Chances are you’ve heard the term SEO more than once if you’re actively doing marketing on your practice’s site. But, do you actually know what it means?
Because it’s not a tangible product, SEO tends to have a bit of a problem being fully understood. The questions “is it working?” and “why am I not ranking?” come up more often than not, and when the answers aren’t completely satisfying it can be really tough to continue making an investment. We’re here to explain that there’s certainly a method to all of the SEO madness, and provide you with a loose timeline of how things should go.
An Explanation of SEO in Healthcare
First things first, it’s probably best to fully understand what SEO is so that you have a better grasp of how it works.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is simply the act of gaining more patients by accurately optimizing your site to meet a search engine’s quality guidelines. In doing so, you’ll find your site ranking above your competitors for specific keyword searches on that search engine. Although SEO can happen quickly with the right people working on your site, it’s certainly a process and not a product. If you start SEO and then stop it, you can almost guarantee that you’ll lose placement on search engines to those competitors, ultimately resulting in less patients.
So, you want SEO…now what? Although your timeline will change based off of your marketer’s findings and assessments, here’s a decent idea of what to expect!
After choosing a person or company to do your SEO (we know of a great one!), you’ll ideally go through a setup process that should involve an initial kickoff conversation in which your new partner gathers all important information from you. This will include any known logins to offsite material (think Google, Healthgrades, etc.), a knowledge of your top procedures and services, your short and long term goals, and your direct competitors. This step is crucial to your overall campaign as it will become personalized to you and your practice. It is certainly possible to create a well-rounded SEO campaign without an initial call, but you don’t want what everyone else has!
After the call, your marketer should be able to take off and begin doing great work. The initial setup will consist of gaining access to or creating a Google Analytics account, ensuring your Google Search Console is pulling accurate information, assessing the overall health of your website, and beginning with robust content development. In addition, you’ll want to focus on making sure that your meta titles and descriptions are up to par in the eyes of Google, as this can make or break your overall ranking. At the core, your first month should be all about finding the problem, creating a plan, and beginning the initial stages of implementing that plan.
At this point in your campaign, you shouldn’t expect to see striking results. Although you may see some ranking fluctuation here and there, Google is still taking the time to index all of the new changes. Once that’s completed, you’ll begin to see yourself steadily make your way up the search engine results pages!
Month two is where you’ll begin to find a lot of that initial planning being put into action. At this point, you should have received a baseline report, and your initial set of recommendations for your upcoming campaign. Again, a lot of these changes will be dependent on the marketer’s opinion, the general assessment of your site, and Google’s algorithm shifts, but at the end of the day you should have a good sense of the recommendations for the next month or so.
The focus of this month is generally on your overall NAP (name, address, phone number), your listings presence, and reputation. Think of this like building a house; you’ve already put the foundation and structure down in month one, and now you’re ready to put up the doors, windows, etc. Because Google is now recognizing your changes from month one, you should be seeing your site bubbling up with those new changes. It’s important to make sure that all of the back links to your site are healthy, and you’re not causing a bad user experience with broken links. This will include your Google My Business profile along with any other platforms that you may be listed on. Some marketers will even have a dedicated listings management program they’ll put you in to make sure that these listings are being quickly and accurately updated. In addition to your NAP, you should now start to develop strong content throughout your site for your service and procedures pages, and your site maintains strong locality throughout the headers. Because your site is being newly recognized by Google, you have the ability to impress them by creating content that will be deemed relevant to your industry, and thus here comes the rankings!
At this point, you may see a little fluctuation in rankings, but by no means have you reached your full potential yet. One thing to keep in mind is that your location definitely plays a part here! In a less populated area, you may see that you’re already coming up on page 1 or 2. However, in densely populated areas like NYC or San Francisco, you usually have a little ways to go.
You’ve made it to 90 days! Think about SEO like a habit, but in the reverse manner. A habit is quick to develop, hard to break, while SEO is a bit slower to develop, but simple to break. It may sound scary, but that’s why it’s an ongoing process, or somewhat of an insurance policy. Month three, or 90 days, is basically the point at which marketers can stand back and admire their work in most cases. Again, this is in perspective of the location, but it’s a good average to go on.
The focus of month three is almost purely technical, and will really set you up for using analytics to control your upcoming recommendations. At this point, most will begin to look at structured data a bit closer, and use various tools to determine the impact of the prior 60 days’ changes. You should be able to see all relevant traffic sources, and how impressive certain listings are with regards to incoming traffic. Your listings should be almost all in place (unless you’re a large group), but you should look at duplicate and dummy listings to ensure you’ve got a strong, clean presence. In addition, you should be focusing on things like your reputation management here and determining how you are going to gain more traction via reviews. At the end of the day, they have a large impact on SEO, just as your social media presence will. The common bond of all three months, of course, is content, which will continue to be a main focus. However, your blogs should be making a big impact, and rising up the ranks for long tail keywords. Of course, there may be a few adjustments based on the performance of the updated copy, but overall it should all be well.
At this point, you should be starting to enjoy the fruits of your (or your marketer’s) labor! Although we can’t stress enough that it’s dependent on location, you still should see some healthy improvements on your rankings and general online health.
So, are you ready to take the leap? If so, give Practis a call today at (704) 887-5300, or submit a request to have one of our team members contact you. We look forward to helping you rise up the ranks!