Meh, links. A recent article claims that the hard work of building backlinks to drive traffic to your law firm’s website isn’t worth it. Is that right? Spoiler alert: No; no it is not. The guys break down the fundamentals of link building and share their top ten tips to improve your search ranking.
Conrad and Gyi debate whether the Siege Media article is relevant to the legal industry, in their continued quest to find the best ways to connect your practice with prospective clients. Then they dive into the foundations of link building. Anchor text! Paid links! Link Sculpting! Oh, my!
Now that you’ve been schooled on the fundamentals of link building, let’s get you started right. Here are the guys’ 10 top tips you can put into action today. Building a solid backlink profile takes work, but—when it’s done right—it can be remarkably effective.
· Smith.ai, the virtual receptionist service, now offers automatic call recording and transcription.
· CallRail and Clio integration? What it is and what it isn’t.
· Google showing TikTok video shorts inSERP. Time to dust off your fancy dance moves.
· Internet Brands raises more money, now at a$12 billion valuation.
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Conrad Saam: Before we get started, we want to thank our sponsors, Clio, Lawyaw, POSH Virtual Receptionist and Nota. Gyi, you look like you are in a pretty fine hotel room there. What’s going on? Where are you?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I am in the Windy City sweet home Chicago for the ABA Summer Planning Session for Techshow. So, if you listen to this show, you better be at Techshow because there are a lot of really interesting things to learn there and awesome people to meet. You better be there, Conrad.
Conrad Saam: I’ll be there.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right.
Conrad Saam: I actually put together an amazing proposal that is stretching the tech of Techshow.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Stretching the tech?
Conrad Saam: So bluntly, one of the proposals I put in was not really tech related.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But it’s still a really good mix?
Conrad Saam: I know that’s what I said, but we’ll see what happens.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You see that board is a fierce board.
Conrad Saam: But seriously, all of you listening and you have a direct connection to influence what’s going on at Techshow. And so, you cannot complain about the quality of content from Techshow because you can talk to Gyi and Gyi will make it happen. Even my slightly less technical Techshow proposal talk.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Assuming that this episode is published prior to July 31, when we stopped accepting proposals, which I don’t think there will be, but you have been warned.
Conrad Saam: Fair point, it doesn’t mean that you can’t influence Gyi in terms of what you want to hear. It doesn’t mean that you need to even do a proposal. You can influence what Gyi select. He is the —
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m very impressionable. Very impressionable.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, like Scotch, too. I can send you his address if necessary.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What are we talking about today, Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Okay, lots of news coming out of the legal world, including a lot of money going down. So, we’re going to talk about that. Last session we promised to talk about Link Building, and this session we’re going to come through with that promise. If you are not interested in SEO, you should just turn off the podcast, fire up Pod Save America and feel bad about the future of this country by yourself. But if you want to talk about SEO, we’re going to go deep on Link Building. Gyi and I are going to go over a suggestion from a really smart guy who suggests Link Building is no longer worthy. And then we’re going to turn around and give you our top ten Link Building tips. So, stay through to the end because it’s going to be really good. For now, I want to listen to some music.
Male: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, teaching you how to promote, market and make fat stacks for your legal practice here on Legal Talk Network.
Conrad Saam: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing friends. We’ve got a lot of news to cover, so let’s get into it. First up on the docket, Smith AI, Virtual Receptionist Services, now offering automatic call recording and transcription. One of the things you hear from Gyi and I, all the time is the importance of validating whether or not your intake staff is doing a good job, and this is one step closer to making that happen. You can also check up on prospective client calls before your initial meeting with this. So, it’s a really good little service.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Conrad, do your clients push back at all on transcripts and recording?
Conrad Saam: I had this conversation the other day, and criminal defense absolutely, right? I think that is a very real thing. But in general, maybe there would be an outlier. The pushback would be the outlier, put it that way. There’s just so much value. And I do think, bluntly, there is a concern with losing prospective clients in criminal defense because they don’t want that recorded. I think that’s a very fair concern. But outside of criminal defense, I think anyone who doesn’t for us would very much be the outlier. How about yourself?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I hear more than I think you do. And we usually try to navigate all of — because it’s case by case, and you got to go through, like, hey, who’s listening? Who’s got access to it? What’s your retention policy? Where are the servers? But it’s an issue to think about, for sure. But it’s one of those where I’m with you, the value is tremendous, and if you configure it properly, I think you can navigate and mitigate some of the risks. So, tend to be pro.
