Updates & Opinions

Top 5 Predictions on the Future of Google

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top 5 predictions on the future of google 187x300 Top 5 Predictions on the Future of GoogleGoogle’s algorithm features more than 200 different factors, and some SEO professionals look at it as though it is the closest thing to artificial intelligence.  Maybe Google isn’t that intelligent, but the point is that it’s awfully complex, and it does do a better job of searching through the billions of websites and returning the most relevant results than any other search engine.

Making predictions on anything is difficult, but hey, it’s fun to at least try!  Here are some of ours for 2013 and the future years:

A diverse set of links becomes more powerful.

This one is actually already in place, but it’s strength as a ranking factor will increase throughout 2013.  Links will have to come from fewer, more reputable sites.  The more of these quality links you have, the better, but they do need to be quality.  Google also focuses more on “earned” links, so the more work you do to get a link, the more value it carries.  At Devenia, we specialize in compiling and monitoring our database for the most valuable link sources.  It takes a ton of work, and it will take even more work in the future.

Your site will need to be a database of information.

Sometimes, companies create micro sites (sites with just a few pages) because it can be much easier to rank several sites for a few keywords than a single site for many keywords.  This strategy will continue to work, but to a lesser degree.  In the near future, Google’s focus on quality, useful content will increase.  That means it will want larger websites with more comprehensive information resources available.  This makes sense because after all, people want information online, and if they can find the answers to many of their questions in one place, they will stick to that source.

The definition of “quality” will increase.

It actually has since the release of the Panda in February of 2011, and this will continue.  Panda has received more than 20 updates already.  Each update has been fairly minor, with the exception of the first, but they all total up to a large difference.  Professionally-written, engaging content will carry more weight in the future.

“Social proof” will gain more momentum.

“Social proof” refers to the marketing idea that if other people like it, it must be good.  It’s similar to the bandwagon effect.  Google will continue to look at the number of followers and social shares your accounts receive.  If you’re not active on the major social media, it will eventually become necessary to have at least some presence on a couple major channels.  If you’re a local business, having those positive local reviews in Google Places and other major business directories will help also.

Remember, Google Always Rewards Hard Work

While Google  is difficult to predict, the key lies in focusing on hard work.  Trying to trick it, or building as many links as quickly as possible, simply doesn’t work.  It really is that simple!

Dan StelterTop 5 Predictions on the Future of Google
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How Does Online Reputation Management Work?

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respect2 300x199 How Does Online Reputation Management Work?Damage to your online business reputation causes more harm to your business than offline damage.  It’s true, and here’s why – the vast majority of people searching for your business, products, and services discover you online first.

What happens if your business’s name comes up with the words “ripoff” or “scam” when people are typing a search term into Google?

The effects are devastating!

Now that I have your attention, you might be wondering how online reputation management works.  Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make sure you have a great reputation, or to make those nasty results disappear.

Steps You can Take to Restore a Good Reputation

1.  Bury negative results.  If your site ranks highly for a negative search term, the best thing to do is to bury the result past the third page of Google.  Why?  98% of all searchers click on results on the first page of Google.  Ranking on the fourth page is little different than ranking on the 1000th page.

This takes a ton of work – creating good content and then getting it to rank.  It’s rarely something you can do on your own, and instead, you will need to hire the services of an SEO professional.

2.  Responding to negative mentions.  If someone says negative things about your business on your social media accounts or one of the many business directories like Yelp, respond to it.  But, make sure you respond to it constructively.  By demonstrating your professionalism and sincere concern for customer service, you can turn that negative mention into a positive one.

3.  Monitor your site’s name for mentions.  Believe it or not, monitoring your site for negative mentions is easier than you think.  Simply go to www.google.com/alerts, and type in your company name.  Type in some misspellings/variations of your name, and also include a geographic region if you are a local business.  Whenever Google indexes new content regarding your company, you will receive a notification automatically.

If you haven’t checked your site for negative search results already, you can do so by Googling your company’s name.  Search through the first 5 pages of the results, and see what comes up.

