SEO is a funny concept. Everyone knows that they have to do it, but what it is can vary depending on who you ask. A common thread in SEO for eye care marketing is the notion that if you’re not ranked #1, or even on the first page, you won’t get any clicks. And that’s simply not true.
It’s nice to be ranked #1, but success in SEO is far more complex than that. The more you understand it, the more likely you are to work within the algorithm to get more clicks, and ultimately, book more appointments.
What is SEO?
Let’s back it up for those unaware: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO consists of a growing number of marketing and web development strategies designed to improve your website’s ranking in search engine results.
Things that affect your search ranking include how well your site loads, the number of users it receives, the usefulness of the info on it and the number of external links that point back to it.
It’s important because it offers something that marketing previously couldn’t: the opportunity to reach and motivate prospective patients when they’re deep in the “sales journey.” For example, an ad on a bus bench is nice if somebody seeing it needs an eye exam, but it’s even better if your website is what that prospective patient finds when they’re actively searching Google for help with their eyes.
Google Knows Everything
Let’s say a prospective local patient is searching for an optometrist. Google knows where they live, where they work, where their kids go to school, and the types of businesses they usually patronize. Long story short, when they search Google for an optometrist, it may not show them the website that has the most unique visitors, or the site that has the most SEO-optimized keywords.
The algorithm will show them the website that is most likely to get THEIR click. Maybe the options Google shows for ODs are near the prospect’s office, or maybe it’ll show the ODs that have the best Google Reviews and are closest to where they made the search. (Note: Google loves reviews. How often do you ask patients for them?)
The search results Google shows you when you perform a search are influenced by where you’re searching from, the keywords you used to make the search, and YOU- your search habits and trends. Understanding that means you can employ as many SEO tactics as possible to get more clicks.
The Key to Better Results
So how can you improve SEO? The focus of your strategies shouldn’t just be ranking, but the keywords and activities needed to book appointments. There are multiple (read: endless) combinations of keywords that your practice can rank for. In some cases, a buying group with big pockets has cornered the market on some common ‘short-tail’ keywords (i.e. ‘optometrist’ or ‘eye doctor’). Their ranking may not even come from an outstanding SEO plan, but by virtue of being the oldest site with the most clicks.
SEO takes time, especially if you’re new to it and in a city with many ODs. A website refresh and eye care blog content strategy using long-tail and specialty keywords can help attract new patients using strategies the competition hasn’t even thought about.
For example, in your case, if a short-tail keyword would be “optometrist,” then a mid-tail keyword phrase would be “optometrist near me.” While you’re working to rank for those terms, a blog and landing page campaign of long-tail keywords like “Where to book an eye exam” or “how to know if I need glasses,” or specialty keywords like “help with myopia” may be able to bring your practice the same business the competition gets, even if you’re not #1 for “optometrist near me.”
A Strategy for Every Specialty
I’m not saying short-tail keywords or search rankings aren’t important. But rather, there are many factors that affect ranking, and there are countless keywords and phrases for you to rank in. On top of that, there are countless algorithms in place depending on who’s searching for what, and where.
What is important, is having an eye care expert SEO marketing manager who knows the keywords and strategies to reach your practice’s ideal specialty patients. Booking OrthoK patients requires a different strategy than high-revenue optical patients, and the content strategy needed for general eye exams is different yet still.
Does your website and its content speak to the patients you want to attract? Is the content useful to your patients and posted frequently? Is your page mobile-friendly and does it load quickly? If the answer to those questions is yes, and your appointment calendar is full, you deserve a break. If it’s no, follow the steps above to start writing blogs and asking for more reviews.