Most lawyers don’t know a ton about SEO — Search Engine Optimization — but they are vaguely aware that if they include certain keywords in their website content, they will tend to rank higher with search engines like Google.
For example, if they want to come up No. 1 for “Atlanta criminal attorney,” that phrase definitely needs to be in their text. (How, where and when is covered in my recent post about SEO for blogging attorneys).
A variation on this theme that fewer attorneys know about is using these keywords in anchor text links – a simple, free tactic that anyone can learn to boost website traffic and client inquiries.
I find these tiny-yet-powerful links cause a lot of confusion, so here are the basics you need to know.
What is anchor text?
Old school links used to just give you a URL or “www” address. Example: “Learn more about our attorney web design company by going to www.paperstreet.com/company/.”
An anchor text link uses other words to link to a new page. In this example – Learn more about our attorney web design company — there is no www address that the reader sees. It is imbedded in the anchor text.
Why does anchor text matter?
Google and other search engines assume that if a link called “New Orleans DUI attorney” leads to your site, chances are pretty good you are a New Orleans DUI attorney. So, every time the search engines read anchor text, it acts as a vote saying “Hey, this is what this page is about.” And that can add up to higher rankings.
How do I create a link using anchor text?
In most content management systems, like WordPress and Total Control, you would do the following:
1) Write the phrase that you want to be your anchor text
2) Highlight that text you just wrote
3) Select Insert
4) Select Hyperlink
5) Paste the actual www address, or URL, you want to link to in the link field
When do I use anchor text links?
1) Any time you want to link to a page in your website, use anchor text instead of just typing the www address. Example: Learn more about PaperStreet’s law firm SEO services.
2) When a keyword phrase comes up naturally in your website copy and you have a detailed page dedicated to more information on that topic. A common example of this is linking from a main practice area page (like Intellectual Property law) to a sub practice area page (like Trademarks) when the phrase “trademark attorney” appears in the copy on the main IP page.
3) In press releases, other online copy that may or may not be on your actual law firm website.
Common mistakes with anchor text
- Using anchor text that does not include keywords.
Bad example of anchor text: Contact us today. Click here for more info.
Instead, do this: Contact our California immigration law firm today. Click to learn more about our San Francisco attorneys handling H1B Visas.
For standard copy, two or three links per page is plenty. (The exception is a landing page where the entire point is to link to other pages, in which case, link away!) And make sure you are accurate with your links. Don’t say a page is about something it isn’t just to try and get better rankings. That’s unethical – and annoying to readers who click and don’t find what they are looking for.
If you have decided you want your home page to rank No. 1 for “Houston estate planning lawyer,” then don’t use that same phrase as a link to your About Us page. If you do both, you are giving a vote to each page, and the votes could in essence cancel each other out, or at very lease confuse the search engines. The solution is to pick your most important keyword phrases and link those to your most important pages. Link your lesser important phrases (which are usually more specific) to your lesser important pages (practice area pages, attorney bios, etc., which are also more specific.) Example of how to do correctly: A Toronto commercial litigation law firm that links “Toronto commercial litigation” to their home page, while linking “Toronto contracts attorney” to their contracts practice area page and “Attorney John Smith” to Mr. Smith’s bio.
That’s anchor text in a nutshell. Start using it today and you will see demonstrable results for minimal effort.