Conrad Saam: No big fan of this. Yeah, I mean, you do it for your agency, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: We do, but it’s client by client.
Conrad Saam: Okay. Yeah, I experience the value of doing it. It’s very hard to talk me out of it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Until you get a grievance filed against you. Then you’re talked out of it forever more.
Conrad Saam: All right, moving on. Clio and CallRail dancing together, they have an integration that it’s going live or has it gone live? By the time you hear this, it will probably be live.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s live, but I have a bone to pick, and I love both of these companies. You’re listening to this. They’re going to call out.
Conrad Saam: Here you go. So last week, Gyi introduced himself to insulting our audience, and now he’s going to insult our friends and sponsors. Go ahead, have at it, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I’m not really insulting them, but my understanding is that the integration is limited to Clio manage. But I didn’t see anything about Clio grow. And in fact, one of the people on my team was like, hey, because I was like, share. I’m like, oh, look, integration awesome, blah, blah. And then this person on my team was like, yeah, but it doesn’t integrate with grow. And so, for intake CRM. It’s not doing that.
Conrad Saam: You’re missing the whole point.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, not the whole point, because it’s still valuable to see and manage, I suppose. But yes, I would suggest that it would be very valuable to know those first-time callers coming in by source to grow, I would venture to say. But I don’t know, maybe we’ll get an update about that at Clio Cloud Conference, which — You going to Clio Cloud Conference? I’m going.
Conrad Saam: I might.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You should go.
Conrad Saam: Okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Anyway, so CallRail, Clio grow get together. We love —
Conrad Saam: We can beg Jack, to put a little more love into Clio manage, right? Because it seems to be that acquisition that has gotten no attention.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I’m wondering if they’re just going to add on grow functionality to manage, but TBD.
Conrad Saam: Well, which would be great like plug them together so it works.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right, exactly.
Conrad Saam: Hey, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Hey, Conrad.
Conrad Saam: Some of our old friends are talking about how amazing TikTok is. And in doing so, we started to see TikTok where?
Gyi Tsakalakis: TikToks and search results, folks.
Conrad Saam: Bing, bing, bing. That is amazing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And I think there’s more to come. The other big thing, and I will give a little plug to our friends over at Near Media. By the way, if you don’t subscribe to the Near Media newsletter, you are missing out. But they covered this, and a Google SVP said google studies show something like 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place to go to lunch, don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They’re going to TikTok and Instagram. Instagram is building out local. I’m not big on the Google Killers, but this is the first time that somebody has been more than a NAT buzzing around the Google giant. And I think that this has got legs. And I think both check out Instagram and TikTok entering the space and driving innovation at Google, because I think you are going to get more visual results. Because those visual results, that’s what people want online.
They want the richer experience, right? And not to get too far ahead, but same thing with Metaverse. It’s a different experience, and I know that we’re not there yet, and I’m not telling you to drop everything and go, Metaverse your firm, but users lead. And when users are like, I’m not getting a great experience because there’s a bunch of fake reviews from Google that I can’t rely on. I actually want to see pictures from dishes. And maybe law isn’t so image driven, but certainly seeing happy clients. Happy clients talking about you, what your office presence looks like. Those things matter some folks.
Conrad Saam: I mean, we had the ridiculous example of the guy who was ambushing his very recently ex-clients as they walk out of the courtroom. So, don’t tell me it doesn’t work, right? Okay, and finally, to move on to the other side of the spectrum, Internet Brands, owner of lots of legal brands, they’ve raised a bunch of money. So, they’re now at a 12 billion valuation. Big money here. Big money going into Internet Brands. Big money, presumably going into some of the Internet Brands, brands in legal.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Let’s see if it drives innovation or just more sales.
Conrad Saam: Here’s the thing. You say you’re always nice to everyone, and then you make those comments.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What? I asked the question.
Conrad Saam: All right, let’s take a break.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: And we’re back and now it is time for the Legal Trends Report Minute brought to you by our good friends at Clio.
Here’s a fact. I bet you didn’t know the average collection rate for law firms in 2020 was only 89%. That just seems pretty good.
