The Communicator
The Communicator
  March 1, 2011 

The Power of Inbound Links

Inbound links, links from other websites to your website, are an important part of your search engine optimization strategy. While search engine companies do not reveal their exact formulas for how they return search results, two factors are very heavily weighted, one of which is inbound links. 

The type of website linking to you matters.  If you provide Alzheimer’s care and have an inbound link from a tire store, that doesn’t do a lot for your credibility related to Alzheimer’s.  However, if the Alzheimer’s Association links to you, this indicates that you are a credible source of Alzheimer’s information.  Your goal is to cultivate inbound links from sites that are related to your area of expertise.

In a recent high-profile case, JC Penney experienced the benefit of inbound links during the recent holiday season. Unfortunately, it was through the use of what is called “black hat SEO” — using tactics that are a no-no in search engine optimization. The specific practice that was engaged was planting links on thousands of websites that were essentially abandoned with the exception of the Penney’s link and a few keywords to support that link.  Search engines have been known to ban a site from search completely for this practice, but have not done so to JC Penney…although their search engine results have been “manually adjusted” down, removing their #1 (or even first page) status for most terms.  For the full story, visit The Dirty Little Secrets of Search in The New York Times.

So, how do you create inbound links the right way?  Here are some tips and suggestions for establishing quality inbound links to your website:

  1. Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or other local business group. These groups often offer links at no charge or for a small fee with membership.  While they may not be specifically relevant to your services, they are relevant to the geographic community you serve.  And, part of your optimization goal is to be found not only for the services you provide, but for searches related to the geographic area you serve.
  2. Specialty or professional membership groups. This might include your state health care association, the adult day services association, geriatric care management chapter, or your hospice or home care group.  These member based organizations provide online directories so that consumers can find their members as a value-added benefit.  Professional associations have great content on their sites that is extremely relevant to the services you provide…and is updated frequently, making them a high-quality inbound link to your website.  And, again, usually a free service for members!
  3. Community partners and supporters. Does your business participate in the Memory Walk? Perhaps you have volunteers at the local senior center?  Or, perhaps you have a local company that volunteers at your facility? The community partners that you support or that volunteer and donate to support your mission and goals are frequently willing to link to your website as a part of this relationship.
  4. Social marketing and networking sites. Is your business on Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube? These are all places where you should be linking back to your current website, as frequently as appropriate. If you upload a video on your rehabilitation services, link back to your rehab services page. If you post a comment on how home care can help with hip replacement, refer to your website for any resources you might have to provide additional information.

You have many opportunities to grow inbound links.  To do so, you will need to

  1. establish a goal to grow your links, such as "I will ask for one new link per month" or "I will review my inbound link opportunities with my team once per month" and then
  2. follow through on the opportunities by asking for the link.

So…now you may ask, what is the second most heavily weighted factor to my search engine optimization?  Relevant content! 

Stay tuned for next month’s edition of the Communicator to learn more!

 


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The Power of Inbound Links
Resources for Social Media
Communication Tip: Understanding Your Domain Name
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