What are External Links?
Technically speaking, an external link is any link on a domain that points to (targets) a source outside of its own domain. In layman’s terms, it’s a link from one website to another.
This is different from internal links, which are links from one page or post on a website to another.
The Power of External Links
Many SEO experts will tell you that external links can be the largest contributor to a website’s SEO. The reason this appears to be true is that Google cares more about what other people are saying about you (through external links) than what you are saying about yourself (internal links).
Think of it like this: Each website that links to your website helps give your therapy website credibility. They are vouching for you, in a sense.
If said website has a lot of authority, it will help to increase your SEO even more.
What is Domain Authority?
You can think of domain authority as your internet credibility. If your website is new or doesn’t contain a lot of content, it’s likely that your domain authority will be low.
There are a few ways to increase your domain authority:
1. Gaining external links from credible sources
2. Create authoritative content
3. Create engaging content that gets shared
Gaining external links from other sources is probably the most difficult, but there is some low-hanging fruit that you can use to get started.
External Links Every Therapist Should Have
The first handful of external links you should nab for your therapy website are from any online directory that you are a part of. Granted, the SEO juice (if you will) will vary depending on the source, but just about any link to your website can help increase your SEO.
I say just about any link because links from nefarious or malicious websites can actually negatively impact your SEO. You want to avoid paying for external links or having your website linked to from sources that are considered spammy or contain malware. (Most therapists won’t have to monitor this too closely. Just don’t pay for backlinks.)
Most therapy directories will include a link to your website as part of your listing. Make sure you fill this in correctly, and use the https version of your website’s URL (assuming you have an SSL… which you should).
You also want to make sure that you include a link to your website on your FaceBook business page, your Google My Business Listing, and any other social media platform that you are using.
Create Authoritative Content
The great thing about external links is that you don’t necessarily have to go out hunting for them. If you create great content, people who find you will link to your content thus increasing your visibility.
Authority on a website is established when you cover a certain topic or a handful of topics is an in-depth and thorough way.
This is easy to do when you are laser-focused on what you want to be known for and for whom you are writing (your ideal clients).
I’ve mentioned before that good content is about answering the questions that people are asking (and how to find these questions through keyword research). Do this consistently, and Google will learn that you are the go-to resource for information on that particular topic.
Create Engaging Content
Believe it or not, social media shares also contribute to your website’s SEO. Creating content that people enjoy and engage with can be an excellent strategy to growing your visibility on social media which can increase your ranking on Google.
Content creators and influencers who consistently create great content have the greatest chance of going viral (even though that chance is really small). Now, your content may never hit 6 million shares, but having a blog post that is shared even a handful of times on social media can be great.
Engage with your followers (assuming they match your ideal clients), and answer their questions. Become known as a source of information and assistance.
Not all of your content has to be professional. Sometimes the best content comes when we share a bit about our own story and allow people to see that we are human too.
Gaining External Links through Media
Writing or even being quoted in online news media can really help your SEO. One of the best ways to do this is through a service called Help a Reporter Out (HARO for short).
If you haven’t already, head on over to their website and sign up for their email list. Every weekday they send out up to three emails of topics of interest where reporters are asking for information from experts.
It’s a great way to get quoted and linked to from more credible sources. I know a therapist who has been featured in articles on Huffpost, Today, and even Cosmopolitan. I was quoted in an article a couple years ago about suicide prevention.
Most of the requests want just a short blurb or even some bullet points for an article. They know that quoting experts increases their credibility, and it also helps therapists get seen. It’s a win-win, and can just take a few minutes per day.
External links are a great way to increase your domain’s authority and your website’s SEO. That being said, having an active strategy for gaining external links isn’t necessary for most therapists.
Create great, authoritative content, and people will naturally begin linking to your site.
If you do want to take an active approach, HARO is a great resource for getting featured in online articles and magazines.
In the end, external links are just one of the many factors that influence the SEO on your therapy website. Not every therapist will need them in order to rank well on Google, but it can be really helpful if you are in a more competitive area.