Frequently Asked Questions About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Our clients often have questions about the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). We put together a list of some of the most common questions we get asked in an effort to answer some of the questions you may have.

Of course, you can always feel free to contact us if you have any questions that we didn’t answer here.

Why is ranking so important?

Having good ranking is an important part of having people find you online. When people are searching for something in a search engine like Google, they often don’t look past the first page of search results. If your site isn’t on the first page of search results for relevant search queries, you could be missing out on traffic.

Can I do search engine optimization (SEO) just for a short time and keep my ranking in the long-term?

We would all like to have a quick fix that we could use to get to the top right away, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Search engines are constantly evolving, and if you want to keep up, your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts need to be ongoing. If you view SEO as just a one-time thing, or something that you only revisit occasionally, you may see improvement in your ranking for some time, but you are setting yourself up to fall behind in the long run.

How do I keep a high ranking in search engines?

It is possible to retain a high ranking, as long as you are aware of the factors that affect your ranking. If you know what search engines are looking for, it is easier to determine a plan of action. In particular, quality content is a very important factor in ranking. Google ranks content by what it thinks will be the most useful to searchers. Another thing that you should do is focus on local listings. These listings will help to strengthen your overall presence online.

In a nutshell, the best way to rank right now is focus on your patients and what will be the most useful to them. Your patients need to know where to find you, what services you offer, and how those services are beneficial.

How does Google determine ranking of websites?

Google uses an algorithm to determine which results show up in search results. The algorithm is a set of programs and formulas that look for signals in the index to find content relevant to your search query. Currently, there are more than 200 of these signals, or clues, that the algorithm looks for to determine what results to show. So, every time you search for something on Google, the algorithm looks for these 200 clues to provide you with results. Amazingly enough, the algorithm can do all of that within 1/8 of a second!

What are some of the factors Google’s algorithm looks for?

Google updates its algorithm fairly often in order to provide the most relevant, useful search results. Two algorithm changes in particular shook up how we approach SEO. About 2 years ago, Google rolled out the Penguin and Panda updates. The Panda update mainly focuses on weeding out sites with very little content, low-quality content, and duplicate content. The Penguin update focuses on spam tactics, such as low-quality links.

Following a series of changes over the years, Google reworked the entire algorithm in a project called Hummingbird. The biggest improvement with this re-working is that Google is focusing more on the meaning of the words in a search query rather than simply matching words on a page. This provides the most useful search results, as Google strives to answer user-intent.

Can Google understand voice searches?

As a result of Hummingbird, Google is set up to understand conversational search. Many people have mobile devices with voice command capabilities. When speaking search queries, people tend to use more conversational phrases. For example, if we were searching for a nearby sports medicine doctor on a desktop or laptop, we might type out “sports medicine doctor New Orleans LA.” However, if we were using voice command on a mobile device to perform the search, we might say, “Is there a sports medicine doctor near me?” Google is now set to better understand the meaning behind the search phrases we use.

Are there any shortcuts to get higher ranking quickly?

Previously, website owners used certain tricks to cheat their way to top ranking and bypass algorithm restrictions. Some still do this. However, since the Penguin and Panda updates, websites using shortcut tactics have been penalized and will lose out on ranking.

Some of these tactics include keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Link scheming has also been a popular trick, with website owners using tactics like purchasing expired domains, adding hidden links, or using comment spam and article directories. If your website used any of these tactics, you may have noticed a drop in ranking since the algorithm change.

Forget about using schemes to make your way to the top. Write your content with patients in mind, providing the information would help them to best understand what you do.

Can’t I just put a bunch of keywords in my website’s copy?

Keyword stuffing is one of the most-used shortcut tactics, but it isn’t very effective. In the past, the usage of “exact-match” keywords on a website factored into ranking more heavily. However, as the algorithm has evolved, it has become more intelligent, and can recognize related terms and quality content.

If the content on your website is stuffed with the keywords you want to target, but is poorly written and doesn’t provide useful information, it will not help your rankings. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use your targeted keywords in your content, but your primary focus should be on the usefulness of your content. The algorithm will recognize the overall meaning of the content.

What factors should I look out for when optimizing my local listings?

There are several factors you should pay attention to. Are your listings consistent across all of the major local listing services? Is the information correct? Do the listings contain a link to your website? It is important to keep these listings up to date. For example, if your practice location moves, or has a new phone number, or a new website, you want to make sure that you correct that information as soon as possible.