the previous chapter, but they are specific to a lawyer’s practice area.  For example, instead of a broad legal directory that has many different types of lawyers practicing different types of law, a practice-area specific directory will only contain one kind of practice area.

There are directories for personal injury lawyers, family lawyers, criminal lawyers, etc.  Because there are so many different kinds of law and so many lawyers who specialize in one practice area, these niche directories make it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for.

It should be noted that local and national niche-specific directories have also acquired a bad reputation. However, there are still some good opportunities.

Best Practices

The things lawyers should avoid with more general legal directories are similar to the warning signs for niche practice-area directories.

  • Avoid spammy websites that look to be of low quality. Use the credit-card test, which is to look around the site and think about whether you would feel comfortable entering your credit card information on that site. If the answer is no or ‘iffy’, move on.
  • Look for directories that have a high Domain Rating or Domain Authority. In the 50s and up are good numbers.  Slightly less than that is okay too, as long as the site is reputable.
  • Look to see if your competition is listed. If all other elements are good and your competition is listed there, you should be too.

Implementation

Signing up for practice-area directories is just like signing up for other legal directories.  Lawyers will find that there are varying degrees of difficulty for inclusion into directories.  Attorney Rankings has also cultivated a list of top practice-area directories to get you started.

Below is a list of paid directories.  You can continue to be a member if you find the service valuable, but in many cases you can sign up, add your link and then cancel. The link remains on the web, sending link juice your way.

  • theinjuryguide.com ($75) a PR2 site.
  • findcaraccidentattorney.com  Basic listing 149.95/year, standard 34.95/month, Sponsored listing 49.95/month, and Featured listing for 74.95/month a PR1 site.
  • Enjuris.com (Free for 180 days then $45 per/year) a PR2 site
  • accidentpersonalinjurylawyers.com ($250/year) a PR1 site.
  • thepersonalinjurydirectory.com ($19.95 /year) a PR2 site.
  • Find a Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorneys can also find their own niche directories on the web that may be local to their area (or just not a part of our list).  Using search Boolean operators, lawyers can look for directories that fit their practice area by typing in practice area + directory.

Further Reading

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/top-100-law-firm-directories/12

http://searchengineland.com/the-four-keys-to-post-penguin-directory-submission-happiness-12314713

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/5-directory-submission-ideas-local-global-online-businesses/67722/14

Chapter 4: Scholarship Programs 

What are they?

A scholarship program is a link-building strategy where a monetary award is created for students and then marketed to educational institutions.  The underlying strategy is to entice owners of .edu domains to link to a website to promote the scholarship to their students.

Scholarship programs are a unique type of link-building campaign because they bolster an attorney’s brand identity, promote positive interaction on the web, and are a clever way to get very authoritative links.

Best Practices

Scholarship programs are an advanced link-building strategy.  Here are some tips to use as a guide for starting a scholarship program for link-building:

  • Ensure the scholarship is real and will actually be honored
  • Create criteria for application to the scholarship
  • Create a page on your attorney website to promote the scholarship
  • Create the largest list of schools you can compile for outreach
  • Try to be creative with your campaign to score additional earned media links
  • As always, do not build links too fast.

Implementation

This one will require some investment (nothing outrageous) and outreach to colleges and local communities.

Step 1: Create a Scholarship

Come up with a scholarship that has a name, an award amount, rules or criteria for applying, a submission and review process, as well as a page on your website explaining all of this.  A great way to get more traction is to create a scholarship that is controversial or that speaks to a current social issue.

For example, one law firm15 created a scholarship that had people admitting to drunk driving in order to receive the funds.  The campaign landed a link in a national news outlet’s website.  It’s okay if you don’t go that route, but extra links and exposure always help.

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 attorney website and be linked to all other pages on the site.

Step 3: Curate a List of Schools

Attorneys can use search operators16 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 tool17 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 (which is next).  Note that your list should be about 400-500 schools long.

Step 4: Getting Contact Information

Now that you have a list of schools to target, it’s time to get your hands dirty.  In the next step you’ll be doing outreach, so you’ll need people to contact at these institutions to tell them about your scholarship and ask them to link to it.

