Today we’re talking about backlinks – a really powerful tool for improving your SEO.
A backlink is a link from another site TO your site. Basically, someone else is saying that your site has valuable information their reader might be interested in on a particular topic. For instance, if a local fitness instructor is talking about healthy eating and links to a local paleo meal prep business (we have one in my hometown so this comes to mind for me!), the fitness instructor is giving the paleo chef a backlink.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are important because they give your site authority in the eyes of a search engine. In some ways, Search Engines are a lot like an election.
Imagine for a minute that you are running for state representative. You win by being the person that gets the most votes. It’s basically a big popularity contest.
Similarly, getting the highest ranking on Google is a bit of a popularity contest. Backlinks are “votes” for your website. The basic idea is that if someone is linking their viewers to your website it is because they believe your website has something valuable to offer people. Therefore, these “votes” matter.
When running for office, to get the most votes and win the election, you have to put together a campaign. Some of the techniques you might use in your campaign might include directly asking for votes, getting an endorsement from an organization that aligns with you on key political issues and explaining to people how it’s in their best interest to vote for you.
In order to get backlinks and get the best ranking on search engines, you use similar techniques. Many backlinks will be ones you’ll directly ask for such as e-mailing a local directory and asking to be added. Other backlinks work similar to endorsements. For instance, the LGBTQ group at your local university may “endorse” you as an LGBTQ friendly counseling clinic by linking back to your website. Lastly, many backlinks will happen after you’ve provided value for someone. For instance, you may get a backlink to your site by writing a guest blog post (such as this one).
How many backlinks do I need for my site?
I heard on a podcast last year that a great goal for mental health therapists is to try to get 100 backlinks to your website, because if you have 100 backlinks you’ll have more than almost any other therapist in your area. My experience now that I’ve seen a few therapist’s data is that very few therapists intentionally build backlinks. Often if they do it’s in the form of getting on a bunch of directories. The bottom line is that 100 backlink goal is a pretty good one. However, aiming for 100 may sound overwhelming at first (it did for me). Maybe set a smaller goal….like that you’ll reach out to 3 sites a week for six weeks (directory sites, Help a Reporter Out sites, places you’d like to guest blog, etc) to get a jump start.
How can I earn backlinks for my website?
By now maybe you’re asking yourself, how do I get these backlinks you speak of? Here are FOUR places you can look for backlinks that I will talk about more in depth this week.
- Look for local directories
- Act as a source for reporters
- Offer to do guest blog posts for other websites
- Check your competitors backlinks
The fist and often easiest place to look for backlinks is in directory listings. Sometimes there are online therapist directories that will give you a backlink, but I encourage you to think beyond these. For instance, consider asking to be added to lists of therapists recommended by your local school district, university lists, HULA frog, local health and wellness places, etc. Think of your ideal client and what organizations they might go to for recommendations, then look and see if those organizations have a “resources” section on their website. I say these are “easy” backlinks because if you are offering a relevant service typically all you have to do is fill out a form or send an e-mail asking to be added to that list.
Act as a Source for Reporters
Another GREAT way to get backlinks quickly is to act as a source for reporters. You can get to know local reporters. Or, a quick way to get featured by reporters is to go through Help a Reporter Out (HARO). They link experts in various niches with reporters. After you sign up, HARO sends you e-mails three times a day a bunch of stories reporters are looking for sources to provide quotes on. You respond with a few quotes they can use and then they decide if they’ll include you in their story. I’ll do a whole other blog post on this sometime soon…
Write a blog post for another website
Guest Blogging is another great way to get a backlink! All backlinks are not created equal so it’s especially helpful if you can guest blog for a well established, reputable blog that has a high “trust score.” It’s for this reason that I love swapping guest blogging with people where we each write a guest blog post for the other person and in the “About the guest blogger” at the bottom we like back to our own sites!
Side note…in an effort to help my SEO Consulting clients get backlinks, I offer a small discount if you write a guest blog post for my own private practice website. I fully optimize the post so it gets seen as often as possible and then request indexing on the post so Google recognizes your new backlink!
Check out competitors’ backlinks
The fourth option for increasing your backlinks is to check out your competitors’ backlinks! If someone is linking to your competitors, there is a chance your website would be relevant for their site to link to as well. This is a great way to find new directories, new places that might be interested in a guest blog posts, etc. You can use free backlink checker websites to find some of the sites that link to your biggest competitors’ websites. Just do a search for “free backlink checker” and then type in your competitor’s website domain address. Only a handful of the websites linking to your competitors will show up on most free versions, but this can be a great place to start.
Are all backlinks created equal?
It’s important to note that all backlinks are not created equal. A backlink from a website that Google views as being more trustworthy or more of an authority on a topic will help improve your SEO more than a backlink from a brand new website your mom put up yesterday. Websites for universities, government websites and non-profit organizations often have higher “trust scores” or site rank authority and therefore provide a much bigger boost for your SEO. One tool you may want to use is this site rank authority tool.
Ready to get serious about SEO for your Private Practice Site?
Simplified SEO Consulting is pleased to offer you a variety of SEO services designed to meet your needs as a small business owner. If you’re too busy and don’t have time to optimize your website, we offer the popular Done for You SEO Services. With this package, our team of SEO specialists will optimize your website for you. If you are the do-it-yourself type, we can help you too. We have online SEO courses or a 12 week SEO intensive program where you’ll have everything you need to learn to optimize your own website.