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Can Your Law Firm Buy Backlinks—And Should You?

Can Your Law Firm Buy Backlinks—And Should You?

If you're not ranking as high as you'd like to be in search engine results, you may have already started doing research on how to purchase backlinks.  Before you buy a backlink, though, there are a few things you'll need to consider.  For one thing, many old methods that made it profitable to buy backlinks no longer have any positive effect on search engine rankings.  Second, if you buy a backlink, you may end up actually seeing a negative impact on your website.  We'll explore why both of these things are true in this guide, so keep reading to get the real scoop on whether it's a good idea to purchase backlinks.

Why Law Firms Buy Backlinks

When you're just getting started on the internet, it can seem very difficult to bring in web traffic.  If you don't have a very well defined niche market, drawing in new site visitors is tough because 95 percent of web searches never even go to page two—and 99 percent don't go to page 3.

One of the biggest ways that Google uses to decide which websites are ranked on that high value first page is to look at backlinks, or links to the website from other websites.  Why are backlinks considered more important?  Think about it: any time people link to a website, they're usually designating that website as some sort of authority—or at the very least, as being interesting enough that people will want to visit it.

To increase their backlink numbers, many law firms buy backlinks.  There is a very large price range for people wishing to purchase backlinks, depending on the level of quality of the links and the methods used to obtain them.  To buy a backlink can be risky, though—search engines don't like it, and some have started to take action.

Why Search Engines Crack Down on People Who Purchase Backlinks

If you've kept up with search engine marketing news in 2012, you probably already know that Google has come down hard on websites that buy a backlink presence.  The reason that Google and other search engines don't like when people buy a backlink is simple: they're trying to give web searchers the results that they are most likely to want.  When you buy backlinks and game the system to artificially inflate your own rankings, you're making it harder for searchers to get the results they actually wanted and could have used.

How Search Engines Detect When You Buy Backlinks

Search engines are getting smarter every year at noticing when someone has decided to purchase backlinks instead of getting them organically.  Several ratios can indicate to Google that a website is overoptimized and that its marketers may have tried to buy a backlink presence instead of creating one through marketing buzz.

These ratios include how many backlinks you have to how long your site has been around (can anyone really get ten thousand backlinks in a few days on a brand new website without trying to buy backlinks?).  You can also see your search rankings decrease whenever Google detects that you have a high ratio of backlinks from unmoderated blog comments.

By monitoring many of these ratios (and updating their algorithm with new ones as they find them), they can tell if you buy backlinks and how many you've bought.  If you purchase too many, your webmaster will receive warnings from Google with tips on how to get the links removed.

Is it Ever Safe To Buy Backlinks?

There are so many issues when it comes to trying to buy a backlink that you may be starting to reconsider.  In general, you probably don't want to buy a backlink directly.  It's technically against Google Webmaster guidelines (although for the most part this remains unenforced) and it won't usually generate any additional traffic to your website.  However, there are limited circumstances where it may be reasonably smart to purchase backlinks.

In order to buy backlinks and have them work, you'll need to look for link building services that offer contextually based backlinking.  This means that they look for websites with similar content to your law firm's website so that they can build natural looking backlinks on these websites.  Usually, this will mean you don't buy a backlink directly, but rather hire a service to scope out free opportunities for backlinks.  This is a great way to get around Google's prohibitions and still essentially purchase backlinks.

Is it Ethical to Purchase Backlinks?

Attorneys in particular may be interested in the ethics of whether or not to buy a backlink.  When you purchase backlinks that artificially inflate your search results, you may be able to bring in more business, at least temporarily.  However, you could also be making it harder for people to find the information they want.  What's more, you could actually get in trouble if you try to buy a backlink that looks like it goes to a competitor's site while really directing people to your own.

In order to maintain high ethical standards when you purchase backlinks, you should only use reputable contractors.  Using a fly by night contractor that advertises a certain rate for a certain number of backlinks will almost never lead to the kind of results you really want.  You may also want to buy backlinks only from services located in the United States, as these services are more likely to understand the context of your website and how to make keyword text that appears fluid and natural to an American audience.

If You Don't Want to Buy Backlinks

If you're not comfortable enough to purchase backlinks based on what you've read, there are still other ways to build your link presence and get to the top of search results.  For example, instead of trying to buy a backlink, why not look around for guest posting opportunities on blogs run by your friends, colleagues, or even former law school classmates?

Additionally, better niche marketing can be a good alternative if you don't want to purchase backlinks.  This can make your website more visible on long tail searches with many keywords, and may help you build up your web presence even if your backlinks can't compete with the biggest and most web savvy firms in town.