Learn how to float to the top of prospective clients’ searches.
When something’s strange in the neighborhood, we all know who we’re gonna call. And that’s thanks to a very memorable commercial with the catchiest jingle of all time. When customers need to find lawyer, they turn to Google to find someone in their area who’s local, reputable and — most importantly — conveniently visible in the search results.
In order to ensure you and your hardworking team don’t get buried under pages and pages of your competitors’ websites, you need to build some crucial assets: a website that’s mobile friendly and loads fast, a layout Google can easily understand, and a strong backlink profile. Think of a backlink profile like your online street cred, in which other high-quality websites link back to your website.
Google looks at all the links to your website and compiles a score that marketers call “domain authority.” If your firm’s website has several links placed on other sites with high domain authority, Google’s algorithms read that as a good endorsement for your website and raise your score accordingly. However, the inverse is true too: If your website is linked on a large amount of low quality, spammy sites, then your domain authority will suffer and drag down your search ranking.
Step 1: Survey the Landscape
The first step in improving your search presence is understanding where your website stands at the moment. Do you have a hundreds of links to your website? What quality websites link back to you — spammy microsites or respectable directories? Are the links embedded over relevant keywords or inane text?
This assessment is what’s commonly known as a backlink audit, and usually requires tools like Google Analytics, WordPress add-ons or SEMrush (see Step 2 below) to conduct. Some tools simply present you with a list of which you would need to evaluate the quality yourself, while others can rank the referring websites by domain health and the risk they pose to yours.
Sort out the websites dragging you down and task an intern or assistant with reaching out to these harmful sites, asking them to remove the links if they wouldn’t mind. Otherwise, you’ll need to cobble them together into a disavowal report using the tools available and submitting it to Google for consideration.
Another consideration is if you’ve changed your domain or revamped how your website’s URL looks. For instance, if you have an “About” page and changed the end of the address from “.../about” to “.../about-us,” you’ll need to reach out to anyone using the old link and ask them to replace it with the old one.
Step 2: Build a Pyramid
Once you’ve expunged any bad link juju and steered things in the right direction, it’s time to make a proactive plan to build up your backlinks. Search algorithms will value links that not only come from websites with high domain authority, but also links on pages that are relevant to your business in some fashion. This includes dimensions like location, specialty (accidents, divorce, litigation, etc.) and the anchor text, which is the literal text on which the link is embedded.
First, build a list of websites you think would be valuable to your business, ideally focusing on professional directories, news and industry media, and universities. You can use tools like SEMrush to assess the domain authority of those sites and then rank them as most desirable.
Then start reaching out to the low-hanging fruit on the list to optimize initial effort for success, and ask them to add a link to your website. Look for individual pages that would be relevant, like a list of local law firms, and share your link and suggested anchor text where applicable, starting with your firm’s name.
An ideal first opportunity would be to look for a local community college with a page pointing to legal services in the community. Over time, as you collect more backlinks, you can start aiming higher and work your way to the top of the list as your firm gains more notoriety.
Another avenue is to share any news related to your firm, like winning big cases, moving offices or sponsoring local softball teams, via media pitches and press releases. News websites are frequently visited, and online press releases function like permanent pages that host the links you put in, and they reside on websites with high domain authority. The drawbacks to this approach include that effective press releases do cost money with each post, and you won’t always have newsworthy things to share.
Step 3: Catch Their Attention
The last step you can take to build a strong backlink profile is to produce content worth linking on other websites — content that’s either designed to be evergreen in its usefulness or so compelling that it’s widely shared on other people’s websites.
This could be sharp blog posts dissecting interesting legal matters, videos explaining how to handle common legal matters or even photos promoting your community outreach. Do some research on trends in your competitors’ websites and check their domain authority periodically to see if it’s working. If it is, emulate; if it isn’t, get creative. You’ll probably outrank them before you know it.
Building a strong backlink profile requires ongoing effort — this can’t be accomplished in a week. It may seem irksome and not worth the effort at first, but over time you’ll find more customers approaching you organically as you rise in the search rankings. This is essentially getting free advertising.
No need to pay for flashy commercials or get your face on every bench in town. Landing at the top of prospective clients’ searches is sure to drive much more business your way in the long run.
Josh Elkin is a digital marketing strategist who writes about traffic acquisition strategies and link building.