Evaluating the Value of a Backlink

It has been well established that a strong backlink profile is a key ingredient in the SEO mix. Upperranks has gone so far as to dub backlinks “the most important Google ranking factor.”

But not all backlinks are created equally. So what are the factors that influence the value of a backlink?

Domain Strength

Perhaps the most obvious method for assigning value to a backlink, domain rating is a numeric value given to a website’s domain based on the breadth of its backlink profile.

Mockingbird’s tool of choice for determining the strength of a domain is Ahrefs Site Explorer, which uses the term “domain rating” for its rating system. Other tools like, Moz and Majestic have their own terminology, such as “domain authority” and “trust flow.”

Minor differences aside, each of these tools essentially assigns a value to a domain based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to it. When a high authority domain links to your website it passes value to your domain, thus improving your domain authority. This is often referred to as “link juice.”

As an example, Forbes has a domain rating of 93. Based on this metric alone, a backlink from Forbes would be considered quite valuable.

Domain Relevance

Domain authority is a signifier of backlink value, but determining true value is not so simple. In fact, a backlink from a domain with a rating of 30 could improve your ranking more than a backlink from a domain with a rating of 93.

The relevance of a domain’s subject matter plays a major role in how a backlink will affect SEO.

Location & Topic

Links from local sources are particularly valuable for SEO as they increase search engine confidence in the location of your firm and signify local authority. Domain subject matter relevance also improves the value of a backlink. For example, if your firm practices personal injury law, a link from the Brain Injury Association of America would be desirable, as it would be another signifier that your firm is an authority in its area of practice.

Anchor Text Relevancy

A link can be attached to words, which we call anchor text, or it can be listed as a plain URL. It is preferable for a backlink to be attached to relevant anchor text. So, which of these backlinks would be most valuable to Mockingbird?

  1. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here: https://mockingbird.marketing/
  2. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here.
  3. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle.

That’s right, the answer is number three! (We’re so confident in you). The first link is less valuable because it’s listed as a plain URL. The second link is also not ideal, even though it is using anchor text because the text “here” is not relevant to our business or informative for search engines.

Number three is dream anchor text. It includes what we do and where we are. This backlink would likely help Mockingbird rank better for this exact phrase.

Number of Links Per Domain

The first link you receive from a domain will have more value than the second link from that same domain. So in terms of SEO, it is better to pursue backlinks from websites that have never linked to you, rather than chasing multiple links on the same domain. This is not to say a second or third link will not be valuable, but the returns are diminishing.

Backlink Age

A backlink from five years ago is less value than a link you received yesterday. This is part of why backlink development must be a consistent endeavor. Your stellar backlink profile will become stale if you do not continually to add to it.


If there are hundreds of backlinks on a page, the links will not receive as much value as it would if there were only a few carefully selected links on the page. Likewise, a domain which gives out links like candy is will not provide as valuable of a backlink as a domain which rarely links out.

On Page Location

Backlinks from the body of the text are more valuable from those placed in the sidebar or footer of a page. Moz explained the reasoning for this, saying:

“The best possible place for me to get a link is in the content, because that’s where the article or the editorial authority is coming from. Links from sidebars or footers are associated with advertising, promotions, or sponsorships, which don’t pass much authority.”


Link Building Through Community and Connection

There are so many creative PR and link building tactics to explore that we often neglect the most obvious opportunities.

Many link building plans that we come up rely on digital publishers that we may not have a personal connection to. They require casting a larger net, investing some serious outreach time, and offering something of significant value in return.

Have You Heard of Networking?

One way to ease the link building process and increase the likelihood that your efforts will succeed is to utilize your personal and professional connections.

It’s a pretty universally understood idea. Networking is good. Networking leads to opportunities. But, you would be surprised how many undiscovered connection link placement opportunities most attorneys have out there.

Why Network Link Building

Network link building provides an opportunity to develop a relevant and natural backlink profile. Most of the connections you have are likely from around your area, and if they are not, their sites will normally be relevant to your practice. The value of a link is not simply based on domain rating. The locality and topic of websites can affect the value of a link.

Connection Opportunities

To begin network link building, you must start by making an outreach list and identifying opportunities. If you’re having a hard time getting started, consider the following tactics.

Board Member Link Building

Most associations have pages which list out their board members. If you or an attorney at your firm is a member of a board, go to the association’s website and look for a page listing board members. You can then reach out to the association and ask them to add a link to the attorney’s profile for more information. No board member page? No problem. Reach out and ask if there is somewhere that a profile can be added.