Now you might be wondering, why should I be concerned about this number? Because it means on average 11% of billable work goes uncollected, a symptom of having an outdated billing and payment process using technology like online payments makes it convenient for clients to pay you faster. Studies show 57% of bills paid online are paid within a day of the billing being issued. And 85% are paid within one week, that’s pretty impressive. And why not, you did the work, go get paid, get paid fast. Turn it around. Go invest in your next client.
Conrad Saam: I mean, the basics of this, it has impact of improving your marketing, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: It’s just like the phone call answer rate.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I mean, we’re into this. I’ll be completely Frank. We run into this for clients are like, you’re doing a great job, phones ringing off the hook, but we got to cash flow problems we are not getting paid.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, I mean, one of the marketing 101, we’ve talked about this before, one of Marketing 101 is make it easy for people to pay you. Get your bills paid online.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But 89%, that means you guys are working two days a week for free. Sorry, two days a month for free, right? Like come on. Fix this. This is easy fix. There are certainly easy fixes to this. I don’t think online bill payments are going to fix all of this.
Conrad Saam: Sure.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But chip away at it and true.
Conrad Saam: You know, I remember Gyi, when I started the agency, I sat down with Ramsey, Mike Ramsey of Nifty and I asked him if I could buy him a coffee before one of the conferences and he said, sure and we stayed there until lunch. I ended up buying a coffee and then breakfast and then lunch, we just talked. And one of the piece of advice he gave me was just accept the credit card processing fee because you don’t have to worry about the payment. So, make it easy people.
To learn more about how technology helps law firms improve their financial performance, download Clio’s Legal Trends Report for free at clio.com/trends, that’s clio.com/trends, and if you like the Clio Legal Trends Report, and who doesn’t because it’s an amazing resource, come to Clio Cloud Conference this fall, I will give them a plug because that’s when they’re going to be usually do their release of their next version of it, and they give a good breakdown, anyway.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Which takes us a little bit changing of gears here to Meh, links. So is link building still worth it. Conrad, what do you think about link building?
Conrad Saam: So, in the last session that we had, I gave an anecdote of someone who has to question. There’s a hey link though, I read somewhere that link building doesn’t work anymore.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Hmm.
Conrad Saam: And this guy was fairly well, informed and we had that conversation. And then Ross Hudgens of Siege Media came out with a presentation, he has done a bunch of interviews on this where he’s like, hey, link building doesn’t work anymore and he is –
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, no, no, no, that’s not what he said. He is a Link Builder, and he went through the history of Link building and what he has done and he has basically said we’re not doing it this way anymore.
Conrad Saam: Right, that’s true.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, he didn’t say that links don’t matter, just to clarify. He said that on balance, they did a big study and we’ll put a link to Ross’s survey. Also, congratulations Ross. I think Siege Media just had an anniversary.
Conrad Saam: Ten years baby.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Ten years, nice job. Great fantastic. What he did say though is that they study it in they are like look On Balance investing your resources in content, the others its historical idea of like 50% should be on content. 50% Should be on distribution. He’s saying forget that, make it 90% on content, 10% of distribution, forget about manual link outreach. So that’s, that’s a little bit more nuanced what he said.
Conrad Saam: And now it so that was his –
Gyi Tsakalakis: He so building links, he just call in PR now, right like –
Conrad Saam: Well, so that’s the key here. He said they analyze their efforts of sending out over a million emails promoting individual pieces of content, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: Everything from infographics to, you know, there are a whole bunch of tactics that he talks through that they were promoting via email outreach and it’s just not working anymore and so —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s certainly not the only way to do link building though, as we –
Conrad Saam: I think that’s the important piece for us for us to get into is you know; Ross is not in the legal industry. I don’t know that he doesn’t work.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Maybe is I don’t know that.
Conrad Saam: He might, he might have a couple but this is certainly not his focus.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: And legal is different because linking to a law firm website is awful, no one wants to link your car accident page, right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Painful.
Conrad Saam: Go sell puppies or flowers or pizza or anything, but I just got hit by a tractor-trailer, what should I do, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: And then go do an email outreach campaign for that. Hey, here’s a page about getting hit by a tractor trailer, you want to link to it.
