Link Building for Lawyers: 13 Strategies to Build Your Link Profile

link building for lawyers shortHigh-quality backlinks for lawyers can be the difference between the top position on page one of Google and languishing in the depths, unseen and uncontacted.

Backlinks are undoubtedly one of the most vital Google ranking factors and should be a primary focus of your search engine optimization strategy.

The problem is that link building for lawyers can be tough, and like most law firm SEO, it takes time. You can’t throw money out and expect instant results.

But there are strategies to increase your website’s authority by gathering high-quality backlinks.

This article will take you through:

  • The importance of backlinks for lawyers
  • Quantity versus quality with law firm link building
  • How lawyer link building works
  • Link building strategies
  • and more!


The importance of backlinks for lawyers

Hyperlinks, backlinks, or simply “links” are the clickable underlined pieces of text (or images) that connect websites.

Links act like the signposts of the web, pointing users towards further information on a particular topic — like in this example from Trey Porter Law in Texas.

Link Building for Lawyers
(Image Source)

These links are essential for your website on several levels:

  • Exposure: Users on the referring website are encouraged to visit your website, which increases visibility (especially on popular, highly regarded websites).
  • User experience: A well-linked website improves the user experience by connecting topics and providing more valuable information.
  • Referral traffic: Improved visibility increases the traffic you receive, which generates more leads and paying clients.
  • Authority: High-quality backlinks impart more authority to your website, which will be rewarded in your site’s search performance with Google.

A backlink is like a digital vote of confidence. Backlinks tell Google that other people find your content valuable. Google’s goal is to provide the most reliable search results, so if your site is seen as an authority by other users, it’ll rank highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Ultimately, while the Google algorithm continues to evolve, websites with more high-quality backlinks still rank higher on Google than those that don’t — and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

So, link-building for lawyers matters if you care about lawyer SEO.


Law firm link-building: Quality vs. quantity

How many backlinks is enough for attorney websites?

Once you build your law firm’s website, backlinks will naturally generate. That’s because if you create great content, other websites will want to be associated with it and share it with their users. Nothing trumps high-quality content (more about this in the strategies section below).

You’ll have to work for most backlinks through link-building campaigns — especially the highest-quality backlinks that are valuable for search performance.

According to one of the main backlink and SEO authorities out there:

“A high-quality backlink is a link that comes from a high domain authority website that is well-trusted by search engines and searchers alike.”

We’ll look at the terminology used in the glossary section below, but we should first understand that link-building is not about pleasing search engine robots. First and foremost, it’s about earning the trust of other website owners in your general niche with higher domain authority. That will generate relevant, high-quality backlinks.

Some good examples of trusted, high-quality websites include:

  • Directories
  • YouTube and social media websites
  • Government entities
  • Educational institutions like law schools
  • Community websites
  • Other reputable organizations

We go into more detail about many of these in the strategies detailed below.

Quantity should not be ignored either. The median number of backlinks for criminal law websites is 4,174. Estimates put the average number of backlinks per website at over 18,000.


How does law firm link-building work?

When another website links to your law firm’s website, it shares a small portion of its authority with your site.

Lawyers can place links to their law firm’s website on other sites they own, including social media accounts, directory profiles, forums, and so on. For instance, criminal defense lawyer Michael Oykhman includes a link to Oykhman Criminal Defence on his LinkedIn profile.

Lawyer Backlink LinkedIn
(Image Source)

The harder work of link building involves approaching other websites to link to you or producing such great content that other sites automatically link to it.

Encouraging more sites to link back to your website is an established SEO strategy that has been practiced since the early days of the internet.

Link-building is categorized as “offsite” SEO because instead of making changes to your website to improve its search rankings (like with “onsite” SEO strategies), any changes are made on an external website when it links to you.

Now you understand how link-building works, let’s familiarize ourselves with a few terms we need to understand before we get into the lawyer link-building strategies.


