What Doctors Should Know about SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a marketing discipline aimed at improving the rankings of web pages and entire websites (domains) on Google and other search engines. SEO activities can be broken down into these areas:
- Strategy. Every solid SEO program requires a strategic framework. Determining the scope and focus of is largely a function of budget and competitive landscape. Not every page of a website need be optimized for search; however, there is a critical mass of activity that is required to have an impact on rankings that must be understood.
- Keyword Research. For most medical practices, the number of keyword phrases (search terms) people might use when looking for a doctor are vast. Keyword research is the method by which target keywords are selected and de-selected, in order to make the SEO campaign as efficient as possible.
- Onsite Optimization. In order for Google to clearly read a web page and recognize its relevance, a website must be structured properly. Among the key elements of onsite optimization are ensuring that title tags and other meta information are unique and include target keywords; structuring site navigation to be intuitive and logically organized; maintaining a coherent system of internal links throughout the site; including relevant, meaningful content optimized with target keywords; and, adding fresh content to the site on a regular basis.
- Offsite Optimization. Google and other search engines are smart enough to look beyond the website itself when passing judgment on its relevance – and rankings. Among the offsite factors that search engines consider are the number and quality of inbound links coming into the site and the number of “tweets” and social mentions that link or refer to the site. An effective SEO campaign produces offsite content in websites, blogs, social media and other online sources in order to improve the offsite profile of the site.
- Analytics. A key advantage of SEO is its measurability. SEO specialists have a wealth of information at their fingertips, including referred traffic sources, keywords used, pages visited and inbound links created. Sifting through the mass of data to identify the important trends, and to then make enhancements to the campaign based on those trends, is what makes analytics a specialty within the field of search engine optimization.
Doctors must also be aware that SEO best practices change all the time. In order to maintain the quality of its search results, search engines continually adjust their algorithms. This is done both as a response to “black hat” SEO practitioners who attempt to “game” the system, and because technological advances allow search engines to better identify and interpret online data.
Because of all this, effective SEO programs must be reviewed and updated regularly. Using out of date techniques will have little or no impact on results, and in some cases could actually hurt rankings. For example, “keyword stuffing,” or the practice of loading up a Web page with scores of keywords, was effective at one time but no longer is. Also, social media mentions, which were not a ranking factor at all even a few short years ago, are becoming more and more important. As an active member of the SEO community, Officite stays current on industry best practices, enabling us to keep our clients ahead of the curve in this crucial area of marketing.