By now you know just how vital backlinks are for SEO. Receiving plenty of relevant, high quality backlinks from reputable sites is like giving a nod to Google that your law firm has valuable content and they should rank you highly.
For this post, I’m going to talk about the shoulder niche technique and how you can use it to keep the backlinks flowing.
A Common Issue with Backlink Building
If you’ll notice, one of the key words I used to describe helpful backlinks is relevant. A big part of making backlinks work for you is ensuring that the sites that link to you are relevant to the legal industry. For instance, you wouldn’t want a pet store to link to you. This would be unnatural and potentially raise a red flag that there’s something fishy going on here.
But that can create an issue because often relevant backlinks will need to come from competitors. This is problematic because many competitors will be reluctant to link to you.
And can you blame them? By linking to you, it could potentially lower their rankings, especially for highly competitive keywords.
So if you reach out to a competitor in hopes of them sharing a piece of content you’ve created, the reception will likely be lukewarm at best.
Where the Shoulder Niche Technique Comes In
This term was coined by SEO expert Brian Dean of Backlinko. He defines a shoulder niche as, “A niche that is closely related to your site’s main topic.” However, it’s not exactly the same. It’s just close enough that you can approach someone with a link request without creating a competitive dilemma.
The logic is that by creating content around a similar niche (but not your exact niche), you have a far better chance of pulling in a sizable volume of backlinks simply because you’re not in direct competition with the individuals you reach out to.
As Joshua Hardwick of the SEO Project puts it, “If you’re struggling to get links from those in your industry – which can often happen if many of them see themselves as your competitors – it’s worth exploring a shoulder niche for content outreach.”
How to Do It
It’s pretty simple. You start with a broad topic and look for similar topics that are in the same vein but not so close that they create a competitive dilemma. Here’s an example.
If you were an elder law attorney, you would generate a list of similar topics such as:
- Nursing homes
- Estate sales
From there, you would find specific sub-topics to create your content around. If you need a little help coming up with sub-topics, try out Google News.
Simply enter a broad topic (I’ll use retirement as an example) and search through the results.
Expanding Your Options
The legal industry is insanely competitive, and not everyone will be so keen on linking to your law firm. Luckily, the shoulder niche technique is an excellent solution to this problem. Not only does it improve your link building campaign, it helps you create a more robust content library.