Glossary of link-building terms for lawyers

To help, we’ve put together a list of some terms you need to know when building links.


Anchor text

When you see a link on a web page, you usually see the anchor text — not the actual URL that you’ll be directed to if you click.

If the anchor text is descriptive and includes the keywords that the page is attempting to rank for, it can aid search performance, as in this example from personal injury law firm Park Chenaur & Associates.

Link Building for Lawyers Anchor Text
(Image Source)

Google appears to put a lot of stock in the anchor text.

“… anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”

However, while you have control of the anchor text for outbound links, this is not the case for inbound links. So, unless you have a strong relationship with the site linking to you, it can be difficult to influence the anchor text of your backlink.


Referring domains

Referring domains are the root websites that backlinks originate from. A link from your local bar association means that the bar association is the referring domain.

Here’s an example from The Florida Bar.

Link Building for Lawyers Bar Association Link
(Image Source)

All else being equal, the greater the authority of the referring domain, the more influence it will have on search performance. A link from a bar association is a good example of a high-authority link that should help with search performance.

Note that multiple links from the same domain usually lead to diminishing search value. It may also look unnatural in your link profile. That’s why the best backlink campaigns target links from a variety of unique domains over time.


Nofollow and Dofollow links

There are two types of links for search engine purposes:

  • Dofollow links, which help with our rankings by passing on authority to a website.
  • Nofollow links, which a search engine should not count and that pass on no authority to the website it is linking to.

The type of link is decided by the way that the link is coded.

no-follow-hyperlink-example

Nofollow links are used on many sites, especially social media sites and many lawyer directories. They are thought to carry little SEO value.

However, having a natural link profile may be viewed favorably by Google. It’s usually considered a good strategy to mix dofollow and nofollow links.


PageRank

PageRank is used by Google as a “quality ranking for each page” evaluated by the quality and quantity of links pointing to it, among other signals in its algorithm.


Domain rating

SEO software developer, Ahrefs, measures the strength of the backlink profile for all domains. This ranges from 0 to 100. For law firms, you’re doing OK if your website has a domain rating of 30-50.

Domain Rating Ahrefs
(Image Source)

This is not an official metric by Google, but you may hear it referred to.


Domain authority

This is a search engine ranking score based on various factors initiated by Moz. Likewise, it’s not an official metric by Google.

A new site starts with a score of one.

Domain Authority Moz


“Black hat” link building

If you hire SEO services who convince you that shady strategies will get you ranking quicker, ditch them. There is no “gaming” the system with backlinks or with SEO in general.


Link velocity

This is the pace at which backlinks are generated by a website. First and foremost, it’s a useful metric to measure the progress of your link-building campaigns.

Bear in mind that it’s sensible to maintain a steady pace with backlink generation to avoid being flagged by the search engines for “unnatural” activity.


What about buying links?

Paid links or link schemes that try to manipulate PageRank violate Google’s Webmaster guidelines.

Google includes a section on this in Search Console Help. Unnatural links can get your pages ranked lower or omitted from search results altogether (Google calls it a “manual action” against you).

Google Action for Unnatural Links
(Image Source)

Focus on genuine link-building tactics — like those included below.


So, what is Google looking for with links?

So, with all this useful backlink information at your fingertips, can you answer the key question that all businesses need to answer with backlinks?

What is Google really looking for with a backlink profile to provide the best chance of high rankings?

The following graphic summarizes the main link factors considered by Google.

link-factors-google-considers


Link building for law firms: 13 strategies to get ranking

Let’s drill down into the strategies that can build the type of law firm backlink profile that cannot be ignored by Google

We’ve found that the following link-building strategies get the best results.


Create impressively sharable content

This is the foundation of all SEO. Creating high-quality legal content works on many levels (from the user to the search engines) and is your best asset for link-building.

What does great content look like?

Think original, informative, quotable, and sharable.

Here are a few ideas.


