CREATING GREAT CONTENT SERIES
This series is about giving small and solo law firms the information and tools to create amazing content for their own websites to gain more organic traffic, help potential clients, and rise in the Google rankings.
Part 5 – INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKING FOR SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
Internal links keep your potential clients within your website, while external links transport a visitor from one website to another.
Adding internal and external links (correctly!) to a website is one of the best-kept marketing secrets, and it can make a big difference.
Learn EXACTLY how to do both in this episode!
Some of the resources I visited about in today’s episode include the following:
Note: Link to websites may include affiliate links, in which I would receive a small fee or reward for the referral. However, please know I only provide referrals for companies and services I either use myself or believe in strongly.
Hello, and welcome back to The Legal Marketing Lounge. I’m Annette. And I am so excited that you’re here because we are in part five of Creating Great Content, the series that I created so that you the small or solo law firm owner could use in order to create great content for your law firm website. And today, we are going to be talking about internal and external links and why those are so good for SEO.
Now, before we get into all of this, I just want to recap what we’ve done already. We’ve talked about why SEO is so important for your law firms website. And we’ve talked about finding great content.
We’ve talked about how to get a keyword and how to use it within an article. And then we’ve talked about how to organize and format your articles so that they are optimized not only for SEO, but for a great reader experience.
Now, today we’re going to be talking about internal and external linking on those articles. Let me talk about them more specifically, so that you understand what they actually are an internal link on a law firm website are links that sort of usher website visitors from one page to another within your law firms website.
So an internal link will allow a guest to move from a homepage to an About Me page, which is actually the second most visited page on a website. And we’ll be talking about that in a later episode as well. And you can go to a fact page or to a website article. And throughout the whole website. These internal links are intended to keep individuals within the website. So that’s an internal link.
An external link will take a visitor from your website off of your website to a different website. And we’ll talk about why you would even want to have an external link on your website and the value that it brings. But an external link does allow someone to leave your website and an internal link is one that is going to keep someone on your website.
And frankly, internal links on your website is really one of the best-kept Marketing Secrets and it can make a big difference with your SEO. So let’s just get right into it. We’re going to talk about internal links first. Now, as I’ve already explained, internal links allow a reader to navigate their way around your website, it increases the probability that they will find the useful information that they’re looking for. And it allows them to stay longer on your website. Because they are looking at more and more content. internal links can boost older content that you’ve already written on your website A long time ago into focus. It establishes a stronger website structure that sort of gives a cohesion and connects your entire site with each other.
And internal links on your law firms website are beneficial in a couple of different ways. First of all, it can assist a potential client in having an overall better user experience. They stay on your website longer. They see you as an expert because they continue to read the articles and content that you are writing on legal topics. And, frankly, that’s when they end up picking up the phone. Because a lot of their questions have already been answered. They see you as an expert. But then they have specific questions about their unique facts and circumstances, which leads them to either fill out your contact form on your website or just pick up the phone and call you.
What’s really interesting about internal linking is that when someone goes to your website, they’re looking specifically for their question to be answered. But the truth is that some of the content on your website may also answer some questions that they don’t even know that they had. And if they’re only landing on one article on your website, they may be missing older content that you have that would perfectly suit their needs or answer their very important questions.
So when you are adding these internal links, you can match visitors with the information that they are truly searching for with additional details and additional content that help answer their questions, some questions they may not even know that they had. So for example, if you have an estate planning firm, and a website visitor is searching just for general information on estate planning, and you have been smart enough because you’ve listened to this episode, that you have added internal links and related articles on your website, then this extra information may cause them to have more questions, which can lead them to more research on
An example would be if they came into your website, looking for wills versus trusts. And then within that article, there was a hyperlink an internal hyperlink to a different article about revocable and irrevocable trusts, they might think, wow, that might be something that’s really may be more appropriate for my situation. And then in that article, there is a link to special needs trusts, and maybe they have a special needs child. And now you have answered a question for them that they didn’t even know they had, because they didn’t even know something like a special needs trust even existed. So this is why internal links are so important for the client, potential client experience. internal links can also maximize search engine discovery.
