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The primary reasons a law firm creates and maintains a website is to inform users of their practice areas and give prospective clients an opportunity to contact them about their accident or injury. In order to inform users effectively, quality content is needed. This could come in the form of blogs, FAQs or pages.

To go deeper into educating people who visit your site, and to help keep them on your pages longer, law firms can use internal linking. This gives visitors additional ways to navigate to relevant content that is not included in the main navigation menu.

Having a website that is accurately and thoroughly internally linked can help give potential clients the confidence they need to go with you as their lawyer.

What are internal links?
Internal links are hyperlinks that take a user from one page to another within the same domain. For example, there could be links on your homepage that takes the user to the “About Me” page, the “Practice Area” page or the “Contact Us” page.

Internal links differ from external links, as external links will take the user from the website they are on to another website. Internal links will take you to another page on the same website.

Internal links can be placed in navigation menus, recommended link menus or within the page copy. However, having too many internal links can be a distraction. The right amount can keep visitors engaged and give Google context about how pages on your site relate to each other.

Why are internal links important?
Internal links are important to the success of your website due to two reasons: navigation and link equity.

Navigation
If your website does not internally link well, or at all, the user will eventually get stuck on a page. Once they finish reading the content on the page, there is no other place for them to go without internal links. This could be disastrous for achieving conversions. If someone is reading a blog or FAQ on your website, and there is no option to contact your firm, you have lost any chance to gain a client.

Ideally, a well-designed website will have relevant internal links on every page of their site. Relevance is of understated importance. Keep your users engrossed on the subject they have shown interest in. This will increase the likelihood they will contact you.

If someone is on your personal injury practice area page, have an internal link that leads to a page that could show what kind of injuries are prevalent in personal injury cases. On a car accident page, link to another page on your website detailing why the reader needs a car accident lawyer after an accident.

Having an internal link on every page that gives the user an opportunity to contact you is essential. Generally, a call-to-action linked to your contact page above the fold, and in the last paragraph of your content, is a smart way to give your users a chance to reach out to your firm.

Link equity
Another reason internal linking is so important to the overall health of your website is link equity. Search engines take into account the strength of your entire website and of each individual page on your website when deciding the search engine rankings. When a page gets internally linked, it passes on some of its strength to the page it is linked to. This is link equity.

Generally, your homepage and primary practice area pages will always be the strongest pages on your website. This is because these pages are the oldest, and they had time and opportunity to acquire the most backlinks. When you create a new blog post, including an internal link from your homepage or a relevant practice area page will give that blog post a boost, and increase the probability it shows up on search engines.

What are some strategies for using internal linking to boost SEO efforts?
Two internal linking strategies that can boost your search engine rankings are: clear, solid link hierarchy and relevant, natural anchor texts.

You can imagine a link hierarchy like a pyramid, with the homepage being the tip of your pyramid. As you go down, you will have your practice area pages, sub-practice area pages, relevant content pages and content posts like blogs. This pyramid will help you determine which pages are the most important and need to contain internal links to less frequently trafficked pages. A concise link hierarchy also makes it easier for search engines to determine which pages you value the most. You would not want your main search terms to show an irrelevant page instead of directing visitors to the homepage or relevant practice area page.

Anchor text contains the actual words that are hyperlinked on a page. Anchor text should be relevant to the page to which it is linking. This helps users determine whether that particular link will take them to a page of interest.

Ideally, anchor text should be keywords or search terms relating to the page. However, it is important to remember to not be overzealous in using keywords as your anchor text. Google’s algorithms have advanced far in determining what is considered spammy and what is considered organic. You could be penalized harshly if your link portfolio shows an abundance of the same anchor text, without any variations. Thus, a good practice is to avoid specifically adding keywords into your page as your anchor text, but rather to find natural opportunities within your content to internally link to. It is not necessary to always have an anchor text of “[practice area] lawyer.” Having free-flowing, almost conversational phrases as your anchor text can benefit you just as well.

How does Google's Mobile First Indexing affect internal linking strategies?
Mobile use is the future and the present. Google knows this, and has stated that your mobile site and everything it encompasses determines your place in its search listings, regardless of whether a user is on a mobile, desktop or tablet device. Google will always index the mobile version of content, if one is available.

Google started its mobile-first indexing last year, and has claimed to have already implemented this mobile-first strategy on about half the websites it has indexed.

How will this affect internal linking strategies? Foremost, most digital marketers work on desktops or laptops. A desktop version of a website can vary compared to its mobile counterpart. You have less real-estate for content and clickable elements on a phone compared to a desktop. You might have to omit some functionalities that contain internal links on the mobile version of your website because those functionalities are too data-dependent. This will cause your mobile site to lose some of its link strength.

One way you can fix this on mobile is to employ drop-downs and tabs. Having internal links come from drop-down menus can supplement the links you have lost if you had to discard certain elements on your mobile site.

Additionally, plan your content strategy so that critical page links are contained within text that will be displayed across all devices. As Google's algorithms continue to learn and reward user- and mobile-friendly websites, careful planning of both content and layout will only become more important.

About Author

Dexter Tam is a staff contributor for Bigger Law Firm Magazine and is a Search Analyst for Custom Legal Marketing.

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