You may have already guessed that we do have a strong opinion of the risks associated when firms completely disengage from their law firm SEO marketing efforts and outsource their SEO (search engine optimisation) completely to external providers, never knowing what tactics are being applied to catapult the firm to good rankings.
Why? Notably because the last few batches of Google algorithm changes have outlawed a number of tactics that were and sadly, continue to be common place in the work by Law Firm SEO companies generally.
The most prominent tactic is back-linking. In other words, seeking out other sites that may or may not have any relationship whatsoever to legal practice and placing a link on that particular site that links back to your website.
Now, if Google hasn’t an adverse opinion of the site that you’re linking your website from, then Google historically has seen this as being a tick in assisting your rankings. However, where it goes pear-shaped is where Google at some point, now or in the future, considers the linking site as a “link farm,” then deletes it from Google completely and those firms or businesses that have derived links from it. This is commonly called being, “sandboxed.”
Below is an example of the backlinking strategy being adopted by one Australian firm via its Law Firm SEO company. You will see this site has approximately 642 blended links. For example, links from both within and outside their website. Take a look: Now, in of itself there may be nothing unusual about this on face value. But when you drill down, there is a different story. Look below, and you will see a list of links, which is only some of them, pointing back to this firm’s website: Now, whether or not the source of these links can be considered a link farm, is for Google to determine. How they determine that can be read here
The latest post by Google’s Matt Cutts reiterates the importance of contextual backlinking and hints that in the future, links may not be as important in determining how well a firm’s site ranks in Google.
The key takeaway in all of this is:
1. Be careful about who is doing your SEO and take active steps in receiving monthly information relating to those links that were acquired and from where.
2. Think firstly about creating great content and secondly about other online conversations that may like to know about it. For example, if one of your lawyers has written a blog on new legislative changes to the Corporations Act, then there would be numerous blogs and news resource sites that may wish to link to your article.
3. Stay up to date with Google. I think even the most cynical firms have now conceded that significant leads derive from their website, either singularly or corroborated with a referral.