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DIY Expert Dental SEO Part II: Backlinks
What is a backlink?
From Moz.com: "A backlink is a link created when one website links to another. Backlinks are also called "inbound links" or "incoming links." Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a "vote of confidence" from one site to another."
Are all backlinks created equal?
Local SEO experts weight in:
What is the biggest problem or misconception about the value of links to local SEO?
"That we still talk about "links" at all. Local businesses should be much more concerned with building quality relationships and mentions of their brand as opposed to links themselves. Google has gotten incredibly good at identifying semantic relationships between entities. IMO they no longer need the "a href" to make that logical connection." - David Mihm, ThriveHive
"Links don't appear to impact the map pack results nearly as much as they impact organic rankings."
- Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky
What are the most valuable link sources for boosting search rankings for local businesses?
"High domain authority (DA) sites are also less important compared to last year. While many local business clients may be impressed with a backlink on a high DA site, ultimately, it’s better to focus on the local or industry-specific sites that potential customers use. Instead of thinking, "We need links" think about how to build a better local brand. Have you identified who your target customers are and what their interests are? There's a myriad of ways to get involved with the local community that align with the interests of your potential customers. Build a better, local brand." - Blake Denman RicketyRoo
"A business should be genuinely concerned about and involved in their local community. Beyond a typical sponsorship, a business may be able to utilize its skill set and resources to help local non-profits with specific needs they have. It should also be a priority for the business to be a true expert in their industry. Their website can help convey this by providing quality answers to questions potential customers are out there searching for. - Tom Waddington Wachae
"The mindset to have when doing local link building is the "get by giving away" approach where there's never any clues or hints about your hidden agenda. Give to the community and neighboring businesses with authenticity and you almost never need to even ask for the link." Steve Wiideman, Wiideman Consulting Group
If a local business asked you how many links they should aim to get each month, what would you say?
"Firstly, it's not about volume, it's about quality, particularly for local businesses. Secondly, it completely varies by category. In a non-competitive space like a long-tail machine parts manufacturer, a couple of quality links a year could make a meaningful difference to their business. In a hyper-competitive space like personal injury law, those firms should probably be aiming for a half-dozen to a dozen high-quality links per month." - David Mihm, ThriveHive
"It varies greatly based on the industry. We have some clients that only really get a handful of [good] links a year and do really well with that. Others are stacked up against competitors that have hundreds of linking domains." - Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky
"Don't get too caught up in numbers. 50 directory links might not be as powerful as one sponsorship link. It's really about quality over quantity with link building. Aim for links that your competitors will have a hard time getting on highly authoritative pages." - Casey Meraz, JurisDigital
"Focus on the question, "Will getting more links build the quality traffic to my site?" - Ben Fisher, Steady Demand
How valuable are the following strategies when building new backlinks to local business sites?
Building relationships with local businesses and influencers (#4 last year)
Creating research-based content (#5)
Sponsoring local charities and organizations (#1)
Creating resources with a local focus (#3)
Hosting community events (#6)
Where do I get local backlinks?
1. Sponsorship of local community events
2. Sponsorship of local local teams
3. Local bloggers who you can contribute content to or who may want to write about you.
4. Local clubs or organizations you and your employees belong to i.e. church groups, exercise classes, car clubs. If you or one of your staff are in a leadership position all the netter. Find out if you can contribute content or if they have a business listing page.
5. Neighborhood watch sites sometimes have a website or blog. Find out if you can contribute content or get listed in some manner.
6. Local vendors.
Websites usually a contact person or webmaster listed. Unless you are sponsoring an event, reach out to the contract person to see if you can contribute content or they may simply have a section where you can list your business information.
Should I get backlinks from national or non local directories?
Yes as long as the backlinks are in directories Google would expect you to be listed in such as for the ADA, AGD, state and local dental associations, etc.
What is the bottom line on backlinks for a local business?
The bottom line is only obtain backlinks from sites where visitors to that site are potential patients.
What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?
Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.
Marketing & New Patients
Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background.
Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists
Dental Office Systems
Key systems dental consultants implement:
- New Patient Phone Call
- Insurance Processing
- New Patient Experience and Patient Education
- Financial Arrangements
- Unscheduled Treatment Followup
- Stat Monitoring
- Daily and Weekly Checklists
- General Policy Manual
You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.
What gets monitored gets done.
The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?
The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals
It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.
What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance. Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline:
- Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
- Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
- Set a good example.
- Always be learning.
- Take care of yourself.
- Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.
$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice.
Questions You Should Ask
- Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
- Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
- If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
- The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.