If you have a personal connection at the association, contact them. If not, search for contact information on the site. If there are multiple contacts listed, give preference to web admins and communications officers. The most suitable contact will depend on the specific organization.

Donation & Sponsorship Link Building

Have you made a donation in the past or sponsored an event? If so, reach out to the organization and ask that you be added to their sponsors page; most non profit websites will have one. Similar to Board of Directors link building, don’t be afraid to reach out if there is no page. Ask if they would consider adding one or linking elsewhere. Be sure to be human and express that you are happy to support their organization.

Local Business Link Building

  • Do you have a friend that owns a business?
  • Is there a service provider that you firm refers clients to?
  • Is there a restaurant that your team loves to go to for lunch?

Reach out and offer to write them a review to be published on their website and ask that a link to your firm be added to your name in the review.

Podcast & Webinar Guesting

Do you have any friends or business connections who have done webinars or who have podcasts? Reach out and suggest a topic of discussion and offer to be a guest in their next session. It’s an effort to consistently produce content and find guests for podcasts and webinars, and you may be helping your connection out. Just be sure to ask for a link on the event page or in the episode description.

Follow Up

Many organizations and businesses are overwhelmed right now. Even if they say they will add the link they may get distracted my other work and forget. Make sure to gently follow up with them. Most people will be thankful for the reminder.

Get Creative

These are just a few ideas for how to use your connections to develop links for your website. As you consider your connections think about what you might be able to provide them. The best link building is based on providing value to the website you’re hoping to get a link from. These are tough times for most businesses and organizations. Think about how you can nurture your connections and help them, even in a mall way.

Attorney Kate Furek’s DIY Website- A Rare Success Story

Mockingbird recently hosted a webinar in which Agency Founder, Conrad Saam, interviewed attorney Kate Furek, who created her own badass law firm website.

Kate offered such great advice to attorneys looking to build their own websites, it felt selfish to keep the footage in the vault.

This video covers:

  • Choosing a CMS
  • Color selection and branding
  • The importance of great photography and what you need to keep in mind when taking photos
  • How to manage contact forms
  • Developing with SEO in mind

And much more…

Enjoy and good luck on your own website building endeavor!



Yoast Search Appearance Settings: Best Practice Set Up for Law Firms

Yoast is an SEO plugin that can help your website meet the “highest technical SEO standards.”

One important feature is its ability to control how your site appears in search results. The search appearance settings include: general, content types, media, taxonomies, archives, breadcrumbs, and RSS. In this article we will review the best practices set up of each tab. Many of the settings you choose will be dependent on your preference, and we will cover how to make the best choice for your firm.



General Yoast settings include your default meta title separator, schema setting, and organization title and logo information.

Title Separator

The title separator is used in your default meta title settings. At Mockingbird, we use the pipe separator in all meta titles. We do this because this separator uses few pixels appears professional in search results.


Schema Settings

It is recommended that you select “organization” for your schema settings regardless of whether you are a multi-attorney or solo practice.

Organization Information

Make sure that your firm name is entered as it appears in your Google My Business listing for NAP consistency. This information will be embedded in the back end code of your site for search engines to crawl. It may also appear in search results.

Content Types

In this section you will specify what the default search appearance should be for any type of content you have. You can decide which types of content should appear in search results and what the default meta title will be (SEO settings). You can also decide a default meta description, but we do not recommend using this field. Each page should have a unique meta description specific to the content on the page. You should either manually write one for each page (recommended), or allow search engines to determine which content to grab from the page for the meta description.

Pages & Posts

Your pages and posts should be shown in search results. We do not recommend showing the date of publication in search results for pages. The publication date of say the homepage is not relevant, and showing that a page was published multiple years ago may detract users. However, you may choose to show the publication date for a post; this is entirely up to you.

Other Content Types

Your settings for additional content types (based on your website development) is dependent on your SEO strategy. On Mockingbird’s website we also have FAQ and Event content types, which we have chosen to set up identically to our page settings.

Media Settings

Make sure that your media and attachment URLs redirect to the attachment itself. If this setting is set to “no” a page will be created for each file, inflating your website with unnecessary pages. These pages will detract search engine attention from your important content, such as practice area pages.