Conrad Saam: But the other thing with Ross Gyi is his clients aren’t localized like Legal, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: He’s dealing with big National Brands and the link building game is in legal. It should, it can and should be heavily localized, which gives you opportunity from a link building experience, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: And so, I suspect that some of the reasons that there’s murmurings around link building doesn’t work anymore is because really smart people like Ross finding their old tactics not working, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And look it’s a grind. I mean it can be diminishing returns and all that kind of stuff. And I’m not really, like, I don’t take issue with the point that email outreach campaigns are not the most efficient way to build links. But my thing is, and I, you know, if you’re an SEO listening to this, I’ve talked about this before and gotten into internet fights about it. You know, I’m not a search engineer, I don’t work on the search quality team, I don’t write search algorithms. All I do is I say, okay, here’s our client’s site and I notice that we don’t do much else, but we build links, start showing up in search results.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I also noticed that for most competitive searches I don’t see pages rank on sites that don’t have a robust link profile. So, we’ll talk about more about than in tactics, but I would love to be proven wrong. I would love for Google switch over like, you know, hey the Google’s brain now doesn’t need links, but link signals still seem to be big part.
Conrad Saam: You would not love that because you guys are very good at it. And you and I both know that most agencies who do SEO skip this part of the game because it is a grind and because it is hard.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I wish they would get better in evaluating link signals. I’ll put it that way because I still see a ton of spammy profiles that rank, and make seem real crabby.
Conrad Saam: Okay. So, let’s get into some of the foundations of link building. Gyi, what is Anchor Text?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Anchor text is the clickable word in the HTML hypertext tag. So that’s what you can read in the link.
Conrad Saam: And why do we care about anchor text?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Because Google and in fairness to Google, you know, we’re always beating up on Google. But Google has gotten a lot better at understanding links and one of the things that they do read is the text in the link. And so, if your link says, click here, Google doesn’t know what that links about, but if your link says name of your Law Firm or if it says, Chicago personal injury lawyer, that helps Google understand what that link is about. Part of the equation lots of signals not claiming to be an algorithm expert, but to Conrad’s point, it does matter.
Conrad Saam: Okay, next question, what are paid links and why do we care about that Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, Google’s official policy is don’t pay for links. And in fact, historically, if you paid for links and Google found out about it, they could hit you with the penalty and they still can. But since some of their search algorithm updates, they’ve actually reduced the likelihood that you’re going to get some kind of algorithmic link penalty in my view. You still can get a manual action but for me there’s a little bit more.
So, it’s really obvious if you’re out there and you’re like — Google’s got emails from you paying, right, agreeing to pay for like that’s obvious.
Conrad Saam: You mean in your Google driven email?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, right. In your Google account, your Gmail. But I think the little more nuanced when you’re like oh, you know, I paid a writer to write something and they publish it or I paid for a sponsorship or –
Conrad Saam: Paid for directory listing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Paid for directory listing. Those I think are little bit more, I think Google’s official position would be yeah, those are all paid. End of the day, Google, if you don’t like those links, figure out how to stop them from causing size to rank because I don’t care what you say, see it all the time and those bad boys are ranking.
Conrad Saam: Okay, last definitional question for you. Can you talk about internal links and link sculpting and why we care?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So internal links, so when we talk about links, the default link is an external link, that means a link from another website linking to your website, linking to one of your web pages and other webpage somewhere else on the web linking one of your pages.
When we talk about internal links, what we mean are links on your website linking to other pages. So, you know, you got your navigational, links, those are all internal links. If you got footer links those are all internal links. And then contextual links, right, so you’re writing a blog post and you are writing about something that, you want to reference something that you wrote about earlier, you link back to it.
And the way I think about that is you know really, I think about links in general is they are kind of like case citations if that helps, and so an internal link would be like you’re citing something else somewhere else in your brief. I guess that’s a little bit counterintuitive, but an external link would be like a case citation from another case, just from another website.
And so historically SEOs figured out that if you actually manipulated your internal link structure, you know, maybe you every time you say the word personal injury lawyer, you turn that into a link to your personal injury page, that that would shape the authority. You know, the page rank of those pages.
I will say this, I’m not big on page rank sculpting but internal linking is a regular, huge missed opportunity for Law Firm websites, for whatever reason, whether it’s the marketing people or the places that are building these sites, there’s not a lot of thought put into the internal link structure and it makes a huge difference.