4.  Encourage customers to post positive reviews.  For some reason, it’s much easier for people to post and say negative things about any company than it is to post positive things.  When you’ve really pleased a customer, they’re typically more than happy to do anything you ask.  Ask them to post a positive review about your company on Google Places, or other reputable business directories where you are active.  People are likely to take a positive action when pleased, but they’re much more likely to take one when you tell them exactly how.

Gain Leads & Increase Conversion Rates with Reputation Management

The whole reason to do online reputation management is to keep growing your business.  And, if you follow these simple steps, you will cover the most essential methods for giving  your business a great reputation.  Keep them in mind as you move forward!

Dan StelterHow Does Online Reputation Management Work?
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Great 21st Century Scams: Search Engine Optimization

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seo scam 300x225 Great 21st Century Scams:  Search Engine Optimization

That’s right – you read it here first!  Search engine optimization is a scam.

Just kidding!  SEO is actually one of the key components to the success of your company in the present and future.  How key is it?

If you don’t do it, your business will fail.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.

But, the good news is that you have time.  Although it’s very beneficial to have right now, it’s not yet essential.  Why will SEO eventually be essential?  I’ll show you in a few simple steps:

  • Around 80% of consumers first learn about businesses, products, and services they need from the internet first
  • Many other companies, and soon most, are doing it, and are climbing to the top of the search engines
  • Google returns the best search results, and currently controls about 90% of the global search market

For those reasons, SEO is essential to perform.  And, if you get in on the game now, you will be ahead of much of the competition.  If you wait, you are either going to lose out on profits while you try to figure out how to catch up, or you are going to have to spend much more money than you wanted to regain your competitiveness.

The Future of SEO

The largest SEO company currently is valued at around $100 million, making it, in the grand scheme of things, a fairly small company.  But, eventually, and I can’t promise when, every business will have either an in-house SEO team, or they will hire someone else to do the work.  These educated guesses are based on the information I presented above.

Get in Now – SEO’s Cost Will Only Increase 

The cost of search engine optimization can only go up from where it is now.  On a cost-per-lead basis, it’s actually much cheaper than any other form of advertising, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an associated expense.

Why will SEO only cost more? 

Because, as I noted earlier, more and more businesses are going to keep discovering its value and continue trying to grow.  As a result, there will be more competition for the same keywords.  Of course, more revenue-increasing keywords will continue to be added, but there will be more competitive terms that are the mainstays of each respective industry.

In addition to that commonsense argument, Google is constantly changing its algorithm.  Its goal is to rank the highest quality, most relevant, and timely content near the top of the search engines.  How it goes about that decision is much more complicated and takes more work than it did five years ago, and you can bet that process will only increase in complexity.

After all, if Google gets lazy, it will go the way of other search engines that used to be big players – Excite, Hotbot, Web Crawler, and Yahoo!  You probably don’t even remember the names of most of these, but you definitely know Yahoo – and that search engine is basically irrelevant in the modern age.

Thanks for reading this article, and keep in mind to dedicate yourself to SEO as soon as possible!

Dan StelterGreat 21st Century Scams: Search Engine Optimization
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4 SEO Myths to Look out For

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seo myths picture 300x198 4 SEO Myths to Look out ForThe world of search engine optimization is untamed and wild – companies are doing dramatically different things.  Most companies try to do the right thing, but every industry has its fly-by-night types just waiting to get their hands on your money and run off with it.  Still others provide you with some “quick wins” so you can see what they do “works,” only to leave later on when you are wondering why your business isn’t making any money or saving time as a result of their efforts.

Here are some of the myths you might experience while you are out there talking with different companies:

  • Guaranteed results.  A few disreputable companies will provide you with guarantees.  Companies who know what they are doing don’t guarantee results because they know Google is unpredictable and takes a certain amount of time in order to gain ranking.

What that timeframe is, however, is unknown – it could be as short as 1 month (if you’re really lucky) or as long as 12.  If a company guarantees results, make sure they have a clear policy on what happens if they don’t achieve those results.  Otherwise, they’re just trying to blow up their promises so you buy into them and give them money.

  • The more links, the better.  This statement is by and large true, but only to a small degree.  These days, Google is all about the quality of your links, not the quantity.  A quantity of quality links is best.  However, Google now looks more for link earning than it does link building.

