Link building. I'm sure you've heard of it. You've probably been encouraged to do it by your digital marketing provider and found yourself overwhelmed by the thought of it.
But you don't have to be.
Here we'll break down what link building really is (spoiler: it's relationship building) and offer five simple strategies for getting new links.
What is Link Building & Why Should I Care About It?
Link building could be described as the backbone of search engine optimization (SEO). It is the practice of getting other websites to link to your website (called a backlink) in order to show the search engines that your site is valuable, has authority, and, ultimately, should be ranking well.
Years ago, link building was something that often involved acquiring hundreds of links at one time, using what are now considered "black hat" techniques. Times have changed and so has Google. Now, more important than the number of backlinks you have is the quality and relevance of those links.
Relationship Building for Better Links
The best way to get high-quality backlinks is to build relationships with complementary businesses, influencers, or local organizations. Through these relationships, you'll find opportunities to ask for links from their website to yours.
Not particularly tech-savvy? That's ok! There are plenty of ways to get backlinks without being a website/social media/tech wizard.
#1. Sponsor a Local Charity or Club
Sponsoring a charity drive, race, or your local youth sports team is a great way to get a relevant local backlink while doing a good thing for your community. It's a win-win!
Organizations are usually more than happy to link to their sponsors' websites, which gives you a link, but also more exposure to any local community members who visit the organization's site. You could also announce your support on social media and tag the organization for extra exposure.
Reach out to a local charity or youth team that you'd like to support to see what opportunities are available.
#2. Networking events
Local networking events are a great way to meet other business owners in your area. This could open the door for link building opportunities.
Let's say you meet another local business owner who's interested in doing a joint giveaway or contest with you. Create a landing page on your website (or have us create one for you!) and share it with them to add the link to their site to promote the contest.
Meet a complementary practitioner looking for a dentist like you to refer their patients to? Offer their patients a special discounted rate in exchange for a link to your website on theirs.
While in-person events may not be happening right now, many Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations have moved their networking events online. Do a quick search online for "[YOUR CITY] networking events" and see what you can find.
#3. Offer Testimonials to Other Businesses
Inter-business transactions happen all the time. From the company you purchase your tools from to the scheduling software you use and everything in between, you're dealing with other businesses on a daily basis.
Write out a list of all the companies you interact with and let them know how much you love their product, service, etc.. Companies are always looking to add up-to-date social proof to their websites, so you could uncover multiple opportunities with this strategy. Even if they don't link to your website, they'll likely include your practice name, which is still helpful from an SEO perspective.
Here's a short and sweet email template you can use to reach out:
Hi [CONTACT'S NAME],
Hope you're doing well! I wanted to reach out to offer my help. I've been really impressed with [PRODUCT/TOOL/SERVICE]. [INSERT COMPLIMENT – i.e. "Your customer service blows me away every time I reach out for help."]
It would be my pleasure to provide a testimonial you can publish on your site if you'd like. Just let me know and I'll send something over. I'd love the opportunity to share my experience with others considering your services.
#4. Alumni Links
Leverage the power of a .edu website by reaching out to your university and requesting a feature on their website or in their alumni directory. Many colleges and universities like to showcase their achievements by way of highlighting successful, entrepreneurial alumni.
Here's an example of an alumni business directory on the Northwestern University website:
Take a look at your university's alumni website to see if they have a similar directory. You may even want to look into the benefits that come along with being a member of the alumni association. There may be some linking, advertising, or networking opportunities included.
#5. Contribute to Blogs/Articles
Journalists and other writers are often looking for expert contributors to weigh in on topics they are writing about. Signup for HARO or other similar services like www.journorequests.com & www.sourcebottle.com and respond to dental and oral health related queries. Keep your pitches personal and establish yourself as a reliable source. If your contribution is selected, your name and a link to your website will accompany your quote.
Not only is getting quotes in online articles a great way to earn backlinks to your website, it's a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Skeptical? I promise it works. Just take a look at this contribution my colleague made to an article about the most important metrics to include in a daily marketing report that he submitted through a journalist’s query:
Sign up for HARO's daily emails as a starting point and see if there are any topic queries you feel comfortable responding to. Don't expect an immediate response, but try answering any relevant queries you see for a couple weeks and see what happens.
To help you get started, here's an email template you can use and customise when responding to a query:
Hi [REPORTER'S NAME],
I hope you're having a great [INSERT DAY OF THE WEEK]! Please consider my contribution to your recent query below. I am a [TITLE] at [PRACTICE NAME], a leading dental practice in [LOCATION].
[INCLUDE A COUPLE SENTENCES WITH YOUR CREDENTIALS/EXPERIENCE]
Here are my thoughts on [INSERT TOPIC]:
[INSERT QUOTE HERE]
Name: [YOUR NAME]
Website Link: [PRACTICE WEBSITE URL]
I'd love to discuss in more detail whenever you have a chance.
Better SEO One Relationship at a Time
Hopefully the idea of building links doesn't seem so daunting now. It can actually be pretty fun. So, go ahead… give some of these suggestions a try and let us know how it goes!