If you’ve been online for a while, you’re probably familiar with search engine ranking reports, the lists that show your practice website’s relative positions for the keywords that people use on Google or Bing. Back in the day, say, 2007, they were a standard metric for determining whether your SEO was good or ineffective.
But the Web in 2012 is a very different place and search, like so much else, has gone personal, local and exceedingly social. Results are becoming increasingly influenced by who’s searching, where they’re searching from and what the people in their various social networks are saying.
“Web vendors who promise ranking are selling snake oil. The monolithic rank concept is dead, and far too many factors are at play for any one entity to claim a position in search results as if they owned the real estate,” explains Tom Seery from RealSelf.com.
Consider Google’s new “Search plus Your World” feature, which incorporates content shared by people via their Google+ network with more traditional search algorithms. Keywords are still part of the formula but, going forward, the size of those networks and the amount of conversation that takes place in them will increasingly determine the results of their searches.
Take those factors into account and you’ll improve the odds that your medical practice website will show up closer to page 1 than page 99.
1. Think traffic reports not ranking reports
If you discover you’re #1 for a particular keyword like “Los Angeles Liposuction” it may be due to Google detecting you tend to click on your own website! Ultimately, rather than specific rank, you want to look at traffic that comes to your website and the resulting conversions (phone inquiries, newsletter sign-ups, etc.).
2. Encourage visitors to your practice website to share or vote up your content
With more people conducting searches through their existing social networks, adding social plug-ins like the Facebook Like and TweetMeme Retweet buttons makes it easy for visitors to share with the people in their social networks — people, it’s worth noting, who likely share similar interests and, therefore, represent a valuable target market.
3. Measure success through social metrics
When tracking traffic to your site, augment your traditional analytics by monitoring which visits come from which social networks, who’s sharing your content and which pages or features generate the most sharing activity.