Generally, the people you’ll be looking for are financial aid or admissions officers.  These folks will be the ones who ask their IT departments to place links to your scholarship page.  They may also be the people who facilitate the scholarship payment to students in the event that someone applies for it.

Visit each website and look for the email addresses of financial aid or admissions people.  Emails are best, but phone numbers will suffice.  Add this contact information to your Excel file.

Step 5: Outreach

Now begins the process of sending out emails to all of those schools to tell them about your scholarship, where to find it and how students can apply.

Avoid using templates here, because each school is different and your conversion rates will be higher if you add a personal touch to each email.  Portions can be templated, but for the most part you need to make sure it sounds original.  Be sure to explain the scholarship and provide a link to the scholarship landing page.

While links from .edu’s do not carry more weight than an equivalent .com or .anything else counterpart, they do tend to be more authoritative due to the number of inbound links pointing to them and the age of the domains.

Further Reading

https://moz.com/ugc/how-to-create-and-run-an-effective-scholarship-outreach-campaign18

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/how-to-create-a-law-firm-scholarship-to-improve-your-local-seo/19

https://www.ethicalseoconsulting.com/scholarships-outreach-relationships/20

Chapter 5: 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 intermittently placing links to your website and blog.  Lawyers can either submit links or submit text posts (with hyperlinked text in them) on Reddit, but there is a specific strategy that should be followed.

Best Practices

The one thing you should avoid is just showing up and posting links. Even if those posts are helpful, lawyers need to first become a helpful member 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 member’s 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.

Implementation

The first step is to create an account on Reddit21.  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.

Further Reading

https://ahrefs.com/blog/reddit-can-valuable-source-traffic-links/22

https://www.distilled.net/blog/social-media/a-web-marketers-guide-to-reddit/23

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/fundamentals-ethical-reddit-marketing/139760/24

Chapter 6: Social Media Link-Building

What is it?

Social media link-building is accomplished by creating social accounts and also being active on them by posting links to one’s website.  A big part of social link-building is all about sharing content and getting it re-shared so that more accounts link to it.

Social link-building can take place on virtually any social media account.  While lawyers can get some low-hanging fruit by creating profiles on all the social networks they can think of, they may only be active on a few in the long term.

Best Practices

Lawyers should actively share links to their website on social media.  While many of these will be no-follow anyway, it’s still a good way to get exposure for your brand, get traffic to your site, and perhaps get a few do-follow links in the process.

  • Make sure your content is relevant to your audience.
  • Post links to your website whenever possible.
  • Add images that also have links to your website in the post (delete the actual post generated by the social account and add an image in later).
  • Design your posts to get shared (prompt people to share, look at what competitors are doing that is generating shares, etc.).
  • Syndicate your content on other sites, blog platforms and RSS feeds.
  • Build profiles on as many social networks as you can find.

Implementation

There are two main components to social media link-building.  One is all about creating profiles, and the other is about distributing content across the web.

Building Profiles

Lawyers should look for all the usual suspects when it comes to building out profiles – for example, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, and any free blogging platforms.  Lawyers can also get multiple links from the same social network profile25.  There are also a lot of other niche social sites that provide do-follow links.  Here is a list of other websites where profiles can be built:

  1. Digg
  2. Propeller
  3. me
  4. Flickr
  5. Kirtsy
  6. Current
  7. PostonFire
  8. BloggingZoom
  9. CoRank
  10. Technorati
  11. MyBlogLog
  12. Bumpzee
  13. LinkaGoGo
  14. Bibsonomy
  15. Mister-Wong
  16. MyLinkVault
  17. ClipClip
  18. 9Rules
  19. AssociatedContent
  20. Blogoria
  21. NowPublic
  22. MemeStreams

Posting to Get Links

The other aspect of this strategy is to share content from your website and get other people to share it.  Lawyers can also find creative ways to share links while sharing content at the same time.  All lawyers need to do is paste a link to their blog or a web page on their social media page and post.

