Should lawyers build links using article directories?

Does your law firm’s SEO marketing include submitting to article directories? I recommend that you cease and desist.

A very long time ago, in an internet very far away… 2007…

Article directories ranked as one of the most popular ways to attract visitors and earn links online. And this technique largely worked. Businesses could expect to both acquire referral visitor traffic from article directories, as well as, generate links that actually improved their sites’ visibility within search results.

But as noted at the beginning, that was a very long time ago, and a very different internet.

If you’re not familiar with article marketing in this sense, try my description from 2012:

Article Marketing – This is where your internet marketer (and they have software for this one too), goes out and posts crappy articles on article directories and spam blogs. Again, the intent is to build links back to your website for search engine juice. Once again, the problem is that the articles suck. If you’re lucky they’re illegible, and if you’re not, the spread bad information under your name. Again, the “clever” ninjas will use pseudonyms, or awesome names like “los angeles criminal defense lawyer” to protect your identity. Unfortunately for you, it’s easy to trace it back to you by clicking on that pesky link to your website. Other people read these articles and think to themselves, this lawyer is either full of herself (it’s self-promotional), how did they get a law degree (if it’s illegible), or incompetent if it’s just flat wrong.

A bit harsh perhaps. Some lawyers actually put thought into their article directory posts. But as an SEO strategy, well, don’t take my word for it:

If someone pitches you on article marketing in this context, run.

And by run, I don’t mean, “line item out article marketing,” from your SEO campaign. I mean don’t work with these folks.

Even if some of their other ideas have merit, recommending this type of article directory marketing indicates a fundamental lack of knowledge of how the internet and search engines have evolved.

It also demonstrates a willingness on their part to expose your sites and reputation to significant risks.

Look, there was a time when article directories had a place in online marketing. That time has long passed.

Instead of trying to identify, “the top article directories,” work to identify people with whom you can develop an online relationship.

While posting content “around the web,” can be valuable, the where and the what you post matter.

Instead of starting with requests to post, start by listening. Add commentary. Be social.

When it becomes apparent that you have something more substantive to contribute (and it’s obvious that the other site could benefit and wants something from you), open the conversation. Focus on what your story is and to whom you should make your pitch.

HINT: Unsolicited emails to people you don’t know is not the correct approach.