For business owners, an update to the company website often feels like a necessary evil. You understand web marketing is an essential part of growing your practice, but it doesn’t always come cheaply. Like most construction projects, site design and development can be a long and tedious process, chock-full of unforeseen problems, delays and costs. Moreover, the devil is in the details. From creative elements, to content and search engine optimization, to ongoing maintenance, it involves work you really don’t have time to oversee, and may not even fully understand. The bottom line is, you’re counting on an uptick in patient traffic. But the truth is, a new website doesn’t guarantee new patient growth. It’s your digital strategy – your game plan, so to speak – that will drive prospective customers to your site, creating the spike in traffic you’re looking for.
Google is king. Govern yourself accordingly.
Whether you’re outsourcing your web work or taking a DIY approach, practice owners, like all small business owners, benefit from having a basic knowledge of how to drive web traffic. It’s not rocket science. And although working with an expert is recommended, if you understand Google is king, you’re halfway there.
Google prides itself in being the world’s top search engine. Think about it. When you go online and use Google to search for information, you’re satisfied when search results satisfy your query. In a digital world where the internet offers real-time access to a wealth of information on, well … everything, consumer attention spans are peaking out at eight seconds.* For the digital customer, which is more than 50 percent of all U.S. consumers, irrelevant search results is unnecessary information, and that’s just annoying. Or in the words of legendary internet sensation Sweet Brown, “ain’t nobody got time for that … ” And because we don’t have the time, Google is intent on making sure the search experience not only meets consumer expectations, but also brings value.
What that means for you in your role as a marketer, is that Google needs to like your site. This is an oversimplification, but the net of it is that Google likes your site when its content matches what its users are looking for from you. Using complex algorithms, Google is mining your site; the ones that best match the words that consumers use to search for the product or service being offered, are easy to navigate, and are a destination for links from other sites – Google pushes those to the top of search results, effectively telling your potential new patients, “Hey, these are the businesses you should check out first.” There are many other factors that come into play such as how long a site has been up and active, the number of searches conducted for certain terms, but to rank well, you have to start with relevant and valuable content and a mobile site that’s just as good or better than the desktop version.
If you’ve ever wondered why a practice or business that does work that’s seemingly inferior to your own is ranked much higher in Google searches, chances are they’re putting thinking and resources behind search optimization, and it’s paying off in what we call site “authority.”
Social Signal Your Value
In addition to the content on your site, Google also takes cues from your social media sites. Your social “authority” also helps Google to determine whether or not you deserve to come up high in search results.
Google likes to see that traffic to your site is coming from your social media pages. These are called social signals. Social signals tell Google that your site is being talked about elsewhere online. And when those signals are shared on social, Google recognizes those actions to be an endorsement of your value and there’s great benefit to that in terms of rankings. To take it a step further, when a third-party links to your site through social platforms, or otherwise, your SEO efforts are boosted that much more. In other words, it’s not just you saying your great that impresses Google, it’s other people saying you’re great and telling their network about it.
The more traffic that is directed to your site from trusted sources, the more perceived value and authority you hold. So be sure that your content on Facebook, Twitter and the major social hubs that have millions of users, always drive people to your site using shareable content like infographics, video and polls.
To be real.
Lastly, today more than ever, your digital strategy must include meeting consumers where they are. Speak to their lifestyle, not just what you think they need from you. Engagement happens with authentic content. Be a human online, be relevant – comment on posts, weigh in on topics that your prospects are talking about and show your value. New customers are much more attracted to you, than they are to your shiny new site.
*Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, The Associated Press