John McAlpin: “It’s great to get healthcare links from other sites, but a localized link in your area can help Google understand where you are located and give you a little bit more authority in your local area.”
Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast. The only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.
Alex Membrillo: What’s up everybody? Excited to have you all here with me today. Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing, and I’ve got John McAlpin our SEO Director here at Cardinal, and we’re going to have fun today. We’re going to talk about something you don’t hear on a lot of healthcare marketing podcasts. We are going to talk about link building. John, welcome to Ignite.
John McAlpin: Thanks for having me back.
Alex: Absolutely. Let’s talk about link building. Essential component and everybody has read somewhere that you need to build links, but many wonder, does that happen accidentally, or do I go to do something as a medical practice? What is link building as it relates to most medical groups, your multi-location, orthopedic, dentist, [unintelligible 00:01:01]? What is it for them?
John: Let’s just talk about the straightforward definition. Link building is the practice of getting another website telling to you. The next question is, why do we want to do that?
Alex: Yes. Why do we want to do that, John?
John: Two reasons. One, we want users to find us from other websites, because if you put out a website with zero links, how’s anyone going to find you? Two is we want Google to find us and link building is one of the ways we get Google to discover our site and the more sites that link to us, the more trustworthy and authoritative our site becomes.
Alex: Okay, I got you. It’s important for Google’s eyes and to draw in potential patients. Let’s talk about different types of links as it relates to our multi-location medical group. Talk about the different types, and then we’ll talk about how do we go get them. What are some examples?
John: It really depends on context because context and links mean a lot. When we’re having especially multi-location healthcare, one of the baseline links we always go for first are actually citations and directories. Think your Google My Business, your Yellow Pages, your WebMD, all your profiles out there. That’s the baseline. That’s still considerably building because you’re getting your business profile listed places. Google looks at that for consistency and quality and makes sure that you’re actually a real place.
Alex: Stuff like health grades, and all of that, should they be getting profiles for all their providers and locations on Google, [unintelligible 00:02:26], Vitals, Okta, all that stuff important for links, right?
John: Absolutely. If you can’t get your providers listed– some of them are paying, some of them are not. Go after your free ones first. Then if you’re going to pay for a directory, at least make sure it’s in your niche and that they actually have users going there.
Alex: Okay. Niches get your riches. We got the directories. We need to make sure we’re on all of those, what’s next? What do you go after next?
John: That depends on what stage you’re at. Whether you have a new website, you’re established, you have PR, and how much content you have. There’s a lot of different areas you can approach.
Alex: Got you. Let’s assume we’re a newer website.
John: New website, no content. Like I said, directories are always the first one that you can go after. Next, you got no content in your new website, you got to do your research. Look at your competitors. See what types of leads they’re getting, not where they’re getting, but the types. You’ll notice that you start picking up on their strategies, whether they just develop tools, whether they’re doing PR, whether they’re doing more on link building, or if they are doing podcasting, there’s a lot of different types of strategies out there, but in the very early stage, directories and research.
Alex: What about like, if I’m an orthodontic group in Atlanta, Georgia, should I be reaching out to the local high school and sponsoring them to get a link on their page? Is that relevant enough? Do they all have to be relevant links? Does networking within my community for links help?
John: A network of links is okay. When it comes to relevancy, there are different types of relevancy. There’s niche relevancy and localized relevancy. It’s great to get healthcare links from other sites and things like that, but a localized link in your area can help Google understand where you are located and give you a little bit more authority in your local area. Sponsorship links in moderation, absolutely. Chamber of commerce and things like that, localized areas, local news press, absolutely great links to get.
Alex: What about Top Docs, winning awards, all those Top Docs thing, Vista, is that useful?
John: Google doesn’t look at those as a sense of, “Oh, this must be the best doctor,” but it’s super relevant to them saying, “Hey, this is a site listing doctors as a reference, absolutely going to trust this site.
Alex: How else can I go feature my doctors? I’m trying to think for little medical practices, what else they could do linking up, providing content to maybe the PCP that refers them business?
John: Sometimes even your previous universities have directories of especially doctors and lawyers. A lot of them have their own university links, so getting those .edu links are great as well.
Alex: Here at Cardinal, you guys have been running really innovative link-building campaigns, so talk about some of that. I guess blog posting, the byliner [unintelligible 00:05:07] are getting for our [unintelligible 00:05:08].
