An Attorney’s Guide to Building Quality SEO Backlinks
Link building got a black eye a few years ago when Google caught on to the fact that many companies were paying offshore entities to build links to their websites. Many of those links were low quality that degraded the user experience, so Google penalized sites for having them.
Today, link building is still important but you must have high quality links pointing back to your site to improve your search ranking and to avoid penalty. This is best achieved by contributing content to quality sites, getting quoted by reputable news sources or being mentioned on sites with high domain authority.
Backlinks are foundational to Google’s algorithm when it comes to determining a website’s page rank. Obviously, you want to be on the first page when someone searches for your keywords and having quality backlinks tells Google that your website has authority. The better quality and quantity of inbound links your site has, the higher you will rank in search.
You probably don’t know how many backlinks are currently linking to your site, but you can find out. Using Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool, you type in the URL of your website and can view links you have obtained over the past 60 days when you click on Recently Discovered Links. This will show you where you have been mentioned and the sites linking back to your site. If you don’t have any, or very few, it’s time to start building those backlinks! Here’s how:
Step 1: Do your research.
One of the best ways to build quality backlinks is to write an article for or get quoted by authoritative publications and websites. Luckily, we are in a profession that people love to get free advice from, and reporters seek out for quotes on whatever is trending in the legal world. However, this will still require some outreach on your part.
You will need to spend some time researching relevant websites where you could provide content. To do this, set up a Google News alert for your relevant keywords -- whatever terms people would use to describe or search for you on the Internet. This will provide you with a daily list of websites writing about these subjects. Then, using the Open Site Explorer tool, check those websites for domain authority and narrow your list to those sites with higher authority.
Step 2: Create your list.
As you do your research, compile a list of the reporters you find writing for these publications/websites. Track the name of the publication/site, the name and email address of the reporter, the site’s domain authority, and the status of your outreach.
Sometimes a reporter’s email address will not be listed with the article, which is where more research comes into play. Look on the site first as well as in the article byline or at the end of the article. If you can’t find it there, Google the reporter’s name and search for them on social media. Start with LinkedIn, which can provide you with more background on the reporter. LinkedIn also lets you send direct messages if you sign up for their premium service.
Step 3: Develop your pitch.
Once you have an email list of sources, it’s time to develop your pitch -- your offer to act as an interview source or to contribute content. It is important that you try to personalize your email to each publication instead of sending out a blast email. Mention the article you read that led you to believe you would be a good source for them on that topic. Tell them what you can provide -- either an original authored article on a particular legal topic or access to you as an interview source. Be sure to let them know you will be responsive to their deadlines.
Another way to get quoted in quality media outlets is to sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You receive queries every day from reporters looking for quotes from legal experts. You just need to be sure you can devote about 20 minutes a day to responding to any queries that make sense for you.
Step 4: Persist.
If you don’t hear back from a reporter or webmaster via email, reach out to them in other ways -- on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. You may need to be a little persistent to get your offer in front of the right decision makers. Don’t be shy.
Step 5: Create your content.
If you’ve been asked to contribute an article or answer questions from a reporter, you need to be sure you are providing valuable content or you won’t get asked again. Be sure to ask the reporter, editor or webmaster if there are certain site guidelines you should follow and never miss a deadline. Most importantly, don’t forget to include a link to your own site in the article or you won’t get that backlink -- the very reason you are doing this in the first place!
Once you’ve established a relationship with an authoritative website or publication, do what you can on your end to continue the relationship so you can continue to reap the benefits of quality backlinks.