Neil Patel

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Link Building for Lawyers: How Does it Affect Rankings?

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As a lawyer, what one marketing tactic would you say is the most likely to drive traffic to your website?

Word of mouth is great. So are positive reviews on Google. Perhaps your social media presence also plays a role in your traffic building efforts.

If you really dug into the data, though, I suspect you’d find that link building plays a larger role than you may expect.

Link building is a marketing practice with the purpose of increasing backlinks to your website. The end goal? To increase traffic to your site.

While intentional link building may seem like a daunting task, I’m here to show you that link building for lawyers doesn’t have to be difficult.

In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of SEO and link building for lawyers. We’ll then discuss how link building affects rankings with specific examples from five top-rated law firms across the United States.

How SEO Helps Lawyers

Websites of all kinds, but especially businesses, can benefit from an extensive SEO strategy. Just consider that businesses, like law firms, get a lot of their clientele through word-of-mouth. What is SEO if not algorithm-driven word-of-mouth?

Even more, though, SEO strategy as a business is not an option. It’s a necessity. Why? Well, your competitors likely have some sort of plan in place which puts them in front of your desired audience. If you don’t want to lose your share, you must stay on top of SEO.

What Types of Link Building Are Lawyers Using?

There are many link building techniques available to website owners and marketers. To name a few:

  • Guest blogging: Website owners can provide their expertise to more readers by writing guest blog posts for blogs in their field. This will mean a natural backlink to the website, whether within the article itself or as part of the author bio.
  • Social media: Website owners can join relevant groups or follow relevant hashtags for their field. Then they can respond to inquiries with links to helpful blog posts or articles on their site.
  • Broken backlinks: These are links that were meant to point to a website, but for one reason or another they have become broken. This is often due to a misspelling in the URL or incorrectly applied HTML. To find these, you’ll need to use a tool like Ahrefs’ Broken Link Checker.
  • Resource guides: A form of pillar content, these are a way for website owners to highlight their expertise and show their depth of knowledge. Website owners can then link to it offsite when relevant (e.g. social media, forums) or reach out to blogs and websites and ask them to hyperlink it in their own articles.
  • Link roundups: Also known as expert roundups. These are blog posts that contain links to niche websites for the readers of that blog to explore. Think of it as website networking.

So, what types of link building are lawyers using?

From our research outlined below, we have a pretty good idea of what link building currently looks like for lawyers.

The most common place for lawyers to seek out link building opportunities is directories. These are common on blogs (e.g., link roundups), on business directory sites (e.g., Yelp, Google Business Profile), and on social media.

How do we know this?

Take a look at the most common anchor text for the lawyers in our research. You’ll notice that much of it is branded (i.e., the name of the law firm, the name of the site) or the site URL alone. This is a telltale sign of a link directory backlink.

Another common link building tactic used by lawyers and law firms is off-site guest posting. This involves posting content related to their field of practice on other blogs. This often takes little effort, though the quality may vary from piece to piece.

Link Building For Lawyers: What Does The Data Say?

With all this said, how does link building affect rankings?

We collected data from five law firm sites across the United States. In particular, we targeted the highest-rated law firms in major cities (e.g., Boston, New York City, Los Angeles). When analyzing these firms, we looked at the following metrics:

  • The number of referring domains
  • The average monthly organic traffic
  • The law firm’s domain rating
  • The number of keywords ranking on page one
  • The number of keywords in positions one through three

To see how these metrics changed over time, we analyzed these sites during two time periods: January 2021 and January 2022.

Now let’s dive into what we found.

West Coast Trial Lawyers – Los Angeles, CA

Screenshot of West Coast Trial Lawyers webpage.

In January 2021, West Coast Trial Lawyers had 1,117 referring domains with an average monthly organic traffic of 2,147. Their domain rating was 52, with 156 keywords on page one of search engine results pages and 27 in positions one through three.