Basically, you can think of it this way:  the more work you put into getting the link, the more Google will like it.  In terms of quality, the best links you can get are at highly reputable websites that focus on a great user experience.  If the site appears to be low-quality, abandoned, or has numerous ads interfering with your experience, you can safely assume it’s not a great website to get links from.

  • The search engines can be tricked.  Actually, you can trick search engines for a period of time.  However, Google is smart enough to catch on to deceptive SEO practices, like placing white text on a white background to get more keywords in.  If Google’s algorithm can’t figure it out, Google has thousands of employees manually reviewing websites for black hat SEO practices.  If someone promises fast rankings, you might very well be the victim of black hat SEO.  Once Google finds out about your actions, you will find yourself penalized in the search engine rankings, or banned altogether.
  • Outbound links hurt you rankings.  Not all outbound links hurt your rankings, but some do.  The question to really consider is, “What is the quality of the site you are linking to?”  In the past, some people tried to trick Google by creating tons of low quality websites, and then linking them to a targeted high quality one.  That doesn’t work anymore, as Google wants quality websites, not deceptive ones, at the tops of its rankings.

 SEO is Much More Complex, But now You can Protect Yourself

You could hear many other different deceptive practices than this.  However, this gives you an idea of what you might encounter, and why you should run the other way if you do encounter these situations.

Dan Stelter4 SEO Myths to Look out For
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Are You Protecting Your Website from These Google Updates

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In the last weeks of October and the first weeks of November, Google released four separate updates, which affected the rankings of many websites.  Matt Cutts, Google’s head SEO spokesman, had been warning the SEO community about these updates for some time.  What were those updates and how did they affect websites?  Learn more about them by reading below:

Penguin 3

penguin with hat Are You Protecting Your Website from These Google UpdatesGet ready for Penguin to be really nasty now and in the future.  Even though this update didn’t significantly update the rankings of many websites, it did have a small effect, and Matt Cutts has warned more will be coming in the future.

Penguin targets websites which have been overoptimized with too many low-quality back links.  In the past, less-than-ethical SEO professionals would build links from very low-quality websites, and Google would give those links a fairly decent weight.  That’s no longer the case, so be prepared.

Panda 20

panda illustration Are You Protecting Your Website from These Google UpdatesWhile Penguin focuses on reducing the rankings of overoptimized websites, Panda reduces the rankings of low-quality websites.  “Thin” content, or content that supplies very little value to searchers, received a beating in the rankings from Google.  In the Panda series, this update is #20 and impacts 2.4% of all English searches.  You can bet Google will continue to refine this aspect of its rankings algorithm again in the future.

Exact match domain (EMD) update

It used to be that Google would rank websites whose domain name exactly matched their primary keyword highly.  Recently, Google also found that websites lower in quality with an exact-match domain name were able to rank higher than websites higher in quality with a non-exact-match domain name.  This update reduces the effectiveness of exact-match domain names.

Page Layout 2

Many searchers were complaining to Google about websites with a number of ads viewable above the fold would rank highly in the SERPs.  People also don’t like scroll down to find the content they need at a website.  Your site can now receive a small penalty in the search engine rankings for having too many ads above the fold.

What is the Overall Point to Take Away?

The overall takeaway from this article is that your site should always, always focus on the best possible user experience.  Not only does optimizing for the best user experience keep visitors more engaged with your website, but it boosts your search engine rankings too.  In general, you can look at it this way:  if it annoys you, it would annoy your visitors too.

Dan StelterAre You Protecting Your Website from These Google Updates
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6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO

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googleplus icon 6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO

With every month passing by, Google changes its SEO strategies slightly.  There’s always something new you can do in order to optimize your site a little better.  Google+ is becoming a stronger player in SEO.

Why?  Google is slowly increasing the SEO value social sites pass.  It’s not essential to be active on social sites yet, but it may be in the years ahead.

Additionally, Google+ is experiencing insanely rapid growth.  Because of Google’s already-established reputation, Google+ is expected to have around 500 million users by the end of 2012 (compared to 1 billion for Facebook), which is astonishing, given the platform was launched in summer of 2011.

