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Comprehensive Guide to Earning Backlinks

In SEO, backlinks are an essential component for achieving organic growth. To help our readers understand more about the role of backlinks, we hosted a two-part webinar series. Our founder Jessica provides insightful information on the importance of backlinks, and how many should be aimed for. She also goes over techniques to build strong-quality links, and how to determine if a link is of good quality. We hope this blog offers readers an in-depth look into backlinks and their importance for SEO success.

The readers digest version of building backlinks

You’re probably thinking, “Yikes, I missed it.” Have no fear! In this blog, I’ll provide the Reader’s Digest of important takeaways and how you can apply them to your work.  Prepare yourself. This is your invitation to the SEO journey of a lifetime. “This is the (SEO journey and educational opportunity) for those who seek to find…a way to leave their (previous low SEO rankings) behind.”

What is a backlink?

A woman sits with her head on a desk holding a sign that reads, "help!' She is regretting not setting up SEO services with Simplified SEO Consulting.

Let’s break it down to get a better understanding of backlinks. In simple terms, Google describes them as links from one website to another. These links are usually related in some way, for instance, based on topics discussed, target audience, or purpose. If you’ve ever browsed the web before, chances are you’ve already encountered a backlink. Every time you click on a link to get more information, you’re essentially connecting two web pages together. The goal of a backlink is to establish trust and reliability in the source by providing additional details or perspectives. It’s like getting a recommendation from someone we know and trust – it gives us assurance that the website is trustworthy and reliable.

To make it easier to grasp, here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re looking for a good restaurant recommendation. You might ask your friend or family member who lives in the same city as you do. They can provide you with firsthand information about the best restaurants because they’ve tried them out themselves. Just like this, backlinks work to provide additional information from a trustworthy source. They give viewers assurance that the content is credible and reliable. Ultimately, backlinks are seen as a form of endorsement for the website in question.

Another way to see it is like shopping for a car online

We’re on a local car dealership’s website and find a car that we like: Subaru Forester (I’m in the market, so this is a real-life example).  We click on the image to check out the specs and price. Considering the condition, the price listed doesn’t seem appropriate.
On the page of the beloved Forester is a link to Kelly Blue Book (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a reliable online source for pricing vehicles). So, we click the link. KBB’s website pops up, bringing us to a separate tab. KBB confirms that the listed price is accurate given the condition of the car.  
As KBB has a reputation for being a reliable source of information for cars, we accept the price. Additionally, we trust that the information we got from the car dealership is correct. Now, we don’t second guess the dealer and feel like we can trust them.

So, KBB takes notice of this.

KBB sees that the cars listed on the local dealership’s website are fair and appropriate. KBB is so pleased that they make a blog post talking about how much they trust this car dealership. Further, they encourage everyone to shop there.
At the end of the post, they provide a link to the car dealership’s website so people can easily access this dealership. Because of this post and the link provided, the local car dealership gets a flood of new shoppers, and their business booms. Overall, the dealership’s reputation is favorable “and they all live happily ever after.”
In this example, KBB linking back to the local car dealership’s website is the backlink. Backlink is the prize.  Again, this is because KBB is considered a trusted source and is widely known. Make sense?

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks = trustworthiness = higher ranking on Google. Backlinks are important for SEO because it shows Google that the information on your website is reliable and trustworthy. Google really likes when both of these qualities are part of your website. In return, Google will rank your website higher if your website has those qualities. I often think of Google as a moral compass. If you are into Freud, think of the superego. Google likes to be helpful to its users by giving them accurate and trusted information. One way Google measures that are by how many backlinks your website has. Google sees these backlinks and thinks, “Wow, lots of other websites are linking to this person’s website. That must mean they’re a great source of information. I’m going to put this website on the first page.”

The More Backlinks, The Higher You’ll be on Google

Overall, this is why we’re all here. In the end, isn’t it the goal to have a high ranking on Google? Being on the first page of Google means that you’re visible and accessible to future clients. This can lead to more clients and becoming well-known in your professional community.
So, we should all be on the same page with our understanding of backlinks. At the very least, you should be able to identify the correct definition if prompted on a multiple-choice test. We can all agree that backlinks are helpful for SEO because it shows Google that our website is trustworthy and reliable.  Level one: complete.

How Many Backlinks Should I Have as a Health Care Professional?

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Ok, so backlinks are important. But how many do I need?
When building backlinks, it’s important to consider how many you should aim for. The truth is that the number of backlinks you need is different depending on your unique niche and market.  Some experts say that for low-competition keywords you need 0-25, and for highly competitive keywords, you need 50-100. However, this is not an exact science. For some businesses, they need to literally build thousands of backlinks!

How do I know how many I need?

The only way to really know how many backlinks you need is to look at how many backlinks your competitors have. Google search console is a must for analyzing data just like Google Analytics 4. GSC allows you to see your data without needing a paid tool.

Backlink resources and trackers.

