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How to Keep Your Current SEO Rankings While Redesigning Your Practice Website

March 27 2015 | Posted in Medical SEO | SEO

website_redesign image

You have a medical practice site that you have had up since 2004 and you think it’s time for a “fresh design”. How do you go about updating the look of your site while still maintaining your organic traffic and page index? By following these tips you can save yourself from a big Google punishment and keep your medical practice from losing rankings on the keywords you care most about.

If you are considering a website redesign then I strongly recommend you get advice from someone who understands SEO and website design.  Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What pages are we deleting and why are we deleting them? Can the content be reworked into existing pages? If a page needs to be deleted, make sure you point to the new page and get some of the same content in place so Google understands what to rank the page for.
  2. Where are the pages being redirected to? All pages that are deleted should be 301 redirected to a new page you want to rank in place of the old page.
  3. What keywords do the deleted pages rank for and how much traffic are they driving? If you have a page driving considerable traffic for a valuable keyword I would think twice before deleting it entirely.
  4. How many internal links are we losing and to what pages were they linking? Deleting internal links can be a major factor in lost rankings.
  5. What URLs are we redirecting the deleted page URLs to?
  6. Are the redirected pages doing a good job of covering the same content and optimized for the same keywords? If you are 301 redirecting to a new page, make sure it is relevant and optimized for those keywords.
  7. Are we keeping the same URL structure or changing it. Google indexes pages based on the URL. It’s like a social security number for your pages. If you change the URL structure, it looks like a whole new page to Google.
  8. Is the main navigation or sub navigation changing significantly? Changes in the hierarchical structure of your site can significantly change how Google passes link juice through your site and rankings can be affected.
  9. How are the title tags and meta descriptions changing for each page? Changing these to new keywords can essentially reset your rankings for a page.
  10. Are the image alt tags changing? You may be surprised how much traffic you drive from images on Google images, or how much your image tags affect your page ranking for a certain keyword. Change these with care.

While this seems like a daunting list of questions to tackle before a site redesign, failure to look at these questions and have a plan for them can severely affect your website. By addressing these questions, you can change your website redesign and still keep your legacy SEO benefits.

Aaron Evans
President
LaunchMD.com

How To Get More Traffic To Your Medical Practice

October 10 2012 | Posted in SEO

Revenue Progress Report

Orthopedic Group Case Study Part 1: Keyword Research

This is a case study for an ongoing client we have that we took from around 200 visitors a month to over 4500 in 3 years. That is a 2,250% increase in traffic, and they have seen similar growth in revenue by turning the traffic into new clients.

google analytics data for client

I thought I would go over the major processes we undertook so you can learn from our methodology. Of course, I can’t reveal every secret sauce tactic we used as I have to reserve some things for paying clients. However, by following this mini-course and sticking to these fundamentals you can see the same results and maybe even better for your website.I will try and lay this out in short and succinct steps. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about what you read here.I will break this up into a few posts as it is so long.

Step 1: Understand Your Clients Business

While this may sound obvious, you would be surprised how many SEO and internet marketers fail to really get inside the head of the client and pick their brain. If you don’t understand who the customer is (the customer of the client), then it will be harder to target them effectively.

Here is an example of what we learned in understanding our Orthopedic client:

  • They like to focus on knee and hip surgeries
  • They want people that have health insurance and not medicare
  • They only want to focus on a part of their city based on geographic proximity
  • They want to do public outreach and cross partnerships in their area

If we didn’t take the time to talk with them and understand their particular business and needs, we could have started out optimizing for the wrong keywords and driven unqualified traffic to their website. Ultimately, the volume of traffic is less important than the relevance, although having both is great.

Step 2: Keyword Research

Once we have an understanding of who their clients are, what services they want to promote, and generally how they get paid, we can start on the keyword research. Its important to keep in mind that there are two main types of keyword research. There is keyword research for SEO and keyword research for PPC.They are really two completely different animals, as SEO it is much more important that you focus on a smaller number of keywords and that you get those keywords right. It takes awhile to rank for competitive keywords even when you have a solid plan and strategy over time. If you don’t start with the right keywords, all subsequent efforts may very well be in vain.