With all of that background information in mind, you can now see why optimizing your Google+ profile is important to do.  Even better is the fact that none of it is hard to do at all.

The 6 Simple Tips

  1. Build a link to your website from your profile.  You can easily insert a link with the anchor text of your own choosing from your Google+ profile.  Keep in mind, that if people regularly engage with you on your profile, share your posts, or that link directly to your profile, the value that link passes to your site increases.
  2. Place links in your posts.  But be careful not to get carried away!  If you do a link for every post, Google gets somewhat ornery.  It wants what it calls “natural” links.  The best way to think about natural links is this:  think about relevant content you can offer your followers, and if a link to your site fits in, then post it.
  3. Your new content is indexed fast.  Depending on the site, Google can take a couple weeks, or even up to a month, before your content is added to its search index.  No one knows the specifics for Google+, but people have witnessed content posted to Google+ has been indexed almost instantly.  In any case, Google’s goal with the platform is to compete with other social media sites, so why wouldn’t content here post any faster?
  4. Use it.  Currently, 1 out of 4 people who use Google+ once per month.  This number is increasing, but the general point is that by being active and posting valuable content for your audience, you are immediately putting yourself at an advantage.
  5. Optimize your profile picture for conversions.  Test out different profile pictures.  Make sure to track the click-through-rates from your profile to your website in Google Analytics.  Eventually, you’ll land on one that outperforms all of the others.
  6. Edit your posts as needed…anytime.  At Facebook, you have a limited amount of time to edit your posts.  At Twitter, you can never edit them, only delete them.  If you put out a post and think it should succeed, but the post hasn’t done so, you can edit just about everything about it.  Typically the headline is the best place to start, as that’s what appears in the SERPs.

If You Have Time, Do It

Any SEO value you can pass your own site helps, so the moral of the story is:  if you have time available do it.  Who knows, your next post could go viral and attract extensive attention.

Dan Stelter6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO
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SEO: Optimize for Clicks, as Well as Rankings

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photodune 2745038 optimization xs 300x218 SEO:  Optimize for Clicks, as Well as RankingsAs Devenia has grown as an SEO company, we’ve expanded our ability to provide value to our clients.  Our core expertise lies in helping websites rank highly for their targeted keywords, and to that end we have been very successful.  In addition, we’ve also been helping our customers optimize their conversions.

Our experience has been that previous SEO companies some of our clients have worked with have helped them optimize well for rankings, but not for clicks.  What are we talking about?  Let us show you some examples to help you learn more.

Strategies for Click Optimization

  • It all begins with your title.  Every SEO professional will tell you to have a keyword-rich title – and that’s good advice.  In addition to getting that keyword-rich title, however, the title should be attractive for searchers.  An example of a good SEO title that doesn’t compel people to click is, “Suede Sofas Available at Company X.”  As a searcher, I wouldn’t be too excited to click on this title.  However, change that title to “Free Shipping on Suede Sofas at Company X,” and now I’m ready to click.  You have to tell me what’s in it for me in the title.
  • Action-oriented META description.  Most SEOs don’t even talk about META descriptions.  Why?  Google officially announced a while back that META descriptions provide no SEO value whatsoever.  But they do provide serious click value.  What should you do?  The META description should include the keyword because the keyword is bolded when users search for it, making it easier to for them to find in the SERPs just after they have searched.  Then, the META description needs to be action-oriented.  Going back to the suede sofas example, you would say something like, “Browse our ultra-fine, comprehensive selection of suede sofas.  Each sofa is hand made and is guaranteed to last 20 years, or your money back.”  That description tells searchers what’s in it for them, giving them extra incentive to click.
  • Creating attractive content on the landing page.  After you’ve gotten people to click through, the final step in click optimization is to have attractive landing page content.  Many SEOs fall into the trap of simply regurgitating the keyword in the content a few times in order to rank well.  It is important to get the keyword in the content, but it’s also important to make the content interesting.  Most e-commerce sites, the type of site that would be selling suede sofas, have little to no content.  But, each e-commerce page should have content on it, both for SEO and click optimization.  For our suede sofas example, you would describe the attractive benefits each offers to prospective buyers.  So, you would talk about the fine craftsmanship, what makes these sofas so comfortable, why guests will like these sofas, and you might also answer common objections people might have about buying them.

