A Primer on SEO – How SEO can help increase your new patient numbers

What Every Dermatologist NEEDS to Know About SEO

Every business owner at some time wonders “how can I get more customers?” As a dermatologist, you have probably wondered this too. In your search for this answer, you probably came across some usual suspects, advertising, promotions, etc. But you probably have noticed that recently, more and more people are talking about SEO. What even is SEO? How can it help my practice? We wrote this article to help answer those questions and more.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Still confused? It may sound extremely technical or complicated, but it’s really not. All search engine optimization really means is making changes to your website (optimizing) to try to be one of the first results in Google, Yahoo, and Bing (search engines).

How does it work?

In the simplest explanation possible – search engine optimization is making changes to your website to try to rank well in the search engines. But there is much more to it than that. Actually, Google has hundreds if not thousands of ranking factors in its algorithm. The reason that we talk so much about Google over other search engines is because Google is the biggest player in the game. They have the largest market share in the search engine market, and therefore, set the rules.

To give the best view of the picture, we need to explain why search engines exist, and how they operate. Before the days of search engines, the only way you could visit a website is if you knew the web address, or clicked a link from one site to the next and explored on your own. Search engines were created to help us navigate the web. Google became the prominent player by being better than every other search engine. How did they do this? The creators developed Google on the theory that links from one site to another were a vote of confidence for a quality site. Google’s algorithm has come a long way since then, but links are still at the core of their algorithm.

Today, Google dominates the market because they do this better than any other search engine: satisfy searcher intent. What is searcher intent? It is whatever the person entering a search query into a search engine is hoping to find on the web. If a person searches for “best dermatologist in my city” they want to know who to go to if they have a skin problem. If they search for “how to tie my shoes” they do not want your dermatology practice website coming up in the results unless you for some reason happen to have a great article or video on how to tie shoes.

How do search engines know if your website will satisfy searchers intent or not? This is where Google’s algorithm and ranking factors come in.

Ranking factors

Not every single ranking factor is known, Google is secretive about their algorithm, but there are a few items we know to be ranking factors for sure. There are three main ranking factors, with subcategories of ranking factors under them. We will list a lot, but understand that there are hundreds if not thousands of ranking factors out there. It may be a lot to take in, but the most important thing to know is that Google ranks websites by how well they believe the site will satisfy the searchers intent.

Content – It does not matter how many other ranking factors you have down, if you do not have the right content on your site, your website will never show up in the SERPs for certain search terms.

  1. Keywords
  2. Domain Name
  3. URL
  4. Title Tag
  5. Heading Tags
  6. On-page text

Links – This is the core of Google’s algorithm. A link to your site from another site is a “vote of confidence” that indicates a quality site.

  1. Backlinks
  2. Links from your site to others
  3. Internal linking

User Experience factors – These are things that Google measures to make sure your site is quality. All of the things that might affect a potential visitor to your site

  1. Mobile friendly
  2. Site speed
  3. Length of content
  4. Site health

Why your practice needs to use SEO

Okay, so now you understand what SEO is, the terminology, and what the ranking factors are, you may still be wondering, “why is SEO important to ME?” The answer to this question is the same as the answer to the question “why do I have a website”. Whatever you hope to achieve with your site, SEO will only amplify for you. Want to get more customers? SEO can help you with that. Want to inform potential clients about your services? SEO can help with that. Want to manage your reputation online? SEO has your back. If those reasons were not enough to persuade you to use SEO, we will give you our top three reasons why you should care about it:

  1. SEO will help your business succeed

At the end of the day, search engine optimization really just helps your business achieve its goals. Whether your aim of your business is to help people achieve healthy skin, make money, or give you a better reputation, SEO helps you achieve it. If your site is well optimized, it will bring in new leads, make you more money, and give you more patients to help. If you want to have a stellar reputation, using SEO to make sure only good things come up when someone searches for your name can get the job done.

  1. Your competitors are using it to try to beat you

Your competitors are not stupid, they went through med school just like you. They are smart, and they desperately want to be better than you. They are going to search for everything they can do to beat you. It only takes a little bit of time searching on the internet to find out that the best way to grow your dermatology practice is to use search engine optimization. If you let your competition get a leg up on you and start optimizing their site before you, it will be hard to catch up.

  1. It is the future

Years ago, newspapers were the most effective way to advertise. Today, advertising in newspapers is one of the least cost-effective ways to advertise depending on the market. At one point, getting a listing in Yellow pages was the best way to get leads. That is no longer the case. SEO is the latest technology in advertising and lead generation. As time goes on, more and more people are turning to the internet to find out information about local businesses. It is already estimated that 7 out of 10 people look online before making a purchase. In the future, that number will only increase. SEO is the future of marketing and you NEED to start investing in it, or your practice will suffer.

How to implement SEO

Now that you understand what SEO is, and why you need it, we want to help you get started in implementing your SEO strategy. We want to give you some advice on the best way to proceed, and show you some things to watch out for. There are two different ways you can go about getting your SEO rolling. First, you can go the DIY route. Second you can hire someone to do it for you.

  1. DIY

Although search engine optimization can be somewhat technical, it can be done by yourself if you put enough effort into it. If you have basic knowledge of how to make changes to a website, or have basic coding knowledge, this route might be for you. If you want to do this, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth your time? If you don’t have many patients and have tons of free time, and not much cash flow, it may be. If you decide to go this route, check out our post: 11 easy SEO wins for your dermatology practice website. Our recommendation though, is to spend your time on being the best dermatologist you can be, and outsource the technical work to an SEO agency.

  1. Hire someone

Hiring an SEO agency to take charge of your internet marketing strategy is the smart thing to do if you are busy, and don’t have time for do-it-yourself SEO. When hiring someone to do search engine optimization work for you, here are a few things to consider:

  1. You get what you pay for

There is an almost unlimited number of people out there offering internet marketing services. It may be tempting to go for the least expensive option you find on the internet, but that is not a wise decision. If you needed a mole removed, you wouldn’t find a guy on the street offering to do it for 5 dollars, would you? SEO is the same way. You do not want to put your business in the hands of someone who is unqualified. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars a month on SEO services, depending on how much work needs to be done. Just know that if you go with a reputable company, you will get back what you spend tenfold.

  1. It takes time to see results

Seeing results from SEO efforts takes time, sometimes 6 months or longer. This is just the reality of how search engine optimization works. The best SEO agency in the world can’t make your site rank #1 in a day. Give it time and you will see results. If you want more immediate results, ask your agency about running pay-per-click ads.

  1. Do your homework before signing

Obviously, there are many advantages to the internet. One of these benefits is connecting people all over the world. There are also drawbacks. Unfortunately, the nature of doing business online creates a more anonymous work environment. This creates opportunities for less than competent people to get into contact with you. Therefore, it is critical to check and see if the agency you are about to hire is reputable, and effective. Check reviews, references, and make sure that they are able to rank well themselves.

Final thoughts

We hope you enjoyed are article on SEO, and learned a lot. We believe that if you want to succeed as a dermatology practice in today’s business environment, you NEED to invest in SEO. If you have any questions about anything we talked about in this article, or are interested in how we can improve your SEO, let us know.