Further Reading

https://moz.com/blog/social-media-as-your-primary-link-building-tactic-probably-wont-work-whiteboard-friday26

http://marketingland.com/leverage-social-media-seo-link-building-13796227

http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/22-social-media-backlinks/28

Chapter 7: Infographics

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 boring or mundane data points into a visually appealing and interesting piece of art.  Infographics inform people about a topic, but do it in a way that makes learning fun.

Infographics help simplify complicated information that can be difficult to wade through.  Some infographics are interactive, while others are just static images.  They can be posted to pages, blog posts or social-media sites.

Best Practices

Everyone likes a good infographic, and if you can create one and encourage people to share it on their own sites, that’s lots of free links for you.

A solid tactic (which is by no means original to us) is to create an infographic and then place some embed code at the bottom of the infographic encouraging people to embed it on their own websites.  Here are some other tips:

  • Find data that is appealing to your audience. For example, personal injury lawyers could find statistics on drunk driving and put that into an infographic.  Family law practitioners could find data on the effects of divorce on children, and so on.
  • The data used in the infographic should be interesting or helpful.
  • Use a designer to help you or one of the many services29 available to generate infographics.
  • Keep your topic simple and focused.
  • Use as many visual representations of data as you can (as opposed to text).
  • 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.
  • Make 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 (nothing is worse than not looking credible)!

Implementation

Research

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.

Design

We mentioned some infographic creation tools earlier, and those are great for creating an infographic on your own.  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 you a ton of time and it will come out looking much more professional.  You can use one of the numerous designer services on the web, or Attorney Rankings can create an infographic for you.

Promotion

Once you have your infographic, it’s time to promote the heck out of 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 page the infographic is on.

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.

Further Reading

https://moz.com/blog/how-to-build-links-with-infographics31

https://blog.monitorbacklinks.com/seo/how-to-build-quality-backlinks-with-infographics/32

https://www.hermish.com/how-to-build-links-with-infographics-lists-of-infographic-submission-sites/33

Chapter 8: 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 Vocus, and content sourced by the service is used by The AP, Gannet, FOX and other major news outlets.

Best Practices

Lawyers can use HARO for both building links and authority online. News stories submitted through HARO get distributed all over the web, helping attorneys get lots of exposure for their firm or private practice. They can also include links in content that takes readers to their site.

  • Look for public-relations type opportunities that would fit the firm’s branding goals.
  • Segment opportunities based on where you want exposure.
  • Choose important pages on your site that you want to get ranked in search, and use those for linking opportunities.
  • The home page of your site is also a good place to start.
  • Think about anchor text that you may want to include (however, it is tougher to get that implemented).

Implementation
Sign up for a basic plan34 on the HARO website.  There are paid plans, but the free one is good to start with. If you find that it is super-beneficial for you, there are always more options.

Look for Opportunities

It works like this: PR opportunities are emailed to your inbox, and you can choose to follow up with them or not. Look for PR opportunities you think may be beneficial for your attorney brand and for links, and go for those. You can start to segment your opportunities based on where you want to get exposure.

The big benefit here is that one news piece can get picked up and spread across multiple websites. That may not happen the first time you respond to an opportunity, but if you stick with it, HARO can be a valuable resource.

Further Reading

http://www.business2community.com/seo/use-haro-build-links-right-way-091226635

https://ahrefs.com/blog/haro-link-building/36

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-SEO-benefits-of-using-the-HARO-Help-a-Reporter-Out-service37

Chapter 9: Links or Resource Page Link-Building

What are Resource pages?

These are pages that have lists of links to partner websites or additional resources for site users. Site owners who make pages like these can be easy to get links from, because they generally need to be updated often.  If a site owner went to the trouble of creating a resource page of links, odds are they would be interested in adding to it or updating it.

