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URMC / Web Services / Editing Web Content / Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide / SEO Part 4: Content Promotion and Link-Building


SEO Part 4: Content Promotion and Link-Building

Ranking algorithms attempt to answer two broad questions while evaluating a page: (1) what is the page about, and (2) how important is the page. Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide covered how best to structure pages to address Question 1, using keyword-focused content, page titles, etc. But page importance, or authority, is based less on the structure and content of a page and more on external factors. “External” in this context means off-page and, for the most part, offsite.

We will consider these off-page factors:

  • Onsite links — links from other URMC pages to our page
  • Offsite links — link from pages on other Web sites (including
  • Offsite mentions — pages that mention URMC but don’t link to it

Onsite links are the easiest to develop because they can be among pages that we control, or from pages controlled by others within the Medical Center. Offsite links and mentions are more difficult to acquire because they typically require some sort of relationship with third parties, or promotion of content to generate visibility.

Onsite Links

The first place to look for internal links opportunities is among the pages in your department or area that you control. In general, the more links pointing to a page, the greater importance the page will be given, although it is not recommended to implement many redundant links on the same page. Also, body links are given more weight than navigation links. Figure 1 shows an example of interlinking pages in the same content area.

example of 3 pages interlinked

Figure 1: Internal Links Example

Beyond the content areas that you control, there are likely other link opportunities within the URMC pages. For clinical sites, related research and education pages are possible link sources (and vice versa). Also, any URMC news pages that mention your department should be linked back to the appropriate page(s) in your content area.

The link text is also an important element to consider. For example, consider these two links to a page as they might appear:

  1. To learn more about arrhythmia treatments and symptoms, click here.
  2. Learn more about the symptoms of and treatment for arrhythmia.

The link text in Version 1 is “click here,” which is not effective nor is it friendly to screen reader software for visually impaired users. The link text should describe to the user, and the search engine, what the destination page is about. Search engines will associate the words in the link text with the destination page. Version 2 is a better implementation. It uses meaningful keywords for the linked-to page, and the link text accurately describes the content in the destination page.

Traditional Offsite Link-Building

The traditional method of link-building involves research to develop a target list of Web sites, and a communication process (emails, calls, follow-ups) to persuade the content owners on the target sites to place the links. It’s a time-consuming and low return-on-investment process.

We recommend a modified version of this strategy, where links are requested by leveraging your existing relationships. If you are working with other universities or organizations, it may be very pertinent to request links from their sites.

Example sources:

  • Lectures, conferences, etc.
  • National organizations
  • Editorial Boards and similar positions
  • Sponsorships, partnerships
  • Professional and certification organizations
  • Job, residency, fellowship etc. listing sites

Example 1: Lecture at another university:

link from University of Tennessee site for a guest lecture

Example 2: National association site:

link from Association for Science in Autism Treatment site

Example 3: National listing site:

link from NIH site

Content Promotion

Link-building via content promotion is a complement to the traditional method. The general concept is to use channels such as PR, social media, and email marketing to make specific target audiences aware of content that you have published. Ideally, this influences some of those reached to link back to your content from their Web site or social media spaces. The more engaging and unique that your content is, the more likely that it will be linked to.

Example 1: Public Relations promoted content:

link from Medical Press news site

Example 2: Link published by a site that curates sleep-related content:

link from content curation site

Example 3: Social Media post:

Wilmot Cancer Institute Facebook post

This method of link-building requires planning and effort, but remember that any link or mention that helps “build your brand” on the Internet will contribute positively to your search rankings.