Posted on January 12, 2009

Developing NEW websites

Developing Brand New Ophthalmology Websites As It Pertains to SEO.
Navigating The NEW Website Obstacles on your Search Engine Campaign.

Website development in the field of ophthalmology has seen a dramatic rise in importance over the last several years simply because more people are researching medical information and finding doctors through the Internet. The following article provides important information for ophthalmology practices wishing to start a new website or build a new one. If you feel that your first attempt at a website was a disaster you are not alone. Developing a new website from scratch is a large project with many variables and requires serious thought and planning. If done properly your practice will certainly benefit.

As I work more into my series on building your Internet marketing system I need to take a step back and inform the ophthalmology community of some important facts for consideration prior to even selecting the company for the build-out. The better your preliminary planning, the better you will do once the website is launched. Because the search engine algorithms change on a regular basis it is important to note that the issues disclosed in this article are pertinent today December of 2007. I have reviewed five areas to consider when preparing for your organic search engine positioning campaign.

When starting a new ophthalmology or even LASIK website you need to first decide if you wish to show up on the search engines. My opinion is that showing up on the search engines is very important. Do not assume that every person in your vicinity knows your practice. If you have decided that you want to index pages on the main search engines you will need to develop a website that considers the elements of the search algorithms. Whatever company you choose to build your ophthalmology website, be certain to explain the importance of search engine positioning.

Do all websites start out at the same point?
1. The domain name

It is common knowledge that an older domain name is far more valuable than a new one when launching a new website. Many doctors become frustrated with search results if they purchase a domain name for the first time and then attempt to jump in the mix. I realize this is a society of immediate impact, but I am sorry to say that a brand new website on a brand new domain name is severely handicapped against a website that has been live for over 5 years. This is where realistic expectations will be required and the SEO and practice need to work together to overcome this obstacle. It is very easy to get frustrated at this level; however, abandoning attempts to perform on the search engines is the worst decision that can be made. If you do not start now you will be even further behind. I like to tell medical practices to think of it as on-going changing project. You may go through several companies along the way, but at each step your website will grow. The good news is that within one years time drastic progress can be made if you are properly directed by your SEO company. It is actually quite astonishing that the SEO companies in ophthalmology have not properly communicated this to their clients. Quite frankly they should have, because it would have prevented angry blog posts of dissatisfied clients. Even worse is the fact that several SEO companies have taken credit for good SEO work when in fact it was the age of the website and solid content that did most of the work. Ophthalmologists need to clearly understand that A. This is a journey that will last the time of the business and B. Your SEO strategy cannot be a cookie cutter approach and you need a consultative firm with results. With anything less you are wasting valuable time and money. Ophthalmology optimization is simply no longer something companies can bottle up and sell like a package of cookies. Those days are long gone. The best tip I can give a doctor with no SEO experience hoping to show up on search engines is to buy a domain name immediately and at the very least make a simple website. This is the first step to leveling the playing field. Keep in mind…search engines do not rank based on who is the best doctor, but I am sure most people reading this far will know this anyway. The next step is to hire a good SEO company with relevant work experience. A great and ophthalmology specific SEO company should be able to effectively optimize a new website and set a platform for future success. As a client, you will have to understand the obstacles and trust your SEO to work through them.

2. A possible sandbox?

Whether you want to call this the sandbox or something else it does not matter. What matters is the fact that the climb to the top of search engines drastically differs from a new domain name and an older one. I am sure many SEO companies will confirm this fact. You may read some other article telling you that the sandbox does not exist or they might call it something different, however; there is some penalty being assessed. Some SEO blogs have traced some patents and have mentioned that patent filings related to the domain name ages have been submitted. Call it what you want, either way you will have to deal with this issue. When seeking a SEO company for your ophthalmology website make sure to ask them how they plan to deal with this issue.

3. Page rank & lack of incoming links

This topic is becoming one of my favorites to address not only because links in general are widely misunderstood, but also clients often expect the SEO company to be solely responsible for this. Have you ever wondered why 2 sites optimized by the same company can perform so differently? If you have done any research on SEO companies in the field of ophthalmology you should have noticed this. Are you a practice that selected a company based on results and never achieved those same results? Did you blame the SEO company? Think about this a little more next time you hire an SEO company. The first item to address is do not expect your SEO company to give you all the links you need. If you do this you will not be getting the most out of your SEO. Naturally, practices want to offload this responsibility because it is not an easy task. This is by far the worst stance that can be taken and ultimately will only hurt the practice. If your practice puts someone in charge of buying media, every single contract should have a link negotiated with it! If this appears to be too much work, then you may need a new marketing director. What needs to occur here is consultation. If you want the SEO work to make a difference then effort has to be administered. This is effort at the practice level and effort at the SEO level. If you can accomplish this you will be on the right path. A link-building plan needs to be developed, adhered to, and implemented. Based on my experience the implementation of this work is very challenging for both entities. In general practices have been treated very well by ophthalmology SEO companies, often making huge returns on investment. Because this media is so new, many of the results have even been misinterpreted and not credited to solid SEO. Before hiring an SEO company you should discuss this topic of link building openly. If there are promises of grandeur, you might ask for a second opinion because no SEO company is all-powerful with respect to link building. Just this quarter SEO blogs are humming with suspicion of certain types of links and the impact that they will make. Companies that charge a very HIGH rate for SEO with NO link building capabilities are an immediate RED flag for me. Granted the importance of links will always be changing, but a company that has weathered the winds of change should be able to talk intelligently about the matter.

My point of view towards link building focus is justified like this. If a marketing director spends resources and time to get a billboard launched and they get one call as a result you have to ask yourself “where is the marketing focus”. The website with decent organic SEO brought in 25 leads last month. No effort was given by the marketing director to building links. With a little more link building effort your organic SEO results could climb higher thus exposing you to more potential patients.

4. Duplicate content

Writing quality custom content seems to be a very big problem with ophthalmology websites. Many websites have duplicate content spread across template websites, some website copywriters just copied content from other websites and other ophthalmology websites do not have enough relevant content to considered an information resource. Content creation is widely misunderstood by most practices, so I hope to clarify the importance of this element website development. The bottom line is simple: If you want to have a website that ranks well on the search engines write your own content. Duplicate content will result in a headache for the SEO company and penalties from the search engines. The duplicate content penalty not only involves the actual text you use on the website pages but it involves how the domain names and page structures are used. Duplicate pages will surely be a problem and putting the same website on two different domains will also engage the duplicate content penalty. If you are serious about the future of your website and the future of your business make sure to take the extra effort and write quality, pertinent content.

5. Targeting keywords that have actual queries

This area has been widely misinterpreted by practices and SEO companies alike. Some SEO companies are under the assumption that large keyword lists are better. Bigger is not better in the world of search engine optimization. Too many keywords can hinder the focus of the website as it is displayed to the search engines. The first way to maintain focus with your strategy would be to use only keywords that people actually query. I have seen practice keyword reports with terms like “endoscopic photocoagulation Denver”. It’s great that you can show up for a term like this but how many patients will search for this? The humorous part is that some SEO companies will say – you can pay me now, we got you on the first page. The better approach would involve getting research on query totals prior to making your keyword list. You may find some keywords like cataract surgery New Hampshire does not get a lot of queries but has enough to justify its position in the keyword list. In general the refractive surgery terms seem to get the most queries of any ophthalmology procedure but IOL search has started to gain momentum. As the manufacturing companies do more to expose their brands and their products these search queries will increase.

I hope you find my discussion regarding these five points useful. Please feel free to check back with this website on a routine basis to read more about developing an Internet marketing system.