How to SEO your website by improving your local backlinks

If a practice ever asks Connected Vet for help to get their website to the top of local search results we like to explain that achieving a good Search Engine Rank Position (SERPs) is like tuning an engine. There is no silver bullet to get you to the top of Google, it takes time and lots of hard work.

So whilst there are some elements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that we bake in to our websites (for example properly analysed keywords, meta data & fresh content) there are bits of SEO that lie outside the pages of our websites and building backlinks, or what we call ‘Local Links’ is one of them.

Discover the ‘Local Links’ opportunity for your practice

So, we thought we’d offer an overview of an updated approach we’re taking to local link building after attending a really interesting presentation by Greg Gifford from US car dealership SEO specialist

Greg’s got a fantastic Local Links process that takes what Connected Vet already does for our clients and supercharges it - and we’re going to share the essence of his ministrations here.

Why Bother With Local Links?

Well, according to the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors inbound links are the most important ranking signal (29%) for the major search engines, so you ignore them at your peril. The good news is that in our experience 99% of your local veterinary competitors ignore Local Links so by paying them just a little attention you stand a good chance of seriously enhancing your rank in local search.

Local Links are like votes for your website and unlike linking strategies for national companies locally focussed veterinary practices are not looking for high value links from sites with a fantastic domain authority. Unlike huge websites with thousands of inbound links, local vets are usually talking about needing less than 100 inbound Local Links to dominate relevant SERPs.

Five ways to get more links

Greg identifies five broad approaches you’ll need to consider to gain more and better inbound local links.

  • Pay
  • Donate time
  • Get active with local groups
  • Share truly useful information
  • Be creative to get random mentions

Whether you begin to take advantage of relationships you already have or things you may already be doing we normally identify some quick wins and then move on to find loads of ways to gain those vital extra local links.

Twenty five sources of local links

So we’ve taken Greg’s suggestions and augmented Connected Vet’s existing local link sources to boost our link building tactic tool-chest to more than 25 generic sources of Local Links.

Our existing sources included things like Google my business, veterinary specific directories & local news pages. But Greg’s approach, which has been shown to work well in the highly competitive automotive sector, alongside constantly evolving learning from our sister company Connecting Element (which specialises in SEO for chains of pubs & restaurants) has augmented our list with over 25 different sources of local backlinks.

We’ve added sources like event websites (for vets that give their time to local dog shows), local club websites (for vets that do talks to local organisations) and websites for un-related businesses, which don’t work so well for big nationally relevant sites, but do work really well for small local businesses like vets.

The point is that these new link sources augment Connected Vet’s already effective link pool in a way that is capable of effectively putting you beyond the reach of local competitors when it comes to local SERP rankings.

So what?

Well, dominating your local SERPs for vital key word phrases like ‘Vet in Location’ will drive more traffic to your website, which in turn means your practice is more likely to gain more enquiries for new registrations than competitors who appear lower down Google’s rankings.

A great example of the power of local backlinks is an SEO project we undertook recently for a new website we launched for Greg’s Vets (different Greg to SEO Greg Gifford) in Thurmaston, North Leicester. Greg’s Thurmaston practice didn’t really appear in local search until we launched his new website. Within six months the creation of local backlinks contributed to a near unassailable ‘Top of page 1’ for his small (but perfectly formed) practice… as you can see from the screen shot below.

There was no point in Greg competing for ‘Vet in Leicester’ as the reach of his practice was really just the Thurmaston area of North Leicester.

In Thurmaston & North Leicester he competes with five other practices (3 of which are corporates BUT, and here is the beautiful thing, … those competitive practices don’t even appear on the first page in Google’s SERPs for Greg’s geo-relevant keywords.

Greg has seen a 25% uplift in new client registrations since he employed an effective SEO and Local Link strategy as part of his overall marketing plan.

What should a local vet do?

This is the part most SEO agencies keep to themselves but, if you’ve got time and a little experience, understanding what you need to do isn’t so hard. So, here’s the eight-point bulletproof methodology we employ for driving those local backlinks – our Local Link to-do list if you will…

  1. We pull our client’s existing backlinks from our SEO tool
  2. We pull the links of all local competitors
  3. We measure their effectiveness
  4. We analyse the opportunities
  5. We copy competitor links
  6. We prioritise and target new opportunities
  7. We measure the effect of our efforts
  8. We repeat the exercise regularly

Appointing a single member of your team to carry out these tasks will build experience through continuity and accountability for the time taken versus the results gained.

How should a local vet do it?

There are a number of approaches to making our to-do list work for you. Here are our thoughts on the three key to-dos from our eight-point methodology.

  • Picking the right SEO tool, is only limited by your experience of the tools available and the budget you have to spend on them. As Connected Vet & our sister company build local backlinks for so many businesses (around 2,500 at the last count) we can typically deploy an entire campaign for a local vet for a bit more than the cost of your single subscription to a decent SEO tool.
  • Analysing the opportunities, is highly subjective and in our case the result of over 10 years experience of building local backlinks for SMEs like vets, pubs & schools. There are two ways to get effective analysis of the opportunities; 1. Start building local backlinks yourself and learn over time from trial and error, 2. Buy that experience in from a dedicated SEO team, ideally with experience in the veterinary sector.
  • Repeat regularly, which for big businesses means you’re repeating the process weekly or at least monthly but for veterinary practices with 1-5 locations is probably best done quarterly.

Our local backlink summary

A typical single location practice with Connected Vet is spending in the region of £250 a quarter on local SEO – which includes Local Links. As we said at the top of this article you’re only really looking at gaining 30-50 links to have an effect and 50-100 backlinks to utterly dominate local SERPs, for your chosen keywords.

If you’re going to do it yourself we’re happy to come in and train your team (well trained admin staff can be really good at this stuff) of you can just grab our lists and crack on.

Our analysis shows that the average cost of gaining a new client via this kind of SEO is £13 - £21, so, if you think you’d like a few new clients why not take a positive step and click on one or more of the following options.

If you’d like more information on CVs local SEO services and a personal analysis of the opportunity for your practice, please drop us a line.

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