Conrad Saam: So, we’re going to come back with top 10 tips for link building, but I’m going to start with a preview to that. If you’re doing internal link building, if you have an English major home from college who has nothing to do with his time this summer –
Gyi Tsakalakis: The Reason agencies don’t do this is because it takes time, it’s hard, it’s a pain in the neck to read website content and find all the pages and then link different words within the pages. It is a slog, is a great project for that English major who doesn’t know what else to do other than serve coffee at Starbucks.
Conrad Saam: When we return, we’re going to get a little bit of feedback and then get into the top 10 tactical link building tips.
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Christopher T. Anderson: The Un-Billable Hour podcast is devoted to all aspects of managing your law practice outside of your client responsibilities. I am Christopher T. Anderson, a lawyer and the host of the podcast, at each episode, I invite industry professionals to discuss best practices for marketing, time management, client acquisition and everything in between. For actionable and practical information to refine your practice, turn to The Un-Billable Hour on the Legal Talk Network.
Conrad Saam: All right, this piece of feedback coming to us from the outskirts of Austin Texas. I do enjoy your podcast with Gyi, it’s informative, just keep the espresso beans away from Gyi that, or give him a Xanax after his double shot of espresso. This makes me joyous because I love when you get worked up, you got worked up in the last podcast, and I think that’s what this is coming from.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I drink a lot of coffee. I admit it, but I’ll tell you what, the disengage quiet boring Gyi wouldn’t be worth listening to. I like hopped-up Gyi. Do us a favor, go subscribe to the YouTube Channel, which is booming right now. Lots of good stuff coming out on the YouTube channel, watch a few videos, leave some comments, we’d love to have you join us there? And if you have any questions, hit us on the YouTube channel, hit us on Twitter, find us anywhere. Tag us LHLM, and we’ll answer those questions on air.
Conrad Saam: All right, now, Top 10 Tactical Link Building Tips, right. We started this off to kind of like link building is hard and it’s legal and no one cares. Gyi mentioned page rank sculpting etc. and domain rank. And so, let me talk about what he’s referencing with these tools. There are a –
Gyi Tsakalakis: Say your numbers, say your numbers, Conrad.
Conrad Saam: This is the number one, I don’t know that this is the number one. This is the first –
Gyi Tsakalakis: No particular order.
Conrad Saam: And no particular order priority. This is the first tip for link building. There are a variety of tools. Ahrefs is one, Majestic is one, that do their best to measure the overall authority of website and there are a couple nuances to this.
Number one, these are not Google tools and my estimation is that they do a very bad to exceedingly poor job of measuring how Google thinks about authority. Part D is they are incapable of measuring the localness of links and the localness of links where local business is of primary importance and so these are fairly useless tools.
Having said that it’s best that we got. I look at these all the time, but it’s, it’s like having a constantly broken thermometer, right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s also about how you use and interpret the data from the tool, right? Because the tools themselves are fine. It’s just like you don’t put all your eggs in like the domain authority basket, right?
Conrad Saam: Because links, and why is that important, right? Why is that relevant, Gyi? We talked about local, what else?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well that’s going to bring me to tip number two.
Conrad Saam: Great.
Gyi Tsakalakis: — which is my favorite link building tool, Google Maps, and as Conrad mentioned. So, Google Talks, Google Business Profiles, you want to rank in Google three major factors; relevance, distance and prominence. And right inside there, they talk about the factors that impact your visibility to rank in local pack and Google Maps shows you all of the businesses in your local area.
And so, from a location context, there is no better location relevance tool than Google Maps in my opinion. I mean, arguably, you can just because not every business is in Google Maps so that’s an argument against that tool but go you’re looking for link prospects, pull up Google Maps, and go find all the local business websites in your local and hyper local market in your neighborhood. Those are the places from a location standpoint that our dial movers from a local.
Conrad Saam: Local, local, local, so I’m going to stay with the local concept. You’re already — many of you are already doing things in your community and that’s not reflected in your backlink profile. I had dinner the other day AAJ attendee, this man has been talking to us for a long time ago, doing some work with him. He is in two smaller states in the U.S., lesser competitive markets which makes it difficult, because as we talk about local proximity becomes important.
