More and more private practice owners are integrating comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and strategies into their respective facilities, and for good reason. In order to remain competitive and attract the best leads with the highest conversion rates, practices have to get their names in front of prospective patients—and that means establishing a place at the top of search engine rankings.
Many practice owners and managers view SEO as an additional or optional facet of practice marketing. This thinking is outdated and potentially damaging to your overall business model. As the metrics used by search engines to determine rankings are constantly evolving, businesses can no longer devote a minimal amount of time to monitoring and developing SEO strategies. Tactics like bombarding your readers with keyword-laden content may have been effective in the past, but today search engine giants like Google are looking at myriad factors as they determine which businesses will show up on search results.
Whether you are a beginner just trying your hand at SEO or a seasoned veteran familiar with all of the small nuances of digital marketing, one aspect remains constant—SEO is always changing. Following is an outline of the most effective, current strategies for improving SEO—including mobile advertising, online listings and data analysis—as well as the best methods for improving your rankings.
The Power of Webmaster Tools
One practice that digital agencies and SEO thought leaders employ to keep up with site performance is Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools is a free service from Google that provides useful information to help you run your website more effectively. To access Google Webmaster Tools, visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools and create a free account to add your website. The program scans your site for any crawl errors that Google bots may encounter when accessing your site, allowing you—or your SEO specialist—to see how your website is being viewed in the eyes of Google. By regularly checking your site through Webmaster Tools, you can fix potential problems before they adversely affect your ranking.
Another strategy is link building—SEO specialists raise the visibility of websites and web pages by natural linking to other industry leaders. To gain the most benefit, you want to create exterior links to other industry leaders from your own site and have other sites carry links back to yours. To link to other pages, simply insert a hyperlink into your website copy that will bring readers to related online articles or websites. Then, develop relationships with other people and associations within your industry and ask them to share links to your content on their sites as well. Guest posting or linking your site to influential bodies within your industry helps to disperse your content to a wider audience, which gives your practice name more credibility within the industry and in the eyes of search engines. Within the medical aesthetic industry specifically, guest posting to leading bodies such as JAMA Dermatology, the Day Spa Association or the Medical Spa Association can bring qualified readers to your posts and, ultimately, your website.
Optimizing for Mobile Users
In April 2015, Google released an update that ranks websites based on mobile-friendly interfaces. This change was prompted by consumers’ increased use of mobile devices to search online. According to www.business2community.com, nearly one billion consumers are now using smartphone technology to access the Internet. Ignore this large demographic and you’re missing a huge opportunity to capitalize on potential leads.
Under Google’s new ranking system, websites that are not optimized for mobile users may see a significant drop in web traffic and positioning on search engine results pages (SERPs). Experienced search engine optimizers stress that the terms “mobile accessible” and “mobile friendly” are not synonymous with one another. Just because a website can be accessed on a smartphone or tablet doesn’t mean that Google would define the site as mobile friendly.
Almost every website can be accessed via a search on a mobile device, but multiple factors including images and site speed can alter the appearance and usability. Mobile websites that load slowly or are cumbersome to navigate turn away potential patients, and these consumers are unlikely to seek out your page on a desktop after a poor mobile experience. Tablet- and mobile-friendly websites give you the benefit of appealing to users anytime they are connected to the Internet and also increase the likelihood that potential patients will actually interact with your site when they initially come across it.
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