All This Fine-Tuning Adds up to More Clicks

The net result of optimizing these parts of content is more clicks.  The saying goes, “SEO gets them there, but content keeps them there.”    Together, SEO and click optimization generate what you want:  increased revenues.

Dan StelterSEO: Optimize for Clicks, as Well as Rankings
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4 Reasons Business Blogging is Essential

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blog1 300x166 4 Reasons Business Blogging is EssentialIf you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know how we advocate link-building as being the primary driver of SEO.  And, the reason for that is because that’s the case.  Other factors are growing and diminishing in important, but right now, and in the future, back link building gives you the greatest bang for your marketing dollar.  Why?  It gets people to your site, so you can start making additional revenues, which you can use to further grow your business.

Long-term, however, back link building isn’t the only SEO service you need.

In fact, blogging is a huge long-term driver of additional traffic and SEO value.  Why?  I’ll outline a few reasons below.

Why Blogging is Essential for Any Business.

Google likes “fresh” content.
One significant part of your site’s rankings lies in having regularly-updated content on your site.  The Google Fresh Update, effective as of November 2011, means Google will give your site preference in the search engine rankings if you have regularly-updated content.

In another respect, the Fresh Update also ranks the most recent content highest for a given search term because usually that’s what people are searching for.  If you search for “how to fix a leaky pipe,” for example, Google is more likely (not guaranteed) to return a result from this year because that’s what type of pipe you are probably looking to fix (as opposed to a leaky pipe from the 1950s).

Customers need answers.
Searchers are looking for a succinct answer to their question – so why not position yourself as the resource to go to?  If they want to fix a leaky pipe, write an article on just that which shows them how to do it, even if they don’t have great handyman skills.  You might not get paid to make the repair, but when they need a repair they can’t handle, they’ll contact you.  If a friend or family member needs plumbing services, then your name will be the first to come to mind!

Builds long-term traffic.
You might hear stories about the bloggers who built a blog and made six figures just a few short months later.  The fact is, however, most blogs only make a few hundred dollars per year, if that.

Makes blogging sound impossible and worthless – doesn’t  it?  But it’s not!
Here’s why:  Those exceptional blogs that take off in a few months and build six figures of revenue or more are like people who win the lottery.  It’s really tough to do, takes some skill, and a whole lotta luck.  For most, by blogging consistently (at least 4 articles per month), you build a dedicated following that purchases from you and uses your services (and spreads the word about your services) over time.

You get new customers and more traction in search engines for a low cost.
A good blog article costs you $50 to write, at least.  If you do at least 4 articles per month ($200), you’ve spent $2400 on it in one year.  Keep in mind, you should have a monthly newsletter available for people to sign up for, so you can keep their contact information and make more sales in the future.  That $2400 you spend allows you to market to your e-mail list and bring in new customers over and over again, for years into the future!  Compare this to radio, TV, and print ads, which run a set number of times and stop.

Free is Always Better.
In regard to search engine traction, each post can rank highly for a targeted keyword.  If your post is particularly useful, people will share it through their social media accounts or link to it, all without you even having to ask.  Plus, you can link your post to other on-site posts, your site’s home page, or other important pages on your site to increase your on-page SEO value.  All of these little ins and outs build your search engine rankings and make it easier for customers to find you.
When you blog, don’t think of it as an additional cost.  If you do it consistently,  you will reap a number of additional freebies, turning your “costly” blog posts into a very wise investment.

Dan Stelter4 Reasons Business Blogging is Essential
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How can Internet Marketing Help a Salesman Increase his Profits?

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As a salesman, you always want to increase your sales, but what is another method that can help you in addition to the networking and cold calling you currently do?  The answer, my friend, is internet marketing.  Anyone who wants to can perform their own search engine optimization, but unfortunately, it’s becoming very complex to do so.  In fact, it’s becoming so complex that it’s a full-time occupation in itself.

But, the benefit of that is you don’t have to sit there and spend more hours working on your own.  Instead, you can hire someone to do it for you, which allows you to focus on what you excel at – selling.

Why Should Internet Marketing be Used to Help Increase Leads?

