Building backlinks is the foundation of any strong search engine optimization effort in 2012 and 2013. However, as nearly every search engine marketer knows, it's not easy to build backlinks that get noticed, get indexed, and work to bring your search rankings up. New changes to Google have made it important to look not only at what backlinks you're bringing in, but where they come from and what they look like. Keep reading this guide to find out how your law firm can start building backlinks that work—and why you may not need a backlink generator to do it.
Building Backlinks 101
The more websites that link to a site, the more trustworthy Google usually assumes that website is, and the higher its search rank climbs. This makes a lot of sense: think about the kinds of websites that are typically linked by huge numbers of people. Facebook, Youtube, CNN and other news websites, Wikipedia, Google, and so on are all websites that people search for quite frequently. When these appear earlier in search results, people searching don't have to spend as much time looking for what they want and can use the web more efficiently.
While the traditional way of building backlinks is to create exciting or informative or humorous content, then wait for it to spread into the web (perhaps after giving it a little nudge by getting linked by people you know), for some marketers, this wasn't fast enough. These marketers created backlink generator software that was capable of creating backlinks all over the web much faster than any human beings could.
How a Backlink Generator Works
In order to start building backlinks at breakneck speed, backlink generator software works by having a large database of websites in its programming that are easy to post to. When you start using one of these pieces of software, it starts writing automatic comments on blogs and making automatic posts to many different websites. Some generators work by submitting an article you've written to large numbers of websites that allow for unmoderated submissions.
By building backlinks in bulk, the idea behind a backlink generator is that it can bring a website from being relatively new and unlinked to being on the front page of keyword searches within a very short period of time.
The Problems With Using a Backlink Generator
While that's how generators work in theory, building backlinks in practice is actually a bit more difficult. There are several different reasons that you might want to avoid the use of a backlink generator completely.
One of these problems comes from the nature of the work a law firm does. People are already reluctant to trust most law firms, and it takes much more time to gain trust than it does to lose it. If your law firm starts using so-called “black hat” techniques that produce large volumes of low quality content in order to promote your website, people will see it. When they do, is that the kind of reputation your law firm is hoping to achieve, both in your community and—keeping in mind that the internet is a public space—around the world? No attorney passes the bar just to become a spammer.
The other problems with using a backlink generator come from just one new search engine algorithm: Google Penguin. Building backlinks after Penguin was activated in April of 2012 has been much tougher and much more quality focused.
Penguin Kills Most Backlink Generators
Google had no love for backlink generator programs. They were regarded as something akin to web smog, obscuring the view of the websites people really wanted to see. To get rid of this method of building backlinks, they released Penguin, a search engine update that stopped many of these generators cold.
How did they do it? By penalizing websites that met any of several criteria for being over optimized. For example, because automated backlink generator technology isn't very good at varying keywords and keyword phrases, websites that used the same anchor text over and over with no variation have been hit hard in search rankings. When you start building backlinks, you need to be careful to make a natural-seeming variety of anchor text keywords.
Another way that Penguin changed building backlinks was by penalizing websites that have backlinks exclusively from low PageRank websites. If your backlink generator worked by spamming articles on hundreds of low quality domains, you've now got a mess on your hands. Because Google sees this as evidence of building backlinks artificially, you'll have to ask the webmasters of those domains to take down the mentions of your website. If they don't, you'll have to show Google the documentation that shows you tried. It's a long, tedious process, and you're better off building backlinks of high quality from the start.
Do Any Backlink Generators Still Work?
It's true that there are still some programs that do currently help with building backlinks. Many of these are still using very spammy techniques, but have found loopholes and end runs around the Google engineers' detection of low quality link building.
However, even if you think you've found a good new way to run a link generator without running afoul of Penguin, use caution. It's very likely that Penguin is just the first in a series of updates designed to improve backlink quality and decrease the prevalence of link spam. Plan for the future, and get backlinks the way they were intended to be gotten: by giving people content so interesting that they can't help but share it with others.
Building Backlinks Without a Backlink Generator
There are hundreds of resources—many of them right here on lawfirms.laws.com—on how to build backlinks without using any kind of automation. You can build backlinks using blogs, social networking, videos, even traditional media coverage.
The important thing about these links is that they're developed in accordance with the content of the website they're on. These aren't links that are about making it harder to get where you want to go—instead, they make it easier. Those are the types of links you need to think about making, and when you do, you'll never find yourself in trouble with Google again.