Infographics

Infographics can be interactive or static images posted to web pages, blog posts, social media sites, etc.

Well-designed and informative infographics have two characteristics that help search rankings:

  • They encourage visitors to stay on your page
  • They are easily shareable

Usually, when a graphic is shared, the sharing party should add a backlink to the original graphic to credit you for the work. Personal injury law firm Shea Law Group regularly creates infographics like this one on distracted driving statistics.

Link Building for Lawyers Infographics
(Image Source)

Encapsulating key information like stats and facts in a highly focused, easily digestible graphic format like a chart, diagram, or image is not always easy — and usually requires a graphic artist.

However, visually engaging content results in sharable pieces that can get you valuable backlinks.


High-quality legal blogging

Writing high-quality, informative lawyer blogs that answer the questions in your target audience’s mind will attract readers and backlinks. If it’s useful to your audience, it is likely to be useful to other audiences.

If you don’t have the time to develop the content, hire copywriters who can create articles from briefs — like this one from Spectrum Family Law in Calgary.

Link Building for Lawyers Blogging
(Image Source)

You will likely see the best results with in-depth content. Check out similar pieces of content already out there and try to improve it by going deeper and using better resources.


Books, eBooks, reports, guides, white papers

Other high-quality, sharable resources are substantial content in the form of eBooks, ultimate guides, reports, white papers, etc. Sharing links to such content can help it get widely distributed, especially across social media channels.

Domestic litigation firm, Cordell & Cordell, created this eBook on divorce law and child custody for its target audience.

Link Building for lawyers eBooks
(Image Source)

Book writing is a major task you wouldn’t attempt purely for backlinks. But you can get many additional benefits from an eBook.

You’ll likely submit the book to multiple high-ranking websites (like Amazon), which can garner a high-quality, do-follow backlink to your attorney’s website from your author profile.

Link Building for Lawyers Books

You also have the added opportunity that publishers and media outlets pick up your publication and want to feature it — potentially providing valuable backlinks from other high-authority domains.


Statistics and FAQ pages

Legal statistics and short, quick answers to important legal questions are other sharable and quotable forms of content that can garner backlinks from around the web.

Reporters and journalists, for instance, often require stats or facts to flesh out a story involving a legal matter. If your site is referenced, you may attract a backlink from a media outlet (more about this later).

For example, here’s the FAQ page of immigration law from Vrapi Weeks.

Link Building for Lawyers FAQs
(Image Source)

Podcasts and videos

To stand out from competitors, lawyers are getting ever-more creative with content. Podcasts and video content are quite common now and resonate with certain audiences.

The best content often attracts plenty of backlinks — including those from media organizations, many of which are of high domain authority and worth their weight in gold.

Podcasts and video content often feature host bios, which is a great place to insert a backlink to your law firm’s website, providing another previous link.

Some sites, like the Legal Talk Network, mainly feature podcast content designed to help lawyers and law firms. However, contributors get a backlink to their website in the contributor bio section — like this one from J. Craig Williams at the Williams Law Corporation.

Link Building for Lawyers Podcasts
(Image Source)

Note how this contributor not only gets a link to his firm’s website but also to his publications and journal contributions.

Another great way to approach this is to make high-quality podcasts for your law firm website that get picked up and linked to by other legal websites. Personal injury lawyer Michael Cowen from Begum & Cowen in New Mexico has created the Trial Lawyer Nation podcast.

Link Building for Law Firms Podcasts
(Image Source)

Personal injury lawyer Ben Schwartz from Schwartz & Schwartz links to the podcast in this blog post featured on the firm’s website, providing a useful backlink to Michael Cowen’s podcast.

Link Building for Law Firms Podcasts 2
(Image Source)

Guest posting

Guest posting or guest blogging is where lawyers publish content on another authority’s website.

The reason? To generate a backlink either in the copy, in the author bio, or both — like this guest post on changes to accident benefits on the Personal Injury Claims Blawg by Ontario firm Bogoroch & Associates.