Best Practices

Many of the tips for resource page link-building are similar to finding links on directories and other websites.  Just watch out for spammy websites:

  • Find pages with high Domain Authority and/or Domain Rating.
  • Look for websites that are contextually relevant to either the legal industry or your practice area.
  • Look for .edu resource pages that would be good targets.
  • Create an email template for site owners, but do not template the entire communication process.
  • Use Google search operators to find link targets on the web.

Implementation

Lawyers can find pages like these using a custom query in Google. For example, by using the operator inurl: and the keyword “resources”, you can get a list of pages that have that term in the URL.

Here’s what that would look like: inurl:.edu “resources”

If you add additional keywords for your attorney practice area, you can get contextually relevant results. Look for authoritative domains and those with few outbound links. Those pages will yield the most benefit.  There is a great post from Matthew Barby38 on link-building that includes this strategy.

Further Reading

https://www.quicksprout.com/university/how-to-build-quality-links-from-resource-pages/39

https://blog.snappa.io/resource-page-link-building/40

http://www.buzzstream.com/blog/resource-page-links.html41

Chapter 10: Testimonial Link-Building

What is it?

Testimonial link-building is the practice of submitting testimonials on other people’s websites with a link accompanying the review.  Not all websites allow this, but many have a field where a website URL can be left and owners that place reviews manually can be asked to include a URL with the testimonial.

Best Practices

Virtually any service a firm uses can potentially be a target for testimonial link-building.  For example, office supply companies, staffing companies, cleaning companies or any other services a firm uses often love getting reviews.

  • Reach out to any service company or affiliate the firm uses or is associated with and see if a review can be left on their site.
  • Make sure it is a genuine review and that it is positive (otherwise it may not get posted).
  • Use a link to your home page. Links to other pages may look weird to site owners, and they may not want to post your review.

Implementation

The first thing lawyers should do is list all the potential places they could leave a review.  Any business the firm is associated with or service they use could potentially present an opportunity.  Make sure the businesses have a website, and then organize them all in a spreadsheet with contact information.

For each outreach effort, create an email template that has some generic wording about leaving a review for their services.  Do not template the entire email, and leave room to personalize the introduction and subject line for each business you reach out to.

Lastly, send out emails to these businesses telling them how much you enjoyed their service/partnership/affiliation, etc. and how you would like to give them a review.

Further Reading

https://moz.com/blog/headsmacking-tip-14-offer-testimonials-get-links42

http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies43 (testimonial link-building section)

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-101-5-link-building-opportunities-blogs-small-businesses/111148/44 (testimonials page)

Chapter 11: Blogging

What is it?

A blog is traditionally a website where content is published on a regular basis.  It is an informal or conversational type of publication that usually focuses on a narrow set of topics.  Business blogging has exploded as a means of content marketing in recent years.

A blog is an effective way for firms to build up authority in their particular practice area and in the legal industry in general.  Blogs also provide many opportunities for SEO.  They can help create linkable assets, facilitate collaboration with other bloggers and produce extra pages to rank for additional keyword phrases.

Best Practices

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 at least 2 times per week (more is better).
  • Write about information that is helpful to your target audience.
  • The blog should reside on your main website domain.
  • Blog posts should be more than 500 words in length.
  • Posts should link out to external resources (at least a couple times).
  • Posts should link internally to other posts or pages on the site (at least a couple times).
  • Social sharing widgets should be installed so that they appear at the footer or somewhere on posts.
  • Not all posts need to target a keyword phrase, but if they do, they should only be about that target keyword phrase.
  • Blog posts should be easy to read and scan. There should be lots of headings, short paragraphs, and images to break up the content.
  • Blogs should be syndicated through an RSS feed and have an email signup for visitors.

Implementation

If you haven’t started a blog at this point, you really need to.  Having a blog by itself isn’t going to help your site rank better in search – it’s how you use the blog that’s important.  We’ve already created a tutorial on how to set up a blog on your attorney website.  Here’s the tutorial:
http://www.attorneyrankings.org/how-to-start-an-attorney-blog-in-4-easy-steps/45

Here is an example of two simple, yet effective blogs recently created:
http://www.clementslawblog.com/46
http://www.phoenixbankruptcyattorneys.net/47

You can even create one for free on blogspot, as you can see here:
http://dolmanlaw.blogspot.com/48
http://philadelphiacriminaldefense.blogspot.com/49

Further Reading

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo-friendly-blog-post-checklist-ht50

https://www.wpsitecare.com/blog-seo/51

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/how-to-blog-successfully/52

http://www.business2community.com/seo/9-reasons-blogging-essential-good-seo-results-086694453

Chapter 12: High PR Directories

What are they?