So internal links keep website visitors moving around to find value. It’s also keeping the Google bots that are crawling your website moving around to find value. And as these Google bots are crawling your website and your content, these additional articles that you are linking to, are going to
capture the attention of these little crawling search engines. So depending on where the internal links lead, they can really help the Google bots determine where people are heading to in your website to find valuable content. And if your website has created sort of a very solid map of internal links, it can really make it easy for Google to discover and index your published content, which is great, because then it just simply helps you get noticed in search results and gets you too that sort of coveted top space in Google.
Internal linking can also give you a higher page authority. So we’ve already talked in a different episode about domain authority and a DA score is how important and valuable Google sees your website. If you’re just starting out, your da score may be zero or one, as you start to grow the content on your website and provide really valuable information and you start to get more and more website visitors that stay on your website for significant periods of time, your DA score will grow. And not only do you have a DA score a domain authority score, you also have a page authority score a PA score.
So page authority is an SEO related term. And SEO stands for search engine optimization. So page authority is an SEO related term that measures how likely a certain page from your website will be found by a search engine. So you want your PA score for every single article that you write to be really high, right? Because a page authority is really connected with the quality and the relevance of the information that your website is providing.
So if you are going to create internal links from one article to another article, that is an excellent way to increase your page authority, because you are saying I have not only a lot of content on this subject in this article. But I also have a lot of content that is valuable for readers in this other piece of content and I’m linking them together. So it does increase your page authority and eventually, it increases the traffic to your website because Google is increasing your page authority score.
Let’s now talk about the way you actually put internal links on your Law Firm website in practice, because there are certain formatting tools, tips techniques that work better than others. The first and most foundational piece of advice that I will give you is that you need to have a lot of excellent content on your law firm website. And I know that that may seem overwhelming now. But eventually, three, six months from now, a year from now, after you’ve been creating content, you will be able to truly create a web of interlinking content that keeps people interested and on your website, and also gives a lot for the Google bots to do.
So my very first suggestion is to just keep on keeping on, just keep on creating excellent content, if you only have a few articles right now, try to link them together. If it makes sense. And they are related. We’re going to get to that in just a minute. But don’t despair. If you don’t have a lot of content yet on your website. That’s okay. Just make sure that once you do start putting content on your website, that you start linking those together, internally, the next thing that you need to do is, after you’ve created quite a bit of content on your website, you need to start investigating it and looking at what topics you have written about and start grouping certain topics together with internal linking.
Now I’m going to give a bit of an analogy here, the content on your website should look like silos. Now I’m from Kansas City. So I’m from the Missouri side, okay. And if you know anything about Kansas City, you will know that there is a deep division between the Kansas and the Missouri side, but in Missouri and Kansas and both, we have a lot of farming communities that have silos. So this particular analogy hits very close to home. silos contain only one kind of material in them. Your website should have silos of content.
What does that mean? Well, it means that if you practice both personal injury law, and bankruptcy law, you should not interlink any content, from bankruptcy law. With personal injury law, you should create those as separate silos of content, you can create a map of your website that can help you determine the structure, and you can make changes if it’s needed. But if you have an older blog post that maybe has been forgotten, but contains a lot of valuable information, you want to connect that to the current pages of content that you have, through internal linking, that are in the same topic area.
If you jump from personal injury, and create a link that goes to divorce law, the Google bots are going to get confused, they’re not going to know what that article is really about. But if you have 10, or 15 pieces of estate planning content, and have interlinked all of those together, then the Google bot can understand, oh, these articles are providing valuable information about estate planning.
