The Coffey Blog
How local links can help your hospital's website
How do you tell Google that your hospital's website should rank ahead of the competition? That question lies at the heart of any SEO strategy. And as a savvy healthcare marketer, you're probably trying to answer that question by developing great content that is valuable for healthcare consumers and includes high-performing keywords.
But if you have a lot of competition for a topic or search phrase, you'll need to do more in order to really shine.
A comprehensive local link-building strategy could help boost your website's performance within your community. While it should be a part of any hospital SEO plan, it's often overlooked. And that's unfortunate, as local link building isn't as hard as it might seem.
Why local links matter
Links from other high-quality websites in your community can help your healthcare organization in a few ways.
Links bring people to your website. This is pretty simple. A link to your hospital's website from another, high-quality website will bring people who live in that community to you.
Links help your hospital's organic search performance. A link is a little like a vote of confidence. When writers find content that they like and feel compelled to share, they link to it. And every link tells Google that the page is a valuable source of information.
If someone links to you, Google might begin to consider your page an authority on a topic. That could boost your rank in search.
Local links help to tie an organization to a specific location. If your page contains links to organizations in your community, you're sending a signal that you work in that community. And if your community links back to you, that signal grows stronger. Those local ties could help you perform better when people use local search terms, such as "find a hospital near me."
Measuring the value of a link
All links are not created equal. In fact, some links are worth a great deal while others are worth passing by. Think of your links like your affiliations. You don't want your hospital to be associated with an organization that has a poor reputation in your community or one that has a low-quality or spammy website.
The best local links are those that come from high-quality websites that target people who live in your community. These links bring in people who are interested in the services you provide. They also provide more SEO value than links from low-quality sites or those that seemingly have no relationship to your community or your services.
Shearing the bad from the good is a bit of an art, and it might take you some time to refine your strategy. But in general, avoid seeking links from websites that:
- Offer them to you for a fee. Pay-to-play, link-building schemes come with big Google penalties. Never pay for links.
- Offer to trade links. Trading a link is, in Google's eyes, the same as exchanging money for a link. The same penalties apply.
- Contain content rife with typographical errors. A high-quality website should be a pleasure to read. If you can spot multiple errors, keep moving rather than reaching out to ask for a link.
- Do not perform well in your community. If you've never heard of the website before, and you can't easily find it using the name of your community in a Google search box, skip it.
5 good local links to get
There are plenty of great local link opportunities out there for healthcare websites. Start with:
1. Specialty clinics. If you're affiliated with specialty clinics in your community and the surrounding area, reach out and ask those partners to link back to your website. These are great links to get, as they come from websites that also produce healthcare content. In the eyes of Google, these are very valuable votes of confidence.
2. Local business directories. Companies like Google, Facebook, Yellowbook, CitySearch, DexMedia and YP.com rely on user-provided data about services available in specific cities. Start with this list as a worksheet, and then widen your scope and reach out to your chamber of commerce, local newspapers and local web directories. Remember to use the same address, the same phone number and the same business name in every one of these directories. While these links may not provide the same SEO value they once did, they can help people who use the directories find your website.
3. The local paper. Pepper your press releases with links to your hospital website, and ask reporters to consider including those links in their online press reports. Also, share a link to your community education calendar with your news editor on a regular basis. The classes you hold could make for great content, and if your online class description is robust, the writer might pop a link in an online version of the story.
4. Colleges and universities. Contact the communications directors of your local institutions of higher learning. Draft an email message, and include a link to your employment pages or your fellowship pages. If those schools have web pages devoted to employment or advanced education, they might choose to link to your pages.
5. Sponsorship beneficiaries. If your organization sponsors a local sports team, subsidizes a local event or otherwise participates in some form of charitable work within your community, ask the recipients of those funds to link to your website on their websites.
The next link step
The links we've outlined here are low-hanging link fruit. To take your link building to the next level, you'll need to create consistent, high-quality content that people will want to read and webmasters will want to link to. That could include things like compelling blog posts about health topics that are relevant to your community—like Zika if you're located in an affected area—or interactive health tools like risk assessments.
If you need help taking your link-building strategy to the next level, let's talk. At Coffey, we have an entire team devoted to hospital SEO best practices. And we have plenty of talented writers that can make you sound great online, every time. Want to find out more? Call us at 888.805.9101 or email us.