There are various tools out there you can use to assess their backlinks. We’ve used our own data dashboard, Linkody & SEMrush all regularly in the past. But it’s also important to know that none of these tools are perfect. So, just because one of these tools says someone has 104 backlinks doesn’t mean they have exactly 104. There are probably others out there that this tool is missing because it just doesn’t have as many “bots” as Google does.
Simplified SEO Consulting has a dash of our own and we use tools like Majestic in order to track client backlinks.

Where do I even start building backlinks?

At Simplified SEO Consulting, we recommend aiming for at least 100 backlinks to start with.
You can pick up your jaw off the floor. Initially, that sounds intimating and might seem unattainable, right? 100 is a lot of backlinks. And the truth is, many of you reading this will actually need significantly more than 100. However, 100 backlinks are actually very attainable for most websites and a great place to start! If you have no clue where, to begin with, backlinks and this sounds overwhelming, our backlinking course can be a great place to start. Additionally, we have other blogs that can provide guidance, or even you can schedule a strategy session with one of our skilled specialists

Come Up With A Plan To Build Backlinks

While we encourage you to reach 100 backlinks, we also recognize how overwhelming that sounds. To be transparent, there is a time commitment that goes into getting backlinks. We recommend creating a plan that works for you and your practice.
A helpful tip is to start by setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-specific). Look at your schedule and see where you can dedicate time to building backlinks. Next, set a backlink goal for your website. For example, you can set a goal to build 1 backlink every week for a month.
Then, put your feet on the pavement and hit the ground running with backlink building!
Now, we all know what a backlink is and how many backlinks we should aim for. 100 may seem far-reaching right now, but it’s possible once you come up with a strategic plan. Level two: complete. 

How Do I Know If I Have Backlinks?

There are a few different sources you can use.  In SEO land, we recommend using Google Search Console. It’s the most reliable tool we have come across. However, it’s important to note that Google Search Console doesn’t always show your backlink quantity in real-time.  There can be a delay with backlinks accounted for on Google Search Console. This doesn’t mean that the backlink doesn’t exist, just that it takes Google a bit to take notice. If the delay feels excessive, it’s a good idea to double-check the backlink. This includes making sure the link provided to your website is active and accessible for the content you provided. If you notice that it isn’t, don’t hesitate to reach out to the source and bring it to their attention. It’s typically an easy fix for the person using your content.  

Are you still with me? Feel free to get up and stretch. We’ve covered a lot of content so far. As a refresher, we know:

  • that a backlink is a link created when one website links to a different website.
  • to aim for 100 backlinks, and it’s helpful to come up with a strategic plan that is realistic for you.
  • we can check our current backlinks through Google Search Console.
Level three: complete.

How Do I Get Backlinks?

I’m glad you asked! This is probably the burning question on everyone’s mind, aside from ‘What is a backlink.’ There are many ways you can build backlinks. A good place to start is writing blog posts that are valuable and relevant.
Consider some common themes you’ve seen within the population you serve. If your clients talk about how their anxiety is higher because of the pandemic, take that into consideration. It could be beneficial to write a blog about “helpful coping skills you can implement at home or on the go.”
From there, optimize it with the terms you’re wanting to rank for and share it on as many platforms as you have access to.  Here are a few other ways to build backlinks:

Directories for Therapists

Some common directories are therapy tribe, good therapy, network therapy, and Find a Therapist. If you are trained in a specialty, it’s worthwhile to be in that directory. A few examples are the IFS directory, DBT directory, EMDRIA directory, and HulaFrog.  In fact, we have a whole blog post specifically on therapist directories.

Resource Lists

Think of anywhere in your area that could have a resource list. Usually, anywhere large groups of people will gather. Consider schools, college campuses, churches, or gyms. Additional places that could be worthwhile are law firms, spas, salons, or psychiatrist offices.

Be a Source for Reporters & Media

Be a source of information for reporters that are covering a topic within your scope. You can do this in a few different ways. You can reach out to your local news or radio station and offer to write a monthly column. Take creative liberty with this! Contribute to a press release about a topic you are familiar with. In addition, you can respond to a prompt to help a reporter out. Note that you typically have to respond quickly to these prompts. Oftentimes, many people are looking at the same listings.

Write Guest Blog Posts

Yay, blogs! Everyone’s favorite! I know many of you aren’t jumping for joy at the recommendation of writing more blogs. However, two things can be true at the same time. You can dislike writing blogs and you can do it to boost your SEO. A great way to boost your SEO is to write a blog post for someone else’s website.

Who Should I Write A Guest Blog Post For?

This ‘someone’ could be a colleague who does similar or complementary work to you. In addition, consider writing a guest blog post for other related businesses. If you see a lot of families, consider reaching out to your local family law firm. Offering to write a guest blog post about the benefits of family therapy could be helpful to you and the law firm.

What Should My Blog Be About?

If you offer to write a guest blog post for someone else, it should be about something you are well-versed in. Additionally, it should be a blog post you haven’t posted in other places. Posting the same blog post on multiple different websites is considered duplicate content. Plot twist: Google does not like that. Overall, the content should be new, but it can be about similar topics you’ve written about previously.

