The last article here reviewed the benefits of Google Analytics for optimizing your website. Well, search engine optimization – SEO – is the flip side of that coin. SEO matters more than you may know… More than 50% of all organic search traffic goes to the top 3 links on the search engine results page (SERP) – you want to be in there! At the very least, aim to appear on the first page of Google search results for several keywords relevant to your niche. Even if you run an offline business – a clinical practice – the Pew Research Center tells us that more than 80% of us are “ePatients.” That is, we go online first to answer our health questions. Before we call our doctor’s office; before we call family or friends; before we visit urgent care…we perform an online search. Google tells us that 94% of us consider those online results – your reputation – most important in choosing a hospital or doctor. A quarter of us also consider the reviews on doctor-ratings sites before scheduling a clinic appointment.
Get quality CONTENT…get SEO…get FOUND.
SEARCH ENGINE SUMMARY
Let me just make this easy and start with the summary:
Of course, the experience that you provide your patients matters. It is critical.
But consider this: you won’t be able to provide a patient experience if you can’t attract those patients in the first place.
Therefore, being found matters. Your online content matters. Your online brand matters. Your content brand.
7-Step Checklist for Success
- Get domain
- Get WordPress
- Get theme
- Get content
- Get SEO
- Get found
- Get patients
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Designing with SEO in mind; Common SEO Mistakes to avoid; Measuring SEO success; FREE & Paid SEO Tools
HOW SEARCH ENGINES WORK
- Search engines (such as Google and Bing) perform two activities:
- “Crawling” and “Indexing” online content
- Providing search results
- Google is the largest search engine by far, accounting for about 80% of online search
- Your content will rank higher in search results when “optimized”
- Search algorithms focus on keywords, among other factors
CRAWLING / INDEXING
- Think of online content – the online web – as a spider’s web
- New or altered online content will be found by search engine “spiders”
- Search engines will gauge how relevant your content is for keywords, and will index content as relevant based on those rankings
- Including appropriate keywords and keyword phrases is very important for indexing
- The search engine delivers search results after the “spiders” have done their job of crawling and indexing
- Despite the ranking of thousands of pages of search results, most people rarely look beyond the first page of search results
- Assumption: the higher the ranking, the more relevant the page is for the terms you searched because pages are listed in order of relevance
- A keyword, or keyword phrase, is a word or phrase that describes the main topic of your page
- Think of them as clues for the search engines
- Search engines will index pages as they recognize keywords and phrases
- Ranking of your page will be higher or lower depending on how keywords are used on your page; whether you also use keyword synonyms; whether your keyword appears in the page URL and title; and many other factors
- Include your keyword early in your content, preferably in the first sentence (at least, first paragraph)
- Consider using longtail keywords – keyword phrase that delivers lower volume of traffic, but traffic that is highly relevant for your site. Example: “acupuncture treatment of rotator cuff injury tennis California” will deliver a small fraction of traffic that “rotator cuff injury” will, but if your specialty is acupuncture treatment of rotator cuff injuries in California, that traffic will build your practice!
- Search algorithms are updated frequently: most search engines go through hundreds of algorithm changes every year!
- Search engine vendors (i.e. Google, Bing) do not share their exact algorithm, so how rank is calculated is an area of hot speculation
- Some elements are certain:
- Keywords, phrases, synonyms, related content
- Length of content (# of words)
- Use of images
- Website design and coding
- Original, quality content
- Number and relevance (quality of) backlinks
- Backlinks help indicate popularity of your page
- Backlinks help indicate relevancy of your page
- Backlinks to your keywords are especially helpful
- Backlinks can be internal and external
- Pages with more, more relevant, and higher-quality (from high-ranked pages) will rank higher in search results
- Alt tags: add descriptions and alt tags to images as clues to search engines
- Meta tags: add this snippet of text that lets search engines know what your site is about
- Site map: helps search engines index every page
- Domain name(s): own variations of your domain name; point (redirect) all of them to your main domain
IMPORTANT SEO FACTORS
- Quality writing: write for humans first, search engines second
- Don’t forget the images and videos on your page: give them relevant names (like “retinitis-image.jpg” instead of “IMG1037.jpg”)
- Add “alt tags” to images on your page (easily done within WordPress)
- Include your keyword at the beginning of your “title tag”
- Your primary goal should be serving up your best content for your readers
- Your secondary goal should be attracting relevant traffic
- Consider creating “long-form” (1,000-5,000 words) content
- Create 10-12 “foundation” (all long-form) articles on the key topics for your website
- Use outbound links to quality sites; search engines prefer participation
- Use internal links to other articles and content on your site
- Get social: add social sharing buttons. The number of times your site is shared is in the rank algorithms
- Get fast: the faster your site loads the better
So stay tuned for more how-to details on getting your practice found.
Interested in learning how to “do SEO the right way”?? Sign up to be notified when our Healthcare Content Academy courses go live…our Master-Level Membership includes our exclusive SEO Course!
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From The Pew Research Center:
Why Doesn’t Your Website Rank, guest post from Dr. Randall Wong (guest post, this site).
9-Part SEO Series by Neil Patel, QuickSprout