And as I was talking to him, like, one of the things we talked about is, he’s heavily involved with the rescue dogs, right, so rescuing dogs right from shelters. This is personal passion. We got deep into this and Towards the end I said Mike, how is this reflected in your backlink profile, right and the reality like this is really, really easy step the reality is if you are spending all this this money and time supporting these organizations, it costs nothing but a small amount of time to link back and say a thank you, right, or for him to put, you know, the dog of the week on his website and push that out and have that as a part of what is driving his business. It has nothing to do with personal injury. It’s just his — you guys are so involved in the community, some of you are involved in the community and you’re not doing anything about it.
So, number three, make sure that your community involvement is reflected in your backlink profile. Gyi, number four.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, before we jump there not to mention the awareness, you have kind of alluded this, I think you got to call it out, like the awareness you get from your local audience by being visible on those other websites, right?
Conrad Saam: And this is where I go back to Hudgens, right, like –
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: I have a Very strong belief that the law firms that are winning right now and the law firms that will be — the law firms that were winning 10 years from now were the really, really smart ones who are getting ahead of the SEO game. There was an unfair advantage there. There’s a unique opportunity right now to get deeply, deeply involved in your community, which feeds everything from dark social to your backlink profile to even your advertising effectiveness. And that is a — that is something that Morgan and Morgan can really, really struggle to come in and replicate in every single market around the country.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well in Ross what I’d say that this doesn’t count for the email outreach he is talking about, but –
Conrad Saam: And he is right, and this is why I think tactically what he’s been doing for his clients is not appropriate for the legal industry, right. There are better ways to be more effective in legal.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Number four, broken link building. This is a favorite of mine because we have picked up links from like government websites, local government websites, municipalities, local organizations and what you’re doing here is you pull up a website that you want to get — from your link prospecting list, just use a local municipality.
So, you crawl your municipality website with something like Screaming Frog and Screaming Frog will go out and crawl the website and show you all the places that the government website is linking to that the link is broken, what they’re linking to no longer exist. Web’s a dynamic place, pages go up, pages come down, links change, things break, and so we find these broken links, say, you’ve got something you can replicate on your site, hit up the local municipality and be like, “Hey, we noticed that your website has got a broken link on it. Well, good news. We actually have exactly what used to be linking to on our own website. And here you go, just replace it.” “Oh, thanks!”
Now, here’s the thing and this is a point that Conrad alluded to earlier. No one wants a link to your law firm website. Usually if we do this, you’ve got to rethink the theme of the section of your site that you’re going to use for resources especially if you’re like a heavy like me, me, me, me, me, we’re awesome $10 million verdicts because think about it, like that local municipality’s going, “Wait a minute, this one reads more like an ad than it reads like a resource.” And so, you got to strip some of that stuff off.
Other alternative is, is that you can build your mode. Create a new website with local resource type stuff and now you’ve got linkable assets that you can use back to your own site, but ideally, you’re getting this back to a subpage on your our own main firm site because you want that authority to be concentrated in that single site versus spread out. But keep in mind, people aren’t going to link to it if it’s big pictures of exploding cars behind you with $10 million verdicts and hammers flying all over the place.
Conrad Saam: Hammers? The Texas Hammer. Texas comes up twice today.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, there’s hammers all over the country than Texas.
Conrad Saam: I know. Don’t get nails. That is my — here, this little advertising idea if you’re in a hammer market.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s memorable. Here we are talking about it.
Conrad Saam: An ad that goes up that says don’t get nailed anyway. What I thought you were going to talk about four number when it said broken links on the program, this one’s even easier. If your own pages are broken and they have links pointing to them just run Ahrefs. This happens all the time. Run an Ahrefs report, you’ll find all the pages that you have that have links going to it that are broken. This happens all the time with the ex-lawyer. Oh, Murphy’s an asshole. He left us. He got fired. We took his profile page down, but Murphy, because he talked all the time or was really engaged in his local community or whatever it might have been, had lots of links pointing to his page.
Now, you’ve got a page with broken links on it. The simple, simple, simple thing to do is redirect that page of Murphy’s back to the homepage or somewhere else. But if that 404 is out, like sad, trombone —
Gyi Tsakalakis: No links for you.
Conrad Saam: That’s like Lasik stuff.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Hit your layups. Hit your free throws.
