When looking for health information, 88% of consumers start with search engines. And 77% of patients stated they use search engines prior to booking an appointment. When it comes to getting new patients, visibility on popular search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo is a must. And while we’d love to say that getting organic visibility is easy, it’s not.Search engine optimization (SEO) takes hard work, dedication, time and skill.
There are two types of search engine optimization strategies – white hat (ethical) and black hat (unethical). Between the two is a fine line and if you are not careful you could end up on the wrong side of that line resulting you doing more harm to your website than good.
Improve your search engine optimization strategy by adopting these 8 ethical (white hat) techniques.
MAKE YOUR SITE MOBILE FRIENDLY
If you currently do not have a mobile-friendly version of your site you are way behind the times. Best practice today for website design is to have a responsive design website that automatically adjusts your website to display optimally across any size screen. Mobile sites not only provide users with a better experience, they are also essential to your search engine optimization. Google recently updated their algorithm to punish non-mobile-friendly websites on mobile devices which is one of the biggest reasons you need to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Additionally, 2015 marked the first year that mobile search surpassed that of desktop search. If you are not visible on mobile devices you are potentially missing out on a lot of new patients and revenue for your practice. Deliver a great experience across any device by investing in a responsive design website.
CREATE UNIQUE AND ENGAGING CONTENT
While search engines do prefer websites with updated content, you have to keep in mind that at the end of the day you’re not only creating content for search engines. You are also creating it for humans – potential patients. Forget about stuffing your content with keywords and focus on creating unique, relevant, and engaging content that potential patients will actually be interested in reading and sharing. Google’s latest algorithms focus less on keywords and more about semantic search which seeks to understand searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms. If you want to improve your search engine optimization strategy then create content that will peak human interest.
FOCUS ON LONG TAIL KEYWORDS
The days of keyword stuffing are long gone but you still want to incorporate keywords naturally into your content as well as your meta tags. Instead of focusing on 1-2 keywords, focus on long tail keywords which are phrases over 3 words in length and that relate specifically to your business. Incorporating these phrases naturally into your content signals to search engines that those phrases are relevant to your website. As a result, you’ll rank higher on search engine result pages.
CREATE VIDEO CONTENT
Text content is good. Visually based content is even better. Videos are great for increasing customer engagement, generating conversions and boosting search rankings. If you’ve noticed more YouTube video results showing in Google, there’s a reason. Google owns YouTube. Videos really stand out on search results and generate more click-throughs. Even better – most local dental and medical practices are not capitalizing on this content format yet which presents you with an opportunity to really stand out from your competition. Make sure to create captivating title and description for your video that features your keywords to boost your ability to rank organically.
IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE SPEED
How fast does your website take to load on desktop? How about on mobile devices? Did you know that site speed is one of the many factors that search engines look at when it comes to search engine results? If it takes more than 2-3 seconds for your website to load, users are likely to hit their back button and go elsewhere for the information they need. Cleaning up your website code and keeping image file sizes small will help speed up your site and lead to better search engine rankings.
OPTIMIZE YOUR IMAGES
Images don’t just add visual appeal to your website and blog, they also contribute to your search engine optimization. Make sure to give your images relevant titles and use keywords within the alt tags to help them rank in image searches.
BUILD NATURAL, RELEVANT BACKLINKS
Backlinks have always been an important factor when it comes to search engine optimization; however, the types of backlinks that boost your visibility today are different than the ones that lead to success a few years ago. Forget about just getting links back to your website or blog from any source online. This is one SEO element that has a clear defined right way and wrong way. Many websites have been penalized by Google for link building that they consider to be spammy. Don’t let your backlinks destroy your search engine optimization. Focus on high-quality websites that are relevant to your business and that provide added value to readers. When it comes to backlinks, it’s more about quality than quantity.
KEEP IT ETHICAL
Don’t try skipping to the head of the line by weaving black hat tactics into your search engine optimization strategy. Play by Google’s rules. Even if your wrongdoings aren’t identified immediately, they will come back to bite you in the future. While shortcuts may lead to an immediate boost in rankings, you risk being sent to the bottom of the results if you get caught. And if you’re not sure how far that will set you back, do a few quick searches for the top keywords you want to rank for and see how many results there are. For example, in the search below you will see that for “dermatologist Manhattan” there are 880,000 results. Do you really want to have to work your way back up from the bottom of that list?
The only way to increase your organic rankings and achieve long-term success is by adopting an ethical search engine optimization strategy.
About Alan Moore: Alan started his career in 1999 as an Marketing Consultant and is the owner of www.ExtraPatients.com. Over the years, he has migrated his focus of expertise to everything digital. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $3,600,000 in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call to schedule a Free Online Marketing Consultation for your practice.
To read more of the article that inspired this blog, please visit:http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/27721/eight-ways-to-improve-your-search-engine-rankings