By Darian Kovacs
The following is sponsored content from Jelly Digital Marketing & PR.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), many agencies still focus on traditional methods to improve their search engine results. They spend most of their time (or billable hours) doing the traditional SEO tasks — changing title tags, writing meta descriptions and adding alt attributes. However, they neglect one of the most important parts of modern-day SEO: acquiring high-authority backlinks.
For the uninitiated, a backlink is a link to your website’s domain found on someone else’s website. Search engines use these backlinks as a method of measuring a website’s authority on a particular subject. The higher the authority of the website housing the backlink, the more authority that backlink gives to the linked domain. Here are some key tips for law firms looking to improve their SEO through backlinks in 2021.
How Search Engine Algorithms Work
Search engine algorithms rely on a page’s ability to solve searcher queries. One of a few methods search engines use to calculate a page’s relevance, or ability to solve a searcher’s query, is through that website’s pages (and domain’s) authority. In plain terms, if someone looks up something online, does your website answer their question or direct them to the information they’re looking for?
Google doesn’t explicitly state how it calculates an authority score, though many SEOs and SEO tool developers theorize it has to do with the number of backlinks a page and domain receives, and the authority score of said page and domain. This means you want as many high-authority backlinks to your law firm’s website as possible in order to build your own authority in the eyes of search engines.
What are these high-authority websites and how do you get links from them?
Earned Media via Public Relations
One of the most popular types of content people like to share are news stories. Every time someone shares a link to a news story on a page that is indexable (i.e. able to be found via search engine), it’s a backlink for that publication. Due to this common behavior, news publishers often have high authority scores — making news sites the ideal targets for a law firm’s link-building efforts. However, it’s a lot easier said than done.
This is where PR comes in. By forming relationships with the media, relevant publishers, influencers and the like, you increase your chances that publications will write about you after informing them when your firm is up to anything new or news-worthy. This results in some free high-authority backlinks (not counting labor costs, of course)!
However, not all media links are equal…
Don’t Expect Rank Increases from Advertorial Placements
Some of you may now be thinking of purchasing advertorial (or paid editorial) placements in online publications to increase your rankings, but these won’t help as much as you think. If SEO were as easy as purchasing links, search engine results pages would be a completely different place than they are today — it would be too easy.
This is because there are different kinds of links, the most common being “follow” and “no follow.” Whether or not a link is “follow” or “no follow” determines whether it will pass authority to the linked domain. A “no follow” tag on a link is like telling a search engine “don’t count this link.” Most reputable publishers will add a “no follow” tag to all advertorial links in order to maintain its integrity (and thus authority) in the search engine’s eyes.
This is why it’s important to spend your efforts chasing earned media if your goal is to increase your search engine results pages (SERP) rankings.
Since news sites tend to have high authority scores, news stories your firm is featured in often rank on the first page of the SERPs for branded search terms. This means that when users search your firm’s name, those featured stories will be visible alongside the snippet for your official website.
Even if the user doesn’t click and read that article, the article acts as social proof that your firm is legitimate. This makes the user more likely to engage with your firm’s website thanks to that added trust through social proof.
PR and SEO Are a Match Made in Heaven
When it comes to building links, PR is king. Most search engine optimizers neglect this side of link-building because they often lack the media skills to make it happen. As such, they tend to rely solely on guest posting, directory submissions, ego baiting and link schemes to build links, if at all. For this reason, ensuring your law firm’s SEO and PR teams are working together can give you a huge advantage over your competition in the SERPs.
Law firms often hire agencies to do both SEO and PR work in tandem. The PR pitches primarily entail developing opinion editorials and pitching them to media outlets in order to not only be seen as an opinion leader in their field, but also obtain high-authority backlinks. Until Google makes another major algorithm change, of course!
An example of an article that tackles both PR and SEO needs would be: Seeking a Family Lawyer – 5 Questions You Should Ask. This title works well because it directly matches any search queries made in regards to looking for a family lawyer, as well as the topic of family law. This article should be pitched to outlets and reporters who talk specifically about law and/or families. Many reporters specialize in law-related news or family content and would be interested in an article on the topic.
Several outlets, such as lawyer’s forums, are also valuable contenders when looking for relevant outlets to pitch to. Establishing thought leadership is most effective when you use publications that are directly related to the content of your pitch.
The marriage between SEO and PR can be a difficult one to navigate. Check out Jelly Marketing's free whitepaper on SEO for law firms to get started. If you have any further questions, get in touch with the folks at Jelly Marketing here.
Darian Kovacs is the founder of Jelly Digital Marketing & PR. He brings 15 years of marketing experience and a passion for education and creativity. Darian specializes in SEO marketing and worked with numerous internationally renowned brands on developing and executing their digital marketing strategies. He is also the host of the TV show/podcast www.marketingjam.ca found on Amazon prime and all podcast channels. In this show, he’s interviewed more than 100 marketers from companies such as LEGO, Starbucks, Twitter, Google and Amazon. For more information on Jelly Marketing and their great resources for SEO, visit: seoforlaw.ca.