John: Guest posting in industry publications, we work with a lot of great healthcare groups and education groups that have real rock stars in their organization. We’re able to use and provide industry insights, case studies, technical research, and hard facts to these industry publications and do guest posts to get great links there. Those get them exposure and make it easier to get links in the long run and earn links organically as in other people discovering that content and linking to them using the same quotes.
Alex: So important. You had mentioned PR earlier on, is that for the bigger groups to engage digital PR. What’s the difference between that regular PR? How do you see that for the more advanced group?
John: I think PR for both established and new business depends on where they invest in and there’s PR incentive getting on the news and big publications. Then there’s PR with getting local roundups and a roundup would be something like say the Dallas Morning News has 10 best new doctors in town or something [unintelligible 00:06:06] or 10 best bars in town. They’ll show all of those featured areas and get links to them.
That takes PR to network with journalists and get that kind of exposure. PR does not always mean national, you can do PR, local and things like that can definitely help you get some great powerful, both relevant and local links.
Alex: Best kind of links, I wish more groups signed up with local PR companies and stuff. There’s only so much we can do on the web and those are actually the best [unintelligible 00:06:33].
John: That’s where SEO comes into play, though Alex, is when you have PR they’ll get you to press but journalists oftentimes don’t think about links. Sometimes they’ll have policies about not links, but sometimes they’ll just not even think about the link and the PR company says, “Hey, we got you the press, we got your name out there. That’s all we care about.”
Alex: You’re absolutely right. It’s a good point. I like to train clients and I learned this myself a long time before agreeing to any byline article, to any feature in the news or whatever you say, “We’re going to need a link to our brand when we do this interview. Is that okay?”
Alex: Clients need to start thinking that way so they don’t do any PR or any speaking, nothing without agreeing to a backup.
John: I just had a new link last week where one of our medical schools, they were listed in a bunch of medical schools in their area, and no one had a link. They were actually a partner and we were able to reach out and say, “Hey, we are representing the school. We’re partners, we love working with you. We noticed that we used to have a link here, but we don’t.” We call it an unlinked brand mention. We’re able to secure a link on this page with all their competitors listed but our client had the only link.
Alex: Infographics guides, useful at all?
John: Still, infographics, they’re difficult because [unintelligible 00:07:45] produce them and find and unique [unintelligible 00:07:46] produce them but once you have the infographic, really easy to get links because they’re useful, they provide value, and a lot of people want to link to them and use them and link back to you as the resource.
Alex: Correct. Good. It’s important, but you got to do something with it don’t just pay to have it made, you got to actually have some outreach. What would [inaudible 00:08:05] today, small practices can do it by doing their local outreach to the referring providers, and awards, and speaking engagements for their providers. They can also engage with an SEO company and those people will go find links for them. There’s lots of different things, but important to do, would you say like when you get a new sign, a newer practice, building out their on-site content, or link building, which is one more important? Let’s assume they don’t rank well.
John: It’s a chicken in the egg, you can’t rank without links because– you can rank but not as easily. You just had content, you could rank number one but it would take you so much longer. You still need links for that authority. It’s still a major pillar of SEO but no one’s going to link to you if you don’t have any content. You need both.
Alex: That’s right. To figure out what content you should be writing that’s going to be linkable, where do you go? Any sites that help?
John: First, I look at keyword research, and then competitors. See what kind of leads you’re getting, what pages are getting linked to? What content is performing well, and then keyword research? What are the users looking for? What is something that no one’s done yet?
Alex: Sometimes I’ll go to forums, Reddit, Quora, all that stuff, see what people are asking about but there’s lots of tools. What’s your favorite SEO tool, John? Let’s tell everybody, for content idea.
John: For content ideas, honestly, Google.
John: I do Google and then the people also ask. I’ll ask a question and dive down that rabbit hole. There’s a new tool that just is in the stage between beta and launch called [unintelligible 00:09:32] apps. We were using that for a long time to graph out the line of questions that people would ask in order, but they just got out of beta, and they’re about to launch it for the paid version. It’s unavailable at the moment but you can get the free version just by going straight to Google, one of the best keyword research tools there is.
Alex: All right, I love it. John, we talked about link building and content, how medical practices can accelerate their rankings increased by generating good local relevant links. Thank you for joining me on Ignite.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing, subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.[music]
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