Taxonomies & Archives

In the context of content marketing, taxonomy is simply the organization of content. Most commonly, this includes categories and tags that are applied to posts. In the taxonomies sections of Yoast, you can decide whether your categories and tags will appear in search results and how they will appear. Should your category and tag pages be indexed? To answer this, ask yourself if the pages add value to users. If the answer is no, then these pages should be no-indexed, or removed entirely. Before making this decision it is best to check traffic to these pages using Google Analytics and ensure that there are no links being pointed to these pages using Ahrefs. The same advice applies to archive pages, such as post author and date archives.


According to the Online Marketing Institute, “Breadcrumbs add another form of navigation for visitors to find their way around your Web site. They build out a logical path of what pages have been visited and where they are in relation to the site flow.”

Below is an example of bread crumbs appearing in search results and a post through the Yoast plugin.

Breadcrumb Pathway with Parent Category and Subcategory

To implement Yoast’s SEO breadcrumbs you will need to edit the theme of your website. Yoast has created an in-depth guide to enabling breadcrumbs. It is not critical that you have bread crumbs enabled on your website, but you may wish to enable them for usability purposes.


The RSS feed settings prevent web scrapers from republishing your content without credit. The default settings here should be sufficient, adding a piece of text to the bottom of a scraped piece of content with a link to your original blog post.

PR & Link Building During Crisis: What We Have Learned from COVID-19

COVID-19 has quickly become a global pandemic, with far-reaching consequences that are unprecedented in the modern era. Its rapid spread has left most of us reeling, with more questions than answers.

These uncertain times are cause for concern at many firms, but as Account Executive, Kelsey Butchcoe stated in her recent article on the Mockingblog, this is also a time to focus on projects that may help your business in the long-run.

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, Coronavirus presents an opportunity for attorneys to build positive brand recognition and improve organic search ranking for the future, while also helping the general public.

Offer Expertise, Provide Value

As an attorney, you have legal knowledge that is desperately needed. There are innumerable news publications, blogs, and nonprofits with questions to which you may have the answer.

Criminal law attorney? How is Coronavirus affecting prosecution?

Family law attorney? How are individuals handling custody during lock-down?

Employment attorney? What rights do employees have to refuse to come into the office if they feel unsafe in their workspace?

The outreach I have done to news publications has been incredibly well received. Why? Because legal expertise is immensely valuable in a time fraught with uncertainty.

Get Creative

Right now, getting interviews and features with your COVID-19 legal expertise is relatively easy, but there will come a time when this is no longer true. It is likely that as firms notice attorneys gaining recognition during the COVID outbreak, they will try to achieve the same, and publications will become flooded with interview offers.

If you would like to maintain momentum in your PR outreach you should consider creative ways to remain relevant moving forward.

Is there data that you can begin collecting? Perhaps you can turn this into an infographic that you can use as a link building asset as COVID-19 begins to settle down.

There is no set strategy that will work for every firm, it is up to you to consider what unique knowledge you have and use your creativity and communication skills to package it in a way that will attract interest from publications.

How to Handle Projects Started Pre-COVID

Did you have a PR project that you were working on before COVID-19 became a pandemic? How should you proceed? The likely answer is that you will either need to put your project on hold, or alter it for relevance. The last thing you want to do in a time of crisis is let your firm come across as tone-deaf or even disrespectful.


Before the novel Coronavirus, my team and I were working on promoting numerous scholarships. As schools began to close for the year it became obvious that we would be the last people a high school administrator would want to speak with. We immediately stopped all outreach to schools and shifted our efforts.

We began working more heavily with scholarship websites, such as ScholarshipOwl. As these publications are dedicated to the subject, they will likely be happy to move forward with the promotion of scholarships, and unlike the schools, they have the time to do so.

Moving forward, we will adjust the scholarships we offer to be relevant to COVID-19, and of course, alter due dates.

Be Adaptable & Opportunistic

The main lesson we have learned from the Coronavirus crisis so far is that the agile firms will survive (or even thrive) with the right mindset.

In order to come out on the other end of this virus we must all have grit and utilize our creativity.

We must think like cockroaches.

Survival is what our clients (and in turn the agency) need. We are a Cockroach. The adaptable, innovative, opportunistic, skittering, nauseating, and yes, disease-resistant arthropod that not only survives, but actually thrives in disaster.

-Conrad Saam, Mockingbird Founder



BEDLAM Named One of the Top 11 Legal Conferences Lawyers Need to Attend

The first BEDLAM Conference took place only 8 months ago, and it’s already gaining heat in the legal marketing world. Answering Legal recently dubbed BEDLAM one of the top 11 legal conferences lawyers need to attend.

