When it comes to ranking well in a Google search, there are two main factors (yes, this is a gross oversimplification of a complex algorithm with over 200 elements). These are your on-page signals and off-page signals. Your on-page signals give the search engines clues to what your site is about and the depth of your knowledge on a topic (or keyword) while the off-page signals, primarily links to your website from other sites, show Google how important other people online feel that you are. These off-page signals are usually the difference maker with sites that outrank yours in search results, while you are thinking “I know my website and content are better than that guy’s!”

For this reason, link building becomes an important part of SEO. While Google doesn’t like you manufacturing links to mislead search engines as to your own site’s authority, there are many things you can do to encourage other sites to link to you. The biggest difficulty, especially for medical practices that do not have a lot of experience in SEO is, “Where do I start?” If you’re marketing your website and want to rank higher in search results, you’re going to need to start somewhere. The best place to start is to build your confidence with some easy wins. A couple quick victories will create momentum. Don’t try everything all at once. Start with trying a build a few links and move from there.

We’ve put together a list of 10 different techniques that are relatively easy and can provide you some quick wins. While these may not be monumental links (though some will be pretty powerful), they will certainly help and bring you momentum. And, when you’re evaluating a link, think to yourself, “Would someone actually click on this link?” If they would, it’s a good place to start.

  1. Create Redirects. This one may take a little extra technical skill, but it’s highly worth it. There are likely websites trying to link to you right now, but instead are linking to a page that doesn’t exist on your website. This happens when you move pages on your website or when someone makes a mistake in linking to your website. The bad news is that when this happens, you don’t get credit for the link and any user that follows the link comes to a broken page. The good news is that you can see all of these in Google Webmaster Tools and create a fix. Here’s what you need to do:
    • Go into Webmaster Tools and click on “Crawl Errors” in the “Crawl” dropdown. If you don’t get the “No errors detected in the last 90 days. Nice!” message, you’ll see a list of URL errors. You specifically want to see the ones labeled “not found.” These will be the list of pages that you want to target. You can also click on the link to see what pages are linking to the site.
    • Next, create a 301 redirect for each of these pages, redirecting it to a related page that exists on your website. If you do not know how to do this, contact your IT department (or Points Group, we can help you with this too!). If your website is in the WordPress content management system, we highly recommend a plugin called “Redirection.” This plugin makes everything simple, and you can just follow the directions once it’s installed.
  2. Use Google Alerts. In Google Alerts you can set up a query for any key term that you would like. We recommend at least using your brand (this can be doctors, practice name, or anything else specific to you). Then, whenever there is a new mention of your brand you will receive an email alerting you of it. Go to that page and make sure the website is linking to you. If it’s not, simply ask – especially if they have your URL but it’s not linked! Most people are pretty responsive and will be happy to help you out. We’ve received some pretty high value links from doing this.
  3. Branded Search. Do the same as above, but in a Google search. You can try misspellings, additional personnel – anything that may be linked to you or should be. This will help you find many of the existing mentions online, and you can see which ones already rank well. Once again, reach out and most people will be responsive.
  4. Cross-Link Your Site(s). There’s nothing wrong with linking to a main site from a secondary site if you own both. It won’t pass as much authority if they’re hosted together, but it’s still worth something and gives additional exposure. Also, make sure you are linking from your blog posts and pages to other relevant posts and pages on your site. You control the anchor text, and if anyone scrapes (copies) pages on your site, they may copy the link as well.
  5. Create Social Properties. Claim everything and make sure they link to you at least once – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram…the list goes on. These typically aren’t high value links (though some, like Klout, are followed and carry a little more importance) but they help build a baseline to your link profile.
  6. Join Organizations. Many organizations like local chambers of commerce, clubs, and others will link to their members and/or let them set up a profile page. Not only are the links helpful, but the exposure is good for business as well.
  7. Local Directories. Directories have received a bad name in the SEO world, and that’s because most of them are junk. If you’re looking at a directory and you think “I would never find or click on a link from this site,” then the link probably isn’t worth it. However, there are many directories that rank well, and you can benefit from a link and exposure from them. Think of directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, or Angie’s List. In the medical field, you’ll want to investigate sites like Health Grades and Vitals.
  8. Sponsor Something. This can be anything from local events, little league teams, or college athletics. Colleges can be a big hit if they give you a .edu link as part of a package, as those links can be of VERY high value. Some of our clients have sponsored events at their location, and, as part of the announcement on the .edu site, they included a link to our clients’ websites for directions. The directions link provides a valuable service, but also creates links to your site as well as attention to your practice.
  9. Ask Affiliations. If you’re associated with any organization, fellowship, hospital, etc., ask for a presence on their website. It could be a banner, a profile with a link, or anything else. Make sure you’re getting something out of your affiliations. Hospitals can be a great resource because they have strong domains with powerful links, as can professional organizations like a fellowship of orthopedic surgeons.
  10. Reach Out to Other Businesses. Are you a medical practice? You may be able to partner with a gym and help one another out. Do you have a friend in a neighboring town with a website for their practice? Reach out to them. How about vendors, contractors, or clients? All can be avenues for links. Reach out to existing relationships.

This list certainly isn’t extensive, but that’s not the point. The point is to develop ideas to get you started. Once you start with some ideas, others normally come. Once you use up some of the low-hanging fruit, you can also work up to more powerful links and techniques. And, if you still can’t seem to get started or gain momentum, call us. It’s what we do.

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