Similarly, when visitors come to your website, and they are interested in estate planning, and then all of a sudden, they’re sent over to some personal injury article, they are going to get confused and lost. And frankly, they may leave your website. So you really want to make sure that the links that you have on your website are only linking with other content that is similar. Take the time to go through your website right now, you may have older content on your website that you created a really long time ago, that is still valuable, right bankruptcy laws don’t change that often. So you can have a lot of articles on your website that have a lot of content, and important information, make sure to link those with newer content that you are creating.
Another strategy is to link your most popular pages with your content that frankly, needs a little bit more visibility that isn’t getting the kind of traffic that you wish that it would if you link a less popular post with a more popular post that will sort of make the waters rise for all of your posts. And people will be more interested in visiting that post because frankly, they know that it’s there. You should also link content with pages that possess a high page authority and high conversion rates meaning you know that people happen to use the opt-in form or the lead generation form on this one particular article. And you get a lot of clients because of this one article or you get a lot of traffic From this one article, you want to make sure to link those pages that have high page authority scores and conversion rates. With ones that have a lower authority or lower conversion rates, it just helps interconnect everything. So all of it raises up.
The next thing you should do is make sure that when you are creating an internal link on your article and hyperlinking it, you are using what is called Smart anchor text. Anchor Text is the actual word or phrase that is displayed in a hyperlink, it’s usually a different color. And underlined and anchor text provides both the users that are on your website in search engines, information about where that link will lead. So optimal anchor text is natural, using keywords in context and giving visitors a really solid idea about what’s going to happen when they click that link. If you are writing an article as a personal injury attorney, and you have an article about a car accident, and within that article, you talk about a motorcycle accident, you can take the smart anchor text of the words motorcycle accident, and link them to an article that you have about motorcycle accidents. If you have an article about motorcycle accidents that talk about traumatic brain injuries. And you have another article that just discusses in general traumatic brain injuries, the anchor text would be traumatic brain injuries. So whatever text you are going to use, make sure that you make it very clear to a visitor or frankly, Google exactly what the destination of that link will be.
And make every internal link unique and use natural common sense words, that would match up where that link is actually going to take the reader or the Googlebot. So make them concise, make them to the point, make them very well suited to the destination and do not use generic terms such as click here.
At this point in the internet game, everybody knows that when they are reading text and they see something in a different color or underlined, they know that that is going to be a hyperlink somewhere else. So you don’t need to use the words, click here or click on this link.
If you want to build internal links wisely. The truth is they need to be still used in moderation there right now are really no limits to the number of internal links a page can have. But really, most digital marketing experts recommend no more than two to four for a 1000 word blog article, because the truth of the matter is that people will just get a little bit numb to seeing all of these internal links. And it won’t provide the same rate of return as just a few key internal links would avoid linking to any unrelated content, avoid relating to just simply promotional content, which tends to be very off putting for visitors.
So now we have talked a lot about internal linking. Let’s talk a little bit about external linking. As I said, at the very beginning, External links are links that take a visitor or a Googlebot away from your website. It is very important for SEO to get external linking, right? You still want to use the same type of strategy regarding smart anchor text. So where I find that a lot of law firms do not do this correctly, is they will give a statistic about how many accidents occur in the United States every year that result in fatalities. And they will hyperlink the actual number of fatalities instead of hyperlinking.
The anchor text which should be the Centers for Disease Control, or the Department of Transportation, whatever is the authoritative source is actually what should be hyperlinked as the external link that is better for the people on your website, reading it to know that you are linking to an authoritative source and it’s better for the Google bots as well.
What should you actually link to as an external source? I highly recommend, and if this was in print, I would bold and underline this part of the podcast, I would only link to authoritative sources. An authoritative source is something that has a.gov at the end of their URL, or a.org. At the end of their URL, you do not want to be linking to Fox News or CNN or someone’s idea in a blog post. You don’t want to be linking even to statutes that are located on other websites that can potentially lead someone away to a different attorney. So I’m talking about websites like nolo.com, or find law.com.
