As business across the world moves increasingly online, the addiction treatment industry is also undergoing a digital revolution. More and more people are searching online for resources about addiction and addiction treatment. In the last 5 years, the Google search term “rehab near me” has skyrocketed in popularity. Google trends shows that, as of February 2017, more people than ever in the United States typed “rehab near me” into an online search query.
It’s clear that an online presence is crucial to the success and survival of your treatment program, but a website alone isn’t enough. The website for your treatment center needs to be visible in order to attract online traffic and gain new business. Visible means your website shows up at the top of the list in online search rankings, because most online users won’t click beyond the top 3 search results on Google.
So, how can you ensure that your treatment center’s website appears in the clickable range of search results when someone goes looking for a “rehab near me” online? You need an effective link building strategy.
What Is Link Building?
Link building is simply getting hyperlinks to your own website hosted on other websites’ pages. When another website links to your website on one of their pages, that’s called a “backlink.” Mastering link building–especially getting high-quality backlinks–can dramatically improve your treatment website’s search engine ranking.
Search engines, like Google, use links to crawl the web and generate search results. Then, they assess the quality of a web page to determine its search ranking for relevant keywords–an important part of Google’s algorithm. In this process, search engines look at both the content of the page, as well as the number of backlinks pointing to that page from external websites and the quality of those external sites. When more high-quality websites link to your website, your site will rank higher in search results.
What makes a high-quality website? Relevant, valuable content. Some of a website’s quality is determined by the search engine’s crawling and assessment of the page, but some of its quality is determined by how many other websites backlink to that page. Google basically treats backlinks like a vote of confidence for a page. When your content is a valuable and relevant resource, it will naturally be linked to from other sites more often, right?
Link building is essentially the process of building your credibility with Google. To do that, you need other websites with established credibility (through their own link building and valuable content) to give you their vote of confidence with a backlink. It’s a pretty sophisticated system, designed to reward sites that provide true value with higher search rankings. Why? Those valuable sites are more likely to actually provide the answers and information that a person is searching for in an online query. And, it’s a system that’s not easily manipulated.
How NOT to Get Links
Link building is a delicate art. There is a right way to do it, and there are some very wrong ways to do it. Hence, why SEO experts are so valuable to improving your website and search rankings. It’s important to know the difference between types of links–both good and bad.
Over time, Google’s search algorithm has evolved because the system has often been exploited. Now, as a result, Google penalizes some low-quality and spammy links. One common mistake in link building is submitting your website to a web directory or link farm and getting a link in return. The technique has been so overly abused that now Google doesn’t assign as much value to backlinks of this sort.
Another common mistake in link building is through spamming comments. Some people try to build links by leaving comments on blogs or forums that include a link to their site. Links like these are not given by the owner of the site, which means they’re lacking that crucial vote of confidence that deems a website more valuable than others. It may seem like an easy route to build your number of backlinks, but it’s not effective in improving your search ranking. Link building isn’t just about sheer quantity of backlinks to your website–it’s mainly about the quality of those backlinks.
Link Building is Link Earning
The most crucial aspect of link building is creating web pages and content that are worth linking to. Your homepage can be a valuable link as a resource for someone looking for help with substance abuse, or for someone in need of a specific treatment facility in your area. But, most often, backlinks are earned by providing something of value that others can benefit or learn from. The most valuable backlinks are what are called “editorial” links–given by the editor or owner of the website itself.
Other websites are more likely to link to specific resources that you provide, like a relevant blog post or infographic. Provide useful information and perspectives that can’t be found just anywhere, that are worth sharing, and other websites will cite you as a resource. You may have existing content that is worth linking to, but you can also consistently create new, valuable content with the goal of building links. It may take time, but that valuable content can earn you “natural” links from other websites, which makes Google also recognize your content as valuable.
While those natural links are the most desirable, they’re not always the easiest to earn. In addition, you can effectively build links through outreach. Start establishing business relationships, contact other website owners or bloggers, and ask them if they’re willing to link to your site. Always be sure to get in touch with relevant connections in the treatment industry, otherwise your backlinks won’t offer you much success. And, of course, you need to still provide value in these exchanges.
What can you offer? It may be providing a relevant piece of content for their website with a backlink to your site. Or, you may offer to create content on your site that features the work of another organization, in exchange for a link as a resource on their site. Each link building relationship will be different, so you’ll have to navigate it on a case-by-case basis. It will take consistent effort, and not every outreach opportunity will pan out, but that’s why it’s helpful to have dedicated personnel working on SEO and link building.
So, Should You Be Building Links?
Of course! Links are a key signal to search engines in determining your search rankings. With more high-quality backlinks, you increase your chances of ranking well when someone searches for your treatment center or a treatment center in your area. Without an effective link building strategy, you won’t see an increase in your search rankings.
You’ll gain more traffic and business as you rank higher in search engines, and you can also gain traffic organically from high-quality links. When a highly-visited website provides a backlink to your treatment center’s website, that site can direct its traffic towards your site, too. Maybe a professional from your facility writes a piece of content for a popular sobriety or recovery blog. A link to your facility’s website that’s included in the article or author bio is likely to bring relevant traffic to your site.
Link building is also a way to build relationships with other people and organizations in your industry. With an effective outreach program, you create opportunities to collaborate with relevant websites and blogs, as well as showcase or promote your own content. The common goal is to get a link on each other’s websites, but you’re also creating business relationships and establishing trust. In the process of gaining links on other websites, you not only elevate your value in search rankings, but your brand also gains credibility as a leader in your industry offering valuable resources.
The bottom line: link building is crucial to your business. You need to build links if you’re going to grow your presence online and increase your search rankings. Those search rankings are the key to building your business. When your treatment website shows up at the top of the list in a Google search, you get more clicks, and more clients.