Job Postings

I bet you didn’t consider this one, did you? Take into consideration where you post this job listing. If there is a college or university in your town that has a job site, give it a shot! This means you’ll have a backlink from an educational institution. Which, in return, is great for boosting SEO.

Speaking at a Community Event

If you like public speaking, this could be great for you! If public speaking isn’t your cup of tea, still consider it. You can often get a backlink from the organization that is hosting the event. Overall, this can be a great opportunity.

Sponsoring or Donating

If you have the resources available to sponsor or donate, it could be worthwhile for your SEO. Additionally, it’s also a beneficial way to become more involved and well-known in your community.

Set a Google Alert

The purpose of Google Alert is to track your online presence. Putting a Google Alert on your name and business can help you gauge how ‘present’ you are online. For more helpful tips on Google Alert, check out this article that can help you improve your business and backlink quantity.

Be a Guest on a Podcast

Nowadays, most people have a collection of podcasts they listen to. So, this is a great market to get involved with. Getting a backlink from a podcast is a great way to boost your SEO. Make sure your website is linked to the podcast’s website so people can easily find your site.
Unrelated note: did anyone else start to sing “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, or was that just me?

Quick Backlink & SEO Check In

So, you now have 4,000 different strategies to get a backlink. On top of that, we know how to check them and how many to aim for. For my list of people, I’ve got your back:
  • Directories for therapists
  • Resource lists
  • Being an informational source for reporters
  • Blog posts
    • Either write one for your website or another website
  • Job postings
  • Speaking at a community event
  • Sponsoring/donating
  • Google Alert
  • Get on a podcast
Level four: complete.

Quality of Backlinks

In the wise words of Jessica Tappana, “Not all backlinks are created equal.” There are evil forces in SEO land. Think of the Little Mermaid but with an SEO twist. Instead of Ariel wanting to be part of the human world, she wants her website to be on the first page of Google. Ursula sees this desire and capitalizes on it. Instead of making a deal to trade Ariel’s voice to be on land, Ursula offers Ariel backlinks in exchange for $50 each.
Feeling ecstatic, Ariel takes Ursula up on this offer. At first, everything is fine. She gets new clients because her website is ranking higher (this would be when she meets Prince Eric in the movie). 
However, Google realizes these backlinks are paid for and drops Ariel’s ranking. She doesn’t get any more clients (this is when she loses her legs and becomes a mermaid again).  Her dreams are shattered. Things are no longer going swimmingly for Ariel. 

Consequences of Buying Bad Backlinks

As explained in the example, paying for backlinks is not good for SEO. We see many issues with paid backlinks. Most often, the biggest issue is that it drops your website ranking so low that no one can find your website. Altogether, we do know that paying for backlinks is bad and is the evil force in SEO land. Level five: complete.

How Do I Get Rid of Bad Backlinks?

Yes, bad backlinks are a problem for your SEO. If you’re in this situation, your ears are probably burning as you read this. While this situation isn’t great, there are steps you can take to fix it!

Ask For The Link to be Removed

This is when the phrase, “closed mouths don’t get fed” comes into play. Truly, it doesn’t hurt to email the source you got the bad backlink from and ask them to remove it.

Disavowing the Backlinks

So, let’s say you ask for the link to be removed and nothing happens. The next option is to disavow the link yourself. To disavow a backlink means to remove the link, often with the use of a disavow tool. To learn more about the process of disavowing backlinks, check out this source. The source, Linkody, is a source we use frequently for our work and have great outcomes with it.

Coming to the End of our Backlink Journey

We learned a lot on our backlink journey in SEO Land. I realize that was a lot of information covered. So we’re all on the same sheet of music, here’s a reminder of what we’ve covered. We know what a backlink is and how many we should aim for. Additionally, we know how to get backlinks and how to check how many backlinks we have. We’ve also met the villain in SEO land: bad backlinks. Now, we know where bad backlinks can come from and how to get rid of them. If you find yourself wanting to learn more about backlinks, take a look at this helpful blog that takes a deeper dive into the quality of backlinks. 

Beginning SEO Services with Simplified

As much as it pains me to say this, there’s a chance that you read this post and felt like you read a bunch of gobbledygook. Perhaps you read this post (enjoying my jokes and analogies) and were intrigued with SEO land. Or, you scrolled to the bottom looking for a way to get started. Regardless, we’re here to help and we’re excited that you’re here! When you’re ready to begin your improving your SEO with our help, follow these steps:
1. Sign up for our free 7-day SEO course.
3. Get on the first page of Google!

About the Author

Alyssa Kohne is in the process of obtaining her Master’s in Social Work with a clinical concentration from the University of Missouri- Columbia. She has been doing SEO with Simplified for the last few months. Alyssa loves the unique intersection of ‘data and therapy’ that Simplified dabbles in. Recently, she participated in the two-part backlink webinar through Simplified.  She 10 10 recommends the webinar to a friend.

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