If you’re wondering how important backlinks are for a medical health practice, the answer is: very important. There are a lot of different factors that Google and other search engines take into account when ranking websites on search results pages, but relevant and authoritative backlinks are known to be one of the essential ranking signals.
Luckily, there are a number of white-hat techniques you can use to increase your number of quality backlinks and improve your rankings on search pages. Let’s take a look at why exactly backlinks are so important for medical practice sites and how you can naturally earn authoritative backlinks to your website.
In order for your medical practice to be as visible as possible on search engines like Google and Bing, you’ll need to get quality backlinks to your site. Backlinks are links back to your site from other websites, and Google looks at the sites that are linking to yours to determine, in part, where to rank your page.
Backlinks are an important ranking factor because they are essentially votes of confidence for your website from other sources. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the clearer it is to Google that you are a trustworthy and authoritative information source.
While backlinks are important for all websites that want to rank high in search results and receive organic traffic, they are particularly important for medical practice websites.
Why is that, you ask?
Google has specific guidelines for pages that they believe could potentially impact a person’s health, financial stability, or happiness. These pages are known as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages.
These guidelines apply to sites including medical information, legal advice, and e-commerce websites. This type of site is held to a higher standard because inaccurate information could potentially cause serious harm to a person. One very important factor is how Google rates your site in terms of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, a collection of elements known as E-A-T.
A vital part of improving E-A-T for YMYL sites is receiving mentions and backlinks from authoritative sites.
In short, backlinks are essential for medical practice websites. The good news is that you can help your practice grow by using a solid digital marketing strategy to naturally increase the number of backlinks to your site.
Before we talk about how to gain more backlinks, we need to first discuss the reality that all backlinks are not created equal. It can be tempting to try and get as many backlinks as possible to improve your Google ranking, but this won’t have the desired outcome. This is because Google values the quality of the backlinks you have, not just the number.
Valuable backlinks come with sites with high domain authority or otherwise have a proven track record of being trustworthy. You will gain very little (or perhaps nothing) by building a long list of backlinks from spammy sites or completely unrelated to your business.
Particular authority is given to .edu websites and media or news outlets.
You will also want to consider your audience when devising your backlink strategy. For local practices, you’ll largely want to focus on obtaining local backlinks. For a site with a more national or global audience, such as a practice that offers remote services, you’ll want to also turn your attention toward national and global sites.
Do you run a medical practice with several different physical offices? Check out our complete SEO guide for healthcare practices with multiple locations.
Now that we understand why backlinks are so important for medical practice sites, as well as the difference between high-quality and low-quality backlinks, let’s look at what you can do to gain more worthwhile links to your site.
Does your medical practice specialize in a field that is taught in colleges, universities, or medical schools? If so, you might be able to search through course curricula to find topics that you could write articles about. You can then contact either that professor or the assistant professor to pitch your idea.
Educational (.edu) sites are viewed as highly authoritative, and backlinks from these sites are therefore desirable in aiding your efforts to boost your search rankings.
There are a number of healthcare directories that you’ll want to make sure your practice is listed on. These include sites like Doctors.com, WebMD.com, and HealthGrades.com. When your information is available on these directories, you earn a backlink that is known as a citation.
It’s worth taking the time to set up profiles on the major directory sites in your field, as it will easily earn you quality backlinks.
On top of focusing on healthcare directories, you’ll also want to list your medical practice on the major general business directories, which include Google, Yahoo, and Yelp.
Doing so will help increase brand recognition of your practice and its online presence, as well as create backlinks to your site.
Depending on the area you practice in, there also might be local medical directories on which you can list your practice. This can be a very useful tool for patient acquisition and SEO purposes.
While these citations don’t carry the same weight as a backlink from a highly authoritative site, they can have a big impact on your local SEO.
For medical practices that specialize in a particular service, you can also look for directories that are relevant to these more specific practices.
You can set up profile pages on these directories to help gain more patients and boost your SEO.
Have you ever written content that was published either online or in print? If so, you can contact the publisher and see if they would be willing to include a backlink to your site on their website.
Brainstorm about all the conferences, events, and other engagements you’re involved in, and consider asking the hosts to link back to your site.
There are also a number of high-authority medical sites to which you could contribute guest posts. This is a strategy that definitely takes an upfront investment of time, as you’ll have to pitch ideas to sites, wait for responses, and write authoritative articles on specific topics.
That being said, this can help you gain high-quality links. It’s common to receive two or three links back to your practice’s site when you write a guest post.
Another way that experts in their field can earn backlinks is by using a service called HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out. This is a place where reporters can post questions in specific fields to help them gain information for articles or stories they’re writing.
Again, this is a strategy that demands your time in order to work. If you do go this route, though, you’ll earn a backlink when a reporter chooses to quote you in their article as an authority in your field.
If all of these strategies seem time and energy-intensive, you’ll be glad to know that there is a way to create backlinks that don’t just involve manually entering your practice information into directories or writing time-consuming articles.
When you create an effective content strategy, you can naturally gain backlinks by consistently publishing quality medical articles. The more unique your content is (i.e., there aren’t hundreds of other articles already published on the same topic,) the better chance you’ll have of receiving high-quality backlinks to your site.
Once you’ve decided to start gaining backlinks to your site, it can be tempting to try and accrue as many as possible as fast as possible. In general, though, there are a number of strategies that you’ll want to avoid in your backlink strategy.
Search engines view different SEO strategies as either white hat or black hat. White-hat strategies abide by the guidelines set forth by the search engines, while black-hat strategies break these rules to try and boost SEO.
Examples of white-hat SEO strategies include creating high-quality, valuable content that is specifically written for your target audience, making your site easy to use, and using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags. Black-hat strategies, on the other hand, include keyword stuffing, invisible text, page swapping, and cloaking.
Some of the following backlink strategies you’ll want to avoid are examples of black-hat SEO tactics, while others are just bad practices that won’t benefit your rankings or traffic to your site.
Link building isn’t just about trying to improve your ranking in search engines– it’s also about driving more traffic to your site. If you’re focusing your efforts on low-traffic sites for backlinks, you won’t be tapping into the potential leads you could be gaining if the site had consistent readers.
That being said, if you put your attention toward high-quality backlinks, you won’t have to worry about this too much. High-quality links are, by nature, links on sites that are seen as authoritative and trustworthy in the eyes of Google and other search engines. This type of site typically has steady and ample traffic, through which you can drive more traffic to your site.
Buying backlinks is a big no-no. There are companies that will offer to link back to your website for a fee, but this is a practice that Google actively punishes. A black-hat strategy, the general rule of thumb in the industry is that backlinks should only be gained naturally.
If Google identifies that you’ve been buying backlinks, they can remove your site from search results or de-index it. As you can see, buying backlinks isn’t just seen as unethical in the world of SEO but won’t get you the results you want.
Though it might sound daunting to try and get backlinks from high-authority sites, targeting these websites is worth the time and effort rather than working on getting a lot of low-quality links. Ideal sites will have minimal spam scores and a lot of authority.
Because you run a medical practice, it’s particularly important that you focus on authoritative sites. Google holds medical sites and other YMYL pages to a higher standard, and you will want to do everything you can to be seen as trustworthy and credible in the eyes of the search engine giant.
Finally, you might come across SEO agencies that will promise you a certain number of backlinks per month. Though this can be tempting, it’s important to understand that anyone making these types of promises is most likely using black-hat SEO tactics like buying backlinks or getting you links on spammy or poor-quality sites.
Remember, in addition to adding your healthcare practice to all applicable directories, using HARO to receive backlinks on news sites, and working to create guest posts on high-authority sites to receive citations and backlinks, your main focus should be on creating the best content you can for your audience. When you do this and incorporate other white-hat SEO strategies, you will naturally begin to gain backlinks.
SEO is something that business owners can do for themselves, but there is a fairly steep learning curve and a huge time commitment. On top of that, the world of SEO is always changing, meaning you can’t really get by with a “set it and forget it” strategy.
For this reason, many medical practices and other healthcare businesses choose to hire out their SEO needs and enlist the help of a digital marketing agency.
At Blue Pig Media, we offer a one-stop shop for all of your digital marketing and SEO needs. This means that we’re busy working away at increasing your backlinks and otherwise incorporating search engine optimization to help you gain more traffic, leads, and clients. On top of that, we can help you build a content strategy, launch PPC and social media marketing campaigns, and even redesign your website.
If that all sounds good to you, contact us today to get started.