In the world of online marketing there is one ultimate goal, the Mount Everest of optometric marketing if you will: the quest for the first page search engine return. We all know the stats; the website with the top spot on Google’s search engine return gets a whopping 30% of all click-through traffic. The chance that a potential patient will make it to the second page of a Google search? A lowly 8.5%. If you’re on the second or third page, the chances that a new patient will schedule an eye exam at your practice are chillingly slim. Our next two columns will be devoted entirely to building your all-essential search engine optimization (SEO) ranking – the complicated algorithm search engines like Google use to bump your website up to the top. On your office’s website itself, you can build SEO by properly organizing and coding your website to maximize engagement from both actual human beings and the ‘crawlers’ or bots search engines use to read and codex your page. This is called On Page SEO, and here are the keys to success:
The Power of Your URL
Free hosting websites like blogspot can be appealing because they cost you nothing, but search engines favor websites hosted on their own domain. Go ahead and buy your own URL from websites like GoDaddy – the investment is cheap (usually under $10) and it’s essential to getting your website off to the right start.
When creating the URL for each clickable page on your website, think about the important keywords that will drive patients to find your office. For example, let’s say your office website has a page for meeting the doctors. If your URL says something generic like www.yourcityeyecare.com/about that’s going to have a lot less search engine pull than something like www.yourcityeyecare.com/oureyedoctors. Use keywords about eyes, optometry, doctors, eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, etc in your URL names as much as possible to help drive the chance search engines will pick you up when someone searches for these common eyecare topics. Think like a patient and you’ll be rewarded!
Keeping Traffic on Your Site
Search engines don’t just track how many clicks your website gets to build SEO, but they also track how long every user stays on your website when they get there. Longer engagement means better SEO rankings. How do you keep patients on your page? Make sure you have engaging and easy navigation that keeps patients clicking from item to item. Coders refer to well-made navigation coding as “breadcrumbs” – like leaving a neat little trail for story book Hansel and Gretel so that they can easily get around your website and back to the landing page. All websites need a primary navigation system in an easily seen navigation bar across the top of the site to link to your home page and the major topics you want patients to see like appointment scheduling and locations. If you have pages within pages, that’s where breadcrumb links come in handy – a patient could click “Our Eye Exam” and get links within that page that send them to pages or blog posts you’ve written about specialty contact lens services, glaucoma management, etc. The breadcrumb links within your “Our Eye Exam” page will show the patient an easy to follow trail that links them to the other associated items they would be interested in clicking on, keeping them on your page and engaging for the maximum length of time.
Humans are predictable and research shows us that a basic recipe for website formatting will produce maximum engagement. Make sure your website follows these general rules:
- Use headings and subheadings to clearly define what your page is discussing
- Highlight key topics or headings with bold, underline, or italics
- Use a user-friendly size font, at least 12 px in size
- Use a professional and legible font choice – no Comic Sans please. Arial font continually scores high on readability.
- Use small paragraphs to break up long bodies of text. Each paragraph should be no more than 4-5 sentences to maximize engagement
Clear, high-quality images are a key to grabbing reader’s attention. It’s always best to create your own image to drive external traffic, but if you do use an image from another source make sure it is properly referenced. When uploading the image from your computer to your website, make sure the image is named in a way that properly describes what it is. Search engines will use the image file name to drive image search result traffic, which is why your own unique images will always be best. Don’t name anything “image1.jpg” – make sure you fully describe the image in its name. For example, a picture of your office would be “yourcityeyecareoffice.jpg”.
High-quality images are important for aesthetics, but if the file size is too large it can plummet your website loading times. A whopping 40% of customers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. You can shrink the file size of your images but preserve the quality by using free online tools like tinypng.com (it compresses both .png and .jpeg images).