Blog linksWay too much time is consumed by lawyers and legal marketing professionals talking about linking back and forth from blogs and websites in forced artificial ways. This is not a ‘I link to you, you link to me or I linked to him in a list of links so look at me as a nice guy’ kind of thing.

Links are best garnered as part of being in a conversation among thought leaders in your field. Todd Smith is a Texas Appellate lawyer and holds himself out as being a pretty good one via his blog. If another Texas appellate lawyer comes along with a blog why not engage that lawyer in a conversation.

That’s done by referencing what the lawyer says on their blog and providing your take. Obviously you’ll be linking to that lawyers blog post when referencing what they have to say.

By engaging in an ongoing conversation with other thought leaders and the media you will be seen by people doing research in the area as an authority. When someone Google’s your name they will see other thought leaders referencing what you have had to say – a tacit endorsement of your expertise. If you’re not engaging in the conversation among leaders in your field, you are conspicuous by your absence.

Think of it like a conference or series of conferences. The thought leaders are on the panels. They comment on what each other says. They comment on other panelists answers to questions from the audience.

If you are sitting in the audience because being on a panel would require you to recognize other lawyers as thought leaders by engaging in a conversation with them, that’s fine. You’ll just never be seen. You’ll never convince the person sitting next to you that you are as good a lawyer as those on the panel.

Of course link out, but not in some list of links. Link out by being part of the discussion.

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  • Can I ask then why you provide a list of links everyday?

  • Thanks for the question Jon.
    I assume you’re referring to the Legal News from the LexBlogosphere where we post a list of 10 posts from law blogs on weekdays and 5 on weekends. We do that for a few reasons.
    * Lawyers are publishing some excellent legal information, insight, and commentary. I want to highlight the legal news via the good sized audience I have on my blog.
    * Many people in the legal profession believe legal blogs are some sort of lawyer diary full of random thoughts from lawyers. Highlighting legal blog posts shows the legal community that law blogs are much more than that.
    * The posts we’re highlighting mostly come from LexBlog clients, which lawyers are in effect a legal blog community of over 700 lawyers. Running an effective community means rewarding community members. Highlighting community member’s posts is a means of rewarding them.

  • Links are needed to rank well, but not just any link will do. Google notes the subject sphere of a website, and does that by the supporting link network. How similar topic wise the two connecting websites are can be a very important factor. Especially for competitive searches, Google judges a website by the company it keeps.
    I would advise lawyers to be careful about who they swap links with. Outbound links have also become an important component to the search rankings. Your links should reflect your region, your reading & your relationships. If you do that, Google will place your site accurately.
    I would also say there is support to your proposition Kevin, that linking to your competitors will help. Even though it may be counter intuitive to some, linking to your competitor actually puts your website closer to the hub of your topic or expertise.
    And finally, I like the fact that you link to Lexblog clients. If blogging is about voices, faces & relationships, then it makes sense to be an evangelist for your clients. Not only to showcase their talent, but to converse with them. It’s a much more palatable method of marketing, and if it helps in the search engines, then all the better, right?

  • Barry Solomon

    I think Kevin’s approach with respect to linking makes a lot of sense. Just focus on doing the right thing. Works in lots of areas of life.
    In law school, for example, it’s much better to focus on learning rather than getting good grades. Good grades are best when they come as a by-product of doing the right thing. With a blog, rather than cynically focusing on the search engines, it’s better to focus on doing the right thing and in this context that is creating a discussion.
    So if linking is a natural by-product of being a thought leader and having a discussion, it won’t be forced. And, as Steve points out, you then get other benefits such as helping the search engines as a by-product of doing the right thing, not an end in itself.

  • Kevin, then why does every lexblog created blog link to every other created lexblog blog in their blog roll whether they know each other or not, not through commentary between thought leaders but just because they are lexblog lawyers? Solos are linked to countless lawyers they don’t know, never had a conversation with and are creating affiliations where none exist other than being created by lexblog. This seems counter to what you just talked about. You are automatically ‘exchanging links.’ While this may serve Lexblog doesn’t it force link exchanges in direct conflict with what you are discussing?

  • Good question Susan.
    On many of LexBlog client blogs, there is a list of links showcasing LexBlog lawyer blogs as well as a number of none LexBlog client blogs. The list is not on all LexBlog client blogs. It’s collegial to help each other and not part of any agreement with LexBlog.
    At the same time, Stacey Merrick, LexBlog’s Client Services Director, and her team’s work with clients is focused on getting lawyers to enter into an online conversation in their niche area of the law. Not only will the lawyers reputation grow by word of mouth as a result, but the lawyers will pick up links from relevant blogs and news websites.
    To the extent Solo’s want to exchange links, that’s great. There’s just too much discussion that linking randomly here and there is going to cause one’s blog to generate more work. That’s unlikely.
    Lawyers need to be focus on how and why blogs work, as opposed to thinking blogs are the latest fad to game search engines.