High-PR (PageRank) directories are typically paid directories that are extremely authoritative in the eyes of Google.  They often require strict criteria for membership, along with higher-than-normal fees.  For lawyers, high-PR directories usually require credentials for joining, such as career milestones, earned accolades and/or referrals from notable people.

Best Practices

Before you try to join any directories with tough submission requirements, make sure it is worthwhile.

  • Look for a Domain Rating of 50 or higher.
  • Make sure you have all of your materials handy for any submission requirements (ABA number, copies of academic credentials, proof of case volume or awards, etc.).
  • Check to make sure the directories are reputable (just because they charge a lot of money for inclusion does not mean that they’re any good). Here’s a list to get you started54.

Implementation

The process for inclusion into high-PR directories will vary based on the directory.  For example, the FindLaw directory requires that attorneys call in for a quote.  A membership to the ABA directory requires that a person is either a member of an ABA- approved law school or a practicing attorney in good standing.

Further Reading

https://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/free-directory-submission-what-to-avoid-tips-tricks/55

https://blog.gobonafide.com/bid/154078/Directory-Submissions-8-Tips-for-Submitting-Your-Website56

https://www.attorneyrankings.org/top-100-law-firm-directories/57

Chapter 13: Local Directories

What are they?

Local 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.

Best Practices

These are also low-hanging fruit, but local directories are important sources of local links.  Since attorneys often target local markets, these are good links to have.  In addition to getting a link to your website, follow these best practices:

  • Join as many location-based directories as you can find.
  • Fill out profiles completely with contact info, biography, keywords, etc.
  • Get any additional links inside directories, such as those designed to highlight your services.
  • For subscription-based directories, you can often sign up, then cancel; the link will remain.
  • Look for more authoritative directories.

Implementation

Go after the well-known local directories first.  They include:

  • Yelp
  • com
  • Google Business page
  • Bing Business Page
  • Facebook
  • Angie’s List
  • Merchant Circle
  • your local Better Business Bureau
  • Foursquare
  • Localeze
  • City Squares

Look for directories that are specific to your local area.  Attorney Rankings works with clients all over the country, so we don’t curate local lists for all areas.

Chapter 14: Citations

What are they?

Citations are mentions of your law firm’s name on other websites.  They often (but not always) include opportunities to link back to an attorney website.  Citations are often found on a broad variety of sites like directories, social-media sites, business listing websites, etc.

Best Practices

Citations are a crucial part of local SEO because they are all about consistent and reliable local information.

  • Make sure the same information is found on all citation-based websites throughout the internet.
  • Fill out profiles as completely as possible on citation websites.
  • Correct any outdated or missing information on websites.
  • Use a service to complete your citations for you. Popular ones include Moz Local and Yext.

Implementation

It is strongly recommended that attorneys use a citation service to populate third-party websites with their firm’s data.  These businesses have been doing citation work for several years and curated relationships with major data aggregators and third-party websites.

Yext and Moz Local are two of the best services out there.  Simply sign up for an account, plug in your firm’s information, and the service does the rest for you.  Conversely, it can take an attorney days to track down and populate all these different websites with their contact information and website.

Chapter 15: Interview Link-building

What is it?

Interview link-building is the practice of being interviewed in a guest-blog fashion and then getting a link back to your site in a byline or in the body copy of the post.  Typically, questions can be written out beforehand and sent to the person giving the answers.

An interview can be a good format for guest-posting because the site owner and guest poster do not have to do a lot of research and/or footwork to produce the content.  Interview questions can be written out and then formatted into a blog post.

