Link Building

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Links to your website from other websites are like votes for your website.  The more you have (in general), the higher Google will rank your website.  And the higher you rank, the more potential your website has at drawing in clients.

For this reason, coming up with a link building strategy is key to building relevant traffic to your website.

Not all links are created equal, however, and it’s important to consider these characteristics when forming your strategy:

  1. The relevancy of the website linking to you
  2. The quality/rank of the website linking to you
  3. The text in the link

1. The Relevancy of The Website Linking to You

Having a link related to your site’s subject (i.e., psychotherapy, your niche service, mental health, etc.) will be more powerful than getting a link from an unrelated website (e.g., pet supplies or basket weaving).  In fact, too many inbound links to your website from unrelated websites may have negative impacts on your ranking because the search engines might start believing you’re trying to fool their robots.

So, build relationships and connections with websites that are relevant to yours.  Relevant links brings more value to users and the Internet, in general.  Ultimately, this is what your goal should be.  And this is what the search engines value.

2. The Quality/Rank of The Website Linking to You

Not all votes (links to your website) are equal.  If a popular psychotherapy journal links to your website, you’re on the right track!  The psychotherapy journal has already gained Google’s trust.  When Google sees a trusted site pointing to you, it starts to trust you too.

A link from an established psychotherapy journal is much more powerful than getting a link from say an MFT intern who just launched their website 1 month ago.  Google does’t know this website and is VERY skeptical, until it gets some votes from trusted websites.

One way to check the quality/rank/strength of a website is to use Alexa.com.  Alexa gives a ranking to every website based off a number of factors.  The lower the number the more power the website.  I just typed in psychotherapy.net, which has a ranking of 80,000.  This means, out of all the websites on the Internet (there are a lot!), psychotherapy.net is number 80,000 in strength/power/rank/quality…whatever you want to call it.  80,000 is a strong number.

A website just starting out is going to have something around 18,000,000.  Once you get down to 1,000,000, a website is getting fairly strong.

I encourage you to use this tool when doing your link building.  Also, play around with the tool for a bit.  Type in some websites you know, and get a general feeling of how it ranks websites.  Check your website while your at it, just don’t get too obsessed with your own ranking.

3. The Text in The Link

When a site links to you, they use text.  When someone clicks on that text, they will be brought to your website.  The text used is called “Anchor Text” and it’s important.

Common anchor texts used:

  • “Click Here”
  • “www.yourwebsite.com”
  • “More Info Here”
  • “Your Website Name”
  • Keyword

When someone links to you, you want to use a variety of the above.  Mix it up.  Why?  Because it’s more natural.  Search engines like natural linking.  You also want to make sure to throw a targeted keyword in there.  The keyword will tell Google that others agree that your website is about that specific keyword.  You will then see increased ranking for that certain keyword in Google.

How Do You Get Links?

Guest Blogging

This is a very popular method.  There are many websites related to psychotherapy that take submissions from outside writers.  If you contribute by writing something on topic and they accept it for publication, they’ll let you throw in a link to your website.  Score!

Creating Useful, Quality Content

It’s very simple.  Create original content, whether it be in words or graphics, or a combination of the two that people love.  If people like it, they’ll share it.  They’ll post it on their blog.  They’ll put a link to your website in a forum perhaps.

This doesn’t happen overnight though.  Once again, when you first launch your website, it’s lonely sitting out in the middle of the desert.  No one is seeing it.  As you continue to make new content, and guest blog, people will slowly start to find your website.  They’ll start to notice and if they like it, they’ll start spreading it too!

Work hard and be patient.

Tap into Your Mental Health Network

Use your existing network of friends and professional contacts and ask them if it makes sense for them to link from their website to yours.

How NOT to Get Links

Forum/Comment Spamming

You’ll notice on some websites, especially blogs, they’ll have a comment or forum section.  You’ll see a lot of, “What a great article!  Visit my website at lazylinkbuilding.com.”  This is sloppy and doesn’t bring any real value to the Internet.

Also, the website owner knows what your trying to do and probably thinks your lazy for doing.  It can ruin the chance of building a future relationship with the website.  Unless you have something very thoughtful and useful to contribute to the comments/forum section, stay away!

This technique is also something you need to think hard about as a therapist.  Every comment you leave might be seen by current or future clients.  Be careful what you say and where.

Paying for Links

Many Internet marketers and freelancers offer link building services.  Be very careful!

A lot of these companies/people contract their services overseas or have robots that do the work for them.  They plaster links to your website ALL over the Internet.  And they’re very poor quality!

The quantity and quality of these type of links are quickly discovered by the search engines (they have tons of robots scanning the Internet looking for content, links, etc. to index) and you’ll get penalized for it, and maybe even blacklisted, never to be listed in Google again.

I’ve said it many times before:  the search engines award websites that bring value to the Internet and penalize those who try to cheat the system.  Your goal should be creating a website that brings value.

Where Do I Point the Links?

Search engines rank your homepage and all it’s pages.  So, someone searches a certain term, “San Francisco Therapists” and Google tries to find the best web pages for them.  It will pull up what it thinks is the most relevant (i.e., the most trusted and powerful for that keyword).  It could be a homepage or it could be a blog post.  Whatever it is, the number 1 result, Google says, “This is the best page to look at for this keyword.”

What does this mean for you?  Each page on your website should have a specific focus, and targeting a specific keyword.

This is important, because this will help you decide where to point your link when implementing  your link building campaign.  If you write a guest post on depression, it’s best to point to a page that you have about depression.  If a link pointing towards your website is a bio about you, maybe your about page or homepage is appropriate.  Keep everything relevant.  And also, mix it up.  Don’t just have all links pointing to your homepage.

Conclusion

Link building is a must.  But don’t go overboard.  As you do your research on link building and competitors, you’ll notice not to many therapists do this.  This is good for you!  It means it will be easier for your website to rank.