I answer one question, more than any other, from doctors around the globe. “Is SEO dead yet?” The simple answer—No. Why? Well, because Google—that’s why. Things in the digital space have changed drastically however, and what you did during your past 10 years, simply will not work today. The neverending uphill battle of getting your website ranked on a search engine is now more difficult and more complex than ever.
I have read article after article from 2014 until just this week that foreshadows the impending death of SEO (Search Engine Optimization for the unindoctrinated). Each and every article that I have come across fails on all but the most basic of principles. SEO simply cannot go away until there is a better and more efficient way to demonstrate to Google (or any other search engine) that you are relevant. There are so many new algorithmic nuances that factor in relevance and authority as to make SEO even more technical and more difficult than ever before. So in fact, my point is not that SEO is dead but quite the opposite—it is more “alive” than ever.
What has happened is simple—evolution. Just as medicine, banking, or manufacturing has changed drastically in the last 50 to 100 years, so has your digital marketing in the last five to 10 (an internet year is equal to somewhere between five to ten real world years). Your website’s SEO is no longer a simple checklist of tasks that must be done and maintained to be successful, it is a much deeper understanding of web technology and the target—your potential patient. Google understands your patient, and they are vetting you, on behalf of him or her. Are you really the vein expert in your area and what can you do to make yourself relevant?
Before you continue with the rest of this article, you must either a) Care what Google thinks about you; or b) Care that potential patients find you online.
Okay, you are in for the rest of this article, so let’s make it count. First things first—what is Google? This is the simplest of questions, but also the most complex. Google is quite simply an advertising publisher. The modern day newspaper if you will. But instead of publishing content of its own, it makes other people’s content available for you. It does this through paid advertising, or returning curated content to you. The quality of the content it returns to you when you search for something is what makes Google relevant, and thus everything it does must advance this singular goal.
Google knows they have this responsibility, and has for years taken steps to evolve, and truly understand content. This does not occur unless you can truly understand the end user. In your case, what does a potential vein patient want from you? Are you good at what you do? What do other people think of you? So how does a computer algorithm accomplish what you and I can do intuitively? The answer is that Google cannot accomplish this yet, but its level of sophistication has grown exponentially. No longer must you both optimize your website for Google, as well as make it user friendly. No longer are you trying to optimize for two distinct and separate audiences. You are now responsible for just doing one thing—optimizing yourself to the world—and Google is polling the world to see what they think.
When patients want to find a vein specialist in their area, there are a myriad of factors that not only interest them, but could ultimately sway them. Google, on the other hand, is an amalgamation of all your potential patients, and is looking at EVERY factor that they could be looking at. So all factors are in play, including your knowledge, your area of expertise, your level of authority compared to your competition, and to an extent, your popularity. Google is your next patient—just a smarter and more thorough version of them.
So, armed with this information… now what? The solution, although incredibly simple, of course is anything but. You must understand who your patient population is, (we call that “patient persona” in the biz) and what is important to them. When you start converting your user into a patient, Google will recognize this and send you more potential patients. Practically speaking, this means the following:
Build a website with your user in mind—not Google.
Although from a technical standpoint there are many things you can do to satisfy Google’s SEO algorithm, make sure you first satisfy your end user. Make your website mobile friendly. Make your site responsive. Make it easy for your user to navigate. Lay out content on the website that is easy to find and makes relevant sense. Stay consistent with your branding and your overall message. Most importantly, make it easy to contact you. These factors in mind will help Google go through the same process as your future patient.
Create meaningful and engaging content.
I cannot stress this point enough. Content is key to the success of your website and the long term SEO strategy. Google wants to see that you have content that is engaging, relevant and unique. So does your potential patient. This does not only mean long-form written content only. Videos, infographics, before-and-afters, case studies, and more, can aide you in telling a compelling story. Answer questions and provide content on demand where appropriate. Be the leader and share your years of knowledge and experience. The more you share and the better your story, the more likely your end user will respond, and thus, so will Google.
Be the leader—and ask for links.
The hardest part of any SEO campaign to accomplish is the link building process. Essentially, you are asking people to send other people your way, because you are good at what you do. This is a painstaking process that can take months (to years) to be truly successful. On top of all this, without good content, links are nearly impossible to come by. Without a decent website, how will anyone convert? The linking component of your SEO campaign is vital because it shows Google that you are great at what you do, and other people believe in you. It is their version of real world “context.” Any SEO campaign without this element is a waste of time and money.
Be proactive in social media and your reputation.
We all know the statistics about how important a positive rating is online. We also know the value in engaging in social media. Patients want to see activity, and they trust other people’s reviews. This is why Google gives it credibility, and why you must not only be reactive in this space, but truly proactive.
These points, encapsulated in one take away sentence, amount to this: if you are going to do something, do it well, and make it count.
Google has gotten to be very adept at understanding users. Truly using mathematical indicators to understand what users like and what they dislike. For you to understand what will make you successful online and in your SEO efforts, start by knowing your patient. Know what they want, and what they need. Then tell them your story, and tell it well—because Google is listening.