Having high-quality links from websites and using internal links effectively are key elements of a successful search engine optimization strategy. When high-authority websites link to your site, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable, so they’ll rank it more highly and consumers will be able to find it more easily.
In the early days of SEO, quantity was key – the more backlinks you had, the better. It didn’t matter if they were from high-authority sites or even if they were from sites that were relevant to your business. Law firms and other companies would simply put links on every available site so they’d have lots of inbound links.
Fast forward to 2012 when Google rolled out the Penguin update to their algorithm. Penguin targeted and penalized sites that had large amounts of low-quality and irrelevant backlinks. As a result, a lot of law firms had to invest a significant amount of effort in cleaning up their backlink profile, which included:
- The removal of any unnatural links they controlled, including links that they built themselves or paid to have placed on 3rd party websites
- The disavowal of spammy links that other sites may have posted
Here at the Academy, we had some cleaning up of our own to do for some of our websites but have made a significant amount of progress, resulting in our sites now consistently ranking well.
It’s important to remember that Google can, and often does, change its algorithm at any time, so steer clear of any “sketchy” link-building practices. You can do long-term damage to your optimization efforts by making link-building mistakes, even if you get a short-term boost to your rankings.
Link Building Mistakes
To make sure you get high quality links that help you for the long-haul, here are a few key mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t spam your site: Avoid posting comments where your only purpose is to place your link and don’t guest blog or post on forums if your only purpose is to link to your site
- Don’t buy, exchange, or automate links: Search engines can detect when your site is listed on sites with no real content or on spam sites whose only purpose is to advertise- and you’ll face penalties when your site suddenly shows up everywhere. If a site is selling links to you, they’re probably selling them to others- and large amounts of questionable links on a site increases the chances of a Google penalty.
- Don’t put links on sites with unrelated content: It’s important that search engines can discern what your website and your law practice is all about and inbound links from sites with no connection to your services aren’t going to help bolster your credibility in your area of expertise.
- Don’t over-optimize anchor text: Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. When you link to your site, avoid using spammy-sounding keywords in the anchor text you use. Google and other search engines penalize for keyword stuffing and spam keywords.
- Don’t make all links go to your home page: This can make your link building look like spam. Instead, try to link to the specific pages that are relevant to the content. For example, if someone is writing news about your firm, they’ll usually naturally link to the relevant news page.
The bottom line is, your link building should be natural, links should be placed on posts and social media because they benefit users, and you should provide high quality content. When you have natural links that make sense on high quality sites, search engines can detect this and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with higher rankings and more conversions.
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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