If you’ve spent any kind of time looking into digital marketing, you probably know something about SEO. Some people like to position SEO as a highly complicated science, while others treat it like some kind of mystical art. The truth is that it’s somewhere in between, and it’s something that you can do for yourself. The key is to understand SEO enough to understand what it is, why it’s important and how you can make improvements yourself.

What Is SEO & Why Should I Care?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. To put it simply, SEO is a series of small steps or actions anyone can take online to make their website easy to find. The point of SEO is to help your website rank higher, or closer to the top of a Google search when a user types in any relevant keywords.

Obviously, the more people who know about your business, the more people are likely to choose your practice. But it’s not just about reaching people; it’s about reaching the right people. Search engine optimization is designed to bring web users who are either looking for products and services just like yours or are looking for answers that you can provide.

Think SEEO

I like to say that SEO isn’t really the best description of SEO; it’s more like SEEO:

Subject
Engage
Empathize
Opportunity

SEEO is a great way to describe the sequence that strong SEO follows. So let’s unpack that a little bit.

Subject

  • Create content that addresses a subject you or your company is an expert in.

Engage

  • Make this content engaging by employing writing for the web best practices and incorporating helpful media.

Empathize

  • Empathize with the needs and pain points of your readers; give them a reason to believe that you can help (and that you care).

Opportunity

  • Provide your reader with an opportunity to take a meaningful next step. This could mean prompting them to call you, directing them to a helpful video, or linking them to another page/post that provides additional value.

The SEO Fundamentals

In their never-ending quest to give you the best experience and most relevant search results, the powers that be at Google regularly update their search algorithm. Every algorithmic change alters the rules for SEO. To put it simply, SEO best practices change every few months or so.

As of right now, the fundamentals of SEO boil down to user intent, user experience, and integrity.

User Intent

Google really wants to answer users’ questions with the precise information that the user is asking for, which is why they’ve placed a huge value on user intent. When Google looks at your site, it takes note of what topics each page covers and how well it covers them. It’ll consider things like the types of content you have, including videos, text, and infographics.

Most of all, it evaluates how well each page addresses user intent. Does this page have everything the user is looking for? If so, it’ll rank significantly higher.

User Experience

No matter how good the information is, a user won’t bother to scroll through it if the website isn’t easy to use and navigate. That’s why Google puts a huge emphasis on user experience. Elements like load time, content organization, page layout, mobile responsiveness, and simple navigation can all impact the way your user interacts with your website, which in turn, impacts your rankings.

Integrity

One of the biggest misconceptions about SEO is that it’s all about tricking Google into ranking a site on the front page, whether it’s relevant or not. On the contrary, SEO is all about helping your site rank highly by making it as effective, informative, and user-focused as possible. 

The days of talking at your user are over. A modern website shouldn’t be about you or your practice; it should be about giving potential patients all of the information and resources they need to make an informed decision. Think of your website as a means of starting a conversation. A good conversation doesn’t start with a sales pitch, it starts by getting to know the other person and trying to understand their needs.

How Has SEO Changed Lately?

On August 1, 2018, Google implemented what has come to be known as the “Medic Update.” This update wasn’t necessarily designed to target medical professionals, but it has certainly made an impact.

Sources Matter

The medic update was designed to come after “your money, your life” content, which is any information in copy, video, or infographic form that could have an impact on the user’s health or life. Going forward, any of this kind of content needs to come with some kind of expertise or credence.

One of the ways you can do this is to cite sources. For example;

“Though sunglasses might improve your personal style, they also provide several health benefits such as helping you to prevent eye disease.”

By linking to an academic source that confirms your claims, you’re giving yourself credibility and proving that the information you’ve provided is trustworthy. Another important way to establish expertise is by crediting blog entries to a qualified author. So you can either write your own content, or have content ghostwritten for you; either way, it’s important to attach your name, title, and all your credentials to assert your knowledge.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is an outdated technique that relies on using as many relevant keywords as possible in hopes of creating well-ranking content. The resulting copy usually reads something like this:

“ABC Optometry in San Jose, California is your source for general optometry services in San Jose. All of our San Jose Optometrists are experienced in Optometry and work in San Jose.”

This content was written for Google web crawlers (bots) rather than human eyes. Any person who reads this will get frustrated and suspicious, and your business will have lost credibility and more importantly, a new patient.

What Can I Do to Improve My SEO?

The list of things you can do to improve your SEO is long, but don’t get discouraged! Most of these tasks are relatively small jobs, and they can make a huge difference. You can either implement these changes yourself or hire an agency to do it for you. Here are our top 5.

  1. Build a good, professional-looking website that’s mobile responsive & loads quickly.
  2. Cite every claim in your website’s content.
  3. Claim & use your social media accounts to create valuable content.
  4. Curate questions from patients and answer them via video. You can share that video on your social media pages.
  5. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Tracking your professional and academic accolades help distinguish you as an industry expert.

This article was written by Kevin Wilhelm, President of Marketing4ECPs. Marketing4ECPs is a leading marketing agency for eye care professionals such as Optometrists, Opticians, and Ophthalmologists across North America. They help their members increase patient intake, patient retention, and average patient value. Connect with Kevin through LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/connect-with-kevin/.