If you’re a lawyer with a website, chances are you’ve received at least one e-mail this week touting a secret to enhancing your Google rank and site traffic. In fact, you may have received this exact same e-mail. We recently received the following promise to include our website in a link scheme where links are traded between sites to cheat Google’s system:

Hi Attorney,

One of my attorney clients would like to

put a link from his website to your website,

which will elevate you in Google’s eyes and help

you get higher up in Google’s search results.

In return, we ask for a link from your website to

a different attorney client of ours.

No money exchanges hands, the links are not

reciprocal, and both parties benefit.

This is not a ‘black hat’ technique, or anything

that violates Googles’ terms of service. This is

100% legitimate.

From,

A Legal Marketer

The problem? Link wheels or link prisms, depending on how this link scheme is structured, violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google considers this practice to be “black hat,” because link schemes attempt to manipulate PageRank. In March, 2012, Google actually deindexed sites that used the link network BuildMyRank.com, ultimately resulting in the network’s closure. Simply having your site linked within a scheme could be harmful, even if you do not link back, because Google may elect to punish the entire scheme. While you cannot always control who links to your site (more on Google’s Disavow Tool later), you can choose to resist temptation and avoid personal participation in link schemes.

The truth is there are no magic alternatives to producing routinely-updated, original content about your practice area. Give your audience a reason to continue visiting your site and other websites a reason to link to you. The results will follow. Fall for one of these quick-fix schemes, and you might find yourself at the bottom of the Google barrel (or worse). Those promoting these practices prey on the amount of misinformation available on the internet regarding Google’s rankings system. They know you work hard for your business and that you want every competitive advantage to attract new clients.

If you receive an e-mail similar to the one above, your best bet is to simply ignore it.