By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Series Installment: The Worst Mistakes Medical Groups and Healthcare Organizations Make When Trying to Attract Patients from the Internet, Mistake Four: Believing Your Audience Will Find You on its Own; from the Healthcare Success Educational Library.]
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a website is like the fuel for your car. A beautifully engineered and full-appointed luxury automobile will never leave the showroom without fuel. Gorgeous to look but unable to move an inch on its own.
We’ve discovered more than a few “beautiful” healthcare websites—even well-engineered and technically sound websites—that were stuck on the sidelines and reaching an audience of next to nothing. The simple fact is that they never rank at or near the top of the Search Engine Results Page for Google or any other search engine.
Healthcare websites don’t achieve visibility and traffic on their own. “Build it and they will come,” just ain’t so. Even your current patients, searching for you by name, might not find your website without optimization.
The textbook definition is simple enough. SEO: “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” And, as the Healthcare Success Internet Mistakes White Paper explains in detail, there are two main pathways to greater online visibility…Pay Per Click (PPC) and SEO site engineering and know-how.
Pay Per Click
One advantage of PPC advertising is that it produces results rapidly, and—based on specific keywords—the top search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search, Ask), it puts you near the top of the search results. Internet users connect with Internet sites based on highly specific search words, meaning that the traffic has a pre-defined need or interest.
A cautionary note: By definition you pay when a visitor clicks on your ad, but that’s no assurance they will contact you or convert to being a customer/patient. So without experienced, professional guidance, PPC can be (needlessly) expensive. (Before you dive into PPC, see the White Paper for more about the mechanics and nuances.)
SEO isn’t so simple…
Don’t let anyone tell you that Search Engine Optimization is easy or automatic. Finding the right formula—one that produces high PageRank results—is a continuing process of site mechanics, keywords, page titles, descriptions, inbound links and much more. But when its working, your reward to being found high on the much-coveted first page of the Search Engine Results Page.
An all-important consideration is that it is an on-going process…a matter of managing the variables that appeal to the constantly changing search engine placement algorithms. What’s more, it’s a highly competitive game with hundreds (make that millions) of websites jostling for leading positions in this race.
Our Internet Mistakes paper provides more details including five of the most important considerations for making a strong, credible and authoritative search engine presence. And, as an overall recommendation, an Internet marketing plan that uses both SEO and PPC will maximize results.
For more about how to detect and avoid classic Internet marketing mistakes, click through here to download the free White Paper: The Worst Mistakes Medical Groups and Healthcare Organizations Make When Trying to Attract Patients from the Internet.
And for related reading, see our previous posts in this series including: Social Media Failures: How to Avoid Internet Mistake #9. And for another article on this topic, read: Search Engine Optimization Strategies for Doctors Tired of Being the “Invisible Man” (or Woman) Online.