(This article is a 9 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. What inbound links are, and why they’re important for your website
2. Five actionable ways you can build backlinks
3. Dodgy tactics to avoid at all costs
Building inbound links is the hardest aspect of search engine optimisation. Some SEO experts say the number of inbound links or backlinks you have going to your site accounts for nearly half the ranking Google gives you. But where can you get those links?
Google sees links to your site as a ‘vote’ for your authority. If lots of other sites link to yours, the algorithm reasons, you must have the kind of content people want. So they push you higher up the search results. If the sites that are linking to yours have higher domain authority or page authority, you get pushed up higher again.
But here’s the tricky bit. If those links to your site are from low-quality sites, or they’re fake or purchased, Google will discount them. Or worse, push you down the rankings. Anything you can think of that might trick Google into thinking you have lots of links can all be detected. Oh, and links from Facebook, Wikipedia and other popular sites don’t count.
So that’s the bad news. Now the good news. Your average dental practice has more opportunities than other types of business to build and nurture inbound links. Not because of the nature of your job. There are opportunities only available to dentists that these other companies don’t have.
Let’s get some general advice out of the way first. If you have more content on your site, you create more opportunities for other people to link to you. That’s logical. It doesn’t mean you’ll get lots of links, but at least you have a greater chance of getting some.
Many SEO companies will tell you to create something remarkable that everyone will want to link to. Like we can all do that every day. Even if you did achieve it, it’s a one-off hit. It won’t lead to sustained backlink growth.
So here are five specific things you can do that will lead to a link back to your site.
If you’re an Australian dentist, you probably already receive Bite magazine. If you’re from another country, you can see it online at the Bite magazine website. Every month, the magazine runs product reviews under the title “Tools of the trade”. They work to a strict format, so you don’t have to be a brilliant writer to do them. In fact, many of them are done via an interview with a journalist, who writes up the final piece.
No matter how good your website currently is, the Bite site has higher authority. It has about 4,500 indexed URLs among its 6000+ pages, and about 2,500 backlinks. A link from Bite to your site will benefit your SEO.
So the opportunity exists for you to request a link back to your practice site if you write a Tools of the Trade review. All you have to do is think of your favourite tool, and review it. I don’t think anyone has asked for backlinks yet, but I’m sure the editors would look into providing it—more so if you were a regular reviewer. Contact the magazine to find out more.
You know that you’re not allowed to run testimonials from your patients on your website. But your suppliers are allowed to run testimonials from you on theirs.
Have you bought a dental unit you like recently? Or a new pair of loupes? Or have you just received some exceptional, above-and-beyond service from a supplier? Why not ring their company’s marketing folk and tell them?
They will take your call. Dentists are so hard to get hold of, most marketing people will trip over themselves to talk to you. Tell them why you’re a happy customer. Offer them a testimonial for their website. And most importantly, ask them to include a link back to your site so people can verify you’re a real, happy customer.
How many suppliers do you have that you’re happy with? All of them are a backlink opportunity.
Many dentists get involved in the National Dental Foundation’s Dental Rescue Days. It’s a great cause and offers the satisfaction of using your skills to help people in need on their own terms.
Before the big day arrives, it’s a good idea to promote your involvement through local press. I haven’t checked, but I’m sure the nice folk at the NDF would be happy to help you with a press release that you can just enhance with a link to your website. Then send that off to the local paper.
Because you are doing a good thing and helping the local community, there’s a much higher chance the press release will get a run. And when it runs on the paper’s website, it will link back to you.
Both my kids belong to the local soccer club. My son is also in a local karate club. I am on each of those club websites on a regular basis, checking training times, weather cancellations, tournament details and so on. And I’m not the only one.
Pop down to your local sports field when training’s on. The place is swarming with parents. We all check the club’s site on a regular basis. Which means that website has more traffic, and probably more domain authority, than yours.
So if you sponsor your local sports teams, you do good by helping kids be active and healthy. It seems like a small ask for the club to, in return, include your logo and a link to your surgery on their website. And by doing so, they pass on some domain authority.
Many of your larger suppliers in fields like finance and capital equipment have customer magazines. You may get them. If the customer magazines are any good, they will include profiles of happy customers in them. And many of those profiles will be reproduced on that suppliers website.
This is like the testimonials idea, but with potentially more impact. If you’re a happy customer of a particular supplier, and you know they have a magazine, contact your sales rep and ask them if you can be profiled.
These companies love happy customer case studies. It provides in-depth social proof that their product is good. Just make sure you are clear that, when they publish the piece online, you want a link back to your website. So readers can see you’re a real person, not just someone spruiking for a kickback.
All of these tactics work because they’re not really tactics. They are legitimate ways to get a site with higher domain authority than yours to pass some of that authority on. And on a human level, they are sharing your knowledge and experience to help people.
They also work because they’re repeatable. The more times you do these things, the more backlinks you’ll get. They’re not just a one-off hit.
A final tip—spread the love. If someone does give you a backlink, out it up on your blog, and tell your social networks. Send some traffic back their way (if only to see the profile of you). The extra visits will enhance their domain authority and page-rank, which will, in turn, help yours.