I have been working with law firms on their SEO initiatives for several years now. I have had the opportunity of working with some major firms that are ranking on the 1st page of Google for big money keywords such as Los Angeles Car Accident lawyer and New York Personal injury lawyer. These guys are routinely driving thousands of targeted unique visitors to their websites each and every month.
After Spending some time analyzing their backlink profiles (or where their inbound links are coming from), I noticed two forms of link building they practice that any law firm can follow for great SEO success: Hyper-Targeted, Online Directory listings and Lawyer Networks. I will explain online directory listings in this post and the Lawyer Networks on the next post.
The days of the Yellow Book are gone yet they are still delivered to our doorsteps every year. What a waste of trees! Where are the conservationists when we need them?
50% of Internet users search for local services in online directories and mobile apps
Nowadays, consumers are using the Internet to find local legal services. Not only are they using Google search but also the plethora of online business directories. According to an AT&T Small Business Poll, 50% of Internet users actually search for local services in online directories and mobile apps instead of a search engine like Google.
You will find 1,000s of business directories on the Internet where you can place your business listing. Some of the better-known ones are Google Places, Yahoo, City Search and the online version of the Yellow Pages (minus the killed trees). Also, most are free but others you will need to pay an annual fee. These directories not only help you get visibility from potential clients but it also creates quality backlinks to your website. This is great for your SEO pursuits and increasing your website’s search rankings.
However, the law firms that are ranking on the 1st Page of Google for very tough keywords are very particular on what online directories they are listed on. These firms have listings in the big directories too, but they also target small, focused directories based on their geographic location and industry. I have a client in Los Angeles who consistently sits atop the first page of Google for many competitive keywords. The directories his firm is listed on are LA County-based as well as national directories that are solely for the legal profession.
For example, my client’s listing is in local business directories such as local.latimes.com and www.labusinessconnect.com. Then, for industry specific directories they are listed in ones such as www.expertlaw.com and lawyers.findlaw.com. Creating incoming links from local and industry specific directories will make Google very happy as well. With Google, it’s all about relevancy when it comes to links to your site. That means these geographic and industry specific types of backlinks are encouraged by Google and help increase your search rankings.
So how do you get these great directory links to your website? You have two options: the hard way or the less hard way. For the first option, you can Google “lawyer directories” and “your town business directories”. You can get a list of these results, visit each directory and start filling out your listings. This can be a tedious task and you are never quite sure which ones are truly worth getting listed in.
The second option is a better use of your time and much more effective. Identify the law firms that are ranking on the 1st page of Google for your top keywords. It’s best to look at your local competitors as well as firms in large metropolitan areas. For example, if you are a malpractice lawyer in Omaha, look at the law firms that are ranking on the 1st page of Google for “Omaha malpractice attorney” and then “Chicago/Los Angeles/Dallas malpractice attorney.” Once you identify these firms, stick their web addresses into Google search, look at their search results and see which online directories they are listed in. Those are the ones you want to be listed in as well. It can be time consuming but it will be well worth it.
In conclusion, online directory listings are essential for law firms that want to maximize their online visibility. The key is not to be listed in every online directory out there but focus on ones based on your geographic location and industry. The best move to make is to look at where your top local competitors as well as large metropolitan law firms are placing their listings. Then, place your business listing on the ones they are on. It’s as simple as that.
Link swaps were one of the most common types of back linking from the dawn of SEO. However, rumors swirled throughout the Internet that new Google algorithm changes penalized link swaps so the practice has been used less these days. There’s a big debate in the SEO world if link swaps have any value or at least the same value as they once did. From watching clients search engine rankings grow and sustain highly competitive keyword rankings, I believe they still do but with a twist.
The link swaps are pretty simple, you place my link on your site and I will place your link on my site. Businesses have been doing this for years so it may come across as a simplistic activity. I have a client that ranks in the top 4 for just about every keyword related to “DUI lawyer” in Phoenix. His backlink profile is dominated by link swaps with fellow criminal defense lawyers throughout the country. This practice makes total sense, as it’s no cost on either firm to execute. The key is finding law firms that provide the same services as your firm but not a direct competitor in your region.
For example, my Phoenix criminal attorney client has swapped links with criminal defense lawyers from Seattle, Boston, Miami, Chicago as well as various other regions around the country. This is effective because it’s typically free (some may sell them to make a little money on the side), you receive industry relevant links (Criminal defense legal services) to your site and there are hundreds of potential partners to choose from.
Typically, in basic link swaps, each firm’s website will have a page dedicated to their “Out-of-State Partners” or they will name it “Resources”. These pages will have a run down of the various law firms along with a short description. Even though they are swaps, it will appear to the consumer as though these law firms are just helping any locals out that happen to need a lawyer 2,000 miles away.
Although link swaps are being performed by many law firms today, the more successful firms take link swaps to another level. As mentioned earlier, link swaps are possibly frowned upon by Google but nobody has actually been penalized for dong it. Yet its better to be safe than sorry so I wouldn’t advise the traditional link swap method as explained above.
However, to take link swaps to another level, my most successful clients regularly swap links but in a much more strategic fashion. My clients offer to write a guest post on the other firm’s blog page instead of just leaving a link in a directory format.
For example, I have a Car Accident lawyer client in Houston that will offer to write a guest post on the “5 Actions you must take After a Car Accident”. The post will be published on the link partner’s blog (ex. Boston Personal Injury Lawyer’s website). The post will include contextual links such as “accident lawyer Houston” or “Houston car crash attorney” back to my client’s website. The post will end with a professional looking author’s bio with an additional back link in it.
This method does a couple of things.
- It allows you to create penalty-free links back to your website.
- It gets you industry relevant (Lawyer), business services (Criminal defense or personal injury) relevant, contextual links that are the most beneficial in increasing your Google search rankings.
- Also, it provides the link partner, free, quality content on their website which will help with there website optimization.
So how do you find potential link partners? The same way you will go about finding the best online directories. While you are going through search results from the steps above, look for articles that are associated with the firm’s web address.
Take a look at the articles and see if they are placed on a legitimate law firm/lawyer’s website. If they are, mark them down and reach out to them to offer a blog post of your own. Just be prepared for that firm to ask for a post of their own on your site.
To wrap things up, lawyer networks or link swaps have been used forever by local businesses throughout the country. The most successful law firms are offering a guest post on the partner’s blog as opposed to just a directory listing. These posts create powerful links back to your website and provides quality content your partner’s site. It’s a win-win for both parties!