Links Are Still Important

Gyi Tsakalakis
February 17, 2014

Don't walk toward the social media SEO light. Links are still important.

Have you heard? Social is the new SEO.

Get your pages "tweeted," "liked," and shared and they'll rank prominently in search engines.

Even Moz proved it!

Seems that there has recently been an uptick in "social media experts" who are peddling this tripe.

But if you have evidence to the contrary, bring it.

I can show you plenty of sites that rank prominently solely on links. Can you show me just one site that ranks for competitive queries on social signals alone.

Back in October, Dan Petrovic, highly skilled SEO and managing director of Dejan SEO, reminded us that earning links still matters:

Here’s the thing many seem to be forgetting lately. Google is a link-based search engine, links are at its core, in its DNA. Unless somebody new comes and completely rewrites their algorithm, Google will continue to rely on links in conjunction with a variety of other signals for a long time to come. Don’t ignore links, they’re by far the strongest signal, particularly anchor text.

What has changed is Google’s ability to detect inorganic link patterns. At this point in time, their link spam algorithms are good enough. Not great, but good enough. This means that link and anchor text manipulation on any level no longer represent a viable option for serious businesses.

Even Google isn't trying to "hide the ball" about links:

Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

But again, we don't need Google's guidelines to know that links matter. Simply head over to Google and perform a back link analysis of any pages that appear prominently for competitive results. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the sites that rank for competitive queries have a quantity of quality, relevant and authoritative links.

I don't doubt that you can find some exceptions. However, those exceptions will largely include examples of sites that rank with "spam links" or are ranking for queries with exceptionally low competition.

Don't buy into the linkless SEO hype. Might we eventually see major search engines completely discount links as a ranking signal? Maybe. I'm skeptical. But that day certainly hasn't arrived yet.

So, what can lawyers do to earn links?

Real law firm stuff.

Think about whether anyone would want to link to your law firm website.

But also:

    • From

online legal publications

Don't participate in link schemes. Don't quid pro quo purchase links. And if you work with an SEO consultant, make sure you know where and why they are building links.

Think about how, and from where, you might try to earn links if search engines didn't exist.

If you've run out on link building inspiration, check out Jon Cooper's complete list of link building strategies.

As Dan notes in his post, links are in the DNA of most major search engines. The bottom-line is that if you want to appear prominently in search results, you need to earn links. Can social networks help to get your pages in front of people who can link? Absolutely.

But at least for now, just creating great content and getting it in front of people remains necessary, but not sufficient for SEO. People have to link to your pages. End of story.

[UPDATED: 02/19/14]

In a fortuitous twist of timeliness, Matt Cutts confirms what most good SEOs already knew: Links still matter.

Link-building takes time, effort, and strategy. Learn how we conduct link-building for our clients. Download Our Guide

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Let's Discuss Your Growth

Helping law firms grow profitably with digital marketing and can prove it.

Barry Conybeare

We are so impressed with AttorneySync and their digital marketing services. We started with an audit of our digital presence and hired them thereafter. Fixes to the website and other platforms quickly followed and we have seen a substantial increase in online traffic, new client calls, and new client contracts. Strongly recommend AttorneySync!

Let's Talk

How can we help?

More From Our Blog

June 8, 2023
On Local Law Firm SEO Rank Tracking and Reporting

Over the years, law firm prospects have sent us reports from just about all of our competitors. Unfortunately, even today, some law firm marketing agencies still mislead their clients via "reporting." One particularly egregious example comes in the form of ranking reports. Which prompted this LinkedIn post. To my surprise, I received a lot of […]

Read More
June 7, 2023
On Attribution

John Wanamaker supposedly said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." In an an effort to figure out "what half is working," attribution was born. Coupled with a transition from traditional, offline ads to digital media, attribution became the holy grail for analyzing advertising spends. But […]

Read More
March 22, 2023
I asked ChatGPT to Recommend a Personal Injury Law Firm

I recently asked ChatGPT, "What are some of the top personal injury law firms in Chicago?? Actually, first I ask "who are some of the top personal injury lawyers in Chicago?" ChatGPT couldn't handle that one, so I modified the prompt. ChatGPT listed five very well-known firms downtown. Can you guess the other four? That's […]

Read More
February 17, 2023
My Take on Google Search's Guidance on AI-Generated Content & Law Firm SEO

If you're like me, you have some degree of AI, ChatGBT, Bard, exhaustion. Now don't get me wrong, this is stuff is remarkable and is changing, well, a lot. But before you hook up the ChatGPT API to your WordPress API and crank out 10,000 pages, here are a few things to think about. Let's […]

Read More
February 16, 2023
Google Adds New SEO Best Practices for Links

If you know me, you know my opinions about links and SEO advice from Google. If you don't, here's the TL;DR: Meh, links! Meaning, all things being equal, links still remain a competitive difference maker for ranking. Take Google's SEO advice with several grains of salt. Google has no economic incentive to help your site […]

Read More
February 1, 2023
Authenticity & Engagement

The best marketing advice I can give you is to be authentic. Of course, you don't find that very helpful in terms of meeting your growth goals. So, you might decide to game the system. As I'm writing this, one of the more popular ways to gain the system is to pay for engagement. This […]

Read More
January 19, 2023
ChatGPT for Legal Marketing

The following post was written by ChatGPT. ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a state-of-the-art language model that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt or context. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that businesses, including law firms, market themselves to potential clients. One way that a law firm could use […]

Read More
May 26, 2022
SEO Expectations for Law Firms

How long does SEO take? When can I expect to see results? What results should I expect to see? These are all reasonable questions that we field from lawyers every day. And, like many legal answers, the answer is: It depends. Yes, I know that's not the answer you wanted. But it's the most honest […]

Read More
May 6, 2022
Who Should Do Marketing?

And how much time should they spend doing it? I recently had the privilege of chatting with Tyson, Jim, and Conrad for an upcoming episode of The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. If you're not familiar with The Maximum Lawyer community, you should definitely check it out. Jim asked a really great question about who should do […]

Read More

Let's Discuss

Questions or comments? Let's discuss on social!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram