So much of what we do when we write for a medical blog focuses on the content, and that's the way it should be.
Quality, informative content is still the best way to establish your medical practice as a thought leader and legitimate resource in your area of expertise.
But there are other, more subtle ways, to improve your page ranking in search engines. While they are focused on finding the best content to achieve the best user experience, they are also influenced by other aspects of your website.
One of these key aspects is the presence of links: hyperlinks embedded inside your content which help search engine "crawlers" locate your site, identify its content, and rank it according to its ascertained value.
Links: The basics
When blogging for your medical practice, thoughts about incorporating links within your content should always be hovering in the back of your mind.
How might you link this key point to another key point you made recently in another post, for instance? Or,
Which outstanding website should this post link to in order to show reverence to another, more popular site which shares your values?
Some of your links, once you discover which to include, should point to other content you've covered in your blog or at your website (these are internal links), while others should point outside your site to others' which can help provide your readers with legitimate source information (these are external links).
According to Moz, "internal Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) the same domain as the domain that the link exists on (source)."
Any links you plant inside your blog or website which reference your content elsewhere in the site are considered internal.
Advantages to using internal links
- They improve the interior navigation of your website, especially between blog posts and static site content.
- They create an internal information "hierarchy" (if used properly).
- They are great for disseminating "link juice."
Disadvantages to using internal links
If you don't follow an intelligent hierarchy, they can confuse search engine spiders by leading them to "duplicate content."
If you make changes to your pages or blog posts, you will need to go back and adjust all your internal links so as not to send your readers to 404 error pages.
If you use too many of them, they can become distracting for the reader and, as Moz says here, can create spam wariness from Google. Aim for under 100 links as a best practice.
Moz defines external Links as "hyperlinks that point at (target) any domain other than the domain the link exists on (source)."
Essentially, externally links you place inside your content will take your reader out of your website.
Also, other websites may post links that drive their readers to your site.These are also external links.
Advantages to using external links
External links can improve your chance to rank in search engines based on your associations with the receiving sites.
External links perpetuate "link love," in which other websites happily link back to you because you have linked to them. Be warned: This needs to be an organic process, and not part of a scheme. Google is prepared to identify and note manipulated "link love"when ranking your pages, so it's important to avoid exploiting it.
- External links can help establish your authority through association. For instance, this link to a great Moz article on internal and external linking is well worth the read because it further extrapolates this basic discussion, and also a great link because it aligns us with one of the most respected SEO authorities out there.
Disadvantages to using external links
They send your readers out of your website or blog (they might not come back!).
If you have external links that point to "low authority" websites, search engines may not take them seriously and may even rank your content lower.
Too many external links to a single website looks suspicious to Google, so you must make sure you have a diversity of external links to be noticed for ranking considerations.
It can be hard to know when the external links you plant in your content have gone dead.
What is link juice?
This relates to the value passed from one page or site to another by way of hyperlinks.
When you link to other blogs or websites, or when they link to yours, search engines interpret the presence of these external link exchanges as a kind of digital "word of mouth" indicator, which increases your "link juice."
The quality and quantity of these external links—their link juice—factor in with the quality of your content and your keyword strategies to inform how search engines will ultimately rank your page. It makes it more likely that readers will not only find you, but they will find you quickly.
What is low-hanging fruit?
This is the equivalent valuation of link juice from within a website via its internal links.
If you are picking keywords which are exceptional for identifying your content by keyword ranking, you are practicing good optimization. They can be used inside the content of your blog or website, not only as words, but as the basis for organic internal linking.
Low-hanging fruit create a kind of inbound marketing booster for your site that doesn't rely on the "link love" of other content providers from outside URLs.
Links: Lost and found
One final note: Don't forget to practice regular link reclamation. Dead links (with URLs that lead to a 404 error page) can significantly lower your SEO ranking. Search engines are not in the business of sending users on wild goose chases, after all.
Run a "link check" using any of the popular tools you can find on the web; a good link checker will locate dead links that are both internal and external. Once identified, you need to replace these URLs with functional ones, or revise the content otherwise, lest your readers think your site has been abducted by aliens.
In summary, it's important to remember that links are critical to your medical marketing strategy; they help assign value to your pages in a way that content alone cannot.
But just as importantly, you should keep in mind the user experience when you embed links. Ultimately, they are your readers' trusted portals to information, their only method for navigating your content to find what they are looking for.
Use links in ways that are intuitive to your readers, and whatever else you do, make sure these links are relevant and live: you don't want readers to worry that your blog (or your medical practice) have been lost in space and that "the truth is still out there!"
Search Engine Land