There is a whole mysterious world out there we call "SEO." You didn't learn about it in school. It's an art and science that's veiled in mystery. SEO is like an underground society that everyone knows about, but no one really knows what goes on at the innermost levels of it.
Google is the king of all search engines (the SE of SEO). We who want to appease the king must play by the rules. The problem is that the king does not tell us all the rules. Its a top-secret algorithm we can only deduce based on observation (and a few crumbs Google leaves for us to follow).
So we are left to guess how to flourish in the strange world of SEO.
Don’t for a second think you can avoid engaging in this world. If you don't engage, you get punished. Getting punished by Google means you get buried by worse qualified DCs in your area. People searching for a good chiropractor don't find you. They don't get treated by you, and they stay hurt. That’s sad.
What’s also sad, of course, is that you don't get their patient fees either … but probably already knew that part. Then you can’t pay for associates, staff, your lease. It gets real dark, friends.
For the sake of paying your bills and helping new patients flourish, you have to learn how to do SEO well.
I have several clients who are at the top of a Google search in their city. They get new leads all the time. It’s amazing to see. I’ve learned a few things along the way to getting them there. I pass them all on freely to you today.
I am well aware that there is some shady stuff out there when it comes to getting to the top of Google. Opinions about SEO are plentiful. They're like belly buttons - everyone has one, and some are just ugly. If you take the wrong advice and get caught up in the wrong SEO crowd, you'll suffer eventually. I'm not interested in the shady stuff. Google is smart. They'll figure it out who is trying to cheat the system and then they will hunt them all down and punish their site accordingly.
Tempting as it is, don’t go for the shady stuff. You’ll know what it is when you come across it.
In this post, I want to give you ten of the best and ethical practices for nailing your local listing and climbing higher on Google.
1. Create Regular, Engaging Content
What can I say about the importance of killer content that Kevin hasn't already? Content is great for establishing your authority. From an SEO perspective, it also gets people to your site. The more they read, the better it does for your ranking. You want people spending time on your site. Google is tracking all that.
Good content is better than just throwing anything up there. For example, if you see a piece of garbage on the street, it is a piece of trash. If, however, you take a picture of the trash and post it on your site, is it now "content". Sort of. But it's not great content.
Keep a regular blog on relevant topics. People will read things that interest and help them with something they’re struggling with. Videos work well too. You can understand why: when people are on your site watching a three-minute video, Google is counting that as time on your website.
The more time people spend on your site; the more Google knows that you have some quality there, and they will give you a better ranking.
2. Include The Keywords People Are Searching
It makes sense that if you want to be discovered by people searching with particular words and phrases, you need to have those words and phrases on your site.
What are the best keywords? It's intuitive at first and can get more complicated as you desire. You should have "Chiropractor in (Your City)" both on pages and on page titles. “Stretches for back pain recovery” could be another one.
If you want to go deeper, use a free tool like Ubersuggest (there are many out there) to find out what keywords people are searching and how competitive it is. It's up to you how you use the keywords. They can be on your home page, the title of your blogs, or in your meta data. I recommend all three. If you don't have those words in and on your site, find a way to put them on there without making them disruptive to the flow of your message.
Remember junior high? If you don't, you're lucky. If you're like most of us, you're still recovering from this terrible time in our lives.
The popularity contest is something we never really get over. In junior high, we wanted to be talked about by the cool people. Being popular meant that you got the [right] attention of the important people. The more important they were and the more they liked you, the more your stock rose.
Google uses that principle in how they rank sites. When big, important and established sites talk about you (link to your page), you are given more "Google points" (my term). If you can't get the important people, it's a numbers game you can play instead. If you have hundreds of sites pointing people to your site, you can win more points.
You want to get people around the Internet linking to your site. Your listing in the local chamber will give you a link. The Yellow and White Pages will give you a link too. Yelp. RateMyMd...they will all give you a link (at what cost? I sometimes wonder.) Another site you wrote a guest post will give you a link too. There are many ways to build these "citations."
Some of them take a lot of time. You can hire for this or you can do it yourself. There are services like Legiit or Fiverr that offer to do hundreds of backlinks for you for a decent price. It is all legit and will save you a lot of time.
4. Backlinks within your site
On the topic of citations, a well-organized site has links to other pages within the site. The more people are clicking around your site and not hitting "back" is what you are going for. It makes for a better user experience. If Google is going to send people to your site, they want them to have a good experience (or people will lose trust in Google).