Link Building for Lawyers Guest Blogging
(Image Source)

Guest blogging is usually a temporary arrangement because multiple links from the same domain tend to lose power after the first one, as already explained.

But you can guest blog on multiple sites, such as fellow law firms or a related professional association, for instance. Provided that the topic is of use to the target website’s audience and the target website is reputable, the backlinks you receive can provide a real search boost.

To find prospective guest blogging sites, you can seek out related sites with a “write for us” page that includes guidelines for guest bloggers to submit content. Simply searching for “write for us,” “guest blog,” or “guest article” pages in your practice area on Google should uncover some good candidates.

The Personal Injury Claims Blawg includes a section on PI Law Blogging Guidelines on its main menu.

Link Building for Law Firms Guest Blogging

Sometimes, though, it’s not so obvious, and you’ll need to reach out to the website owner or editor and suggest a mutually beneficial guest blogging arrangement.

Samples of websites that you might like to contact include:

  • Related law firms, e.g., a family law practice might have content that an estate planning law firm’s audience might be interested in, or an IP lawyer might have content that a corporate law firm’s audience may be interested in
  • Lawyer publications that feature your practice area
  • Related professional service businesses, e.g., an estate planning lawyer might write content that is interesting for a local accountant’s readers

For instance, a divorce lawyer or family lawyer may be able to contribute to the Divorce Mag website like in this podcast interview with a Florida family lawyer.

Law Firm Link Building Guest Blogging
(Image Source)

Sometimes, guest blogging goes one better than providing a backlink and leads to a potential client contacting you directly about your services.

A few best practice guidelines with guest posting include:

  • Only publish posts on reputable and relevant websites where there is a genuine interest in your topic
  • Check out their backlink profiles to ensure their authority/domain rating is good
  • Ask professionals you already know if you can post on their site (if relevant)
  • Change the anchor text for links — don’t simply repeat the same one over and over
  • If possible, get links placed in the body of the post rather than the footer or bio section

Build legal directory profiles

The best legal directories get lots of high-intent traffic looking for lawyers, perform well in search, and are high profile.

As such, directories such as Avvo, Lawyers.com, NOLO/Martindale, and HG.org can provide your firm with high-quality citations (mentioned) and backlinks.

Most of these legal directories allow you to create a profile for free. Many of these will include a link to your law firm’s website, boosting search and providing referral traffic. For some, you may need to pay for the privilege.

Here’s a good example of a free Avvo profile with a prominent link to the lawyer’s website.

Link Building for Law Firms Avvo Directory
(Image Source)

Following is a broad overview of the main legal directories with their domain rating (evaluation of authority).

Legal Directories Domian Rating
(Image Source)

Focus on the most reputable directories at or near the top of this list with a high domain rating/domain authority.

Remember to keep the format consistent when you include your name, address, and contact details in your profile in these directories. This confirms to Google that you’re a real business and helps SEO.

As mentioned already, some directory backlinks may be nofollow. While this robs you of most of the SEO value, the citation will be of value and will help the overall strength of your link profile, which is important too.

Other non-lawyer-specific directories also provide valuable citations, and some may provide backlinks. Here’s a good example with a prominent backlink from Yelp.

Link Building for Law Firms Yelp Directory
(Image Source)

Also, consider creating profiles with the following:

  • Apple Maps
  • Local.com
  • Bing Places
  • Facebook Business
  • Merchant Circle
  • SuperPages
  • Manta
  • WhitePages.com

Contributing to legal articles

Many popular legal directories allow lawyers to contribute legal articles to help answer visitors’ legal questions.

While not all of them allow you to post a dofollow backlink to your website, there are several that do: notably, lawyers.com and lawguru.com. When you choose where to link to, it doesn’t need to be the home page.

