Anchor text is the clickable words of a hyperlink. When your law firm gets a link from a business citation like BizRatings, it will usually have "website" as the anchor text.
Branded anchor text is anchor text that uses your company name.
Keyword-rich anchor text uses your specific target keyword as the anchor text. Back in the day, you could use keyword-rich anchor text all you wanted and it worked like a charm. A link with your exact match keywords was so strong that it would boost your ranking in no time.
However, Google got hip to this and annihilated this practice with its Penguin Update. Now, you need to use this kind of anchor text quite sparingly.
If you're guest posting, for example, it might be best to request that your law firm's name gets the link instead of a keyword you’re trying to rank for.
Similarly, web designers should avoid putting Seattle Web Design as their anchor text in the footer of client’s websites. Some folks are (somehow) still getting away with it, but Google will definitely catch on sooner or later - especially if this is your only source of back links and you have several clients with a lot of pages.
Your best bet is to diversify your link profile. This means having a good mix of branded anchor text, links from just the plain URL itself, a few crucial keywords, "click here," etc.
In all honesty, if you’re not trying to game the system, your link profile will automatically look natural - because it will be.
For instance, let’s say you claim 50 business citations, submit a press release about your law firm, and guest blog on five attorney’s websites. Since the citations give you the plain URL or “website” and the press release and guest posts will usually have branded anchor text, you’re totally clear. Even if the guest posts use a bit of keyword-rich anchor text, you’re totally in the Google safe zone.
The problem is when lawyers, newborn photographers, and really anyone - think they know SEO and try to have their press releases contain keyword-rich anchor text and stuff their guest posts. That’s a recipe for a Google penalty and a sure fire way to diminish the SEO value of the opportunities you receive.
Remember, link building is important, but it has to be done in a natural way. It’s never a good idea to try to link build on your own. You always tell potential clients why they shouldn’t represent themselves in court, right? The same goes for you too!
Although your liberty isn’t on the line, your credibility is. One bad strategy can get your site delisted from Google entirely and cause irreparable harm to your reputation and brand.
Consequently, it’s highly advised to seek the help of a well-trained online marketer who understands how to build links in the modern era. If you find someone talking about directories, comment links, or sponsored links, run for the hills! You need to hire an SEO who is doing things in an ethical way for the modern law firm.
Remember, although links are just one piece of the SEO puzzle, they are one of the most important pieces.