Your knowledge, experience, and commitment to your practice and community are exceptional. But that does not mean you can ignore a few new laws of nature.
One: The Web is the way communications are done, now and for the foreseeable future.
Two: There are a bazillion people on the Web (both users and businesses) and your grand entry will not be greeted with the fanfare you deserve.
Three: To market your practice you must rely on the Web.
Four: It is hard to be found on the web.
If you really want to grow your business, even in a horrible economy, learning findability on the Web helps connect you with new clients.
The SEO Process
The term “SEO,” or search engine optimization, is a process that optimizes your site’s content to allow search engines to easily find you. It adds focused key words and phrases to your site so that when a user types in appropriate key words—there you are, at no cost to you. The goal of any smart marketer is to gain Page 1 visibility in a search tool such as Google. Page 3 may not be bad out of 5 million, but, according to MarketShare.com, 80 percent of all users click a search result on Page 1 and will never make it to Page 3 or 83 even though you may be the best practice for them.
Page 1 of a search engine result contains one to 10 paid ads and on the top or at the right hand side. The rest of page one is about 10 “organic” (non-paid) results and that is where you want to be.
There are many companies that will charge you $5,000 to $10,000 to “do SEO” for you. However, classic SEO is now so “last decade.” Save that money and much more with real findability techniques.
Years ago, you could hire SEO experts to perform work on the never-seen “back end” of your website. This allowed the all-powerful Google to find and place before any user a one-click link to your great website. Those SEO folks are still out there, but have they helped you?
Maybe in those early days they did. But with everyone now searching the Web, and with Google constantly changing its rules, a simple SEO exercise makes little difference. Yet some sites are easily found and some remain hidden. What’s the difference and how do you get found?
Let’s start with good old fashioned SEO. I do recommend going through the exercise and setting up a one-time search engine optimization. It does get your site “in the game” and your key words in play, but it no longer requires monthly retainers to self-appointed “experts.” It has become a “set it and forget it” deal, and the honest SEO pros will tell you just that. Plus, today you can do it yourself.
First, understand the Internet user’s path to decision making. Consumers use the Net for three main reasons:
• Information: Researching and gathering data.
• Shopping: Comparing and contrasting features, benefits and advantages.
• Purchasing: Comparing price, locations, services and other specific criteria. When you set up your key words, do so with an understanding of what key words potential clients might enter at each step. This will help lead them to you.
When you set up your key words, do so with an understanding of what key words potential clients might enter at each step. This will help lead them to you.
For example, veterinarian, vet, animal hospital, pet clinic, dogs, cats, surgery, dentistry, laboratory, compassionate care, convenient hours, affordable, exotic pets, family. These are key search terms (words and phrases) that may follow a potential client’s search process. In the 1-2-3 process of finding you, clients will refine their search words as they go along. Good SEO means defining what these words are, and placing them in the content on your website for search engines to find.
Tools You Can Use
Here is where you can save money. Use the same tools the SEO experts do. Type into Google the key words “Keyword Research Tool” and you’ll find 4.3 million results! Some of the best are: www.KeyWordDiscovery.com, www.WordTracker.com, subscription based with a free trial, or a free service from Google at www.adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
These tools compile keyword search statistics from all the major search engines worldwide and let you target all the relevant keywords for your practice. Such tools can tell you the search phrases people use to find products and services, as well as the search terms that drive traffic to your competitors.
These sites are easy to use and offer step-by-step instructions. Using the words and phrases generated by these tools, you simply change sentences in the content of your Web pages to cleverly contain these key words. Google sees them and puts you closer to the top search results for clients looking for you.
I’ve heard some practice management consultants speak negatively about the Web’s ability to reach out to potential clients, implying that Web-generated clients only want deals. While this is a real concern with discount services and coupon sites, it is just the opposite with clever key word structuring.
Sophisticated Internet users can refine their searches, and find you on Page 1; they then become sophisticated clients who appreciate your professionalism.
There is another very crucial step to the whole process of “findability.” That is “the new kind of SEO.” I call it “content marketing.” Experts call it “search engine marketing.” Whatever you call it, when it’s done cleverly you can convince the search engines that your site is the place to be. It is not only fun, but engaging, rewarding and social. I’ll show you how that is done in Part Two of this article, in the July issue.