Every business owner has heard the buzzword “marketing.” Whether people are telling you how to do it or telling you that you’re doing it wrong, everyone seems to have a say. It’s easy to get lost in all the steps you can take to help your practice stand out, especially with online marketing. Nevertheless, as more and more patients use online resources to locate, assess, and choose eye health providers, it is essential for large or small practices to establish a firm online presence.
In this series, we’ll break down 7 areas you or your marketing team should focus on to reach more patients online. We begin the series with an overview of search engine optimization (SEO).
What is SEO and How it Works
SEO can be an overwhelming topic, and the steps to improve your practice website’s organic ranking will likely require outside help. The following overview aims to educate and empower your marketing team as you work on attracting patients to your practice. Let’s get started!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is defined as “the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—commonly referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.” In the ever-growing digital landscape, being ranked well by a search engine can make the difference in your practice getting noticed.
There are 2 main types of SEO: on-page and off-page. Google takes these two areas into account when determining how high your site should appear in search results.
What’s the Difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is what you do on your own website that can affect your ranking on search engines. Generally, valued on-page SEO elements include:
- Content featured on your website
- Site structure
- Mobile friendliness (is your site easy to use on mobile devices?)
- Page load time (the speed at which your site’s pages load for visitors)
Off-page SEO is anything on other web pages that affect ranking. When people refer to this type of SEO, they’re usually referring to inbound links. These are links that are on other people’s websites and lead back to yours. While there’s not much you can do in terms of off-page SEO, there are things you can check for to ensure your search engine rankings.
Make Sure You Offer Valuable Content
As mentioned in our previous post, content can be a way of establishing yourself as a resource for potential patients. When creating content, it’s important to always keep in mind who your audience will be, in your case, people in need of eye care. Using phrases that are common for you as a professional may go over a patient’s head and leave them feeling more confused and frustrated.
Here are a few tips for effective content creation:
- Written pieces should have at least 400 words.
- While your content shouldn’t be too long, it’s important that it isn’t “thin” with little to offer potential patients.
- Be sure the piece has a clear main topic.
- Addressing common questions and concerns about scheduling availability, accepted insurance plans, emerging science, available products, etc. are all helpful places to start.
- Keep your content engaging and interesting by breaking up long bodies of text with headers, images, and videos.
- Don’t copy existing work; keep topics up to date and relevant to your audience.
- Sharing other people’s work while giving them credit is acceptable but trying to pass their work off as your own is not.
- Use keyword research to learn what your audience is interested in and determine what future topics to cover on a consistent basis.
- Be careful about overusing (stuffing) keywords in your content. This can actually hurt your ranking. Allow the flow of the content to determine where the keywords should be.
Site Structure & Mobile-Friendly Design
How your website is developed is an important piece of the SEO puzzle. Make sure your IT department or developers are utilizing best practices when building new elements on your practice website. Google gives higher ranking authority to content that is tightly aligned with user queries. Creating unique page titles and accurate meta descriptions can help visitors identify and understand the topic of a page better before diving in, which can give those page search results ranking lift.
Google and other search engines also put a higher priority on sites that are mobile friendly, so be sure your website is optimized accordingly. Optimizing your site URL structure can also be a good way to boost your ranking. These should be short but descriptive and keyword-focused. Finally, page load time can impact ranking, so you can use these 26 tools to improve your site’s loading time.
Building Authority with Inbound Links
Another way of improving your website’s rank is via inbound links (links directing users to your site via outside sources). They tell search engines that you are an authority on a given subject, in your case eye health. The more links that point to your site, the more trustworthy you appear to search engines.
While the number of quality inbound links is important in site ranking, not all inbound links are created equal.
The “authority” of the site that is linking to yours is also important for determining a quality link. Google specifically looks at how old the site is, the number of inbound links, and the domain extension (.com, .org, .gov, etc.) to determine the authority.
While off-page links are out of your control, there are ways to help build your link credibility. Having quality content that people find valuable on your site is a great way to get people sharing your URL. Producing pieces like whitepapers, infographics, data visualizations, videos, and pictures are shareable ways to encourage linking to your site.
Completing these SEO tasks will not guarantee your success in the digital world, but they can help establish your website as an important tool that search engines shouldn’t ignore. Effective SEO is a team effort and should involve routine collaboration between your developers and marketing team in order to succeed. Please stay tuned for our next post, which will cover the ins and outs of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.
Wikipedia contributors. “Search engine optimization.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Jun. 2018. Web. 11 Jun. 2018.