In January 2022, the website’s referring domains had jumped to 1,757. The average monthly organic traffic increased to 5,628. The domain rating increased by just one – to 53. However, the keyword universe improved quite a bit, with an increase to 883 page one keywords and 192 keywords in positions one through three.

Their greatest improvements were in the following keywords:

  • Sue city for pothole damage (increased 92 positions to position 6)
  • Pedestrian crossing rules California (increased 85 positions to position 12)
  • Personal injury attorney long beach CA (increased 80 positions to position 20)
  • Personal liability attorney (MSV 40) increased 79 positions to position 21)

These keyword improvements are likely to be attributed, in part, to the referring domain anchor text, including:

  • West coast trial lawyers (787 referring domains)
  • Personal injury lawyer (100 referring domains)
  • Auto accident lawyer (46 referring domains)

Other improvements to the site, especially improvements to on-site content, are also likely to have contributed to the year-over-year success.

Data table of West Coast Trial Lawyers law practice showcasing a change in referring domains, average organic traffic, page 1 keywords, and domain rating from January 2021 to January 2022.

Alavi + Braza, P.C. – Boston, MA

Screenshot of Alavi + Braza, P.C.'s webpage.

In January 2021, Alavi + Braza, P.C. had just 34 referring domains with an average monthly organic traffic of 10. Their domain rating was 7, and they ranked on page one for three organic keyword terms.

In January 2022, the website’s referring domains more than doubled to 71. The average monthly organic traffic increased but was still relatively low, at 18. The domain rating did increase from 7 to 9. In addition, Alavi + Braza, P.C. saw an increase from 3 to 5 page one keywords.

Their greatest improvements were in the following keywords:

  • Alialavi (increased 28 positions to position 6)
  • Boston real estate lawyer (ranking in position 40)
  • Real estate lawyers boston ma (ranking in position 87)

With very little link building effort on their part, Alavi + Braza, P.C. saw a respectable increase across their keyword universe. The numbers aren’t large, but the increase is almost a doubling of numbers in many metrics.

Data table of Alavi + Braza, P.C.'s law practice showcasing a change in referring domains, average organic traffic, page 1 keywords, and domain rating from January 2021 to January 2022.

Law Offices of James A. Welcome – Waterbury, CT

Screenshot of Law Offices of James A. Welcome's webpage.

In January 2021, the Law Offices of James A. Welcome had 97 referring domains with an average monthly organic traffic of 154. Their domain rating was 7, with 25 keywords ranking in positions on page one of search engine results pages.

In January 2022, the website’s referring domains had almost doubled to 184. The average monthly organic traffic tripled to 529. The domain rating increased by two points, to 9. Perhaps most significantly, their keyword universe increased to include 56 keywords on page one, with 22 keywords in positions one through three.

Their greatest improvements were in the following keywords:

  • How long does a settlement take (increased 66 positions to position 3)
  • Waterbury personal injury lawyer (increased 39 positions to position 2)
  • CT immigration lawyer (increased 35 positions to position 4)
  • Waterbury personal injury attorney (new keyword, ranks in position 1)

What is perhaps most interesting about this site is that they did not have a noticeable increase in anchor text improvements. In fact, 21 of their 184 referring domains do not have any anchor text associated with the backlink.

When we look at this data holistically, it shows us that, by increasing their number of referring domains and overall backlink profile, they had noticeable success in increasing SERP presence.

Data table of the Law Offices of James A. Welcome's law practice showcasing a change in referring domains, average organic traffic, page 1 keywords, and domain rating from January 2021 to January 2022.

Gottfried & Gottfried, LLP – New York City, NY

Screenshot of Gottfried & Gottfried, LLP's webpage.

In January 2021, Gottfried & Gottfried, LLP had 64 referring domains with an average monthly organic traffic of 111. Their domain rating was 5, with 10 keywords on page one of search engine results pages and 5 in positions one through three.