Creating the Best Damn Legal Marketing Conference

We try our best to be humble, so pardon our bragging, but we believe the rank is well-deserved. The BEDLAM Conference is the culmination of years of combined experience in every facet of the legal marketing industry. Mockingbird’s founder, Conrad Saam, began his career in legal by running marketing for Avvo. When Conrad began at Avvo, it was just a spark of an idea:

One of the keys to [Avvo’s] success was a very deep understanding of search engine optimization. Through our skill in search, Avvo surpassed the established players in the legal industry – Conrad Saam

After leaving Avvo, Conrad took the knowledge he gained and created Mockingbird: an upfront, honest agency made up of data-loving nerds with business mindsets.

Throughout his career, Conrad has made connections with the top minds of the legal marketing industry. Among them are four of the speakers at BEDLAM:

  1. Mike Ramsey, Founder of Nifty
  2. Gyi Tsakalakis, Founder of AttorneySync
  3. Mark Homer, Founder of GNGF
  4. Casey Meraz, Founder of Juris Digital

The Agencies I’d Refer My Brother To

At Mockingbird, we take our ten commandments very seriously. Among our commandments are:

#2 – We are Responsible for our Clients’ Livelihoods
#5 – White Hat to a Fault

We rely on these commandments to guide us in every facet of our business — including who we choose to partner with.

Beyond their expertise, the speakers (and vendors) at BEDLAM are trustworthy, no BS individuals. They are the sort of people who will answer your questions honestly, whether you like the answer or not. This is why we chose to partner with them to create this truly one of a kind conference.

The Knowledge

Over the course of three days, these legal marketing experts will take a deep dive into just about everything related to legal marketing, including:

  • Website functionality
  • Speed improvements
  • Review management
  • Google Analytics setup
  • Link building tactics
  • Advertising strategies
  • Lead tracking
  • And more…

We encourage attendees to come with all of their burning questions. But like I said, we pride ourselves on zero BS so prepare yourself for the honest answer:

Commandment # 3 – Don’t Make Clients Happy – Make Them Successful

Don’t pander to misguided strategies or humor foolhardy requests from clients just to keep them happy. We will argue with a client instead of wasting her money.

We Hope to See You There!

Learn more and apply to attend BEDLAM, here.

The first 50 applications get $200 off with code: EARLYBIRD2020, so get on it!

How to Use (the Right) Keywords in Your Blog Posts

How do users find your blog posts online? Unless they subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media, the answer is likely that they find your content through search engine queries.

Knowing this, it is extremely valuable to develop your content based on what users are searching for.

In a previous article, it was said that to optimize your blog posts for search you should be utilizing keywords. But what are keywords, how do you identify them, and how should they be used within your content?

What are keywords?

According to Moz, “keywords are the words someone types (or speaks!) into a search engine.” There are many factors that determine which result a search engine will serve for a user query, but one major indicator of content relevance is the words that are being used.

Here is an example search query and result:

All of the search terms being used can be found in the title, description, and body of the blog post. This indicates to search engines that the information is relevant to the searcher. In order to have a high performing, traffic and lead driving blog, you must write content that users are searching for.

So, what can you do with this information? Well, you could guess which words your potential audience is using, or you can identify the right keywords like a real SEO pro.

How do you identify keywords?

What is a digital marketer without her tools? When identifying which keywords you should use, it’s helpful to use a keyword planner, such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

This tool can help you with your content development with two main features:

  1. Explore by Keyword – Type in a word or phrase and get back related keywords.
  2. Explore by Site – Type in a webpage or site and get back keywords that it ranks for.

After the list of words is generated, you will need to decide which keywords make the most sense for your content strategy. The two components you should focus on are search volume and difficulty score: The search volume tells you how many people are searching for that keyword each month and the difficulty score will tell you the strength of the pages that are currently ranking for that keyword.

To determine if a keyword presents a good ranking opportunity you must consider both search volume and difficulty.

For example, just because the search volume for a term is low does not mean that you shouldn’t pursue it. If a keyword has a low search volume, but also low difficulty score, you may have a good chance of ranking for that term. If a term has low search volume and a high difficulty score, that may not be a keyword that you should pursue using.

How should keywords be used in your content?

Once you identify the words that your potential clients are searching for, the next step is to implement them into your content.


One way we suggest brainstorming ideas for blog posts is to consider what questions your clients have asked you in the past. One way to supplement that exercise is by using Serpstat Questions. Once you have identified the keywords you would like to use, you can enter them in the Serpstat and generate popular questions that use that word.

