By now, you should know that if you want your law firm to rank highly, you need to think about obtaining some backlinks.
For the most part, backlinks broaden your reach and increase the number of people who are able to find your website via organic means.
It’s also a key indicator for Google to know which sites are worthwhile ranking in the coveted top 10, page one, position on their search engine.
You may have already sought out opportunities to get backlinks, or you might just be looking to start.
What if i was to tell you though, that the number of backlinks wasn’t as important as the quality of the backlinks you receive?
What if i was to tell you that some backlinks can actually hurt your law firm?
In this post we’re going to look at the difference between good and bad backlinks, how bad backlinks can actually lower your Google ranking and what you should do if you come across bad backlinks linking to your site.
So whether you’ve been collecting backlinks for years, or are just starting out with your backlink strategy, this post is for you.
Difference between good and bad backlinks
As we stated before, there are good backlinks and there are bad backlinks. Ultimately, if you want your law firm to succeed, you need to be aware of what constitutes a good backlink and know when to avoid, and subsequently, remove bad backlinks.
Good backlinks are the type that increase your traffic and boost your rankings. Google, themselves have indicated via PageRank that links are an important factor in a website’s success.
So it comes as no surprise that you would be looking for backlinks for your website. Largely, a good backlink can be defined as a link from a reputable site in your industry. Ideally, you’re looking for a site with a high domain authority and large traffic volume.
Keep in mind though, the relevancy of the link is super important too. If you have a law firm, getting a backlink from the top dog site in the world isn’t going to help you, no matter how much traffic they have.
What constitutes as a bad backlink?
A bad backlink generally follows the rule of a backlink acquired by unnatural methods. Remember, Google’s search engine is intelligently designed to work out whether a website has value or not. They want to know that people have naturally chosen to link to your content, because it’s valuable, and not because you’ve paid to have a placement there.
So backlinks that have been bought are generally considered as bad, unless they follow the rule of using the rel:NoFollow which tells Google to ignore that link as a recommendation.
Key point: Using “noFollow links on your own website for advertisement or sponsored links is a good way to prove to Google that the follow links you have included are trustworthy.
Since the internet began, people have tried to find ways to beat the system. However black-hat SEO techniques like this, although, they might give you short term success, they can actually hinder your progress. Google even have their own quality guidelines that you should definitely read before you think about including links on your own website or seeking links from elsewhere.
Another bad link tactic is to aggressively swap links with other people. The way this works is you find a website and inquire about a link swap. They place a link to your website on their website and you do the same for theirs.
Google’s algorithm is clever enough to know when this is happening.
A small amount of reciprocal links from highly relevant sites is ok and normal but do not do it too much.
Buying backlinks or attempting to acquire unnatural backlinks may give you an initial boost in your rankings, but once Google has trawled the web and see your backlinks, you’re likely to be penalized.
Ideally you want to avoid getting links from websites that are set up with the sole purpose of producing links. It’s normally fairly easy to tell these websites apart from natural websites, because all their links will lack any coherence and are normally part of a link network created just to provide spammy backlinks that will inevitably reduce your Google search results.
Be careful to look at your anchor texts using a tool like AHREFS. Links should, as we discussed feel natural. Make sure sites do not use the same anchor text over and over in the links that point to your site.
Also look for duplicate content. If a site has “best law firm” written over and over and over and has linked to your site within that text, Google will deem it as spammy and low quality.
How to identify bad backlinks
Now that you understand the difference between good and bad backlinks, it’s time to work out whether your law firm has any bad backlinks so that we can start to remove them.
There are a number of different tools available to help you discover if you have bad backlinks.
Firstly, you can use the Google Search Console to identify whether or not all or some of your links seem unnatural. The search console will allow you to download sample links where you can go through the list of sites that are linking to you and evaluate whether or not they are good or bad links.
Alternatively why not look at a tool like AHREFS or SEMrush, both will help you identify where your backlinks are coming from and whether or not you need to get rid of them.
Remember to consider:
- How relevant is the page that links to you. Does the website have anything to do with the topic of the page on your website they’re linking to?
- Does the page have a high domain authority? Does it look like a scheme set up to provide links to people or does it look like a website that’s trying to provide relevant, useful information for its readers?
- The anchor text. Does the text they’re linking actually relate to the page they’re linking to on your website.
You also want to try and ensure you have links from a large number of domains and a variety of link types (Media, high quality guest posts, blogs, resource sites, .edu etc.)
What do you do when you find bad backlinks? Before you contact Google to disavow the bad links, you should first:
- Contact the website owner and ask them to remove the link.This is a simple process and usually involves sending them an email letting them know you think the link was misplaced or shouldn’t be there.
- If they don’t get back to you, or refuse to remove the link, which can often be the case, use this guide to learn how to create a disavow file to send to the search engines to help disavow the bad links.
When you do remove your bad backlinks, you might find that your traffic will decrease as well. After all, there are now less websites on the internet pointing to your website and so there are less people finding you. This shouldn’t be considered a problem, though, because it’s likely the people who were coming to your website from these spammy sites weren’t your target audience anyways. It’s much better to have real targeted traffic.
When you do have bad quality backlinks linking to your law firm, not only does it harm your search ranking, but it also can be detrimental to the credibility of your law firm.
Remember with backlinks, think about both quantity and quality, but when it comes to choosing one, quality over quantity always.
If you do find you have one or two bad backlinks, don’t worry. Most websites will have a number of bad backlinks, the key is to ensure you have more good backlinks than bad.
Whether you’re just starting to get serious about building backlinks, or whether you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s important to take the time to continually monitor and analyze where your backlinks are coming from and the quality of them.
When it comes to cleaning your bad backlinks, you should try to come up with a systematic way to check whether you have any bad backlinks and then follow the steps outlined in this post to remove them.
Couple that strategy with a winning strategy to get good backlinks and your law firm will find itself increasing its ranking position in the search engines.