You don’t need to be an Internet-savvy or very technical person to have a website with great visibility online. You simply need to know the most important factors for getting your website seen. This is where a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy comes into play — arguably, the most important element of your online presence.
Because let’s face it. If your website isn’t being found by people looking for local hearing services online, what’s the point of having (and paying for) a website at all?
The truth is, even the most beautiful websites get lost online. Just consider that there are more than 500 websites created every minute of each day. And with 1.3 billion websites already online (and counting), it’s easy to see how that sleek and modern website of yours can quickly get lost in the stream unless you implement an SEO plan. Without it, potential patients looking online for hearing help will end up with a competitor who made SEO a priority.
So where do you begin? By seeing how your website currently stacks up. You need to know what you’re starting with so you can track the effectiveness of any SEO method you apply.
Assessing how well your website is currently optimized for search engines is referred to as an “SEO audit.” A full SEO audit involves reviewing a long list of SEO-enhancing or SEO-diminishing elements. From the backend structure and details of your website, the amount and quality of linking to your web pages from elsewhere on the Internet, to the very behavior of visitors on each of your webpages, a complete SEO audit can reveal a detailed picture of your website’s SEO strengths and weaknesses.
Since search engines operate from ever-evolving algorithms, this process is never static, making it all the more complex. It’s the reason why so many people opt to hire a professional to create a successful SEO plan for their website.
For the purposes of a DIY audit, however, you need not get so complicated. Your goal is simply to know where your website shows up for relevant searches, see how well your site is indexed by search engines, and strategize the best ways for you to improve your website’s visibility — without any expensive software or technical knowledge.
It’s important to know where your website currently ranks in the search results for relevant keywords. When people in your area look up something like “hearing clinics,” “tinnitus help,” or any other keywords relevant to your services, is your website listed within those first few pages? Do you have an idea of the top keywords your potential patients are using? If not, you might find our blog on keyword research for your industry helpful.
Luckily, to find out where your website stands, you don’t need to manually scroll through endless pages of results to find your ranking. Many online tools exist for evaluating your current ranking for top keywords. We like this tool for the sake of its accessibility (it’s free to use), easy interface, and accuracy. By simply putting in your website’s URL, you’ll quickly see what keywords you’re ranking for in your area as well as any recent changes in your rank.
It’s important to note that search engines, like Google and Bing, deliver results to users based on their location (a process called localization). It means that a Google user in, say, Denver can simply type in “audiologist” and see only Denver-based audiologists’ websites in the search results. When you begin ranking in the search results for keywords affected by localization, it means you’re website is ranking well within your market. This is great news, as it’s much easier to rank well within your local market than it is to rank well across the entire Internet.
When using the tool above to check your page ranking, you might find that your website is not ranking at all. There are two reasons for this: either your site isn’t ranking for any of the top 100 keywords for your website or your site isn’t showing up in search engines at all.
The former can be improved through various content enhancements (like these) and SEO tactics (like these). The latter would be an indication that your site is likely not properly indexed by search engines. Indexing is the process by which search engines essentially file away the content on your various web pages for future reference. It’s essential for your content to be accessible via an online search, and it’s best achieved by having a clear sitemap of your website.
Several tools exist for you to check how well your site is indexed by search engines. However, we recommend doing a simple site:operator search to get a clear picture of what Google and the like are seeing on your site. To verify your indexing with this method, simply type “site:yourwebsite.com” (using your actual website’s address) into the search bar for Google. You could do this for Bing or other search engines as well, but Google is the most popular, so we recommend using it for this test.
The results for a site:operator search will only show the indexed pages of your website. Scroll through the results and make sure the important pages of your site are showing up as individual results. At the top of the results, you’ll see the number of results the search pulled up. This is the exact number of indexed pages for your website. If that number seems too low, or if you clearly see pages are missing from the search results, it means you need to submit your missing pages to Google for them to be indexed.
The easiest way to do this is to simply submit the URL for each missing page into this Google submission form. You should see each submitted page show up in the Google results (via a site:operator search) within a few minutes. If you feel confident accessing some of the more technical aspects of your website (i.e. DNS records, etc), you could also submit a full sitemap of your website to Google here.
Target & Strategize
Now that you have a clear idea of how well your site is ranking for top keywords and if your site is being properly indexed by search engines, it’s time to focus on improving your rank.
There are many tactics that SEO professionals use to improve a website’s ranking in search results, but two of the most accessible, start-right-now approaches involve creating rich content on your site and improving the amount of quality backlinks (links to your site from other reputable websites) you have.
Rich content not only includes relevant keywords (both short and long-chain) throughout, but also provides useful and engaging information. Great content keeps visitors on your page longer, resulting in a more favorable ranking by search engines. Optimizing your content for better ranking is a big topic, and one we discuss more in previous blogs, like here and here.
Backlinks to your website essentially prove to search engines that your website is popular and worth referencing on external, quality sites. The type of external websites linking to your site need to be legitimate (i.e. not spam or “blackhat” websites, where people essentially pay to have backlinks put there) and, ideally, include relevant keywords in the backlink itself. This is also a topic deserving more detail and depth, which you can explore more here.
As you endeavor to work your way to the first page of search results, keep in mind that successful SEO is more of a marathon than a sprint. Unless you’re willing to pay for better placement, it takes consistent, well-paced efforts over time to show great results.
If you’d prefer a professional assessment of your current SEO and how to improve it, feel free to contact us. We work with clients across the hearing healthcare industry to help them reach the top of search results as quickly as possible and easily get found by their local markets.