Here’s an example of a contributor attorney profile on lawyers.com. It includes a backlink to the law firm website Nelson, Snuffer, Dahle & Poulsen, P.C., with a summary of all recent articles written by the attorney on lawyers.com.

Link Building for Law Firms Legal Directory Articles
(Image Source)

The best practice with backlinks is to link back to the most topically relevant article on your website, but this is not always possible.

Note that some of the most popular lawyer directories like Avvo, Nolo, HG.org, and others don’t allow a dofollow link back to your site even if you submit valuable content. You may have other reasons for submitting content to these directories, but they won’t earn you much for your backlink profile.

Check with the directory whether backlinks are allowed before you submit content and are disappointed.


Reach out to journalists

Backlinks from media organizations are extremely valuable. As such, reaching out to reporters via services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) can be an important link-building strategy for lawyers.

Legal insight, engaging opinion, statistics, and quotations are often sought for news stories in North America, so it’s a win-win. Reporters can improve their news stories, and the lawyer gets a backlink.

This explains how it works.

Link Building for Law Firms HARO
(Image Source)

Once you sign up, you can choose the lists of industries you want to receive daily source requests for under “preferences.”

You can then submit answers to questions or opinions on matters that journalists are looking for help with. Include a short bio, your law firm’s website URL, and any other relevant information requested by the journalist.

You won’t necessarily be informed if the journalist uses your info. But the content from HARO is often used by major news outlets, such as Reuters, Fox News, Time, etc.

ResponseSource is a good alternative.

Link Building for Law Firms ResponseSource
(Image Source)

Another option for reaching out to journalists is to follow them on Twitter and initiate contact when legal expertise or opinion in your practice area is needed. You can search for “#Journorequest” with a keyword relevant to your practice area, e.g., personal injury, corporate law, etc.


“Win” legal awards and join associations

Joining associations should be part of every law firm’s link-building campaign to raise credibility and build social proof. Beyond that, it can also generate backlinks, as you may be entitled to a free profile on the association’s website.

Likewise, winning awards can help your credibility and social proof, as well as generate backlinks from profile pages for recipients. Some awards are peer-nominated, while others use different criteria.

Getting on SuperLawyers (by Thomson-Reuters) Best of the Best and Top lists can earn an award to display on your website and a valuable backlink from a high-ranking legal website.

Link Building for Law Firms Awards
(Image Source)

Success won’t happen overnight. Start by nominating other respected lawyers on websites like National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and the American Association for Justice.

Link Building for Lawyers National Trial Lawyers
(Image Source)

Let your contact know about the nomination, and it may be reciprocated in the future.


Consider local sponsorships

Some law firms sponsor charities, sports teams, or local events to give something back, raise their profile and brand awareness in the local community, and generate backlinks.

Even partnering in online events like webinars can yield backlinks. Estate planning attorney Amy McGarry teamed up with Clio for this virtual meetup on estate planning in 2021, earning a precious backlink.

Link Building for Law Firms Events
(Image Source)

Sponsoring charities and/or fundraisers might generate great community sentiment and a .org backlink, which should also aid your backlink profile.

You can also include a profile with a backlink to your website in local business directories like the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. The Google Business Profile is also an important piece of online “real estate” that includes a link to your site and numerous other benefits for local search.

Another type of sponsorship deal is to provide a scholarship for a student. While this certainly involves some investment, a backlink from a local college or university can be like gold dust for SEO.

Usually, scholarships involve creating a sponsorship program, promoting it on a page, creating a list of targeted .edu domains, and reaching out to the schools and universities to link to your scholarship page — providing a much-sought-after backlink.

Personal injury law firm Shook & Stone in Nevada regularly offers $2,500 scholarships, announcing them on a dedicated page on their website.

Link Building for Law Firms Scholarships
(Image Source)

Many universities link to this Shock & Stone scholarship page, including Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Illinois, and Indiana University.

The Washington & Lee University School of Law includes the following page on its site, listing an array of student scholarships, each with a .edu backlink to the sponsoring organization.