Best Practices

Try to land an interview with some other website owner or blogger.  You might collaborate with another business owner whose audience would find your expertise valuable.

  • Reach out to people you already have a relationship with to set up interviews.
  • Sometimes, legal publications and associations will have interview opportunities on their websites.
  • Try to do an interview showcasing your practice area and your industry knowledge in general.
  • Try to get a link in the body copy of the interview post.
  • If the interview is a video, try to get a transcription posted with a link to your site.

Implementation

Here is a couple of interviews we’ve done in the past as examples to follow:
http://www.attorneyrankings.org/attorney-seo-interview-with-jeffrey-lapin/58
http://www.attorneyrankings.org/discrimination-attorney-marketing-and-business-tips-interview-with-charles-lamberton/59

The best bet is to find people to collaborate with.  Look for people at legal-industry events, in law-related associations that you belong to, and in your local community.

Further Reading

http://searchengineland.com/link-building-with-interviews-how-thought-leadership-builds-links-leads-3314960

https://techtage.com/interview-link-building/61

http://www.seonick.net/link-building-book-review/62

https://www.ereach.net/9-tactics-interview-backlinks/63

Chapter 16: Forum Link-building

What is it?

Forum link-building is about being an active member of a legal-specific community online and then leveraging that membership to build links to your website.  Links on forums do not carry a lot of weight, but they are easily achieved with consistent and disciplined participation.

There are attorney-specific forums and groups (e.g., on AVVO or LinkedIn) where you can be an active member.  You can contribute comments and add links when appropriate.  AVVO links are now no-follow,64 but other sites are still do-follow.

Best Practices

Many of these best practices are similar to those for Reddit link-building, described earlier.

  • Fill out a profile on the forums you’ve chosen to participate in.
  • Be a helpful member of the community. Do not just show up and start posting links.
  • Seek out people’s questions, and provide thoughtful responses.
  • Post to existing threads on forums at least 4-5 times per day, if possible.
  • Only share links to your own website when appropriate.
  • If allowed, place a link to your website in your forum signature.

Implementation

The first step is to find forums where you can be active, promote your attorney brand and get contextually relevant links to your site.  Here are some good forums to get started on:

  • AVVO
  • Lawyers.com
  • Expertlaw.com

Create a profile on these sites, then introduce yourself to the community.  Then it’s just a matter of coming to the site once per day and being engaged.  Search out people who have questions and give thoughtful answers.  Once you’ve built up some credibility on the site, you can start posting links.

Further Reading

http://www.bloggersideas.com/forums-for-seo/65

http://pointblankseo.com/ecommerce-forum-link-building66

http://www.submitedgeseo.com/learn-seo/How-Does-Forum-Link-Building-Work.html67

Chapter 17: Sponsorship Opportunities

What are they?

Law firms and attorneys can sponsor organizations, events, sports teams, and/or foundations.  These entities often have websites that links can be placed on.  This is an example of an existing relationship that can be leveraged for SEO purposes.

Attorneys may already have relationships with non-profits that fit this mold.  Existing relationships are excellent because they are easy scores for links.

Best Practices

Here are some tips when looking at sponsorship opportunities for linking:

  • Look at your existing relationships first.
  • Do not go out and look for opportunities just for the link.
  • Make your linking strategy with sponsorships part of a broader branding campaign.

Implementation

This strategy relies on existing or anticipated relationships with sponsors or charities.  It is not the best idea to create a sponsorship for obtaining just one link (unless there is a potential for many links on different domains).

If you have an internal policy for dealing with sponsorships (such as asking for branding and ad placement), add your linking opportunities to that strategy.

Further Reading

https://www.adamvowles.co.uk/blog/tutorials/how-to-build-links-through-sponsorships/68

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/link-building-with-charities/21578/69

https://moz.com/ugc/charity-affiliations-and-link-bulding-how-to-get-links-while-helping-nonprofits-organizations70

Chapter 18: Crowdsourcing

What is it?

Crowdsourcing involves using the internet to generate buzz and solicit support from a large number of people.  Examples of crowdsourcing sites include fundraising platforms like GoFundMe.  They 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.