In January 2022, the website’s referring domains had increased to 76. The average monthly organic traffic increased to 122. The domain rating remained the same at 5. While the keyword universe didn’t grow too much – it increased from just 10 to 11 page one ranking keywords – it did see an increase in keywords ranking in positions one through three from 5 to 7.

So which keywords saw the greatest increases between January 2021 and January 2022?

  • Robert Gottfried (increased 3 positions to position 5)
  • David Gottfried attorney (increased 1 position to position 2)
  • Gottfried law (increased 1 position to position 2)
  • David Gottfried lawyer (new keyword, position 1)

It’s no surprise that their gain in organic keywords is steeped in branded keywords. That’s because the bulk of the backlink anchor text (39 out of 76 referring domains) is the website URL.

The greatest takeaway here is that even minimal effort can have a positive impact on rankings and domain traffic. It would still require more effort to see a boost in domain ranking, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Data table from Gottfried & Gottfried, LLP's law practice showcasing a change in referring domains, average organic traffic, page 1 keywords, and domain rating from January 2021 to January 2022.

Sullo & Sullo – Houston, TX

Screenshot of Sullo & Sullo's webpage.

In January 2021, Sullo & Sullo had 275 referring domains with an average monthly organic traffic of 4,025. Their domain rating was 20, with 400 keywords on page one of search engine results pages and 71 in positions one through three.

In January 2022, the website’s referring domains had almost doubled to 548. The average monthly organic traffic increased to 7,107. The domain rating increased slightly to 22. The greatest increase was in page one keywords and keywords in positions one through three, with a jump to 594 and 110, respectively.

The greatest keyword ranking increases seen from January 2021 to January 2022 were:

  • Speeding ticket attorneys (increased 69 positions to position 11)
  • Texas license classification (increased 68 positions to position 5)
  • Texas class c license (increased 14 positions to position 1)
  • Class c license (new keyword, position 1)

The increase in keyword ranking seems significant, and that’s because they are! The increase in referring domains can be associated with the 2-point increase in the domain rating score. After all, that’s a sure sign to Google that more people are finding the site worthy of traffic.

Data table of Sullo & Sullo's law practice showcasing a change in referring domains, average organic traffic, page 1 keywords, and domain rating from January 2021 to January 2022.

What We Learned

The greatest takeaway from our own research is as follows: there is a strong correlation between increases in referring domains and increases in keywords and SERP rankings.

Simply put, the more domains referring to you, the greater your odds of ranking on SERPs.

That’s not to say that other, unaccounted for, factors weren’t at play. However, we can only account for the known factors, such as referring domains, page one keywords, and monthly site traffic.

FAQs

Do you have more questions on the topic of link building for lawyers? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

What does link building include?

Link building is any action done with the purpose of increasing the number and quality of inbound links (or backlinks) to your website. These actions may include guest posting, answering questions on forums, and participating in link roundups.

How do you plan a link building strategy?

The first step in planning a link building strategy is to know your weaknesses and your goals. Where are the greatest gaps in your backlinks? What do you hope to achieve? Only with those answers can you determine a set plan and the next steps forward.

Does link building still work in 2023?

Backlinks are still a crucial part of search engine ranking factors. As such, link building more than works – it’s a necessity – in 2023.

Are backlinks still relevant in 2023?

Backlinks are a great asset to any website. They’re a signal to Google – as well as people – that your site is trustworthy and worthwhile. This makes them relevant in 2022 and beyond.

Conclusion

Link building for lawyers doesn’t have to be complicated.

There are many link building techniques that lawyers can benefit from, specifically:

Ultimately, the link building techniques you employ will depend on your specialty and your strengths. For example, a small business attorney may benefit most from participating in online forums, while an immigration lawyer may benefit from multilingual resource guides.

As we can see from the data above, these efforts do pay off. As you increase the number of domains referring (i.e., linking) to your website, you’ll also increase your website traffic. So while effort is involved, the payoff is certainly worth it.

Which link building techniques will you employ for your law firm?

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