The 3 SEO Fundamentals

Google is always changing the rules. We bring you three top tips for boosting your website’s positioning this year.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most powerful tools of modern-day marketing. It refers to boosting the positioning of your website in the eyes of search engines – for example, Google – using certain fundamentals and tweaks in website design and content.

The aim?
For your website to rank at the top of Google’s listings when people search using relevant key words.

Considering 77 percent of patients use an online search prior to booking an appointment (according to the Google study “The Digital Journey to Wellness”), this prime positioning online can go a long way in boosting patient traffic and increasing profits in your day-to-day practice.

The rules for SEO are dictated by search engine algorithms – the biggest ones being Google’s – that are ever changing and constantly evolving. This article looks into three SEO fundamentals for medical practices, and how you can ‘optimise your optimisation’.

BRAND MENTIONS AND QUALITY LINKS

External links have always been important in building authority online and boosting search engine positioning. But the importance has long shifted from the quantity of links to the quality of links leading from other websites to your own.

Successful link building can no longer be achieved using the cookie-cutter, mass-production approach. Instead, quality links or genuine social mentions are key to moving up the Google rankings.

Google penalises pages linked to in excessive numbers, particularly when those links are generated from a ‘link farm’ – or sites solely designed to build linking power. This means fewer external links from popular and credible sites are more favourable and will lead to improved search engine positioning.

How do you attract good-quality links?

Start the PR machine churning and produce quality medical-related content that’s easily shareable by various outlets – of high relevance and quality – across the web.

Take advantage of media opportunities from quality outlets, and make sure any editorials or advertorials published online are linked to your website.

In short, the popularity of your clinic – and the number of times it’s mentioned online (by other websites in the right circles, of course) – the higher Google will rank it.

Social mentions are also on the up in the eyes of Google. The search engine can see your brand name, as well as the names of staff members in your clinic, even without a link attached. If your name is mentioned, by other quality websites, this will act the same way a link would – by improving your website’s search engine rankings.

REPUTATION AND REVIEWS

The old journalism adage that ‘bad news sells’ has never been more true. Bad reviews spread like wildfire online and, not only do they turn new patients off making an appointment, they also bring your website down in the rankings of search engines.

When Googlebots crawl review sites such as Yelp and Google Plus, bad reviews act as individual nails in your SEO coffin, bringing your website further and further down the search results listing.

Clinic software programs can be used to help encourage patient reviews (hopefully positive ones!) by facilitating access to your site or a review site through email blasts and digital newsletters.

A follow-up email, in the days following a procedure, can direct patients to your review site of choice and encourage them to share their feedback. This will not only help your practice grow and improve in practical ways, but will also boost your credibility in the eye’s of potential patients.

PHONE SAVVY

Attitudes change quickly on the net, and sites that are difficult to navigate – particularly on mobile phones – can be a major turn-off for many consumers.

Research from Google found mobile-friendly sites are more likely to turn visitors into consumers. As well as this, visitors to sites that are not adapted for mobile phones are more likely to leave the page.

Make your site more mobile-friendly by re-hauling the design and content. Mobile-friendly sites are purpose build for small screens – they are not just shrunken versions of your regular website.

Keep the content simple and the design easy to navigate. Most importantly, use the capabilities of mobile phones – features such as click-to-call, maps and video links are perfect for mobile devices and will encourage patients to get in touch and book an appointment. AMP