SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be one of the best ways to drive traffic to your healthcare organization. Done right, it can be the gift that keeps on giving month after month. Done wrong and you can just end up pouring money down the SEO drain.
The biggest flaw I see in most people’s SEO efforts is that they don’t understand everything that goes into a comprehensive SEO strategy. In most cases organizations outsource their SEO efforts to an outside company and simply don’t know enough about SEO to appropriately vet these outside companies.
Plus, let me get on my soapbox for a minute. A a $250/month or $500/month SEO contract isn’t going to yield you the quality results you want. In my opinion, it is much better to pay a real SEO expert $2500/month for 3 months than to pay someone $500 per month for a year. It’s like asking someone to wax your rusted, scratched car rather than asking an expert to fix the rust and scratches. Turns out wax doesn’t make rust look any better and a light SEO effort rarely has much impact. </end soapbox>
So then what should you be looking for to make sure your SEO expert is providing a comprehensive SEO strategy?
Turns out that the answer to that could be a whole series of articles, but let’s start by understanding that SEO is multi-faceted. I personally like to divide SEO into 3 main areas: Onsite SEO, Content SEO, and Link Building. The challenge is that many SEO experts focus on just one or two of these areas. If you do two of the three, you’ll see some results. If you’re only doing one, you’re unlikely to see results. For your SEO to be most effective, it’s important to do all three. Let’s dive into each area.
1. Onsite Technical SEO
In this first area of SEO, you optimize your website to ensure that the search engine robots that crawl your site are ranking you in the search engine the best way possible. This would include things like optimizing your title tags, planning for appropriate H1 and H2 HTML tags, optimizing images for SEO, creating snippets and cards, applying schema properly to your site, and much more. Another important onsite SEO strategy relates to page load speed. Search engines have made the page load time an important factor in your search engine ranking. If your site loads slowing because of a poor host, bad DNS, large images, a poorly coded page, then your search engine ranking will likely suffer.
Onsite technical SEO has become an extremely important part of SEO because it optimizes the way your website is coded, the way your website is hosted, and the way search engine crawlers see your site. In many cases, your regular visitors won’t see anything different but it will make a significant impact in how you get ranked.
2. Content SEO
It turns out that search engines love to reward high quality content that is posted at regular intervals. There many nuances and debates about content SEO including:
- How long your content should be
- How many links should be included in your content
- How much you should “stuff” certain keywords into the content
While many of these items change and evolve just as quickly as search engines choose to reward or penalize various approaches to content, one thing will always remain. Well done content that is posted regularly and provides value to your visitors is the start of a great SEO content strategy.
Outside of that main idea, there are a lot of nuances. Let me share a simple example to illustrate the difference. Let’s say you create an article titled “Top Apps for Healthcare” and then write an article about the top telehealth apps for healthcare organizations. Turns out that is probably a bad SEO optimized title because very few people search for “Top Apps for Healthcare” and in addition, in Google it will produce 694 million results. (Hint: You won’t be making the first page). Now let’s say we tweak the title to be “Top Telehealth Apps for Solo Practices.” This might be a better SEO title for your organization since it is a much less competitive search (only 334k results) and anyone searching those keywords or something related is more targeted to what you offer.
With content, there are a hundred ways to slice it, but having a content SEO expert to help you optimize your content for search engines is definitely a unique skill to invest in.
3. Link Building
This aspect of SEO goes back to the very foundation of Google. In the beginning, the idea for Google was that if someone linked to a website and said EMR, then that site probably knew something about EMR. If a website had 1000 links with the word EMR, then it should be ranked higher since it’s more likely to have EMR content.
While search engines have certainly got more sophisticated than what’s described above, the value of the right link from the right site is the core of a Link Building SEO. As search engines have gotten more sophisticated, this has become more and more challenging since thanks to link spammers, not all links are created equal. In fact, the wrong link can penalize you as much as a good link can help.
For example, a link on a site about casinos to your healthcare organization is probably not going to help your SEO efforts. However, a link to a .gov or .edu site that specializes in EMR research on your EMR site would be extremely valuable. Link building SEO will help you navigate how to get the right links and avoid the wrong links. And let me assure you that there are a lot of wrong ways to build links to your site. Doing this the wrong way can blacklist you in search engines, which means you’ll then have to hire an SEO expert to get you off the blacklist. That’s never fun.
As you can see, SEO is complex and requires focuses on multiple fronts. It can be difficult for someone who’s only “kind of” helping you with SEO to really make a difference. A comprehensive SEO strategy requires a concerted effort to make a real difference.
Hopefully these tips have helped you to better understand some of the important aspects of SEO to focus on as you build out a successful strategy and why it’s important to find people with the right expertise to help your SEO efforts.