SEO theory can be broken down into 3 main pillars: technology, content, and authority. Technology is by far the most difficult aspect of SEO to jump into, just hearing about robots.txt files, XML sitemaps, internal link structure, minifying CSS, and all the other jargon can make your head spin. It’s best to hire an expert to deal with the technological side of your website. However, Joe the attorney down the street can actually do a lot more than you would think to improve the other 2 pillars of SEO for his website.
Many small business owners are aware that content is a significant aspect of SEO and have heard somewhere along the line that “content is king.” Every firm should work in house on creating high quality and unique content that offers valuable insight to the user (see: “Why You are Your Firm’s Best (and Worst) Content Writer“). Many firms (and agencies) actually overdevelop content while ignoring authority. We often see a lot of wasted investment in content on sites that don’t have the authority to support the amount of content on the site.
So, while the content of your website is a very important factor for getting people to find your firm in Google’s search results, it’s not the only one. Google needs other external signals to determine which website deserves to rank over other websites competing for the same search terms, this is where authority comes in.
In order to determine a website’s authority, the big G uses the number of links pointing from other external websites to yours. Think of each link as a vote of confidence for your website (that’s how Google views it). After all, what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. So, how can we get those all important votes of confidence (read: links) from other high quality websites on the web?
One of the easiest and most effective ways a law firm can get new links is through current community and organizational relationships. Think about the types of organizations, businesses, and non-profits your firm already supports and find a way to leverage that offline relationship for the online benefit of a link.
Common Link Opportunities:
- Community Theaters and Arts Organizations
- Local Universities/Colleges
- Is anyone at your firm on the board?
- Bio pages for speaking
- Linking to course materials provided on the main website
- Local Events
- Local meetups organized by a firm member
- Local events where a firm member happens to be a speaker. What is the organization behind that event?
- Local events hosted at your firm
- Corporate Park or Strip Mall Website
- Charity Runs/Walks/Bike Rides sponsorships
- Trade Organizations
- Labor Unions
- Legal Organizations (The National Lawyers Guild, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Local Bar Associations, etc.)
- Small Businesses (possibly former clients)
- Local Chapters of National Charities (Toys for Tots, United Way, Special Olympics)
- Pro-bono work for local businesses or non-profit organizations
- Local expert witnesses you work with
- Organizations or clubs (even a recreational club like a sailing club) where a firm member is a board member
- You can often link to the firm from the bio page. “Attorney smith is a partner at Smith & Smith PLLC”
- Art purchased for the firm (Take a picture of where it’s now displayed and send to artist and they may link back to the site).
- Community page for “Businesses we trust” in which you provide honest testimonials for any local businesses you’ve work with.
- Service Providers: Janitors, Electricians, Moving Companies, Painters, Plumbers, Carpenters.
- Delivered Goods
- Leased equipment
- Employee training
- Local IT company
- Car Dealership (for company vehicle)
Making the ‘Ask’
The hardest part of linkbuilding is actually moving forward after you’ve identified a linkbuilding opportunity. If you believe the owner or webmaster is willing to provide a link to you on their website, send a friendly email to see if they can make it happen. There is by no means a perfect recipe for making the ask, but here’s my $.02: send an affable email that makes the simple ask “will you link to my website” and then follow up with a very friendly nudge a few days later if you haven’t head back. I would go so far as to recommend a phone call, if and only if, that feels appropriate. If you need inspiration, below is an example of an email we drafted for a client that is on the Board for her Alma Mater and listed on the college’s website…
“Hi [insert name],
I wanted to thank you again for the honor of including me on the Alumni Board of Directors. I was just reading through my bio and love that you mention my firm’s name. I am wondering if it’s possible to also link to my website?
Once my marketing agency found out I’m on the Alumni Board at Example University, their eyes lit up and they have been begging me to ask you about this since.
[Insert ending salutation] “
You know the person you are emailing… use your own voice and be brief.
Linkbuilding is tough work, but extremely important and completely doable for an attorney. So many law firms do great work within their communities — it’s important to show that online as well. If you would like help with linkbuilding or want to learn more, please feel free to drop me a line: dustin[at]mockingbirdmarketing.com
If you have ideas that you would like to share, please comment below!