Title & Description

Make sure that you are optimizing the title and description with the keywords that you have identified.

Do Not Keyword Stuff

I repeat, do not keyword stuff. Search engines are not dumb. There was a time in which you could list a bunch of keywords on your page and you might end up ranking. That day has passed.

Today, you must produce quality content that uses keywords organically, not in an unnecessary and contrived manner. Instead of hunting for all of the sentences in which you can cram in your keywords, simply aim to answer the question, the word usage will come naturally (I couldn’t stop using the words “keyword” and “how” in this post if I tried).

Blog Smarter, Not Harder

Many attorneys are of the belief that having an active blog is the key to online success. Most of us have heard the phrase “content is king,” and many of us have bought into it.

While content is important, there is no point pushing out blog posts that no one will read. If you’re currently blogging once a week, but you’re not seeing any results, try cutting it back to once or twice a month, but do your research first. Follow the steps outlined in this article, and keep at it.

You have valuable knowledge, you just have to figure out which pieces of it potential clients are actually searching for.

Slow Site? Speed it Up with PHP 7.3

There are many factors that affect the speed of your website. But one that is often overlooked is PHP. PHP is a scripting language used to develop WordPress themes and plugins.

This language is regularly being updated and improved upon, but without regular back end updates, many sites get left in the dust.

The newest version of PHP, PHP 7.3, has just been released. Upgrading from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.3 can result in a 15% decrease in request processing time (WP Engine).

Speed is a major ranking factor for search engines. Users expect sites to load near instantly, and when they don’t, they move on to the next search result. Knowing this, search engines favor sites with short load times. If your site is too slow, users will be less likely to find your business online.

Even if users do find your business, a long load time may reduce the likelihood that they stay on your site. According to WP Engine, “Slow-loading sites are the number one cause of page abandonment across all audiences.”

Bottom line, a slow website means lost traffic, lost leads, and fewer clients. 


Additionally, PHP 7.3 improves website security. WordPress requires regular software updates in order to ensure security. No major security issues have been detected in PHP 7.2, but it is best practice to keep all components of your website up to date, including PHP. Unlike older versions, PHP 7.3 is actively supported by WP Engine. This means that if vulnerabilities are found, the host will resolve them before a security breach can occur.

Upgrading to PHP 7.3

Updating your website’s PHP is relatively simple, but like any technical change, making this switch does have the potential to cause issues on your site. If you would like your PHP upgrade to be handled by professionals, contact Mockingbird for help.

How to Not F$%k Up Your Site Launch

Your website is ready to launch! Congrats! Now I know you’re excited to get your shiny new site in front of your users, but there are a few critical steps to take before pressing the (figurative) go button.

It may seem like a simple task, but properly launching a website takes technical knowledge and experience. Missing one step can lead to lost domain authority, lost traffic, and bottom line…fewer leads and clients.

Recently a law firm came to us baffled by the fact that their beautiful new website was performing so poorly. Minutes after digging into the site, our team knew that some crucial errors were made during launch. Pages weren’t added and/or redirected properly, 17 backlinks from high domain authority sites were lost, odd pages were being indexed in search results. They spent tens of thousands of dollars on a site that was sinking.

Though these missteps are reversible, it is, of course, better to avoid the traffic drop in the first place.

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid tanking your site traffic:

1) Ensure URLs Match (or Are Handled Properly)

Make sure your new website URLs exactly match your old website URLs. If your old Traumatic Brain Injury practice area page was domain.com/tbi-injury/ make sure it is the same on the new site. If you would like to change it to domain.com/practice-areas/tbi-injury/ make sure that you have a redirect in place. These redirects should ideally be made at the domain level.

2) Uncheck Discourage Search Engines

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this little checkbox can easily go unnoticed. Make sure that you are not asking search engines to ignore your site. Uncheck the box!

3) Update Robots.txt

Make sure that you aren’t asking search engines to not crawl your site through your robots.txt either. The “/” below signifies that you want to block search engines from crawling your entire site. Remove this. Also, not as detrimental, but add your XML sitemap here to show search engines where to find all of your pages.

4) Run a Screaming Frog Crawl

Run another crawl of your site. Make sure that there are no internal 404s or unnecessary 301s within your site. If there are any, fix them!

And much much more…

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to properly executing a site launch. If you truly want to ensure your site launch goes off without a hitch, call a marketing company that knows what they’re doing.