So what do we look for in keywords? That answer depends in part on how ambitious the client is and how much money they are willing to spend. SEO is expensive and time consuming and it can take some convincing to tell a client that they are going to have to shell out a lot of their hard earned money for potential keyword results they may not see for 6-12 months.

By gauging how aggressive they want to be long term with their need for quick results, I usually use a hybrid approach of targeting a percentage of general keywords that are high traffic volume and competitive, a percentage of keywords that are more specific, still have solid volume and strong competition and a percentage devoted to the long tail of keywords that are very targeted, but have lower volume and competition.

By using this strategy, you have a plan in place for highly competitive keywords that you have a chance of ranking for in the long term, medium volume keywords that you have a good chance of ranking for in 6-12 months, and the longer tail keywords that you can start seeing results on in just 1-3 months.

So what did we come up with for our client? Below is a keyword report I ran in 2010. The first column is the keyword, the second column is the competition level (on a scale of 0 to 1 with 1 being the most competitive), and the third column is the search volume.

Keywords Advertiser Competition Local Search Volume: August
surgery hip replacement

0.46

40500

hip seattle

0

8100

seattle surgeons

0.73

6600

knee surgery pain

0.66

6600

physical therapy seattle

0.66

5400

knee sports medicine

0.4

5400

rehabilitation hip

0.26

3600

seattle surgical

3600

knee hip replacement

0.53

3600

burning pain knee

0.46

3600

hip knee replacement

0.73

3600

physical therapy elbow

0.6

2900

orthopaedic knee surgery

0.66

2400

knee replacement surgeon

0.73

2400

partial tear acl

0.4

1900

seattle spine

0.27

1900

knee replacement exercise

0.66

1900

seattle orthopedics

0.53

1600

sports medicine seattle

0.46

1600

physical therapy hip replacement

0.46

1600

new knee surgery

0.6

1600

partial knee surgery

0.6

1600

swelling after knee surgery

0.46

1600

knee replacement unicompartmental

0.4

1300

recovery from knee surgery

0.53

1300

alternative knee replacement

0.53

1300

seattle orthopedic surgeons

0.67

1000

recovery hip resurfacing

0.33

1000

knee surgery pictures

0.53

1000

seattle hand surgery

0.67

880

jogging knee pain

0.73

880

female knee replacement

0.6

880

gender knee replacement

0.6

880

orthopedic surgeon seattle

0.67

720

total knee replacement procedure

0.66

720

hip replacement surgeon

0.66

720

titanium knee replacement

0.66

720

minimally invasive total knee replacement

0.66

720

seattle orthopedic center

0.4

590

seattle foot and ankle

0.27

590

metal on metal hip replacement

0.6

590

mis knee replacement

0.66

590

knee replacement options

0.73

590

new knee replacement surgery

0.6

590

sports medicine clinic seattle

0

480

osteoarthritis knee surgery

0.6

480

hip replacement costs

0.66

480

knee replacement complication

0.6

480

knee surgery costs

0.6

480

minimally invasive hip replacement surgery

0.8

480

seattle orthopaedic

0.33

390

total knee joint replacement

0.66

390

computer assisted knee replacement

0.6

390

artificial knee replacement

0.66

390

replacement knee joints

0.46

390

knee surgery options

0.46

390

knee joint replacements

0.66

390

hip joint resurfacing

0.6

320

knee replacement operations

0.73

320

knee cap injuries

0.53

320

mis hip replacement

0.6

320

knee replacment surgery

0.6

320

failed knee replacement

0.46

320

ceramic knee replacement

0.6

320

seattle orthopedic surgery

0.53

260

orthopedic associates seattle

260

artificial hip replacement

0.66

260

knee replacement surgury

0.66

260

knee repalcement

0.4

260

knee replacement surgeries

0.73

260

minimal invasive knee surgery

0.6

260

joint replacement arthroplasty

0.46

260

less invasive knee surgery

0.46

260

orthopedic specialists seattle

210

hip replacement seattle

0.4

210

hip replacement seattle

0.4

210

hip replacement seattle

0.4

210

orthopedic surgery seattle

0.33

210

orthopedists seattle

210

seattle hand surgery group

0.47

210

Keep in mind that with the Google Keyword Tool, the competition level you are seeing is based on PPC numbers, but it still gives you a great idea of what the competition is going after.

