There are so many different aspects to search engine optimization that you could quite easily spend so much of your time focusing on your rankings that you end up having no time left for your case load. Obviously, you need to focus on your legal work, and you don’t have time to do all the work yourself. SEO Trends issued a Penguin Alert two weeks ago. Penguin will penalize your site if there are “spammy” links pointing into it. No matter how little time you have to devote to your SEO strategy you should focus on your law firm’s website’s links profile right now.
Although time pressure may lean you towards outsourcing this task, we recommend doing as much as possible yourself on the issue of backlinks. This is because quick-fix offers can end up getting you into a worse position than no links at all. You will learn from Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Land.
SEO Trends has repeatedly focused on local search signals during the course of this year. Here in this report from Search Engine Journal, you get a chance to see the latest factors that will get you a good ranking for your law firm in local search. The top factor listed in this report is a familiar one: Links. It would be tragic if all of your hard work to get good local signals into your site is all negated by a large Penguin penalty. So, this shows how a penalty for bad links can undo all of the benefits you seek from other ranking factors. “Trust flow” and “citation flow” mean that the links that point into your site should come from sites that have authority and also are closely related to the topics of your pages.
After just a short time running your law firm’s website, you probably realize that different aspects of your site feed through into ranking points at different speeds. Sometimes, you do a lot of work on trying to increase your rankings, and it seems to have had no effect at all. In reality, that work will eventually pay off, but it just depends how long it takes for Google to notice those changes. There are many methods to discover what links are pointing into your pages. However, to get the definitive view of Google, you can look in Google’s Search Console. Search Engine Roundtable reports that the backlinks listed there are the links that Google counts when it calculates your rankings. These are the links that Penguin will take into account when deciding on a penalty for your site.
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Here is a note of caution from an SEO consultant about how easy it is to attract bad backlinks. You may end up actively participating in the creation of that link, and possibly think that link is worth paying for. Always keep in mind the concepts that the link should come from a serious, authoritative, and well-organized site. Also, the topic of the page the link is on and the page on your law firm’s site that the link points to should be closely related. The easiest guide to deciding whether you should cooperate with a site to get a link is whether the people likely to visit that site and see the link are the type of people you are likely to get business from. So, for example, if you work in immigration law, an article on a minority community website would work very well; if you do family law, a link from a women’s center or a parent advocacy group would be a good idea.
Here is another word of warning about “too good to be true” link offers. The biggest warning Google gives us about backlinks is that you shouldn’t pay for them. To summarize: never, never, never pay for a link. It may be that the company that emailed you with an offer of a very high-quality link for your law firm’s site only got in touch with you. In reality, these people probably also emailed every other lawyer, and every pig farmer, every bakery, and every nail salon in the Northern Hemisphere. They are leaving dirty paw prints all over the Web. Penguin will spot them and slap penalties on all of their customers. Let the other law firms in your area fall for that one. You’re better off not paying.
Should you be focusing on your link profile right now? Yes, you should. Should you be losing sleep over the topic? Actually, yes, you should. However, just to end on a happy note, so you don’t turn to drink, here’s an uplifting piece that says you shouldn’t get stressed. The point of this article is not to tell you don’t bother about getting links for your law firm’s website. If you read through the article you will see that links are very important. The theme of this report is don’t go all out to get links at any cost. That message ties in with the advice of the two articles above – don’t pay for links, and don’t put links on irrelevant pages.