It’s 2016 and you’re not alone if it feels like pretty much everyone is a blogger these days. There are fashion, lifestyle, parenting, sports and even cat bloggers. Over the last few years, ECPs have stormed the world of blogging and made a significant impact on the profession (check out 6 ECP blogs you should be following from our July 2016 issue) . But running an eyecare blog for your practice isn’t all about the allure of blogger perks like complimentary products to review and social media fame. Why you need to start a blog for your practice is much more real to your bottom line as a practice owner: it can increase your search engine optimization ranking (SERP). With the right focus, your blog entries can move your practice to Google’s first page for a search of eyecare providers in your local area, which will drastically increase the chance a patient will schedule with your office. In order to increase SEO rankings, you have to accomplish 2 things: mastery of content and maximized blog architecture. Those words are what digitial marketing companies use to scare you into thinking you need to pay for help; here’s what you need to know to achieve SEO success on your own.
Mastery of Content: The key to productive blogging is writing quality material using keywords that will tag your blog when potential patients search for topics related to eyecare or optometry. You have to write articles that you expect people to be searching for, and write them consistently so your blog keeps moving your name to the top of search algorithms.
- Quality is a MUST. Your blog entries must be engaging; the longer a person stays on your page reading your article, the better your blog will perform on search engine analytics. It’s imperative that every blog entry is informative, useful, and visually impactful. I always ask myself the following questions: “Will my content solve a problem?” “Will the reader feel like the content was tailored specifically for them?” “Do the pictures make sense and are they located in the right place?” “Are the pictures colorful and vibrant?”
- Consistent Content: Let’s be honest, when is the last time you updated your website or social media? Search engines love new material. This is why having a blog is so important. It allows for consistent material creation. Producing one or two articles a week will grow your SEO ranking very quickly.
- Keywords: But how will patients find your blog? Keywords are how search engines link searchers to your articles. Ask yourself the following questions: “How would a patient ask this question in an exam lane?” “Which words or phrases would they use?” Apply the same keywords/phrases your patient would use in the exam lane in your blog post. In return, it will help connect searchers and new patients to your website. For example, one of the most popular posts all time on Eyedolatry Blog is about conjunctival cysts. Hundreds of people every day find the article using the keywords “clear bubble on eye.” I doubt anyone other than an eye doctor searches for “conjunctival cyst.” Know your target audience, and write your article with their vocabulary!
Blog Architecture Search engines love websites that are streamlined for mobile devices and encourage readers to spend longer times on the site. You need to design your website with great site crawlability, speedy loading times, and high-quality links.
- Crawlablility: Bots, crawlers and spiders…Oh my! Spend some time with an SEO expert and you’re bound to encounter these terms. Spiders and crawlers are the programs that search engines use to create an index of websites. In order for your website to maximize its’ SEO scores, it needs to be written in language that bots and spiders can understand. This gets really technical, but in the most simplistic terms you need to make your website bot-friendly by indexing your blog articles for easy search. A reader should be able to search “contact lens” on your website and get a list of articles that you’ve tagged with the label contact lens. You can even create separate blog pages dedicated to topics you are covering frequently where you archive links to all articles you’ve written on a specific topic. Spiders and crawlers love list links, so programming them into your blog will improve your SEO.
- Website/Page Speed: How many times have you searched for something on a website and the page took forever to load? Most readers will abandon your website and proceed to the next option if it is slow to load. Search engines LOVE speedy sites, giving them much higher SEO rankings. Some key elements to increase your site speed are a fast server, responsive design, compressed images and implementing a cache system.
- On and Off Page SEO Balance: Link building is an important factor in SEO ranking. To move up in search engine rankings, your article needs to include high-quality links to relevant sites that readers will click on, and you need other websites linking back to you. Search engines are looking for links that add value. In the industry, you’ll hear people refer to the method of On and Off Page SEO Balance. The On-Page SEO is what you control – your articles and keywords, your website design. The Off Page SEO revolves around increasing the authority of your domain outside of your webpage so more external sites are linking back to you. The more great material you are posting on your blog, the more chance you’ll have for outside domains to link back to your website. Remember, your social media accounts count as Off Page SEO sources. Make sure you link to your blog articles on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to boost your Off-Page SEO rankings by yourself.