Oct 012013

For the third year in a row, I am attending Search Marketing Expo (SMX), run by Search Engine Land, a premier search marketing company. SMX is one of the largest international search marketing conferences and offers basic and advanced tactics for everything from search marketing to paid search, and everything in between.

Here’s a review of Session 1, Penguin-proof Link Building

Overall, this session was good. I give this session a grade B. The session’s speakers discussed the need for caution in a post-Penguin world. In addition, the speakers had good war stories about what worked for them.

Just by way of background, in a post-Penguin world, link building is an important SEO tactic. However, Penguin was not the first time we’ve heard this tune. Focusing on quality links is nothing new.

Link quality depends on multiple factors, one of the most important is the authority of the linking site. The goal is to aim for links from high quality sites, such as non-profits (.org), government websites (.gov), etc.  Penguin sought to punish websites which engaged in what Google views as unethical tactics, buying links and otherwise engaging in link wheels, etc.

Lawyer Internet Marketing & Links in a Post-Penguin World

Here are two take away tips from the SMX session which apply to lawyer websites and law firm internet marketing campaigns:

1. Don’t get tricked by website/SEO companies which promise to build links. Their tactics are almost always going to be dubious or will create bad links (i.e., poor quality links). Such companies simply cannot control other high quality sites, like news sites, government sites, etc. Especially when built over a short period of time, too many poor quality links can negatively affect site rankings.

2. As lawyers, we should not be focused on a magic solution. So how can lawyers build Penguin proof links for their websites? There is no magic solution. It is about leveraging relationships and increasing visibility of lawyer websites by thinking outside the box. For example, a family lawyer can develop a second website devoted to a charitable cause – reporting child abuse or helping needy families during the holidays.

Conclusion – Should Lawyers Care about Links?

Lawyers are often bombarded with sales calls from SEO companies selling various services. One popular service is “link building.” Lawyers must be aware of such tactics. Clearly, the focus is on quality links. Google’s bottom line is this – if you build a quality website, high quality websites will link to it. In other words, the mentality is, “if you build it, they will come.”

Stay tuned for reviews of later sessions.