Links serve an important purpose in connecting online content to other relevant sources and information. They are also an important element in search engine optimization (SEO). The quality of links to and from your law firm website can boost your online presence and search rankings or damage your website’s credibility and SEO. Unfortunately, law firm website link schemes could be in place—creating affiliations between your website and others—without your law firm or website manager’s knowledge.
This blog is the second in a two-part series that explains what link schemes are, the risks of link schemes for lawyers, how to identify spam or low-quality links, and what can be done about them.
Why Are Law Firm Website Link Schemes Damaging?
Hyperlinks are used in online content to provide context and additional information from related websites and pages. When a respected online web property links to your law firm’s website, it serves as a vote of confidence that tells search engines your content is useful. However, links to and from a website that direct to questionable, low-authority sources can lead search engines to categorize your website as low-quality or spammy.
Examples of Link Schemes in the Legal Industry
Link schemes take various forms. Google provides some examples of link schemes and how they violate the platform’s guidelines.
The following list contains examples in bold (shown with non-working hyperlinks) of how a questionable link may appear online:
- At XYZ Firm we can help you with XYZ cases “but first, check out this XYZ lawyer for the best deals.”
- Con?tact? us ? at any o?f our lo?cations.?
- We are here to XYZ Wrong Attorney can help you with your legal needs.
- Our law firm covers XYZ practice areas in this state. You can order pizza in a flash! Check out our website so you can order the best pizza in town. Call us today for a free consultation.
An unauthorized user or hacker could insert the examples above into online text on a website, most likely without the property owner’s knowledge.
Behind the scenes, the unauthorized user might add deleted or hidden hyperlinks to page content or replace your content’s original links with others. While these instances would typically be the result of unauthorized access, law firms should also be aware of what authorized parties are including in their online content as well.
In some cases, an inexperienced or unethical SEO provider may include in your content links that could be considered part of a scheme, subjecting your law firm to negative consequences. The risks of link schemes for lawyers increase significantly if you do not regularly monitor your website behind the scenes.
In one case discovered by TOPDOG, a marketing provider created an extensive web of links between websites belonging to their clients. This may have been done with or without the clients’ knowledge, but it still presented a risk to the reputation and value of the law firms involved—and with minimal likely benefit.
Identifying Law Firm Website Link Schemes
A link audit, which can be performed by a trusted marketing provider, can identify law firm website link schemes as well as spammy or potentially harmful links that may have been added to your website. This usually involves the use of an automated link-checking tool or service.
There are also ways to check for harmful links on a website manually. Though these methods may be less effective than a full link audit, you may be able to spot spammy or harmful links by taking these actions:
- Review your website, hovering the cursor over each link and image for every page on the site to view the link destination, to identify whether any links have been changed; and
- Skim through your content regularly to see if it has been modified.
Protecting your website from hacking can help prevent links from being added to your website without your knowledge. We recommend engaging in the following safety protocols regularly:
- Changing the passwords of all website administrators to prevent access by someone who obtained passwords illegitimately; and
- Checking for suspicious logins to your content management system (like WordPress).
A law firm website maintenance plan, like the ones offered by TOPDOG, can help ensure that spam and potentially harmful links are identified and properly handled before they can cause harm to your online reputation.
Avoid Law Firm Website Link Schemes by Working with a Trusted Marketer
Even if they have an interest, many attorneys do not have the time or resources to manage a website and all of the technical details involved in keeping it running, secure, and highly visible to searchers. Working with a trusted marketing agency that knows the legal industry and employs white-hat SEO strategies can capably fill this role.
TOPDOG Legal Marketing LLC performs link audits and offers law firm website maintenance plans to keep your web property secure and functioning properly. We can monitor your website to meet legal and Internet ethical standards while taking steps to improve SEO, rankings, and online presence. Contact us to discuss law firm website link schemes or other issues by calling (844) HEY-T-DOG (439-8364) or completing our online contact form.