Healthcare professionals know how to use acronyms. They spout expressions like “upper GI” or whether or not the “Rx from the NP” was faxed yet without blinking an eye. But when they are used outside the office eyes begin to glaze over. The same is true in our industry: Digital Marketing. For us, the word SEO, ahem, “search engine optimization,” is something many people aren’t even aware of. Yet it is the single most powerful force when it comes to making your company visible to the public in our web-based world.
SEO basics are the key to having your website, blogs, and social media efforts land in front of the eyes of future clients, customers and patients. So, here are 10 tips to help you newbies understand what SEO is, and how you can use it to increase your leads and revenue. .
- Learn what it is. Of course, the first step to learning the SEO basics is to understand what SEO is in the first place. When a customer wants to find the best cardiologist in Bugtussle, Tennessee, she may type, “best cardiologist in Bugtussle” into her preferred search engine. Then, a series of mathematical algorithms gets to work, combing the gajillions of web pages out there until it locates pages with similar terms or phrases. It ranks these pages by how much authority they seem to have, based on how often the keyword/phrase appears in an organic way, and how often people use that page as a resource. Your goal is to create content with the key words and phrases your potential clients might use to find you, and then create frequent content around them. That’s SEO in a nutshell.
- Update your web design. Make sure your web design is attractive, easy to navigate, and encourages visitors to stay for a while. If you cringe a little when you look at your website, but are trying to stick to a budget, you’re not doing yourself any favors. If people bounce from your site at first glance, your budget is only going to get smaller. Providing a well designed website is the foundation of SEO basics.
- Create new content. Google is like the King of Web Crawling (the process of scouring pages to categorize words/phrases). They constantly change their algorithms to prevent cheaters from being successful. Have you ever done a search for something and had a page of garbledegook appear with repeats of the words you searched? That is called “keyword stuffing” and it was a practice early cheaters used to make their pages get to the top of the search engine rankings. Thankfully, that doesn’t work anymore. Now you have to create fresh content on a frequent basis for current algorithms to find you.
- Never stop brainstorming. Knowing the SEO basics puts you in a better position to brainstorm ideas for future blog post topics, landing pages, and enticing specials that will draw new clients’ attentions. While brainstorming keywords and phrases that are specific to your industry is important, you also want to capitalize on any other relevant happenings or events that people might want to learn more about. So also think about satellite keyword phrases people might be searching with.
- Diversify, diversify, diversify. Just as your best and safest stock portfolios are diversified amongst a wide range of products and services, your web content needs to be diversified as well. Using an aforementioned example, if you only created content that talked about how you’re the best or top cardiologist in Bugtussle, you would only appeal to a particular sector of keyword searchers. However, if you blog about “Top X Ways to Lower Cholesterol”, or “The Link Between Heart Disease and Diabetes,” etc, you will draw a much wider range of viewers, which provides greater potential for generating business. Most companies don’t have the time to create their own content so they hire a digital marketing agency to handle that for them.
- The Big Picture. Your entire collective body of work needs to come from a voice of authority. If you have one stunning blog for every eight mediocre blogs, your dismal leads will reflect that. Most people bounce around on a site before they decide to make contact. Make sure your content has a consistently strong, accurate, and knowledgeable voice. Once you’ve nailed the SEO basics, you’ll be able to guest blog on affiliate sites (only post blogs on sites you want to have your work associated with!) for greater exposure. This type of credibility is recognized by Google and will pay off in your rankings.
- Put viewers to work. There are multiple ways to help your site gain authority in your industry. One of the biggest is to have people clicking around, which helps your pages be seen. This tells search crawlers the pages are relevant. It’s even better if those who read your site feel compelled to share it with others or create links to it in their own bodies of work. If your web content is strong enough, the people who read it, click through it, click to it, and share it, will be using SEO basics in your favor.
- No cheating. Remember the keyword stuffing we mentioned above? It was never an ethical practice, but once Google was able to algorithm around it, it no longer worked. Pages with excessive keyword/phrase repetition are pushed down to the dregs of the ranks. A similar thing happened with inbound links; companies started posting random comments, or comments with spam links, to develop their web presence. Now algorithms account for this and punish the cheaters with low ranks. The moral of the story: don’t try to second guess Google or capitalize on a current SEO trend. Continue putting out diversified, relevant, interesting, quality content on a frequent basis. This has always been the cornerstone of achieving your glory spot, above the fold on the first page of search engine results.
- Get social media savvy. At first, SEO basics were all about your website and blog. Now, they encompass Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and the 15 new social media crazes that are being created as you read this. Make sure you know how to leverage SEO basics with social media accounts to exponentially increase visibility and to keep the buzz buzzing – another example of letting other people do the work for you as they share your amazing insight and wisdom with others.
- Stay Mobile. Never neglect the mobile platforms. Make sure everything you do is cross-compatible with, well, everything! Smartphones and tablets are rapidly becoming the primary source of internet access for busy people so you need to make sure your information is easily accessible to them. Speaking of busy people, you also want to ensure your site loads quickly, so a slow loading page isn’t the source of frustration for an impatient internet searcher.
It is a powerful feeling to implement SEO basics and watch your company’s ratings make their way into the Top 10, Top 5, and then the Top 3 positions of search engine results. These 10 tips will allow you to experience that rush. Ready? Set? Go!