Link Building for Law Firms and Google Penguin

Link building is an essential part of the search engine optimization (SEO) process.

When the search engine “bots” spider web pages of law firm websites to analyze the page content, they also look at the other web pages that link to the web page.  These are referred to as “incoming links” or “backlinks.”

Specifically, the search engines note:

  1. What type of content is on the linking page,
  2. The Anchor Text used in the actual link (such as “click here“), and
  3. The text on the redirect page (the page shown after the link is clicked).

Incoming Links Do Not Have the Same Value

Incoming links to a law firm’s website are not all equal in value. Here are a few general principles:

  • A link from a website that has similar content will be worth much more than a link from a website that has unrelated content.
  • A link from a highly-ranked website will have much greater weight and influence on search result rankings than a link from a low-ranked website.
  • One-Way Links are the best. Reciprocal links (you link to my site and I’ll link to your site) are of no value for search engine optimization. This does not mean that reciprocal links should be avoided completely; it still is helpful if your firm is being promoted by another website and you promote their website.

Why It’s Critical to Develop Incoming Links Carefully after Google Penguin

In 2012, Google announced an algorithm update called Penguin, which was specifically designed to decrease the search engine rankings of websites involved in schemes to get higher rankings through artificial link-building programs. As incoming links were an important part of SEO, many website owners had engaged SEO companies to obtain hundreds and sometimes thousands of incoming links through paid link programs, three-way linking, the use of artificial websites created solely for the basis of providing links, directory listings designed primarily for SEO link purposes, and other “black-hat” techniques. These link programs resulted in rankings being manipulated, with the link participants receiving much higher rankings than they would have otherwise received, while quality websites with great content that had not been involved in these schemes were receiving much lower rankings.

As a result, prior to Penguin, law firms and others participating in these link schemes generally saw their rankings increase while the programs were being implemented; when Penguin was implemented, they saw their rankings crash overnight. Often, website owners saw rankings plummet from the first page to 8 or more pages back. In some cases, these manipulative “bad link” practices proved fatal; the only way to “recover” was to abandon a domain name and re-create the content on a new domain name.

At Esquire Interactive, our clients have never been hurt by Penguin, and in fact, a number of benefitted significantly in the rankings by moving much higher while their competitors were penalized. Our belief is simply – if there is a strictly manipulative purpose,we don’t do it, as we know that sooner or later Google will catch on to all bad “black-hat” practices.

What Types of Link-Building Practices are Helpful (and will not be penalized)?

There are a lot of legitimate link-building practice that are beneficial and which will help in the rankings, such as:

  • Links that come from a firm’s social media sites, such as Facebook and (especially) Google+
  • Links from video sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo
  • Links from recognized directory listings and review sites (like Yelp)
  • Links from other “authoritative” websites and blogs (the more contextually related to the firm’s website and the more popular, the greater the value).

Esquire Interactive can work with your firm to develop an effective link-building campaign for your firm’s website. Call us to learn more.

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