Now, there are statutes on those websites. But the problem is, if someone is on your website, and clicks through to that link, on those websites are opportunities for other attorneys to advertise. So you don’t want to give your potential visitors that you worked so hard to get to your website, you don’t want to send them off to find information on a different website that has other attorneys advertising on it. So take the time to find the actual statute, the actual law, the actual governmental agency in your state that will be relevant or appropriate to your article. So again, that is such an important suggestion, I believe, to make sure that any external link you have goes to an absolute authoritative source.
All of the other suggestions that I have regarding internal linking do apply to external linking as well, such as using smart anchor text, building these links wisely and making sure not to include really more than two or three. For every 1000 words, it’s important to have 2-3 external links, and I just want to assuage your fears if you are worried about putting External links on your article, frankly, most people are not going to click on it. Once they see the Department of Transportation or Department of Labor hyperlinked, they are just going to assume that the content that you’re talking about after that is actually linked to that as evidence.
However, if you want to make sure to avoid people actually leaving your site and not being able to find it or come back, I highly suggest that when you are creating your external link, you check the little box that exists on the WordPress sites. And if you don’t have WordPress, there are other ways to do this, there is a way to check that you open a new tab. So you want someone going away from your website to come to a new tab on their screen, that you don’t want them to go directly from your website to another website, you just want to have it open in a new tab. And that way, if they want to go check whatever that other external link is, they can do so but they haven’t lost their place their bookmark on your website. So that isn’t quite as important for internal linking, because they’re just staying on your website, I would not suggest opening a new tab for internal linking, in some cases that can actually skew the statistics and make Google think that they are starting a whole new experience on your website. And really, you want them to just sort of be navigating through and traveling through your website, which will make your bounce rate much lower.
So again, just to recap, for internal links, I would make sure not to open a new window or a new tab. And for external links, I would have my external links open a new tab or a new window.
The next thing you’re going to want to do is to perform routine link maintenance. It’s just really important once you start to get substantial amounts of content on your website, to check your internal and your external links consistently. You want to make sure that they’re working. And any broken or dead links are ones that are not going to take a visitor to the intended page. And that’s what they’re called. They’re called broken links or dead links and we’ve all experienced them. They’re super frustrating for visitors. And frankly, they’re damaging to your marketing plan and your SEO they typically result in an overall failed SEO for that particular visitor attempting to navigate through your website.
A lot of times visitors, once they hit that 404 error, they just get discouraged and leave. This can lead to a higher bounce rate, which is terrible for your SEO. So what I would do is suggest that once every quarter, check your website to see whether or not there are any broken or dead links, because what you really don’t want is any annoyed visitors receiving error messages, they may even doubt your website’s credibility, they may not pick up the phone and call you we we certainly don’t want that. And then having these broken paths on your website makes it very complicated and difficult, and frankly, sometimes impossible for Google to crawl certain pages. So and they certainly can’t crawl pages that have broken links. So you want to make sure to avoid that as much as possible.
I hope that this episode really helped you understand why Internal and external links are so important. I have met with attorneys before that are adamantly opposed to any kind of external linking. And I just say that the truth of the matter is, most people will not leave your website. But it is great to show your own authority, and to show the Google bots your expertise. So if you can get your internal linking, and your external linking, right, on your law firms website, it’s just a really smart way to gain value and SEO points for no cost.
So once you’ve created all of this fantastic content, you really want to give yourself every single advantage possible to get the highest SEO you can for your website. And really one of the very best ways to do that is through internal and external linking.
And we’re not done yet. We still have one more episode in this Creating Great Content series. And it’s going to be all about plagiarism. And it isn’t what you think it is. So stay tuned for that. And as always, head over to www.lawquill.com/podcast for any of the show notes for this or any of the other podcast episodes and click that subscribe button. Have you
not done that? I hope you have because we have so much more to come here in the Legal Marketing Lounge.