As a therapist running a private practice, investing in your search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing is critical so you always have enough clients to fill your caseload. Many people rely on word of mouth referrals. And while they are amazing, it’s not always reliable.
The fix for your therapy business is SEO and marketing. And while having all the right keywords and language is one important part of the bigger SEO puzzle, the magic bullet overtime seems to be found in high quality backlinks.
So, What Exactly Is A Backlink?
Backlinks are the main traffic path across the Internet. They are the words and phrases in your landing pages and blog pages that have links embedded in them.
They look like this:
Early on, Google established the ability for people themselves to have a say in what content is truly the most important. This “democratization” of popularity and ultimately what is “most valuable” allows for any (and I mean any) website, landing page, article or video to land at the top of search results.
Simply because the public at large choose to click it.
This means that backlinks are the gold standard for what really matters online.
The more clicks a page has, the higher the likelihood of it showing up high in Google search results. And that my friends is the path to getting your content seen by the world.
Where Can You Find Backlinks?
Absolutely everywhere. But, they are not the links in your website that lead to other pages on your website. Those are called “internal links.”
Backlinks are found on sites other than your own and “link into” your website.
Ever visited a site that offers you “related links” that are NOT on their website– those are backlinks.
Ever read an article with “brand mentions” that link off to the brand — those are backlinks.
Ever read an article that cited an outside source – those are backlinks.
Ever clicked a “read more” button and visited a new website – that is a backlink as well.
Google uses backlinks to help travel the internet. This is one of the most powerful ways it discovers new content and keeps up with how the world is consuming content. Sites like Google Trends, will give you a great look at highly searched trends and you can quickly see what is the most popular at the moment.
But, it’s not just for tracking what’s trendy, links can be added to web pages or blogs and exist for years. That means they can keep sending traffic to your website for years as well, so the efforts to acquire new backlinks are seldom wasted. But there are a few “best practices” to follow.
So let’s dive into the world of backlinks for therapists websites and what it all means for your private therapy practice.
Before we get into the “how tos” of backlinks, it’s important to set your mindset in the right direction. As a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional, you have a level of expertise that you have earned.
Your credentials, time in the field, additional training, and personal experience make you an expert in the subject matter you practice in.
If you’re a general practitioner, that means your expertise extends to the field of mental health. But, if you have an expertise in an area like childhood trauma or addiction, you have that as well.
This matters because of a little thing Google calls “E-E-A-T.” Translated, it stands for experience, expertise, authority and trust. Trust being the most important of them all.
E-E-A-T is connected to a second concept called “your money, your life” or YMYL. The concept of your money, your life speaks to the importance of offering accurate information in all topics that come from subject matter experts. It has deep implications when it comes to giving opinions vs facts, and the professionalism around citing your sources, validating any data offered and making sure that the steps or information offered are correct.
Simply put, those of us who have trained and lived in the field have both a responsibility and a “leg up” on other writers who aim to talk about this field from a different perspective.
As professionals, we are bound to do a good job when speaking about mental health because false advice/insight/direction could be potentially harmful to someone.
And because of this responsibility there is also an opportunity to be linked to as a legitimate source vs someone with an opinion.
You can find out more about E-E-A-T and YMYL here. (( And this is, of course, a backlink in action!))
What is the easiest way to get backlinks as a therapist?
There are lots of ways to get backlinks. Leveraging your expertise as a therapist makes you an important source for writers, reports, bloggers or other content creators who need to add “expertise” to their articles.
By thinking from the perspective of “who needs your expertise” you get a stronger idea of where your ideas, advice and opinions can be the most useful.
I also included some marketing comments along the way to help you understand how these backlink efforts can help your bigger marketing goals and efforts.
Here are 6 Powerful Ways To Get Backlinks To Your Therapy Website:
Guest blogging or posting on other websites
Guest blogging is when you offer complete articles to other websites in exchange for a byline and a link back to your website. There are MANY ways to find good sites to blog for, and you don’t have to get into a regular habit of writing on one site. In fact, this can have less “backlink” value to you over time if you’re not also getting measurable traffic from the website.
Measurable traffic is defined as getting clicks from the site you published on back to your website. You can test this through Google Analytics to validate how many visitors are coming to your website from another site.
If you find that a website sends you lots of traffic, then publishing more on that site can be great for your business.
Experiment with different sites and see how they perform for you. Here’s a few my clients regularly post on. Some charge a fee, others are free once your submission has been accepted. Medium is the outlier and they will let you publish free of charge and backlinks are always fine.
Here’s my Medium page as an example.
Other sites to consider blogging on include:
- Life Hacker includes many sites – writers can pitch to this email address email@example.com
- Huffington Post
- Over All Motivation
- The Strive
- Elephant Journal
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and it’s a site you can subscribe to for free that will send you pitches from reporters who are looking for sources for their articles. HARO’s daily digest is sent 3 times a day to the email you subscribed from. You can customize it based on a handful of categories and while it can be a bit to get through the first few times, you’ll quickly get the hang of how it works.
Each request is different and the reporter will ask for a set of specific requests and give you instructions on how to respond with a deadline. Sort through the requests, and respond to the ones that fit your therapeutic niche.
Make sure to tell the reporter where you want the backlink sent so it’s not sent to a random page on your website. Most of the time, they will ask, but being proactive is helpful here so there’s no confusion.
If your submission is accepted, they will notify you once it is published. One word to the wise, not every writer is 100% perfect at notifying their sources that an article is published.
