Google Penalizes Law Firm Scholarship Links

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Link building is a popular marketing technique. Law firms can boost their website’s authority and Google rankings by gathering links from reputable sites. In the recent past, scholarship campaigns were a popular link building method for law firms. Essentially, law firms would offer scholarships in exchange for links. Now, however, it seems Google penalizes law firm scholarship links

The Basics of Link Building for Law Firms 

Link building is the process of obtaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own. Links let users navigate across the internet. 

There are significant benefits to implementing link-building strategies for businesses of all types, including law firms. Those benefits include: 

  • Builds connections. As you reach out to other law firms, legal organizations, or law schools, you will start building relationships and obtaining backlinks. Visitors to your connections are more likely to end up on your website if you are linked. 
  • Builds brand awareness. The more recognizes your law firm’s name, the better your chances are of growing your busy, developing meaningful business relationships, and increasing your clientele. You can focus on building your brand through link building by obtaining links to websites that share similar messages.
  • Improves reputation. When people recognize your firm, you want it to be because you have a positive reputation. Law firms must be seen positively by current clients, potential clients, and the legal community. Backlinks from reputable sources can improve your standing in terms of fairness and honorability. 
  • Increases referral traffic. A quality outreach strategy, which involves health link building, can help you earn more referrals from reputable sites. Those links will establish your website and law firm as an authoritative source, making you more trustworthy to potential clients who need legal help. 
  • Increases leads. As you obtain quality links and increase your website’s domain authority, your rankings will increase, and you should see an increase in potential client leads.

One of the most popular law firm link building methods in the past has been through scholarships and .edu websites. Now, however, it seems Google no longer finds that a favorable method. 

 

The History of Scholarship Link Building 

Throughout the early and mid-2000s, charity links were commonplace across the internet. Law firms and law schools offered scholarships to students willing to write an essay on a specific topic. The writer of the chosen essay would have their name, essay, and award published, and the law firm or law school would get a backlink to their website. 

Link building experts often talked up scholarship link building between 2008 and 2020. As a result, law firms all over the country were participating in the practice. 

It was not until the end of 2020 that a link building expert came in contact with a client who had received a manual action penalty for “unnatural inbound links.” Google flagged three specific examples, with two of the links being guest posts and one being a scholarship link. This was the first time someone noticed Google penalizing websites for scholarship campaigns, but it was not the last. Not only are SEO experts wondering if scholarship links are relevant, but there are questions as to if they are truly earned.    

How Google Penalizes Law Firm Scholarship Links 

The manual action penalty is issued by a human reviewer at Google. Manual penalties are applied after the renewer determines a website is not in compliance with company guidelines. As a result, manual penalties result in pages or entire websites ranking lower in Google searches.  

Historically, Google allowed scholarship links to pass by and only penalized purposely aggressive or sneaky link building. The algorithm, however, seems to have changed.  

Now that it seems Google penalizes law firms for scholarship link campaigns, it may be in your best interest to reconsider the value of those links. You do not want to pursue unfavorable SEO practices that could downgrade your site. 

Before you think about pursuing another scholarship campaign, remember that scholarship links can flag your site. When search bots crawl websites and find scholarship links, they assume the website is a scholarship site. If that happens, it will take away from the fact that you are a law firm. Also, remember that the link does not connect with your website’s topic. While websites can come back from being penalized, it is often a challenging road, and it is better to consider other, healthier link building methods. 

Scholarship Link Building and SEO 

If you have experienced only luck in terms of scholarship link building for your law firm, you may consider chancing it and continuing with current and future campaigns. Are the links really worth it, though? Consider the following:

  • Scholarship links do not help rankings. If your website is not explicitly focused on scholarships, it is unlikely any scholarship links will help your rankings. You want to focus your link building strategy on acquiring links related to your website topic, so Google’s bots can identify the relationship between the link and the indexed website topic. 
  • Scholarship links are often irrelevant. Links that Google deems irrelevant to the context of a website are typically ignored. If the link is acknowledged, it could depreciate the overall value of the website. 
  • Google does not give more domain authority to .edu websites. While domain authority is an important SEO factor, it is a common myth that educational websites are ranked higher than others. While Google does rank link domains, .edu websites are not considered among the elite.

Effective Link Building Methods for Law Firms 

Not all links are deliberate or favorable. While organic backlinks can be a good thing, the website may reference yours could be doing so in a bad light. While you can take steps to get that link removed, you will also want to understand how to acquire the types of links that will help your website thrive. 

Now that scholarships are necessarily considered among the best practices for law firm link building, you will need to consider branching out your efforts. Consider the following methods for effective link building. 

Write Quality Content 

Boosting your website’s authority starts with writing and publishing quality content. Keep your target audience in mind when considering the topics you want to cover and how you want to write different types of content. For law firms, practice area pages will be significantly different from blog posts or contact/biography pages. 

Build Out Your Law Firm’s Blog 

Starting and maintaining a law firm blog is not only a great way to write quality content, but it will keep your website evergreen. If you are having trouble brainstorming what to write about, start by researching what your target audience wants to know. Develop a regular blog schedule and remember to include visual components like images and videos to every post to keep readers engaged. You should also link internally to your website. For example, if you write a blog post about the five most common distracted driving behaviors, remember to include a link to your car accident page in the blog before posting. 

Start Guest Posting 

Guest posting has a number of benefits. First, you can network with colleagues and fellow attorneys or business owners. Some of those people may be interested in exchanging blog posts and accompanying links. Both parties will benefit from collaborating, and you’ll be able to share your legal knowledge outside of your website. You can also look into guest post opportunities on your law school’s website or through LinkedIn. 

Remember the Importance of Domain Authority 

Domain authority is one of many factors that contribute to Google’s ranking system. The higher a website’s domain authority, the more likely it is to show up on the first page—and the more likely people will see its content. Common examples of high domain authority sites include YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google My Business.  

Host a Podcast 

Starting a podcast and interviewing guests is not only a great way to attract attention to your law firm, but it is also another place you can post a link to your website. Not only will you boost your website’s visibility, but you will be adding variety to your backlinks. 

How Law Quill Can Help Law Firms Build Links 

While scholarship links may be currently seen as unfavorable in Google’s eye, that does not necessarily mean it is time to get rid of the scholarship campaign process entirely. It is, however, likely time to reevaluate your firm’s marketing plan and look into other solid link building strategies that will foster better results without potential ranking hits. If you choose to pursue a new campaign, keep in mind that Google penalizes law firm scholarship links.  

We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at support@lawquill.com.