Tanner Jones 2013-10-25 12:10:32
Link Building Tactics That Can Destroy Your Law Firm’s Website Google has rolled out several search algorithm updates within the past year, most of which have been geared toward improving user experience by focusing on high relevance and strong content. Many websites took a hit aft er Google’s Penguin algorithm updates in 2012 and early 2013. Your firm may be one of those who are still struggling to regain its website rankings. The Penguin update particularly analyzed backlink portfolios (the list of external websites that link back to your website). Sites with low quality links pointing to their domain were penalized. Manual backlink based penalties are determined by human reviewers, but Penguin looks at links algorithmically. For example, if the new algorithm found hundreds of low-quality directories were pointing to a website, the site likely got penalized for spammy or manipulative linking practices. These frowned upon link building tactics not only disregard Google’s standards, they also reflect poorly on your business. Your legal Web developers should hold to the same ethical standards with which you operate your law firm. Some have chosen to skirt the rules to improve their short-term rankings, but their longterm success is sabotaged when updates like Penguin or Panda come out to better enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines. As a general rule, if a link does not pass value to the user and send relevant traffic to your site, it is not a link you want. If you want to boost your law firm’s website rankings for the long-term, avoid these outdated and ineffective tactics that will certainly hurt your website’s search presence. LINKS FROM IRRELEVANT SITES It may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning that irrelevant content linking back to you will hurt your law firm’s website rankings. Just think about it—if you were a search engine, would a site focused around dinosaurs really post a valid link to a law firm website? Probably not. Google and other search engines are continually emphasizing the importance of the user experience. One way to prevent a poor user experience is to serve up relevant and useful content, backed with equally relevant and useful links. LINK FARMING Link farming is a known black hat SEO tactic. Link farm websites have only one purpose: to list links for websites that want more links, usually in exchange for a fee. However, these link farms add no real value to your website. Your rankings will suffer if your site developers have utilized the damaging services of link farms. If you are concerned that your backlink portfolio may have traces of link farming, you may benefit from the information provided in a comprehensive Web audit, as it is not always easy to discover and remove these existing backlinks. PAID LINKS Paid link building is another artificial link building process. Law Web Marketing blogger LeAnna Easterday says, “Paid links are normally from non-relevant sites (e.g., ilovefood.blogspot. com) and their link to your site in the context of the articles will not make sense. For example: Cucumbers are good for you and are definitely not needed if you have been in a Texas car accident.” Like link farming, paid links are an outdated link building tactic. To ensure that your law firm website will not be penalized by the search engines, stop any known paid link building efforts. EXACT MATCH DOMAIN SATELLITE SITES Last year, Google’s Penguin algorithm specifically targeted low-quality EMDs, or exact match domains. Historically, EMDs were one of the most popular ways to build your site’s link portfolio. Many firms created multiple, sometimes over 20, EMDs with targeted keywords in the domain (such as St-Louis-Car- Accident-Lawyer.com). Then they used these to link back to their primary website. In this “hub and spoke” strategy, multiple EMD sites would act as “spokes” that directed visitors toward a main law firm “hub” website. Because Google’s algorithm used to assume that these keyword-rich domains were a brand name, EMDs often ranked highly simply based on the keywords included. This is generally referred to as a doorway page/site strategy. Today, search engines prefer to see Web developers invest their resources to build a strong, primary website. Your law firm will have much stronger online visibility with your link building efforts centered on one authoritative website. BLOG COMMENT SPAMMING SEO analyst and links expert Jason Giroux says that blog spamming is another bad link tactic that should be avoided. Blog comment spamming is the practice of leaving irrelevant comments on sites not related to your niche. If you’ve browsed the Internet for any length of time, you’ve likely noticed an out-of-place comment—such as a user selling rock climbing gear on your family law site. “Not only are these links bad for SEO,” Jason says, “but because they are posted on forums and blogs frequented by others it can make your firm look unprofessional and spammy.” As comment spam has become more pervasive, many blogs have made it so that comments made on their site do not pass on any value through the links put in comments. Unless you have something truly valuable to include, it is unlikely that leaving hundreds of blog comments across the Web will benefit your law firm at all. As you can see, many of these outdated strategies become fairly obvious when matched with the following rule: If a link does not pass value to the user and send relevant traffic to your site, it is not a link you want. Always stay up-to-date with recent changes in algorithm updates. Sometimes things deemed to be spammy were at one time held up as the standard of excellence by search engines. Things in the world of SEO are constantly changing, but it is possible to create a quality, long-lasting Web presence with unswerving ethics, attention to detail and determination. Tanner Jones serves as the marketing director for Consultwebs.com, a premier provider of innovative online legal marketing to ethical U.S. law firms seeking growth and profit. They foster professional, long-term relationships built on trust, integrity, quality and results. Often the first contact their clients have with the firm, Tanner helps law firms develop their online marketing strategies, including search engine optimization, responsive website design, and pay-per-click advertising. Tanner has spoken and presented at multiple legal marketing seminars throughout the country. Contact Tanner for a free evaluation of your online presence at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 872-6590.
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