If you’ve researched SEO, you’re probably well aware of what backlinks are. While there is some controversy over how important backlinks are, nearly every SEO person agrees that they are one of the best ways to improve the ranking of a given page or website.
With backlinks, you can boost the ranking of your law firm’s website. Perhaps you’ve published a lot of great content over the past year, but it’s not getting the attention that you think it deserves? Backlinks may be able to help!
However, before we get started discussing backlink outreach for lawyers it’s important to keep something in mind. That is that backlink outreach alone is a waste of money. There, we said it. Too many law firms that we’ve worked with spend all of their SEO budget on backlinks and outreach – this is extremely ineffective.
Rather, backlink outreach is a great way to boost your website’s performance once you already have great content and a technologically sound website. The quality of content on your website is more important, and focus should always be placed there. However, once you are happy with the content on your website, backlink outreach is a great way to get more eyes and ‘authority’ on that article.
So, let’s get started!
Backlink outreach is the practice of getting high-quality backlinks to boost your law website’s off-site SEO. In simple terms, you reach out to other website owners or influencers to request a backlink.
As we discussed in an earlier article that you can find here, the best websites to get backlinks from are those that have high domain authority. While all links are valuable, it would be best if you chose websites with a high domain authority because Google’s algorithms highly regard them, and so, a backlink from them will make your website appear very credible. Why would a high-domain authority website link to crappy content?
Although Google penalizes websites with paid backlinks – if they find out about it – the reality is that the only backlinks that are free are the unrequested ones. Those occur when content creators are quoting or linking to websites that have already established credibility. To get organic backlinks, you need to consistently produce quality content.
While you can ask a website to add backlinks, the reality is that no one will add a link unless something is in it for them. This makes the process of backlink outreach very difficult and it also means that you have to tread carefully – especially if you outsource backlink outreach for your law firm.
If you are starting out and building the credibility of your website, you will have to compensate for a requested backlink somehow. It may not be monetary – which is against Google’s TOS – but the website owner/handler or social media influencer may demand something in return, for example, that you create content for their website and they will insert your requested backlink within the content you have created. This is called guest posting.
Whatever the demanded compensation may be, you should figure out what you are willing to give and where you draw the line before you begin your outreach.
Backlinking is an effective way to increase traffic to your website and increase your website’s ranking. Both benefits will eventually lead to growth in traffic and in your clientele. However, you must keep in mind that backlinking is an ongoing activity and the only firms that reap great rewards are those that commit to it.
You may not see significant results until you get large backlinks to your website. So, before you begin, make sure you are ready to commit to it as a long-term activity that requires continuous investment of effort and resources.
If you read our guide on link-building for lawyers, you will have already taken the following steps. If not, consult the guide and carry out the steps listed out therein before proceeding.
Identify High-Ranking Websites and Influencers
Domain Rating (DR) in Ahrefs
Before you can begin your outreach efforts, you must have identified the websites and influencers that will provide you with the most valuable backlinks. You should already have a list of them and should have grouped them as follows:
- Websites that are likely to link to any value-adding content
- Websites that only link to content from high-ranking websites
- Influencers that are likely to link to any value-adding content
- Influencers that need to be paid before linking to content regardless of value
As stated in our previous guide, the best groups to focus on are groups 1 and 3. You can reach out to groups 2 and 4 at a later point.
The benefit of focusing on high-ranking websites and influencers initially is that they make it easy to capture the attention of smaller websites and influencers and other high-ranking websites and influencers that may be picky about who they link to.
Having high-ranking websites and influencers already linking and posting your content serves as social proof that you can leverage to boost your credibility with the more challenging websites and influencers you’d like to target.
However, whether it be the websites or influencers that are easier to get or those that pose a bigger challenge, always keep in mind that you are the one laden with the burden of proof. The individuals or teams you will be contacting do not owe you anything. Most likely, they run websites, blogs, or social media pages already in a great position, so they do not necessarily need your content, however valuable it may be.
Approach your outreach efforts devoid of entitlement or overconfidence in the quality of the content you seek backlinks for. It may seem revolutionary to you, but the people you are contacting may be too busy with other things or not care enough to give you the time and attention you believe you deserve.
You have to give them a reason to make out time from their busy schedule for you and your content. You have to make them care. You have to work for it. You don’t “deserve” it.
Does Your Content Hit the Mark?
One of the most important preliminary steps to take in your backlink outreach is to gauge your level of confidence in your content.
- How much effort did you put into finetuning your content to make it the best possible?
- How confident are you that your content adds value to your target audience?
- Have you shared the content with a sample group to gauge their reactions and incorporate their feedback, or are you working in isolation?