5. Get More Google Reviews
One of my friends who has sacrificed his life to appease the dark lords of the SEO underworld tells me that having a ton of Google reviews helps your ranking.
I can hear someone yelling at their screen, "We have ____ number more than all the other DCs, and they are ranking higher than us!"
I get your frustration. I wish it were as simple as the person with the most reviews wins - but it's not like that. That's why reviews is #5 on my list. No one would deny they're essential, but they are not the silver bullet you wish existed.
Reviews are an important part of your SEO strategy. Ask patients for honest reviews. You should have at least ten. More than that is always better. Put a sign up in your reception area with some kind of incentive. Respond to them all with gratitude. You won't go wrong doing that.
6. Put A Google Map on the Contact Page…and in the Footer
I don't know why this is the case, but I’ve read about it all over the Internet and I wouldn’t make a site without it.
Make sure your website has a Google Map on it somewhere. Google wants you to support Google. They’re a little insecure like that - but who isn’t? They put a lot of work into their mapping software. They are likely rewarding people who are kind to them and embed a map on their website.
7. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Have you ever been searching out a business and seen a "Is this your business?" question? That's someone missing an opportunity to control their Google listing.
If you haven't already, claim your practice on Google. They'll call you or send a postcard in the mail asking if it really is you running the place. It's that easy. Once you've done that, carefully enter all your contact and service information exactly as it is on your website.
That means your address, phone number, and hours are identical on your website and your GMB listing. This is important because Google doesn't want to look foolish telling people one thing and then have the user experience hurt when it turns out that the information they gave you is false.
Also, don't forget to distinguish your "Service Area" (that's the city or town where you practice so that Google knows that people searching in your area should find you). I cringe to think of how many of my clients were not being found in their city for something as simple as not telling Google, "this is the city I practice in." Thankfully, it’s an easy fix that will give you a boost, most certainly.
8. Optimize For Mobile
This is one of those algorithm factors that Google has told us about. Over 60% and counting of people are browsing on their phones now. In 2015 Google announced that it wants to make sure that all sites look good on mobile. If it does, you will be rewarded. If it's not, you will be punished.
Don't believe me? Here's what Google announced back in 2015:
Make sure your site looks good on a phone. If you're unsure if your website is mobile-friendly, there's a tool (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly) that can scan its design and give a pass or fail based on Google's criteria.
9. Make Sure Your Server Is Fast
How long will you click on a site and then stare at a blank screen waiting for it to load?
It depends on how patient you are, I suppose. Some will wait five seconds. Most will wait for only three. Once you get fed up and click "Back" Google makes a note of that. If it happens too many times, because the user experience is negatively affected, Google will punish your site.
You should have a fast server that gets people your content quickly. You can also make sure your pictures are no more than 500k so that they don't take forever to load. Animations are also notorious for slowing down a site.
Want to find out how fast your site is? Here's another tool you can use to test your speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/.
10. StoryBrand Your Website
You didn't think I would write all this stuff and not talk about StoryBrand, did you? Some say that StoryBrand and SEO do not work well together. I can see their point. We StoryBrand Guides are always trying to get our clients to use less words, and SEO experts are still trying to stuff keywords wherever they can fit it like a fat robber in a donut shop.
The reason why I think that applying StoryBrand principles to your website is good for your SEO is that it should get people reading your content. We help you target your ideal patient, agitating their pain points, compelling them to read more about how you can be their guide, helping them win their story.
As mentioned, the more people are on your site and clicking around, the better your ranking gets…and that's why I think it's great to use the StoryBrand framework when you are choosing the words and images on your website.
There’s More We Could Talk About
I love geeking out about this stuff but there's only so much I can tell you without getting my name flagged by the SEO mafia. That’s why I write all this on Kevin’s blog and not my own- they’ll never find me!
I risk my life like this because I know how important good SEO can be for your practice. If you get buried on Google, it will stifle what you are working so hard to grow. In this post, I have given you ten totally ethical, best practices for nailing your local SEO. Do them all and you will be much more ahead of what most are doing.
I hope it has helped you. That's what I love to do. I love to help the best chiropractors use the best tools to serve their patients better and grow their practice.
I talk a little more about my passion for combining SEO, StoryBrand messaging and great design in this video here: https://vimeo.com/337633916
You'll notice that I talk about an exciting new tool I have been talking about a lot lately. My team and I have created a website builder that is empowering DCs to build beautiful websites that really work. If you want to nail SEO and create a beautiful site you and your patients will love, check out what we are doing at www.getclearsites.com