In the unequal democracy of search engines, links to a website are votes for that website. Therefore, getting a quantity of quality links to your website and/or blog, should be a large part of your web strategy. However, it's important to understand that not all links are equal. Likewise, it's also very important to recognize that "link strategies" are not equal.
Law Firm Link Networks
One of the most common, and currently highly successful, link strategies is link networking. While these networks take many forms, the very general structure looks something like this:
- Law firms pay the network administrator for access to the network
- Links to the law firm's website or blog are added to some or all of the networked sites.
- Access to the link network provides a variety of links from several domains back to the participating law firm websites or blogs.
As previously stated, at present, there are several powerful legal link networks that are generating excellent results for their participating law firms. There is no question that firms accessing these networks are enjoying very strong search engine positions for rather competitive search phrases. The relative impact of accessing the link network depends on both the number and quality of the participating websites.
While a link network strategy can generate significant results in terms of search engine positioning, it is not without limitation.
First, it's very important to remember that access to a link network typically hinges upon payment of a subscription fee to the network. If you stop paying the subscription, you may lose access to the links. This is not a problem so long as the subscription fee is generating results (however measured). Unfortunately, many law firms contract seo companies with the understanding that they are building links only to later find out that they are merely paying for access to a link network. When the law firm wishes to part ways with the seo company, they lose all their links. This is a key difference between accessing a link network and hiring an seo to perform strategic link building services.
Second, it's also important to keep in mind that, depending on how the link network is constructed, it may be negatively viewed as a link farm. Search engines don't like link farms and have imposed harsh penalties for sites that have participated in them. Unfortunately, search engines don't provide bright-line rules for what constitutes a "bad" link farm and what constitutes a "good" link network. For the most part, the quality of the participating sites will play a large role in the distinction.
Identifying quality link networks and measuring their results is an important component to any law firm web strategy.
Strategic Link Building
Another very common link strategy is what I call "strategic link building". With strategic link building, a law firm webmaster or seo consultant seeks out new links from a large variety of sources. While identifying link networks may be a part of this strategy, it is only a piece of the puzzle.
Part of a strategic link building campaign includes competitive analysis. This means that the law firm webmaster or consultant identifies a law firm's web competitors and performs a back link analysis to search out from where the competition is acquiring links. From there, they can prioritize link targets, grabbing the low-hanging fruit quickly, and putting into place a comprehensive plan for attaining links from more difficult sources.
Hiring a consultant to build links on your firm's behalf is not without risks. There are many seo consultants that sell commodity link building services that simply don't produce results. Their pitch usually includes submissions to various "seo" directories and social bookmarking sites that are unlikely to provide any benefit. Furthermore, some will even comment spam other legal blogs that is not only likely to have little to no effect on your search engine position, but could also be very harmful to your online professional reputation.
Both accessing link networks and strategic link building should be carefully considered when implementing a law firm web strategy. No matter which strategies you adopt, keep in mind that without a consistent stream of new quality links to your website and/or blog, you are unlikely to have success online.