Lets look at a couple of these keywords in detail:

hip seattle

0

8100

hip seattle has ZERO competition and 8100 searches a month, the second most in this research, so why didn’t we pick it? If you guessed its because hip seattle probably has more to do with coffee shops, hipster bands, and trendy bars then you are thinking like a search marketer.

orthopedic surgery seattle

0.33

210

orthopedists seattle

210

These two keywords get at the heart of what they are.They have low competition and 210 searches a month. They are targeted keywords that are very relevant. If they just get a couple new patients a month from those keywords, it can have a huge impact on their business.

knee replacement seattle

0.13

91

seattle hip surgery

46

These two keywords get at the heart of what they do. Extremely low competition and search volume, so they should be easy to rank for. But look at how extremely relevant they are. If you lived in seattle and needed a new knee or hip, what would be your first Google search? The chances of them picking up a few clients a month from these keywords is high, and the revenue impact on their business could be six figures.

Another point I’d like to make is about adding geographic keyword modifiers. With a geographically based business that doesn’t sell online, it doesn’t make sense not to use geo targeting. What good is it to get a click from a poor laid-up athlete in New Jersey. Is he going to get on a plane and travel across country to see an orthopedic group in Seattle? Probably not.

Now keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you need to go sticking the geographic modifier all over the place and next to each keyword. Google does a great job about figuring out search intent and if they should display businesses that are closer for certain types of searches. Always write content and titles in natural language and never force keywords in your text. In fact, doing so could incur the wrath of Google’s new quality control algorithm called Panda.

So to recap:

  • We took a mixture of high volume, high competition keywords along with medium and long tail keywords so that we have long, medium and short term goals.
  • We targeted who they are such as “seattle orthopedic specialists” and “seattle orthopedic surgeons”
  • We targeted what they do such as “seattle knee surgery” and “hip impingement surgery”
  • We went after highly relevant keywords even if they have what appear to be very low volumes.
  • We kept an eye out for real herrings like hip seattle which looked too good to be true at first glance, and it was by using a little semantic detective work in your head to figure out what the searchers real intent may be.

Now to be certain, there are other keywords in that list that you could make arguments for or against.Doing keyword research is not about getting it 100% right because that’s just not possible. But if you stick to a plan and diversify between the types of keywords you go after, you can get great results quickly that affect the bottom line as well as work towards that keywords that will drive more traffic but are harder to attain first page rankings for.

Now if this was PPC research, we could test a lot more keywords at once and see how they perform. It is just not possible to go after so many keywords with SEO unless you have massive resources to create content and build links. I’ll do a separate piece on PPC keyword research later;)

Lets fast forward to today. We now have 3.5 years of organic keyword data. So we know from the analytic chart above that 77% of their traffic has come from organic search rankings.

Here is a breakdown of the referring traffic:

 

You can see that Google drove the most traffic by far, followed by direct traffic and then Yahoo and Bing organic.

But what about the keywords that drove the traffic? Did they line up with the ones we picked back in 2009?Here is a breakdown of the top 20 performing keywords and how much traffic they drove.

client referring keyword data

The (not provided) keywords are blocked due to encrypted searches when people are logged in, so we have no access to those.

But below that we have many variations of seattle orthopedics and seattle orthopedic surgeons.

We also have a few variations on hip keywords and knee keywords in there. So overall, our keyword selection ended up driving a lot of traffic. What you don’t see here is the extremely long tail of traffic that added together dwarfs the top performing keywords. What drives so many long tail keyword searches to the site? We will examine that in another section as that comes later.

We picked keywords that ended up ranking high enough to drive significant traffic while remaining very relevant to the practice. Judging from the feedback we have received from the client, they are getting more traffic than ever from their website and scheduling more patients.

We were able to find keywords that would drive a good amount of traffic AND convert. What I’m going to show you a little later on is how to continue the practice of optimizing for the long tail in your content creation so you can capture the incredible power of the long tail.

So what’s next after keyword research? Optimizing the website for the targeted keywords. I will cover that in the next installment of this case study.

Regards!

Aaron Evans

President and Owner

LaunchBIG LLC