In November of 2018, I spoke at EyeInnovate, an eyecare-focused marketing conference that was hosted in LA. My talk was on how SEO can benefit your business, and steps your business could take to improve your SEO.
This article feels like a continuation of that talk because the concepts I discussed at EyeInnovate were put into practice for one of our clients, and the results from those efforts have been nothing short of incredible.
Let’s take a look at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, and more specifically, how applying SEO fundamentals has transformed the online presence and visibility of this particular eye care practice.
First, Let’s Discuss the Philosophy of SEO
To most of us, SEO is a mysterious black box that accepts dollar bills in one end and spits out new customers at the other. What the box does and how it does it, however, is an enigma. Right?
Well, no. In fact, SEO is a simple process that, to do well, only requires three things:
- An understanding of what your customers want when they search for eye care related topics
- The ability to create great content and implement website changes (and tell people about it!)
Meeting those three requirements empowers you to understand your customer, create an experience that reflects what they’re looking for, and grants you the time needed to test and validate your efforts.
SEO is about answering the questions that searchers have. Be the best at this, and Google will reward you.
The SEO Fundamentals
My clients have seen more success sticking to a “basic is best” approach to SEO than via any other type of SEO strategy. If you’re wondering why that is, you simply have to consider what Google’s goals with search are: to provide the best possible answer and experience to its users in the shortest possible amount of time.
If you can help Google accomplish that objective, Google will reward you by ranking you prominently and bringing more people to your virtual doorstep. So, what does that look like?
- Understand user intent – AKA, what someone is looking for when they perform a search. User intent is the key to effective SEO in 2019 (and beyond).
- Have a technically-sound website – In 2019, it’s never been easier to have a website built to modern web best-practices. This means a website secured via SSL, awesome on mobile, and made using modern technology. If you’re unsure of what these best-practices are, check out this article I wrote back in October.
- Speak to your customer, not to your mirror – Many businesses build websites that talk about themselves as opposed to what their customers want to find. This is backward: create an experience that benefits your customers the most.
- Answer their questions
- Empathize with their concerns
- Help with their problems
A Few Important Things to Consider
I know I just listed off how easy it is to build a technically sound website, but there are a few components of your website that are very important… but commonly overlooked.
- The about us section – Across the 90 or so websites I manage, the about us page is consistently in the top-10 most viewed pages. Very rarely do people land on these pages from paid advertising or from Google, meaning that people are landing on the website and then choosing to navigate to the about us page. This is an opportunity to build a relationship with your potential customer- don’t waste it.
- Blogs matter… a lot – Every SEO strategy I deploy has a blog component. I often get asked, “what is the point of blogging”? Very simple: it’s your chance to inform and educate your prospective customer when they are looking to be educated.
- If you don’t give your customer what they want, someone else will – Don’t be afraid to provide genuinely valuable and helpful information. Don’t hide this great information behind a paywall or action requirement (such as “book an appointment to learn more”). Give it away. If you don’t, someone else will… and who do you think will get the lead in that scenario?
When Going “Back to Basics” Adds Traffic (& Revenue) to Your Bottom Line
With all that said, let’s get back to Shady Grove. Prior to engaging us they already had good SEO (great, even). In fact, they were already ranking on the front page of Google for over 200 keywords.
Shady enjoyed these rankings because of their expansive blog, which had hundreds of posts covering an incredible breadth of topics.
We knew that the key to growing their SEO wasn’t on reinventing the wheel, but instead making said wheel lighter and faster. As we built their new website, we focused on making sure the SEO fundamentals were 100% rock solid.
Their new website launched October 3, 2018, and by the end of the month, they had added 19 new front-page rankings to their list. Notably, they added 13 new top-3 rankings (where more than 60% of clicks on Google are generated).
As of today, they enjoy 335 front-page rankings and an incredible 104 top-3 rankings.
These Achievements Came From a Simple, Boring, & Basic Strategy
When rebuilding Shady Grove’s website, we focused on:
- Simplifying the user experience in order to:
- Make it easier for users to accomplish their objective (page dependant)
- Help users quickly find the page or post they wanted to see
- Make taking the next step a simple and easy process
- Creating an awesome mobile experience that prioritized action and accessibility over flash and “sizzle”
- Building a website that loaded lightning fast on desktop computers and mobile devices
That’s it. We didn’t want to build the most beautiful, snazzy, or cutting-edge website. We just wanted a website that ensured that Shady Grove was given the best opportunity to share its content and engage its readers.
Great Content is a Requirement
Shady Grove has a blog filled with content that is detailed, helpful, and rich. Importantly, this content is not a thinly-veiled sales pitch but instead an educational and valuable resource.
In the absence of this content, they would not rank or continue to rank as well as they do.
Content is not just words, by the way. Think of content for website as the message, not the medium. Great content comes in the form of blog posts, infographics, images, videos, and so on. Employ whichever medium that delivers the message the best.
Things You Can Action to Boost Your SEO
Our process for Shady Grove is one that you can replicate for your own website. Follow the steps outlined below and you’ll be well on your way to empowering your own SEO efforts.
Ensure Your Website Follows Technical Best-Practices
- Have a page for each service you offer.
- Be SSL encrypted.
- Have a sitemap.xml file.
- Claim Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
- Pages/posts have unique meta titles and descriptions.
- Page/post titles are descriptive.
- Pages/posts are about a single topic.
- Good: “Dry Eye Assessment in Kansas City”
- Bad: “What’s New in Our Office and Why UV Light is Harmful to Your Eyes”
- Good: “Understanding How UV Light Affects Your Eyes”
- Bad: “Adult Eye Exams, LASIK Consultation, & Dry Eye Therapy”
Focus on Website Navigability
- More important than how a website looks is how easy it is to use.
- Ensure people can get to any piece of content on your site in 3 clicks or less from the homepage.
- Link over to related pages/posts where appropriate (but don’t overdo it).
Make Your Mobile Experience Exceptional
- Ensure buttons and links are easy to tap.
- Do not use sliders/carousels. Ever.
- Do not have any pop-ups or annoying modal boxes that impair usability.
- Ensure all content fits the screen and is not compressed/expanded.
- Aim for a desktop load time of 5.5 seconds or less.
- Aim for a mobile load time of 4.5 seconds or less.
- Page speed is incredibly important, but particularly so for mobile.
Engage & Educate
- Add insightful and comprehensive posts to your blog.
- Quality over quantity: if you can only put out one awesome post per month, that is much better than four mediocre posts per month.
- Leverage your expertise and educate.
SEO Today is About Users, & It Will Be Tomorrow, Too
I want to wrap this (lengthy) post up by emphasizing the importance of user intent. I touched on it earlier in this article, but its significance to SEO shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you can successfully provide users what they want to find when searching, you will be the website that benefits from that value exchange. Google will recognize your efforts and reward you, more people will find you, and more patients will choose your practice.
Ignore SEO firms or professionals that push a complex agenda or mask their efforts. The above outline clearly displays how SEO should be tangible, visible, and real. If anyone suggests otherwise, you’re unlikely to be dealing with an SEO professional but instead a GUESSEO professional. There’s no room for GUESSEO in 2019.
Cameron Martel is an SEO Expert working for Marketing4ECPs, a digital marketing company focused on eye care. You can learn more about Marketing4ECPs at www.marketing4ecps.com.