Best Practices

We should point out that not all crowdsourcing sites are appropriate for link-building.  For instance, lawyers may not find much value in getting a link on a fundraising site unless they are specifically involved in a fundraising campaign.

  • Be creative about finding sites to post on.
  • Don’t overdo things. Vary your link-building activity from site to site.
  • Look for reputable, high DA/DR websites.
  • When doing crowdsourced content posts, reach out to people who are likely to build links back to you.
  • Always link out to participants in a crowdsourced post.

Implementation

Lawyers can start out by finding sites to build links on.  For example, on Bountify.co, users can submit questions to programming problems. In the description of the issue, links can be placed to a website and they are do-follow. Multiple links can also be placed in the same post. You have to offer a bounty to fix whatever the issue is, but you can set it very low and submit simple issues to be fixed by the community.

Crowdsourced content is another angle in this strategy. This involves multiple different contributors submitting content to you for a publication like a blog post. This could be something on an annual or monthly basis. For instance, a lawyer might publish a quarterly post on trends in the legal industry. The idea is that the people contributing to the post will also link to it. They will also share it with their networks, and those people may link to it.

Further Reading

https://www.quicksprout.com/university/how-to-build-links-and-traffic-from-link-roundups/71

http://upcity.com/blog/how-to-create-a-resource-roundup-for-your-blog/72

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/5-ways-crowdsourcing-improves-your-content-marketing/73

Chapter 19: Press Release Link-building

What is it?

Press releases are content distributed by news outlets.  They generally contain news items or informational pieces about a variety of different topics.  Press releases are popular among the business community as a marketing tool.

Hyperlinks can often be placed in the body of press releases with publishers able to choose their own anchor text and frequency of links.

Best Practices

Press releases do not have the power they once did for SEO.  In fact, search engines have reduced their influence; however, they are still somewhat effective.  Many links are no-follow, but consumers still follow links to attorney websites in press releases.

  • Sign up for a press-release service like PR Newswire.
  • Do not invest too heavily in press releases, as they are not as effective as they once were.
  • Vary your anchor text. Do not push out dozens of press releases all with the same un-common anchor text.

Implementation

Attorneys can sign up for a service through PR Newswire, or Business Wire to get their content distributed.  These services vary in cost.  PR Newswire starts at around $129.  Some other services charge by the release, which can start at around $35 apiece.

Press releases may not need to be written by a JD.  Attorneys should still have them professionally written if possible.

Further Reading

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/12/29/where-press-releases-fit-in-your-2015-seo-strategy/#1675097f786074

https://www.v9seo.com/blog/2015/02/24/press-releases-role-seo/75

https://authoritylabs.com/blog/press-releases-seo-strategy/76

Chapter 20: Webinars

What are they?

A webinar is an online video seminar that people can attend to learn something.  They have become popular training tools on the internet as well as channels for collaboration.  Webinars have been used by businesses as a form of inbound marketing.  They will use a webinar as a hook to get people engaged with them and their brand in hopes of moving them down the sales funnel.

Best Practices

Ideally, lawyers should come up with a course or tips that can be outlined during a webinar.  The idea here is that people will naturally link to this sort of content if they find it valuable enough.

  • Create a webinar that appeals to the people you want to be your clients.
  • Make it easily accessible and use a popular webinar platform (Skype, GoToWebinar, and WebEx are good ones to look into).
  • Promote your webinar heavily in social, through email and in other places. The more exposure you can get for it, the more likely people will link to it.

Implementation

The first thing to do is outline content that your audience would like to see.  This could be a webinar about how to go through divorce proceedings, or the first 10 things you should do after an auto accident.  The content should be actionable and useful to your target audience.

Further Reading

http://www.connectionmodel.com/blog/seo-and-power-of-webinars77

http://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/8-reasons-webinar-great-marketing-tool-0104216278

http://www.cio.com/article/3095393/marketing/how-to-make-webinars-valuable-marketing-tools.html79

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