Conrad Saam: Don’t you love when you run an Ahrefs on a prospect and you run into this and you can show them in real time? Like hey, here’s your page. It’s broken. Here are all these links on your site that are broken. This is like 101 stuff.
Number five, directory links. There are lots of directories out there, Gyi. We were talking about Internet brands. That’s a big directory. A lot of those directories will sell the value of the directory because of the link that you get. I can tell you at Avo, one of the things that Avo deliberately did from a trying to get engagement from lawyers, which basically meant claim your profile and do our work for us by filling it out in detail so we give you a different score, they were using the filling up a profile in order to get that directory link back to the website. They work, right? Some of them are expensive. Is this a paid link though, Gyi? Should we avoid the paid directory links for the link?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, maybe it is, those sites are supposed to be following them. But here’s what I’m going to tell you. First of all, some of the non-paid directory profiles, it’s literally just set up your profile until you pay for it. If you pay for it, if they’re selling links and public liaison links like yeah, I think that’s problems with that. But here’s my thing and it’s another thing too. We talked about this in the context of page authority, ignore follow and no-follow. I don’t care. If you get a no-follow.
Conrad Saam: Hold on. Great point. Hey, Gyi, what the heck is follow vs. no-follow? I don’t understand. I’m just a simple lawyer listening to these amazing podcasters.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Essentially, no-follow is a way to tell Google, don’t count this link. Google says, it’s a hint, but link building people have been interpreted that say, no-follow links are valueless, they don’t affect page rank, they don’t matter, blah blah blah. It’s funny, Google big data machine here, you don’t think that they’re crawling Wikipedia and I mean you see Wikipedian Search Counsel, so they’re with their wasting in a whole lot of crawl resources by crawling Wikipedia not counting any of those links to try to understand what the web looks like.
Same thing with being on the local level, a lot of local news sites, their SEO person came in and said, “Oh, we don’t link out anymore.” It’s like so you don’t think that any of the links you’re getting from local news sites when you’re interviewed and stuff, those don’t matter because they’re no-followed? Come on folks, you’re smarter than that. Don’t just ignore sites that are no-follow. A lot of directories such as a paid listing because they’re supposed to, they will either market no-follow or market sponsored that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but don’t discount the value of that.
Google wants to see you showing up at all, especially the majors. I wouldn’t go crazy with directory listings but the especially major legal specific directories got to be there. Table stakes, everybody’s there.
Conrad Saam: Gyi just brought up a really important point. The relevance of that site that that link is coming from, right? It’s relevant to your practice area. It’s relevant to the practice of law. It’s relevant to your location, super valuable. You’re right, I think many people like to have these simplistic rules like no-follow vs. do follow, or the domain rank, and many things are viewing kind of is black-and-white perspective. I would discourage — instead of spending so much time in the end, having a black-and-white perspective on what’s valuable or what’s not valuable, spend that effort being more involved in your community. All right. Directory link’s valuable even when you have to pay for them, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yep.
Conrad Saam: That kind of goes against what we would be led to believe but I think that is very much true. What for, Gyi, is number six?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Number six, I wrote interactive hyper local content and what I’m thinking about here, we had some experience doing this is if you’re a personal injury lawyer, most dangerous potholes with maps and even like you see the street view, people pick that up at like the news has covered those, interactive pothole maps, like crash, maps. Really any kind of like data visualization, you can pull data from like your state police on crash statistics and put that up there because remember, you got to think about it in terms of like who’s linking in and some of the places you want to link are local news websites, local bloggers.
And so, when they’re doing their research, guess where they’re going? They’re going to Google and they’re searching for things like crash map. Where do most crashes happen? Where are the most potholes in our area. If you got an interesting thing, because in many respects, link building from a content standpoint, it’s just marketing and PR. And so, instead of just having this blog post or static content, putting something interesting on your site that’s interactive or it’s a visualization, that’s the content marketing we’ve seen at local level that really can work very well.
Conrad Saam: Number seven for me is cause marketing, get involved in something that you care about. We talked about this last time. There’s so many things you can get involved in at the local level. We talked about puppies too much. It could be the PTSA. That’s a I think fairly innocuous group.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Maybe in your community.
Conrad Saam: Oh man, I did stay away from the PTSA. But you can get really involved. Get involved in politics. Politics works for link building, right? Run a campaign. Lose. Redirect your campaign website back to your bio page. Get really involved in something, whether it’s your kids sports or Challenge Athletes Foundation, whatever it is, get involved in a cause because that makes the legal that you do much warmer to link to. There are people who care about it, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Totally.
