- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On July 8, 2015
If you’ve done any SEO work, you know there’s a lot more to it than just finding a few keywords to include in your content. You’ve also got meta descriptions, URLs, image alt tags, redirects, XML site maps… and that’s just on your website. If you’re doing off-page local SEO too (and you should be), the list gets even longer. It’s hard work, especially if you’re just getting started.
SEO is a lot like going to the gym. It takes time to get going and see results, and you can’t stop or all your hard work will disappear. To prevent that from happening and maximize your hospital’s profits, you need a strict regimen to get everything in order and keep it that way.
Great SEO doesn’t happen overnight
No one would try to run a marathon without training first. If you did, you’d be lucky to not finish last—if you finished at all. Instead, you start off by jogging and running shorter races to build up your endurance. SEO is the same way—each step in the process leads to another one as you cumulatively build results.
Just take a look at this local SEO checklist. It’s enough to make your head spin, and if you tried to do too much off the bat, you’d almost certainly get discouraged by the sheer volume of work. Sure, there are programs that offer “shortcuts,” but their black or gray hat tactics will only get you penalized by the search engines. By building up your program the right way, you’ll make things better for yourself both now and down the road.
If you stop, you’ve got to start over
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve run one marathon or fifty—if you sit on the couch for a year without training, you’ll have to ease yourself back into things. Again, SEO is the same way; you can’t just stop doing it and expect your results to last. The landscape is constantly changing as Google revises its algorithm and SEO experts try to outwit it.
Take mobile for example. Everyone knows that you need to focus on mobile search these days, but no one knows what the technology will look like in a year, much less five or ten. Sitting out for any length of time will almost certainly lead to you getting left behind.
Getting started and evaluating yourself
Most people take some sort of evaluation when they join a gym. When you launch a new SEO initiative, it’s important to perform a thorough evaluation so you have a baseline to which you can compare future results. It’s like a “before” picture taken to give a later “after” picture context.
When you start out, your objective might be grand—running a marathon—or it could be more modest—running a charity 5K. Both are admirable goals, but knowing which one you’re shooting for is key to managing your expectations.
Similarly, your SEO goals might be to increase appointments for a single service line or practice, or you may have been tasked with managing more than one simultaneously. The latter isn’t impossible, but just like training for that marathon, it’ll take longer to build up your process and achieve optimal results.
Every time you step on a scale or look in a mirror, you make a judgment about your progress, often without even realizing you’re doing it. Sometimes these snap judgments can be misleading, which is why it’s important to have baseline numbers. The analytics showing the results of your program are your “after” picture, and it’s only when you compare it with the “before” picture that you can see how far you’ve come.
Don’t make a resolution and forget about it
Everyone knows that gym membership skyrockets in January as people make resolutions before falling off again in February and March as they lose motivation. It’s easy to do the same with SEO when it’s piled on top of a hundred other responsibilities, but you won’t see the real benefits if you don’t stick with it, and any you do see won’t last long.
No matter how good your program is, its full effectiveness requires time and effort. Running for six months may give you a nice boost, but you’ve got to keep running if you want to keep seeing those results.