One of the most valuable strategies to build the credibility of your website in Google’s eyes is also one of the most challenging. Whether you’re running a dental practice or a sandwich shop, SEO experts agree that backlinks are one of the most important factors (out of hundreds) that impact your ranking.
Google has become so dominant as a search engine that we often use it as a verb, but it wasn’t always that way. During the dot-com boom, there were a plethora of competing choices. Do you remember Lycos, Infoseek, AltaVista, or AskJeeves? All of these eventually fell to the superiority of Google. Even Microsoft (MSN Search, Windows Live, and Bing) couldn’t compete.
What made Google so good?
Google was founded in 1998 by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Their genius was in going beyond just crawling the content of a website to determine if it was relevant to a user’s query. They realized that if another website linked to the one in question, it could be considered a vote of confidence.
They used this philosophy to develop PageRank, Google’s algorithm that evaluates the quantity and quality of links coming back to websites. Thus, Google’s users received higher-quality sites in their search results.
How to Get Backlinks
Over the years, the people at Google have continuously improved their work. They are much better at weeding out “garbage” links to a site, looking instead for links that are both diverse and authoritative. In fact, bad links can hurt your ranking, so we regularly disavow low-quality links from our clients’ websites.
Google is primarily looking for three things in your backlinks: quantity, link authority, and link diversity.
Simple enough, but how do we get people to link to your site? There are a bunch of ways to do it, but it all comes down to creating quality content. The foundation of all link building is building a linkable asset.
You need to build something worth linking to, and then promote the heck out of it. Here are three strategies to get you started:
- Create content that is useful or interesting.
That can be hard to do in dentistry! Site content (such as blogs) should be your foundation, but it pays to get creative with infographics, images, and videos. Visual content is very valuable. It’s more challenging to produce, but that also means there’s less competition. Well-written blog posts that are promoted well can also produce a lot of links, but you’ll still have to work to get them out there.
If you want links, you’ll need to be proactive!
- Create content that is newsworthy.
There’s no better way to get sites linking to you than to get people talking about you. When Apple launched the Macintosh personal computer in 1984, they ran their commercial once on national TV. Although Apple only spent a few hundred thousand dollars producing the ad, it created such a stir that the Macintosh received tens of millions of dollars in free advertising when news programs ran it again in order to discuss it.
While the scale is much smaller, you can use a similar principle to get folks talking about your dental practice. Participate in local events, issue press releases, and take advantage of opportunities when they come your way. You might be able to earn links from local businesses and media with a larger viewership than your own.
- Offer them a backlink.
As long as the links make sense, it’s OK to link to one another. We can often create a win-win for everyone by producing content with the other party. For example, inviting a relevant expert to write a guest post for your site will generate a backlink for both. If you refer certain procedures out to a specialist, recognize them on your site and link to one another.
One of the most valuable tools for our dental clients is the creation of local activity guides. What are the top historic sites, businesses, restaurants, and things to do in your town? Write about them in your blog, and invite the businesses to link back! This has the benefit of generating incredibly good keyword content for SEO and a great linkable asset.
Backlinks Are Social Proof
Backlinks are one of the top ranking signals for Google, which means it’s worth doing a little work to build a strong link profile.
To be successful, you’ll first have to create an asset worth linking to. Follow that up with promotion in the right places, and reach out to the right people.
Link building can be a challenge, so ask the experts if you’re not sure where to start.