By Michael P. Ehline, Esq. – Lawyers, especially PI lawyers, know that it is near impossible to get quality backlinks, unless your friends with every webmaster in town (And as will be discussed, the new “social media” friend-making, is exactly the same, but on a different medium.) In any event, getting a gratuitous link is virtually impossible. In the words of Max Minzer, it must be “earned.” As the Marines might say, you have to “earn it” if you want the pride of being number one!
And all of us accident law firms already know that consumers just are really not engaging in articles about or related to accidents, or injuries unless that rogue case of some guy who calls and says he was abducted by aliens and wants to sue.
In the unter world, most of us lawyers get cases when Consumers type in a search: “car accident attorney” for example, and expect to find a lawyer right there in front of their face. In any event, Google has shifted from a consumer based type system in some ways, and non consumer search based in other ways. Yes authorship profiles and signals are the new thing. But in the past, if I, “Joe Schmoe”, liked your legal services, I could put a link in my sidebar on my pet store website, for example, and if that site had authority, the keywords the pets store admin placed, would boost the SERPS for that term to your legal website. Over time, Google started to devalue links from non related sites. What used to work for rankings, does not work now.
Example of What Used To Work:
Joe’s Pet Store Blogroll:
If your hurt, contact “>>>>hyperlink: “personal injury lawyers Los Angeles”
So you can see, a long time ago, you could use that exact match anchor on lots of sites and win big online. But with Panda, great content was a major factor, and with Penguin, exact match overoptimization was actually pushing established sites down in the SERPS in favor of maybe older or even newer sites, that had hardly any backlinks, and non keyword stuffed (quality) copy. Google says unless it is a “natural” link, like “view website”, “click here”, www.yourdomain.com”, or brand, like “Ehline Law Firm PC”, it probably is paid, or not natural, unless just a small percentage of your overall backlinks profile.
Ok. so your asking yourself. “Ok, I can just ask the site owner to change the anchor text to a naked, or a branded anchor on those old sites?” Right? Well on many levels, that is probably not natural. So don’t count on that.
Google Probably Doesn’t Think a Link from a Pet Store Site is Relevant to a Legal Site
Google is now more than ever, looking at the theme of the site your link is on. The more closely it matches in quality, topic, and 200 plus other factors, the higher Google serves up your ranking in the SERPS. So don’t be fooled by people selling link dilution. If the links are not on relevant sites, they are probably hurting you. Besides, paying for someone to “dilute” your links is probably not natural. Google picks up on the link networks being used to dilute. Build a bad ass site and engage. Get involved in mentoring. Don’t be stingy or think you know some secret. The only secret is hard work and being a mensch. Get it?
Holy Cow How Does a Lawyer Get a Quality Link?
Ok ok. So after Penguin and Panda a lot of things changed and other things took more precedence in the minds of attorney webmasters like building and earning naked and branded anchors. It is no longer just about “link dilution”. It is about obtaining a natural link to a site that is basically another legal site. The closer in practice area, the better. Now, to the meat of the matter. Obtaining votes from other legal, and related, or “relevant” websites, or backlinks will help boost your site’s search engine ranking. Of course, my position is that engagement, and traffic are really what it is all about now. I mean, who would have thought that an Alexa type shift would take place? In any event, once you have determined which websites you want to obtain links from, you can begin the process of link, or “vote” earning. Vote earning is the process of using your social skills to make alliances and friendships, in business and in pleasure, on sites like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and for lawyers who are serious about search engine marketing, Circle of Legal Trust.
Attorneys need to engage fellow lawyers and go out of their way to help them with Google Quality Guidelines Compliance, good content methods and tactics, brainstorming ideas to get engagement from non attorneys, etc.. This is done in many ways. This can be done by sending correspondence via e mail, by adding to your circles, and by building a friendship. I have gotten clients who see me online and like me. In any event, at some point, this will just happen naturally. You will share a story, a fellow colleague will see it in his or her stream, and it will get shared, retreated, blah blah blah.
Spread Some Love
You can always type a little mention on your own site, inking back to your new friend, and I am sure the love will come back. If you want to go off the grid, in an email, they will already know you, so you can say what you want to do, and it won’t be looked at as junk mail by the person receiving it. Do not start the email with Dear Webmaster, and do not use generic text, if you start out that way modify it.
Show You Can Help Them Strengthen Their Trust
The email should include the URL to your site or article that you would like them to include as a possible resource or authority in their citations. You should tell them that you believe their page relates well to the subject matter of your website and include your URL. Personalize the message even more, by calling your subject or theme by name. Specify any sections of their page and yours, which seem especially related. Provide information that shows you have read their page, and this can also help in a better placed link, near relevant text.
Prove to Them You Know Your Stuff
Should you find any technical problems on their website, like a typographical error, missing graphic, broken links, server error or other issue, inform the website owner. This could be done by saying, “when I visited your site, three-quarters of the way down on your main page, there is a broken link.” I thought you would like to know, so you can install a broken links plugin on your WordPress. Maybe I can help you get rid of that repeating title? You should not be repeating the title of your website with every new post, it looks spammy, etc.” Get it? Help them. They are lawyers, they are colleagues. Engage!
Compliment and Assist
Be tactful. Tell them how nice their site is, or is not, and suggest improvements for the to make, or that you noticed they have citations to the relevant sources, services, products or information, as your website has, but in other helpful ways to their audience. Explain you were curious, if they consider including you as a source. Help them make their site better, so it becomes a “quality site”. In the end, you only want people voting for you who have great sites with great audience engagement. You are not looking for rankings, you are looking for traffic from an audience of legal consumers. Get it? Like my dad always says, if you work hard, the money will come. It is true. If you work hard at becoming a high traffic, and relevant site, you are gonna naturally float to the top of the SERPS. Are you getting this?
Legal Link Magnet
If you have a legal website “link magnet”, which could be a how-to-guide, sample discovery, letters to insurance adjustors, how to file a small claims case, reference materials, information, etc., that is unique, or a legal web application that would be valuable to users. Tell them that you believe would be applicable to their site, suggest they look at it, to see if they think it could be valuable to their website visitors. Then you may not need to ask for a link, they can come to that decision on their own, after visiting what you feel is pertinent to their website. You may be an elder abuse lawyer. There may be a guy who only does a lot of car accidents, but has an elder law “child” (landing page for you youngsters) page on his/her site. Perhaps you can cite out to his child page if it has good info that will help injured elders, for example.
Try and Be The Gold Standard
It only takes five or ten minutes to collect information that can lead to a valuable vote and business/friends contact. A citation from a quality legal website, usually lasts for a long time, and might bring quality traffic that will be even more than just resulting in better rankings. It may boost your brand. And that is what we all want. We all want to be the gold standard at C.O.L.T. We want to push all our members and friends up the ladder of success.
This means you do not want to scare the person away by playing “know it all,” but you must prove you know what you are talking about. Provide a little of your own expertise and your commitment to success for you and them. Send them a link to your profile at C.O.L.T. Putting yourself in their place, may help in writing this part of a private IM, etc. Think about how you would feel receiving this kind of help. In some cases it might be appropriate to call them on the phone or visit them, but only after the email contact and somewhat of a relationship has formed, otherwise you could appear as a cyber-stalker to this stranger.
Being Whitelisted Goes a Long Way At Proving Your Authorship Trust
All patched members of the Circle of Legal Trust are in the Legal Whitelist, as are their personal and business whitelists. Anyways, if you are part of an organization that is already known for helping lawyers build out their online properties, and getting mentored, you are going to earn respect of people with strong authorship signals and ultimately, that is the NEW backlink. To be continued.
Citations and Authorities:
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