Keys to Success: Search Engine Marketing

alarminfamousInternet and Web Development

Nov 18, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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Keys to Success: Search Engine Marketing

Michael Warren
DVM CGP
– Managing Director DVMelite Web Development


It’s difficult to say whether the inventors of the Internet or the early Web pioneers saw it
coming, but since Google burst onto the scene in 1998 the World Wide Web was never
to be the same. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough for a website to be attractive, content rich,
and functional.now they also had to be “search engine friendly,” which for all intents and
purposes changed all of the rules of website design and management.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about increasing the amount of traffic (visitors)
to your website by obtaining the highest rank possible through organic (unpaid)
searches. Put simply, SEO is a series of steps any practice can take to increase the
liklihood that they will appear towards the top of someones search when they ‘google’
words such as “vet” & “your area/neighborhood”. Search engine results are a function
of very sophisticated algorithms that are inconstant and difficult to predict/know, so
while no one can ever guarantee (though many will try!) that you will arrive exactly first
in the search engine results there are tasks that you can perform that will very much
increase your chances of ranking well.

Note the emphasis on the word “organic’, intended to highlight the fact that these
searches are free versus paid; though they do not necessarily happen naturally and can
take some work to achieve, they are different than sponsored google ads that you pay
money for. It is because these searches are at some point free that an initial investment
in SEO for your website is at least as good as, and by most accounts much better, than
other advertising methods, especially for small businesses or veterinary practitioners.

Since more than 90% of Web users utilize Google or a similar search engine to get what
they want from the Internet, websites that are not friendly to search engines are likely to
sink deep into the abyss of search results, never to be found (and consequently, so
does your business / practice sink into obscurity). That said, proper SEO can have an
immediate impact on your bottom line and can keep you in front of your clients very
nicely. What’s more, the results are highly measurable and the commitment to doing it
well can be very profitable. Consider the following:


SEO makes and keeps your practice visible to your community.


SEO drives traffic to your website.


SEO can make your practice #1, literally, in the search engines.


Once set, SEO will continue to benefit you in perpetuity (may require some minor
tweaking).


SEO will ensure the right information about your practice is always visible.


SEO maximizes your investment in your website and your marketing.







The SEO Basics Everyone Should Know


Much of SEO involves coding, page construction, and certain design elements that are
beyond the capacity of the average, weekend web builder. Its
implementation and execution can be somewhat technical and fairly complex
considering
the multitude of factors involved, and is made even more challenging when Google
decides to
change their algorithm which sends everyone scrambling to rethink their SEO
strategies.

Nevertheless, it is still important for any website owner to understand the concept of
SEO and some of the more common techniques that are optimally applied. The basic
premise is simple - SEO aims to keep current and relevant your online presence, so you
have to do the same with your website. So while small businesses, including veterinary
practices, may want a professional (internet marketer, online consultant, veterinary web
developer) to help you kickoff your SEO strategy, or to help you devise a campaign of
some sort to ensure you are on the right path from the outset, much of the fundamentals
of SEO can be maintained by practice staff on an ongoing basis.

Keywords
As the search engines consume your content, they reduce everything into keywords
and key phrases- in essence these are the factors that control when and where your
website will appear in the search results. The primary considerations for selecting
keywords for your content are: 1) Its relevance to your practice; 2) Its popularity as a
search term; and 3) how much it is used by competing websites.

Obviously you want to use keywords in your content that are of high relevance to your
practice. After all, they are what tie your website to your web audience. But it is
important to select words that are often used by your target audience when they are
searching for pet health care solutions. It would be a worthwhile exercise to spend a few
hours brainstorming over relevant and popular keywords (words and phrases you think
your target clientele would use to search for a vet in your area).

You will also want to narrow your list on the basis of how competitive it is. In other
words, if a lot of competing websites use the same keywords, it will be more difficult for
your site to get ranked for their use, and this is where the importance of location
attributes is so important. While “Dog Allergy Season” returns 1,200,000 relevant pages,
“Dog Allergy Season YOUR CITY” may only be 14,000 pages. The reduced competition
means it will be much easier for your website to achieve a first page Google listing.



Relevant Content
The content on your site is probably the one of the most important element for effective
SEO. After all, the whole purpose of the search engines is to find the most relevant
content for the search request. The more quality content your site has the better and
more frequent the content updates are, the better.


Traffic Generation for Practitioners

You can think of website traffic generation in the same terms as you would in driving
actual traffic to your practice location. It’s no different from putting up a bunch of signs
and billboards that lead from the freeway exit to your front door. Except the information
highway is packed with people searching for shortcuts to their information needs, and if
you want your online property to be found, it must be located where the traffic will find
you.
Above I touched on several basic elements which are necessary for Search Engine
Optimization. However, even a fully optimized website will begin to sag with the search
engines unless there are some additional ways for them to find and rank it. Essentially,
your website needs constant energy in the form of other websites linking to your site in
order for the search engines to continue ranking your website effectively.

Get Quality Inbound Links
An important method to boost and then maintain your website rankings is by attracting
inbound links. Inbound links are considered by the search engines to be one of the most
influential factors in search engine results and high rankings. This is particularly true
when these links come from trusted and established websites.

The way to get quality inbound links is by creating compelling content through articles or
a blog that gets referenced by other websites or blogs. It’s not at all unusual for
professionals to link to one another’s sites. You can encourage inbound links by linking
to the sites you want to attract. Another way is to simply ask for a link with a website
that complements your practice, such as a supplier or a related business in a related
field. And don’t forget friends and family as many may have a website who would be
happy to add a link for your practice.

Social Media Links
The primary purpose of a social media strategy is to expand your network and increase
your visibility within your community. When you are actively engaged with your social
networks, there will be many opportunities to promote your website which usually leads
to sharing and cross promotion. When this happens, your social media site will
generate inbound links. Each time you post an update that references a new blog post
or article on your website, it creates a link to your website. And, search engines hold
the authority of social media sites in the highest regard. Further strategies on social
media linking will be covered in the Social Media 101 lecture.



Start Blogging
Blogging must be emphasized for its importance in building your presence as an
authority and a leader. Equally important is its function as a content generator for your
website, which will keep the search engines coming back. When they do, they will crawl
through all of the internal links it will create between your blog and the rest of your
website, which also improves your search rank.



Become a Guest Blogger or Article Contributor
The more you can spread your authority, the more opportunity you will have to promote
your website URL and create authoritative inbound links. Website and e-newsletter
editors are always looking for fresh, informative content, so be generous with yours and
get your articles published on other sites. Your articles should include an author’s
profile that includes your website’s URL. Your article has the potential to go “viral” if
additional website editors decide to publish it as well. This could generate a lot of back
links to your main website.


*Please contact Michael DVM (Managing Director DVMelite Veterinary Web
Development for further information:
mwarren@dvmelite.com