Conrad Saam: Number eight, competitive link analysis. This is kind of one of those table stakes ones. Essentially what you’re doing is first, you got to identify competitive websites that are ranking for the queries that you want to rank for, go throw them into all of the backlink tools because remember, none of the backlink tools, none of the third-party backlink indices, show up full picture, so you got to run them all. Pull all of those links, all the different domains. See how your competitors are getting links.
Don’t copy their link profiles verbatim. They probably have a bunch of spammy links in there that aren’t worth your time, in fact, could get you in trouble, but where you see creative things that your competition is doing especially with respect to local and sponsorships, remember those sites, if we believe that links are a big factor, then the links that are driving those sites to rank, our good link targets for you to go after. And so, we still do a lot of competitive link building.
I will say this, though. It’s kind of table stakes because you really need to find the links your competitors don’t have. But if you’re just getting started, they’ll show you the directories their listing on, they’ll show you some of the news coverage they’ve got. Those are great ways to start understanding what the local link landscape looks like and prioritize those sites that meet these criteria from both topical and location relevance, and go hunt those down and start building links on those sites your competitors have.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Number nine for me is influencer link building. Build relationships with people who are major influencers in your community. There are lots of lawyers who are doing a really, really great job at this and having their content, and again, this moves way outside of the legal content, but it’s very simplistic. You’re going to profile a new small local business every single week on your website because you want to support the small businesses of Sheboygan, right?
That is a great way to not only engage in the community, but actually drive links because everyone likes to learn about themselves or see themselves written about or talked about or video interviewed. And so, that is a great way to drive links back to your site that has again, I’m moving outside of, I am an immigration lawyer, I’m a car accident lawyer, I am a lawyer in Sheboygan and I am supporting the small business community, and here’s the amazing people in that community that will drive links. Number 10, wrap it up!
Conrad Saam: Number 10, and it’s kind of piling on because we’ve talked about it a lot, but I’ve got one additional specific tip. Focus on relevance. Forget about all the metrics we talked about in terms of scoring, forget about follow versus no-follow and all that jazz. Focus on topical relevance. we got sites that are for a personal injury lawyer, focus on sites that talk about injury issues ideally in your location. Let me give you an example.
Let me give you a different way to think about it. One might argue that the most relevant sites from Google’s perspective are the sites that rank for the keyword in Google because Google is the arbiter of relevance in that context. Now, when you search for a personal injury lawyer in your city, guess what? You’re going to see a bunch of competing law firm websites. They’re unlikely to link to you because most of them probably understand what’s going on here.
But you might find some sites that rank that aren’t competitors. And so, those sites that rank for your target query, this happens with the Barnacle SEO stuff all the time. If Google’s ranking page from Quora, find a way to get a link from a similar situated Quora page. If Google’s ranking a local business, prioritize that on your list. And so, you really figure out like what is it that Google’s trying to rank for particular queries. Learn about the advanced search operators, but the relevance is the focus. Location, relevance, topical relevance, like we tell personal injury lawyers if you can find ways to get links from local rehabilitation places, if you’re a criminal defense lawyer, find local criminal justice sites where it’s Innocence Project or bloggers that are writing about these issues. Those are topically relevant sites, super, super valuable from a local context if they’re in your area.
On top of all of that, as we alluded to before, you’ll get awareness from your local potential client base and it might drive leads in business. I mean, I’ve seen it happen where it’s like, “Hey, I saw, I was on this site and I happened to notice that you guys are supporters of this organization because of your sponsorship or someone.” Check your referral traffic. Your referral track that will convert, if you’re getting links from super relevant sites. It’s the best tip I can give you.
That’s link building in a nutshell. Go forth, build links, links matter, they work. Thank you as always for tuning in to this episode of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. If you have questions or topic suggestions or would like to make fun of me for drinking too much coffee, please do #LHLM, Twitter, YouTube. We’re really, obviously, if you haven’t noticed, were trying to hit the YouTube thing. If you’re a regular listener, head over to YouTube. I know you’re out there. And if you just happen to land on this episode, please do subscribe to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Until next time, Gyi and Conrad out.
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