In SEO land, the hot topic has been backlinks. They have been discussed so frequently that we hosted a webinar. This webinar went in-depth into all things backlinks. It is a two-part series that offers a lot of valuable information about all areas of backlinks. Jessica, Tappana Simplified’s founder, does a wonderful job explaining the role of backlinks. Further, she discusses the impact they have on SEO. In addition, she explains how many you should aim for, how to build backlinks, and how to determine the quality of 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?
First, let’s all make sure we have a solid understanding of the basics. We talk about backlinks in SEO land and don’t often explain what it is. For our friends that aren’t familiar with the term, Google tells us that a backlink is created when a website links to a different website. Typically, this is between two websites that are related in some way. They could be related based on the content provided, intended population, or purpose, to name a few reasons. Further, if you’ve ever used the internet for anything, you’ve likely come across one. The purpose of a backlink is to provide information about a topic from a trusted, reliable source. In return, this increases the reliability of the website and a ‘backlink’ is created. Essentially, the backlink is proof that a website is trustworthy. Altogether, this ‘proof’ is seen in the form of a link. In case this sounds completely foreign to you, I’ll provide an example that many of us can relate to.
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 of 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 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 is 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?
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. For some businesses, they need to literally build thousands of backlinks!
Luckily, for many of our clients they don’t need nearly that many. Why? Because the mental health field (this encompasses most of our clients) is still less competitive with SEO but truly becoming more competitive every day.
The only way to really know how many backlinks you need is to look at how many backlinks your competitors have. 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.
However…these tools do give you a good idea of how competitive your area is. Therefore, when we’re onboarding new clients we generally use our data dashboard tool to get at least some idea how many backlinks are going to a person’s competitors. The more the backlinks their competitors have, the more challenging we can assume it will be to really get them ranking.
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 is actually very attainable for most websites and a great place to start!
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 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 to 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 one 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 that 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.
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
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 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 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 on help a reporter out. Note that you typically have to respond quickly to these prompts. Often times, 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 complimentary work to you. In addition, consider writing a guest blog post for other other related businesses. If you see a lot 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’s should be about something you are well-versed in. Additionally, it should be a blog post you haven’t posted 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.
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
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 on the podcast’s website so people can easily find your site.
Unrelated note: did anyone else start to sing “Be Our Guest” from the 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 people, I’ve got your back:
- Directories for therapists
- Resource lists
- Being an informational source for reporters
- Blog posts
- Either writing one for your website or another website
- Job postings
- Speaking at a community event
- 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 anymore 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 no 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
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.
Alyssa Kohne is in the process of obtaining her Masters 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 intersect of ‘data and therapy’ that Simplified dabbles in. Recently, she participated in the two-part backlink webinar through Simplified. She 10 out of 10 recommends the webinar to a friend.
Thank you for this simplified guide to SEO. God bless.