Doing analysis of outbound links is still uncommon in most business sectors, including the legal field. However, if you want to make sure that your search engine optimization is successful and that people are using your website the way you want them to, you need to be able to check your outbound links and track how people are using them. This guide will explore why outbound link tracking is a great idea for law firms that have a large number of outbound links on their websites. If you're not already doing outbound links tracking, we'll look at which websites need it most and which can probably live without it.
What Are Outbound Links?
A website that isn't connected to other sites is not likely to be indexed frequently by search engines, and isn't likely to be very popular with the rest of the internet. In order to get links coming in, you'll need to have some links going out. Those links, that go from your website to the websites of other people, can be for advertisers or other law firms. Maybe you just have some links to basic legal resources for your area, or resources for people who cannot afford an attorney.
Why Google Cares About Outbound Links
Search engines actually do outbound link tracking, checking how many outbound links your website has in total. By doing this outbound links tracking, they are trying to assess how much “link juice” a particular link should be worth. Search engines don't want to put too much weight on links from websites that may be very easy to get links from.
That's why when Google does outbound link tracking, it looks at the overall number of links from the website, and dilutes the value of a single outbound link based on the total number. If you receive an outbound link, for example, from a website that has 100 links in total and a PageRank of 5, you'll get a much better spike to your search rankings than if you'd gotten a link from a website with over a million total links. Outbound links tracking can help you understand how Google is looking at both your website and the websites where you're building your inbound links.
Which Law Firms Benefit From Outbound Link Tracking?
Just about any law firm can benefit from looking at outbound links tracking in order to get an idea of where you can post the most beneficial inbound links. However, some law firms can receive an additional benefit as well.
Let's say that you're an attorney who specializes in estate law in a mid-sized city. You have some professional colleagues who went to law school with you, and you tend to refer them business sometimes. By doing outbound link tracking, you can learn exactly how many people have gone from your website to their website.
This kind of referral traffic can actually start to make you money after you do enough outbound link tracking. If you show through your outbound links tracking programs that you are sending high amounts of traffic through link referrals, you may be able to make a case for other attorneys paying to advertise on your website, making more money for your firm without having to do much different.
How to Do Outbound Link Tracking for Your Website
Outbound links tracking can actually be tougher than you might think when using software like Google Analytics. It's surprising, but Google's own software doesn't analyze this aspect of your website automatically, and in fact, you'll need to know how to do a little bit of computer programming (or hire someone who does) to do outbound link tracking.
Google Analytics lets you do outbound link tracking with a category it calls “events.” Essentially, you can program Google Analytics to track any particular events that you believe are interesting and worth tracking—for instance, any time somebody clicks on each individual outbound link.
If you don't know how to program and don't particularly want to learn, there is an alternative to finding a computer programmer. There are several programs available online that can help you to do outbound links tracking with convenient graphical interfaces. You can also search for “outbound link tracking code” to find up to date code to insert in your website to help Google Analytics do outbound links tracking.
Doing Outbound Link Tracking For Other Websites
One other use of outbound links tracking is checking the number of outbound links on the websites you're currently building inbound links from. Why would this be important? Well, if a website that you've had good results building links on suddenly has a very large number of additional outbound links, the value of your links there just diminished greatly.
You can use a wide variety of web tools to do this kind of outbound links tracking. If you find that your link value has been diluted by excessive additional links, it's time to find some new sources of inbound links that have not yet become overpopulated with links from other search engine marketing professionals.
Analyzing Other Aspects of Outbound Links
Once you're doing outbound links tracking on your website, you can check a lot of different things. You can learn, for instance, which link position on your website is the most likely to get clicks. You can also learn more about the ways that people go through your website, and which information they're leaving your website to get.
If you want to keep visitors on your site longer, after doing outbound links tracking, you should consider including the information available from the biggest sites as part of your own website. For example, if many visitors are clicking outbound links that go to legal forms, perhaps you should consider hosting the same legal forms on your own website in hopes of converting more clients as site visitors stay longer. Remember, after someone has clicked away from your website, it's not very likely that they'll hit their browser's “back” button.