And most importantly,
- What are your gut instincts saying? Do you have the confidence, deep down inside, that the website handlers/owners and influencers you are reaching out to will find your content valuable?
If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
However, feeling a modicum of doubt is not out of place. All we are saying is you should ensure it’s only a fraction of doubt, not overwhelming doubt.
It would help if you also avoided the other extreme of this spectrum, which is laying too much emphasis on the little doubts you have to the point that it becomes an incapacitating “fear of the unknown” that stops you from taking the necessary steps to kickstart your legal website SEO.
Step 1: Craft a message that’s worthy of being read
We have already emphasized at multiple points in this article the importance of taking into account the fact that high-ranking websites, blogs, and social media pages are run by busy people.
The owners/handlers of the platforms you will be contacting have a lot of activities on their daily schedule, so it would be very unrealistic for you to expect them to read a short story disguised as an email.
In simple terms: Keep it short and simple.
You don’t have to say everything on your mind in the first email. Restrict the contents of your email to the essential information and leave it at that. Make sure to include all the necessary details, but keep it short and simple, so it is easy and quick to read. Otherwise, your message will be trashed or simply ignored.
Step 2: Highlight the value in the content you are sharing
To highlight the value of your content, these are some of the things you should consider:
- What is valuable about your content?
- What unique angle does your content take?
- What category does your content fall into? Is your content legal news, data, or an infographic?
- Who is your content for? Is the target audience similar to or the same as their target audience? Or will your content help them reach a target audience for which they have been (or should be) angling?
- What is the format of your content? Is it short, or is it long? Is it in summarized form, or is it a detailed breakdown?
You need to have an in-depth understanding of your content to be able to answer these questions and any others that may occur to you. In general, the goal is to make the reader of your mail care enough about your content to want actually to take a look at it.
The quality of your content also serves another purpose. You need to ensure your content is up to par because the person you are contacting very likely has an in-depth understanding of the subject matter of your content, so having quality content ensures that they will be impressed if they decide to take a look at it.
Step 3: Make your request in clear terms
Your email’s recipient is a busy person; respect their time by going straight to the point. Tell them what you want and say it in clear terms. There is no use skirting around the issue when that is the main reason why you are sending them an email.
This is why it is important to ensure there is mutual gain to be had in sharing your content. If there is something to gain for the person you are contacting, there is no reason why you should avoid making your request in clear terms.
You should, of course, be careful with your use of the words “link” and “SEO” because that may prompt the recipient to mark the email as spam, but you should ensure you are clear about what you want. Otherwise, the recipient may read your message multiple times without fully understanding the intention behind your email.
In our experience, some of the requests that have worked for other legal firms in the past include:
- Requesting a link to/quote from your content for existing content on their platform
- Requesting a link to/quote from your content for future content on their platform
- Requesting they replace a broken link on their website with yours
- Pitching a guest post for their platform with your link in it
- Request that they write a post based on your content and link to it
Step 4: Personalize your message
This is as important as the message. If you write a generalized email and send it to many email addresses in one push, you risk coming across as a spammer. To avoid this, you need to craft your emails for each recipient in a manner that shows the mail was written specifically for them.
There are several ways you can do this; they include:
Include their name
It is impossible to include any names when you send bulk mail since it is going out to so many people at once, or since it is being rapidly copied and pasted before being sent. Having their name included in your message will make the recipient pay more attention because it shows you crafted the message specifically for them.
However, this rule is flexible. Some websites only have “[email protected]” listed as the email you should contact. If you find yourself in such a situation, you could search for a phone number on the website instead. If you find a phone number, place a call and request for contact information of someone you can discuss with on the editorial team.
If they give you the information, you can send your email to the individual. Otherwise, you can send a generalized email to the “info@” email address and hope for the best.
Your subject line matters!
There are two things to consider regarding the subject line of your email.
- Your subject line will be the first thing the recipient of your email will see.
- Spam filters will take your subject line into account as your email is being analyzed.
In summary, you need to pay special attention to your subject line. Make sure it will not trigger classification as spam and make sure it is something that will captivate the recipient when they see it.
So how do you do this? Here are some tips:
- Like the rest of your mail, keep the subject short and simple.
- AVOID CAPITAL LETTERS EXCEPT WHERE NECESSARY.
- Mention something specific about the recipient or their platform.
- Do not include words like “link” or “SEO.”
Personalize the contents of your mail.
If you read our previous article, you must have already carried out thorough research on the website/influencer you are sending your mail to. The research you have done will come in handy here.
If you mention something that caught your eye as you carried out your research, you will personalize the email and prove to the recipient that you have done your due diligence instead of coming off as someone emailing random addresses. This should make the recipient pay more attention to your mail, especially if you are pointing out something they may not have noted.
