Get started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You’ve heard of SEO, but perhaps you’re not quite sure what it is or where to start.
Onsite SEO techniques – which is what this post focuses on – helps to ensure that your future and present customers can easily find you online.
This post will also cover choosing keywords, why links are important, and some basic link building strategies.
How Search Engines Work
Before getting into how best to optimize your website for search engines, it may be beneficial to understand about how search engines work.
A search engine is essentially a large database of websites. When a user types a search term into Google it searches the database and returns results that match the user’s search term. Where that result shows up – whether page 1 or 50 – is based on the SEO strategy employed for the site.
Now, there’s two technical details to point out regarding this architecture:
- In order for websites to be included in search results, it must already be in the database.
- Search engines use programs called ‘bots’, ‘crawlers’, or ‘spiders’ to find new websites and add them to the database. These programs responsible for where your site shows up in SEO rankings
Thankfully, there are four things that you can do to ensure that your page is maximizing its SEO potential in regards to those programs:
- You need to know the words that people are using when looking for your service, and you need to have those keywords in the primary places on your website – headings, links, alt image text, etc. (more on this below)
- Your site layout should be hierarchical, logical, and organized so that it’s easier to crawl
- Search engines should be able to determine the context of your website based on your headings, content, links, etc. For example, rather than having a link that says “Click here!” you might say something like “Click here to learn more about the benefits of [the service you provide]”
- You should have a document called sitemap.xml. This file, when properly formatted, acts as an easily searchable and index-able “map” of your site
Keywords are the words that people use type into search engines to find what they’re looking for. We’ll cover keywords more in-depth in a forthcoming post on Paid Advertising, but this section should provide sufficient information for you to get started with maximizing your onsite SEO.
When deciding which keywords to focus on, there are two types of keywords:
- Short-tail keywords are those that are extremely popular and are used often. They’re often pretty vague. Getting a high SEO ranking with these keywords is often very difficult. For example, if you were looking for a doctor and were to type in “healthcare”, you would get results on everything from Healthcare Policy, to Health Insurance, to your local optometrist.
- Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are much more specific. An example of a Long-tail keyword could be “best optometrist in South Salt Lake”. They are used much less often, but that has three great benefits for your SEO strategy:
- There is less competition to rank
- They are much more relevant to what people are actually looking for
- They have much higher conversion rates.
Another thing to understand about keywords is that the best keyword may not be obvious to you. You have insight into the terminology and details of your expertise that a patient may not have. Your patient, wouldn’t Google “Preauricular Pit”, for example. Instead they would Google “What’s this hole in my daughter’s ear?”.
The trick to good SEO is to use keywords that capture the intent of your patients, rather than what may be technically correct.
Having an understanding of how Search Engines work, and defined different types of keywords, we can now begin applying that knowledge to increase your website’s SEO. This is surprisingly simple.
Once you’ve decided on your keywords, put them into the parts of your site that are most relevant for SEO maximization. These are:
- Page titles
- URL slugs
- Image alternate text
- And the body text
Links, in the context of SEO, are references back to your website from other websites. If your site has a lot of back links, it will be prioritized by search engines and receive higher ratings.
However, not all links are created equal. Having a back link from The New York Times, for example, is much more valuable for your SEO than one from your brother-in-law’s Game of Thrones fan page.
So how do you get high-quality links for your SEO strategy? Some sources of high-quality links include things like:
- Editorial sites. These are things like news sites, or high-quality, popular blogs, and aggregation sites. These sites are most valuable for your SEO strategy.
- Healthcare-Specific Sources. These are extremely valuable for SEO as well. Some examples might include official medical publications, specialty groups, etc.
- Directories – However, not all directories were created equal. Healthcare-specific, and especially local directories are valuable. However, there are low-quality directories that can actually hurt your SEO. If you see someone selling links, this is usually their method for doing so.
- Social media posts. These links are not as valuable as some other sources, they are relatively easy to get. If you have a social media campaign, then you can publish links to your website pretty consistently. That has the dual benefit of driving traffic to your site, and improving your SEO.
- Great content. You should be creating and distributing valuable content on a regular basis. This is a long-term, and highly rewarding strategy.
Getting Started with Link Building
But how do you get started? First things first, make sure that you’re listed in relevant directories. Claim your practice in places like Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow pages, etc. It’s also worth getting listed in the Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, and any other local business listing sites, as these will improve your SEO as well.
You can also reach out to other Healthcare-specific sites, or that serve the same target market that you do, and offer to provide guest posts or other content in exchange for a SEO-focused links back to your site. Content is a big part of this. The more high-quality content you have, the more aggressive your SEO strategy can be.
If there’s anything that you feel like maybe we didn’t go deep enough here, or even overlooked, please feel reach out to us. And, of course, if you feel like we can help you in your online marketing efforts, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us at www.epowet.com/contact or email@example.com.
To learn more about SEO – including what things to avoid, and how your online reputation plays a part – check out our short presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZg7BPDmU-g