Inbound Links: Driving Traffic — and Clients — to Your Website.
You have a website — or I certainly hope you do. It has a great, eye-catching design. The copy is right on, telling potential clients about what your law firm does and, most important, what you can do for the potential client. Carefully researched keywords, selected by a search engine marketing professional, are woven into every page.
All of these factors help people find your website. Now you can sit back while the phone calls and e-mails pour in, right?
Well, not yet. There is one more thing to do, and it’s the single most important factor in getting your website noticed by search engines.
Inbound links make a critical difference. An inbound link is a link on another website which points to yours. While all inbound links have value, some have more value than others. Before I get into that, though, look at what Google’s Webmaster Central has to say about inbound links:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.
That means the time you spend in securing links from other sites — especially sites from sources you and others trust — is time well spent. A link from a bar association, a community organization or a local business group are like votes of confidence in the value of your website.
What are the best links? The best links to your website are the ones your competitor can’t get.Examples are links from your alumni associations, a non-profit where you did pro bono work or the Little League team you sponsored.
Those links give your website exclusivity and set it apart from other websites from similar law firms.
How is link value ranked? Google has a complex algorithm called Page Rank that assigns a value to individual pages within a website. The numbers are similar to those on the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes. In other words, a 6 rank is twice as good as a 5. Each page of a website is ranked separately and will have its own score.
What does this mean? Each link pointing to your site carries the Page Rank value of the page it came from. (Page Rank is not to be confused with where your site is on a Search Engine Results Page — or “SERP” for short.)
Is the link relevant? As a general rule, you will want links from websites from highly reliable, trustworthy websites. You also want those sites to be relevant to your law firm. A link from a furniture store in North Carolina is not as valuable to your Scottsdale law firm as a link from the Arizona bar association.
Search engines are looking for answers. The search engines gain their credibility and popularity from guiding web users to the answers they are looking for. If your website has the information they are looking for PLUS the vote of confidence from relevant outside websites, they will suggest your site to the user, in SERPs.
Beware people selling links. Of course, because links are so important to search results, there are people ready and willing to sell links. Those links are almost always of little value — if they have any value at all. These link-selling operations are often called “link farms,” and like other farms, they tend to produce a lot of, well, “manure.” They certainly don’t have exclusivity, often do not have relevance and rarely have the page value that you want in a link. In February of 2011, Google changed their algorithms to suppress link farms, but that hasn’t stopped all the selling.
Trading links is (“I’ll link to you if you’ll link to me”) is also of little help and, indeed, can hurt your website’s overall Page Rank.