Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be a complicated term. There are hundreds of theories and myths about how best to rank in search engines, and while some may have been true in the past, they are most likely out of date now. As Google updates its machine (often multiple times per year) the methods of ranking change.
Read on to discover exactly what you should focus on for your medical SEO in 2016, and what SEO myths you can leave behind.
1. Links are more important than content.
Wrong. Links have their place in SEO, but content is king. The latest Google updates also emphasized quality links over quantity, which again, takes us back to content. Create interesting and valuable content and focus on diverse and relevant sources to link pages to.
2. Social media won’t impact your rankings.
Social media can help your medical SEO in a number of ways. Google indexes Facebook pages, so these can also appear in search engine results – sometimes even before a website. On top of that, social media helps distribute your content to a wider audience and any links created to Facebook and Twitter (from a blog post, for example) can further generate new links and more traffic to your site. In short, social media counts.
3. A secure site with SSL is not important.
Google takes privacy and security seriously, and so should you. Medical practitioners and their websites have an even greater responsibility to protect user’s information, so your site should be using SSL technology – ensuring that all data passed between the website and server remains private. The use of SSL on your site helps Google determine that they are sending users to a secure site. While it’s only a “lightweight” signal now, affecting less than 1% of global queries, with time, the emphasis on SSL sites may increase.
4. Keywords need to be an exact match.
Keywords are important, but these days, Google can see if your content is relevant without exact keyword matches. When writing content, focus on writing the content for the user. You don’t have to place keywords word-for-word – synonyms and related words are also recognized as Google tries to focus on understanding the intent behind the content.
5. Meta descriptions aren’t important.
A compelling meta description can be the difference between someone clicking through to your page, or to a competitor’s. The description attribute is useful for providing a concise summary of your web page content. Google will also sometimes use the meta description of a page in search results snippets, if the description is a more accurate summary than text from on-page content. Well-written descriptions can help you improve click-through, and give you the opportunity to highlight your services and set yourself apart from the rest.
6. Mobile doesn’t matter.
One of Google’s updates in 2015 actually started to penalize sites that weren’t mobile friendly. Having a fully-optimized, responsive mobile site should be a key priority; if not, expect to see a drop in your rankings.
7. SEO is a one-time job.
If you think you can just do SEO once, think again. SEO is an ongoing process that takes time. Google also releases updates so it’s important to stay on top of the latest practices.
8. If you learn the “tricks”, you can outsmart Google.
Google employs some of the best engineers in the world, so forget wasting your time on quick fix tricks and focus on being useful and creating quality content that is relevant for your audience. Utilize Google’s keyword tools to find out what words your potential users might use to find your website and create your content around them. Include social media links, blog posts and videos, and over time, Google will start to notice you. Once you start attracting quality traffic to your site because of quality content, you’ll begin to climb the rankings ladder.