Here is an example:
“I watched your video on the effects a delay of jury trial has on personal injury cases and victims, and I couldn’t agree more. Having a court hear a case is often the only way to push insurance companies to pay fair compensation.
I am writing to share something related to this with you: LINK… [message continues].”
Use your official email address
Spammers try to achieve their goals using methods that require the least costs, so free email providers like Yahoo, Gmail, etc., are their platforms of choice. Using such free email services for official business means you still risk ending up in the spam folder despite your best efforts.
To avoid this, you should use the email address that carries your official domain name.
For example, if Naya Patel is trying to build the credibility of her blog, “www.nayapatellaw.com,” and she has reached the outreach stage of the backlinks for lawyers guide, the best email address to use is “[email protected].”
This way, Naya gets to signal from the get-go that she is a genuine person. Using your official email address (preferably an address with the website’s domain name you are promoting attached to it) increases your credibility. It improves the chances of having your mail read and replied to.
Step 5: Be Confident
There is no reason for you to be shy or scared of sending your emails since there is mutual gain. What you are sharing is content that will benefit the audience of the website or influencer that you are communicating to.
The worst that can happen (and it does happen often) is that you get no reply for whatever reason, but that is the nature of backlink outreach for lawyers or otherwise. It is a numbers game. Some websites/influencers (maybe even those you love and admire the most) may not reply to your mail for reasons best known to them, while others may reply positively or to decline your offer.
Whether you get a reply or you don’t, remind yourself of the value you are offering to share and get back to the drawing board. In SEO, fortune only favors those who persist.
The backlinks for lawyers guide will only help those willing to dedicate themselves to its application.
There is a second angle to not getting a reply that you should also keep in mind as you apply the backlinks for lawyer’s guide. Sometimes the lack of a reply may be because the recipient didn’t feel your offer would benefit their audience, but at other times it may be because your mail got drowned by the other emails pouring into their inbox.
There is software available that simplifies this process and makes it easier to tell if your mail has been read or not. Examples include:
They are useful tools that you can explore, but there is no exact science to it. They may let you find out if your mail or link was opened and not replied to, but there is still no way to tell why the recipient of your mail didn’t reply.
Are they not interested in your offer?
Did they plan on getting back to your mail but got too busy and forgot?
The only way to find out is to ask. And you do this by sending a follow-up email.
Tip 1: Keep your follow-up email short and simple
There is no need for an unnecessarily long message. You have already said a lot in your first email. The purpose of the second mail is to reinforce the points in the first email, not to make new ones or detail the concerns and fears you’ve been having because you find it hard to handle rejection.
If you send the follow-up email using the same email address you used before, then it is likely that the email app the recipient is using will create a thread that includes the first email you sent. So, if the recipient didn’t read the first email, the second email presents an opportunity for them to do so. And if they read the first email and rejected your offer, the second email presents them with an opportunity to reconsider their stance on your offer.
Here’s an example:
I am sending this mail to follow up on the mail I sent a week ago concerning my article (How Lawyers can Leverage Technology to Improve Client Engagement and Satisfaction). I’d like to know if you were able to study the article, and I’d appreciate your feedback, positive or otherwise.
Thanks for your time.
This is short, simple, and polite.
Tip 2: Don’t send too many follow-up emails
Generally, you shouldn’t send more than one follow-up email. And suppose there is still no reply after sending your follow-up email, the best step is to move on and suspend any communication with that particular contact for that particular campaign.
If you don’t do this, you run the risk of angering the recipient of the mail and voiding any chances of establishing a relationship with them in the future.
Tip 3: Reply to negative emails
Although negative mails may be hurtful – especially if you were confident that the content would impress the recipient of your mail – you should celebrate! You got a reply!
The recipient of your mail took the time to read through the mail – and maybe even opened the link you sent – and took out the time to send a reply to you.
That is a huge milestone for your relationship with that particular individual.
The fact that they bothered to reply shows that they either saw potential in your content but are hesitant to state it upfront, or they are kind enough to see the importance of sending a reply to you because they appreciate the effort it takes to build quality content.
This is an opportunity that you should milk for everything it is worth. They may not like the content you shared, but that is not the extent of your abilities. You can create more. You can tailor future content to meet their desired structure or include information they would like to see.
Grab the opportunity. Send them a reply. Ask them for feedback. Ask for their opinion on your content. Find out what they think the weak points are and how they think you could improve. Find out if the content is the issue or if the problem is that they have too much content in their pipeline to fit your content in. Ask them what kinds of content they love but don’t have the time to create themselves. Find out how you can help.
Get as much information as you can to help you when you get back to the drawing board.
But don’t forget to keep your reply short and simple. Don’t crush the opportunity by sending an excessively long reply. Make it easy for them to reply you again.