By Yoongie Min, OD
March 4, 2015
The rules of SEO are ever changing. Hiring an outside expert on generating web traffic more than pays for itself.
MAKE SEO THE TOP PRIORITY.Instruct your consultantto keepyour practice web site and social media pages at the top of the search engine listings.
UPDATE FACEBOOK & OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA. Consultants can freshen your FB pages and other social mediawith currentphotos, videos and information.
MAKE IT ONGOING.Ask your consultant for regularSEO reports, then fine-tune. Search engines change the rules and you must adapt
An optometrist is an eye health and vision expert, but usually not a digital strategy guru. It’s important to realize our limitations and access the knowledge of digital experts, whose services are readilyavailable. Last year, I realized my practice could use extra help to take our practice web site and overall online strategy, including social media, to the next level. Here is how we optimize the services of a digital strategy consultancy.
An optometrist may have the technical and web skills to manage their own presence. However, this also takes time and effort, which many optometrists do not have. Delegating digital strategy management to an outsource partner allows me to have one person and one company to contact to maintain our web site and social media pages. So far, I think this has been money well spent, giving me needed expertise and peace of mind.
The company that I am using generally charges between $350 to $600 per month depending on the level of service required and the amount of web site personalization desired. I thought the monthly cost was a reasonable amount for someone to manage all of the aspects of my web presence. In the past, we used a company that only did search engine optimization, and charged us over $700 a month.
More importantly, the work this consultancy does–updating our web site and Facebook pages and providing SEO services–would otherwise have required time taken from the busy days of my staff and myself. Having a consultant allows me more time to see patients and generate revenue.
Identify Role for Outsource Partner
I felt our office needed someone to manage digital management functions, such as updating our practice and Facebook pages and improving our search engine optimization, in a coherent and strategic fashion. We had always used a local web professional to manage our web site, but they were not always responsive in a timely manner. In addition, a few years ago, we hired a company to help us with our SEO results and they did a good job. However, without the constant SEO work, our search result placement had dropped off on Google and other search engines. And, finally, we had managed our own Facebook page just using some of our employees, but it left a lot to be desired.
I had a few main goals for any company that we would work with. We wanted a constant driver of our search results, a more responsive web site manager and we also wanted to expand our presence on other social media such as Yelp, Google Plus, Bing and Yahoo.
Find and Hire
I began my search by talking to companies at major trade shows such as Vision Expo, and also, by talking to other optometrists who had a reputation for good social media and web presence. In an ideal world, a practice should probably interview and vet at least three different companies. However, in my case, I only talked to one company that I had already heard of and that had a good reputation.
Implement Plans for Improvement
Our outsource company had many examples of different types of web sites to choose from on their own site. My job was to narrow those choices down to a few that I liked and then to make a final decision on the layout to use. They then did a temporary mock up that allowed me to see what the pages would look like and allowed me to make changes before we went live.
The major work of revamping my web site, and making sure we had all of the needed access for web site hosting, Google Plus, Facebook and other sites, took less than a few weeks to implement. We did not have much downtime since the new web site went up immediately upon shutting down our old web site. As the CEO of my practice, I had the role of passing along our vision, mission statement and role in the community to the account manager. My staff was responsible for updating their personal biographic information that we placed on the web site, along with new pictures of themselves and the office.
Drive Traffic to Improved Site
I think the most challenging part of the process was deciding what strategies we would implement to drive traffic to our web site, what search engine terms to concentrate on, and what information we wanted on our web site and social media pages. We were helped by our account manager with this information since the company I am using has worked with so many different practices and has a feeling for my type of practice and location. This is an ongoing process, however, and we review these items on a monthly basis.
The main changes we made to drive more traffic to our site were based on changing the phrases we wanted to concentrate on for our search engine optimization. Our firm gathered data for a few months on what phrases were being used by those looking for an eye doctor in my geographic area in search engine sites and then we decided which words and phrases to concentrate on. They helped me localize my search results more than I had done in the past. In addition, we also decided on monthly campaigns to run on our web site highlighting diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye diseases and conditions. Our firm has also done a more professional job than we did of posting informational items to our Facebook page, as well as making sure we are also posting fun things like pictures and personal notes.
Organize Monthly Call with Outsource Partner
Monthly calls with my account manager ensure our digital strategy stays on target and well implemented. The company collects a lot of data on how many hits my web site gets, which pages are visited, how many calls from prospective patients we get from the web site, along with other metrics like number of page views and the amount of time each visitor spends on our site, and how our rankings on search engines like Google are doing. These regular updates help me understand where my patients are coming from and how to target more of these people.