Besides the previously-mentioned benefit of having someone else do it, the most obvious reason is that everyone is searching online first for what they need.  In-person word-of-mouth rarely happens anymore – it’s all done online through Facebook, Twitter, chat, or any of a number of other methods of communication.

A salesman knows that in part, sales is a numbers game.  In order to get the profits you want, you have to contact so many people.  An effective SEO strategy will provide you with the additional leads you need in order to be successful selling what you do.

How Much Should You Spend on Internet Marketing?

This is a very difficult question to answer.  Perhaps the best thing to do is to set aside a small amount of money each month, somewhere between $500 – $2000.  The reason for this is that you can spend just about as much as you want on internet marketing, so it makes sense to start with what is necessary first.

And what is necessary is the search engine optimization aspect of things.  SEO brings the traffic there and gets you noticed in the search engines.  Then, once you start realizing profits from that, you might choose to spend more on additional internet marketing services.  But, then again you might be happy with your profits the way they are and choose not to spend anymore.  Here are some additional areas where you may choose to spend additionally once you’ve realized some of the financial benefits of search engine optimization:

  • Increased spending on more keywords in order to generate even more leads and sales
  • Copywriting, which helps increase the rate at which people actually contact you
  • On-page SEO, which helps provide a small boost to your search engine rankings
  • Blogging, which assists in customer engagement and spreading the word regarding the products and services you are selling
  • Social media campaigns, which are an additional method for maintaining customer engagement and increasing word-of-mouth advertising

If you start adding in all of these additional services, you can run up tens and thousands of dollars in expenses.  But at the same time, your sales can increase significantly too.  As with anything, the best thing to do is to start small and test and then scale your business, if and when you are ready.

Photo by Brad Montgomery cc How can Internet Marketing Help a Salesman Increase his Profits?

Dan StelterHow can Internet Marketing Help a Salesman Increase his Profits?
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Why Doctors Looking to Grow their Patient Base Should Consider SEO

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doctor patient entering Why Doctors Looking to Grow their Patient Base Should Consider SEOProfessionals well-established and experience in their careers may not be aware of the benefits of search engine optimization.  However, for doctors looking to grow their patient base and the size of their practice, search engine optimization (SEO) presents the most effective solution.

Fortunately, search engine optimization doesn’t require a huge budget to get started.  You can get started and generate effective results for as low as a few hundred dollars per month, but it may be more effective to spend slightly more than that.

Here’s a general example of how search engine optimization would work for a doctor:

  1.  He or she would work with an experienced SEO professional to learn which keywords would work best
  2. Generally, the keywords would be geo-targeted in order to ensure people in the local area find your practice
  3. Back links are built to the website’s home page, driving up its ranking
  4. More patients call and contact you because they can now find your practice easily online

There are many more internet marketing techniques that can be used to help increase the number of patients your practice recieves, but those are the bare essentials you will need to get started.  You can have your internet marketing professional perform other techniques for you, or you can do them on your own.  Here are a few additional strategies an SEO professional might use in order to help your business get discovered online:

  • List your site in major business directories (Angie’s List, Google Places, Yelp! and many more…)
  • Develop benefits-oriented META titles and descriptions that contain 1 mention of your keyword and a geo-targeted term
  • Create a separate page on your site targeted around each geographical region you intend to serve (suburb, city, state, country)
  • Encourage your customers to provide you with positive reviews at major business directories
  • Respond to any negative reviews publicly by providing a solution
  • Build links with other local businesses
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to grow your client base

If this sounds like a ton of work, that’s because it is.  If you can use one service out of all of these, the best choice is the back linking.  Why?  Because it has a very large impact on your site’s rankings, and it might even have the largest impact of all factors taken into account when your site is ranked.  Additionally, it will cost you a fair amount of money to add on all the other tactics, and more than likely they won’t provide as great of an impact.

What is the Net Effect of SEO?

When a professional has executed a search engine optimization strategy successfully, the net effect is increased patient inquiries regarding your practice.  And, the additional revenues you generate based on those inquiries far outweigh the expense associated with search engine optimization.

Dan StelterWhy Doctors Looking to Grow their Patient Base Should Consider SEO
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