Link Building for Lawyers Scholarships
(Image Source)

A quick word about .edu abuse

A few years ago, John Mueller (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) stated that many .edu links were spammed because of their perceived value. For that reason, Google was devaluing links on financial aid pages.

This seems to be directed at sponsorship programs, in particular. The strategy became so popular that it backfired for many firms. Consider this one carefully before implementing, but remember that “devalue” is not the same as “no value”


Get listed on your alma mater’s website

As mentioned, .edu links from law schools or universities are some of the best (but toughest) links to get.

It’s worth chasing a mention and link from your law school or undergraduate alma mater. Many schools allow you to add a link to your listing to their dedicated alumni section or directory profile.

Here’s an example from the University of San Diego School of Law where an alumnus now at LeGolvan Law gets a valuable .edu backlink in a feature about alumni success stories.

Link Building for Lawyers Alumni Links
(Image Source)

You might also consider providing content to the school’s blog or site as a guest blogger, passing on valuable legal tips to students.


Write reviews/testimonials

Don’t overuse this one, but businesses you work with are often good resources for building links, especially if they’re in a related field.

For instance, if you’re an estate litigation lawyer who often needs to work with a forensic accountant, it makes sense for you to link to — and request a link from — that business.

Ontario-based bookkeeping and accounting company Envolta includes reviews with mentions/links to law firms it provides services for.

Link Building for Lawyers Reviews
(Image Source)

A good way to approach it is to first write a review/testimonial about your experiences of collaborating with that business. Besides being a nice thing to do, some websites may agree to include a backlink below the review.

This is a relatively simple way to boost your number of backlinks


Discover unlinked mentions

Sometimes, websites mention your business but don’t link to your website. This may be because they forget, include the wrong link, or it’s against their policy.

You can identify when this happens with Google Alerts, which allows you to sign up to receive an email whenever someone publishes content that mentions your firm, like this.

Link Building for Lawyers Google Alerts
(Image Source)

If there is no link to your site in the content, you can email the website, thank them for their mention, and request a link.


Requesting niche edits

This one is about contacting a website that has published a piece of content in your niche and requesting a link to a relevant page on your website. It saves you from having to write new content yourself.

However, it only works if your existing content can add significant value to readers of the content on the target site. You may also be asked to pay for the privilege or offer something in return — bear in mind that this is expressly against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Again, do not overdo this strategy but it can be worth it if the target website is of sufficient authority and relevant to your niche.


Reverse engineer your competitors’ websites

Do you know who links to your main competitors?

This is important information as the backlink profile of your competitors could be a key reason they outrank you in Google. Understanding who links to them should be a primary goal.

The websites linking to your competitors could be linking to you. A couple of tools can help you do that.

We’ve mentioned them before, but the Ahrefs Site Explorer tool and Moz’s Link Explorer make it easy to check backlink profiles.

Link Building for Law Firms Moz Link Explorer
(Image Source)

Once you identify the leading referral domains, you may be able to reach out to the website owners for links back to your site.

You can also use these tools to:

  • Discover the type of content that attracts attention and backlinks so you can replicate it.
  • Find guest posting opportunities — simply approach the sites that accept guest posts from your competitor(s).

Start building a stronger backlink profile for better search performance

It may not be something you look after personally for your firm, but link building for lawyers should not be overlooked if you’re doing any law firm marketing.

Law firms have a distinct advantage over other business types for generating high-quality backlinks — a wealth of specialist knowledge and topical authority. But expecting to naturally attract enough high-quality links simply by the brilliance of your content could be depriving your firm of valuable traffic, leads, and paying clients.

Work with your SEO experts to adopt the strategies outlined above, and over time (months and years, not weeks), build a backlink profile that Google simply cannot ignore.

This means attracting a natural and diverse array of backlinks with a good mixture of authority websites that reflect your law firm’s location, clients, practice areas, and the legal industry in general.