The hack to find out if something with your name in it was added online is to create a Google Alert for your name. Then, you will get notified when something with your name is found in Google. It’s not a perfect program, but my experience is that most of the time it works as designed.
QWOTED is another HARO-like site that shares requests for subject matter sources and you can sign up for free there as well.
Be A Guest On A Podcast (or two or three)
Podcasts are easy for busy people to participate in because often, you’re just talking about your opinions on a topic. There are many shows looking for guest speakers and one of the fastest ways to find them is by networking on therapy group sites on places like Facebook and LinkedIn.
If you’re a fan of a particular show, reach out to the producer (look at the footer to see if they have a “be a guest” link or just email through the website’s contact page) and ask if they’re looking for guest speakers. The trick to getting a backlink is to be in the “show notes.” These usually follow the podcast player and are details about the specific episode.
When you’re working out the details of your appearance, make sure the interviewer is willing to give a link back to your website where they mention your name as a guest. Next to your name should be your credentials (it may just be your main credential) and a link to your website.
It’s a very common practice for therapists to list their services on places like Psychology Today or other niche directory sites. Directories have their own SEO strategies that often fall outside of traditional SEO practices, so you want to validate how “busy” the directories are before wasting a lot of time listing on them.
To get a backlink, include your website in your profile. But, also, when you write your bio, be sure to include a backlink to your website to help prospective clients find you easily. But word to the wise…
Psychology Today Doesn’t Give You A Backlink
While you can list your website, Psychology Today doesn’t appear to give a backlink to your site. That doesn’t mean people cannot click the link to your website, they absolutely can and do. But, the link doesn’t show up in backlink checkers on SEO tools like SEMRush.
So be careful as you invest in directories and like Guest Blogging above, you want to check your inbound links/traffic in Google Analytics to verify the directory is indeed sending you traffic. If they are, keeping the listing on a paid directory site makes a ton of sense. If not, consider if there isn’t a better source for your marketing dollars.
Finding Your Competitor Links & Going After Those Sites As Well
This is a little harder to do, but when you have an SEO company’s help, you can get a report from any of the major SEO tools that will show you what inbound links your competitors are getting traffic from. If you see an example of a “list” article that details things like “best therapists in Annapolis” or “evidence-based trauma therapy in Phoenix,” you can write to the website that published the list and ask to be included.
Other competitor backlinks are harder to compete with so ask yourself, what could you do or offer that would make linking to your site a good idea. Perhaps you just wrote a new blog with new research in it that validates the article’s point BETTER than your competitors. Or, maybe, you have some new insight to offer that makes their point stronger?
Helping writers to look great helps their stories to perform better. This is a place where Google News can help you out.
Here’s how this works…
Last week I had a client who read a story in the NY Times about her niche area. The reporter did a great job, but my client felt the reporter missed something important that she had covered in her latest book. She emailed the NY Times reporter and shared her thoughts plus offered to send her the book. The reporter responded to her and the book was mailed out the next day.
Right now, I’m not sure where that exchange will go, but my client got a one-on-one exchange about her core area with a NY Times reporter and that is important. That kind of outreach is what it takes to get in a reporter’s Rolodex and become a true source in the future
Finally, Reclaim Or Reinstate A Lost Link
Websites change out their links as time passes and content grows stale. If you previously had a link in an article on another website and your SEO report tells you it’s now “lost,” you can reach out to the website and try to reclaim the link.
All you need to do is ask the site to update the link in their article back to your site. And, you can sweeten the offer by updating the page or article on your website where the link originated from. Then, you’re offering a refreshed article that connects better with the updates they made to their piece of content.
Now that you have a stronger sense of how to gain backlinks to your therapy site, here are a few common questions people ask me. If you have others, feel free to list them in the comments.
Do people pay for backlinks?
The answer here is yes and no. Organic backlinks are when someone finds your content and sees you as a legitimate source. Anyone can link to your website, so the practice is very common.
But, there are many sites out there that sell backlinks. If you go this route, the range of costs is very wide and is dependent on a handful of factors.
One, does the site have a high domain authority?
If you’re getting a backlink from a highly reputable website and paying for it, it can run you $250 – $2500. It all depends on the content, and how your content is being used.
If you’re looking at a super high price tag, it’s really important to look at all of the finer details: what will they link to, what’s the cost, how long will the link be on their website, what’s the site’s reputation etc. Be picky and be careful. You don’t want to throw money away.
This gets to another question…
Are all backlinks the same?
Here the answer is yes and no. I wrote a longer article about follow and nofollow links that gives more of the details, but here’s the short answer: all links are clickable, but not all links pass reputation. Read the article if you want to understand the higher value “follow links” and how to check what you’re getting.
Finally, do backlinks still work in 2023?
Yes, they do. Why? Because we still use advice from other people to help us make up our minds. And backlinks are a fantastic way for a website to say “this is a trusted source” for whatever the topic.
As I said at the beginning, backlinks are how the world travels through the Internet. They are easy opportunities to click to more on a topic and they let you create a website that is a body of work. That prevents you from writing the same thing over and over again.
Getting backlinks for your therapy website is a chore but it’s one that pays dividends long into the future. And of course, it compounds. When you become known online as a “source” for a specific topic, random strangers will link to you as will people you respect.
Backlinks always perform best when you’re the source. So whether it’s original research, case studies, or an opinion that opens people up, they are all great opportunities to be “the” person who is linked to as the authority on your topic.