You know that creating external links from your legal blog post is a big part of the process. You also know that the anchor text you use for your links can have a significant impact on your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) score and its rankings in targeted searches, because search engines use the text attached to links as an indication of what the target site is about.
This leads to a conundrum: What anchor text should you use for external links in your blog posts? Should it be “keyword rich” like the anchor text you use for your internal links, or should it be something deliberately designed to neuter the SEO points the other site gets from the link?
Or does it even matter?
This is a Niche Subject
This is a very niche topic we’re talking about, here. This only applies to the anchor text you choose to use for the links that are going somewhere other than the domain hosting your legal blog. We’re also only talking about the SEO pros and cons for your site – the one that’s doing the linking – not the site that is being linked to.
There is plenty of content out there about the optimal anchor text for external links that, for some reason or other, focuses exclusively on backlinks – the links coming to your site from somewhere else – rather than the external links going from your site, elsewhere. This is confusing because you can’t control the anchor text in backlinks because, well, you’re not writing it.
Why This Niche Subject is Important: Your Site’s SEO Power
Every time you create an external link, you tip your cap to someone else online.
Take a second to appreciate the significance of that power. Whenever you link somewhere else, you’re saying “this guy knows what’s up,” or “according to this gal…”
For search engine marketing – which relies on convincing Google, Bing, and other search engines that your site is relevant and important for your targeted searches – receiving these tips of the cap is the Holy Grail.
Giving them is an often overlooked aspect of SEO: How you use your website’s power to influence others on the internet.
A Big Question: Is Your Site a Reputable One?
Some sites are seen by search engines as domain of good repute. Others, not so much. Maybe they’ve been penalized for foul SEO play, or maybe they’re just new to the game and haven’t amassed the positive points that others have.
Where your law firm’s website falls into this spectrum will determine the significance of its cap-tipping. If your firm’s site is highly regarded by search engines, external links carry positive SEO points to the destination sites. If it is frowned upon by search engines, external links could hurt the destination sites.
Reputable Websites Should Never Link to Competitors
If your law firm has a reputable website in the eyes of Google, then the general rule of thumb applies with greater force: You should never run an external link from your site to one of your competitors. Doing so provides their site with a lucrative backlink that pads their SEO score and can only serve to oust you from the rankings.
Disreputable Websites Can Wage War With External Links
Hopefully, your law firm’s website is a reputable one.
However, things get more, well, fun if it isn’t. In life, if you get lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade.
In SEO, though, if Google gives you lemons, you can throw them at people.
If you see that your law firm’s website has a poor reputability score with the search engines, you can, in theory, use that score to go on the attack by linking to the law firm websites of your competitors. By using your website’s poor repute to taint their websites’ credibility, you can help your cause by hurting theirs.
Remember, search engine rankings are graded on a curve. Mathematically, there can only be one Number One.
On its own, this won’t do much. Getting linked to by a single poorly-performing website won’t completely tank their standing.
However, if you’re able to trigger a penalty with your efforts, significant damage can be done.
One penalty that you can utilize to your advantage, should you undertake this nefarious venture, is Google’s Penguin algorithm. This piece of Google’s algorithm weighs the points gained by a website through a backlink from somewhere else. While recent updates to the Penguin program had initially suggested that deliberately sending external links from a site of ill-repute did nothing, more recent data paints a grayer picture.
One thing that seems to hurt a competitor’s webpage is to bombard it with external links that use exactly matched anchor text. Therefore, if you want to tank a competitor’s landing page housed at https://your-competitor.com/personal-injury-lawyers-in-dallas, you’d send external links to that landing page using “personal injury lawyers in Dallas” as the anchor text.
If successful, you’d start to see that landing page slip in the rankings.
Unfortunately, the practical reality would be that your site of ill-repute would be unlikely to benefit from your competitor’s losses. Disreputable websites tend, by nature, to rank poorly.
Of course, there’s nothing saying that a website hobbled by SEO penalties has to be your firm’s only website. In fact, in some cases, it is easier to start a website from scratch than rehabilitate a penalized one. And if you’re making a new one, sometimes it can be worth it to pay the hosting fees on your old, hobbled site in order to be able to create some SEO chaos in your market.
But at that point, we’re reaching deep into the hypotheticals.