Often when I talk to clients about search engine optimization for their professional practice, it becomes a conversation about rankings and why another practice is higher up in the search engine results than they are, etc. While we want to address success and competitive strategies, we cannot focus on rankings over true results.

What’s the difference? I thought the rankings WERE the results!

A common misconception about SEO is that it’s all about finding your name in the proverbial bright lights of page one in Google and other search engines. While we are always after attacking good rankings, they can ebb and flow at any time for several reasons. We want to make sure your phone is ringing with the right calls for your business above all else.

This is why our online marketing strategy for professional practices involves more than just your website, but encompasses local directory listings, social media, and often pay per click advertising.

The Changing Tide of Rankings

Have you ever been at the beach or on a boat in the ocean and tried to keep track of a single wave? It is difficult, if not impossible. Trying to focus only on a single aspect of your online marketing strategy (such as rankings) is going to be just about as effective.

A number of things can skew what you see when you search for your own keywords, and mostly they have to do with “personalized search”.

  • When you continue to search for the same thing, search engines will believe you have not yet found what you’re looking for in the original results it has shown, so you may actually see your own site sinking lower as you perform these manual searches.
  • Sometimes the ranking is different based upon your most recent other searches, and where you are currently searching from geographically.
  • If you are signed into your Google account when you perform your search, you can see more of what your contacts have liked and shared recently above the more “static” web results. This can include new blog posts, articles, etc. This is one reason blog posting can really help keep you ranking as it creates evergreen and ever-changing content to be crawled, shared, and indexed.
  • Search engine algorithm changes also make a big difference in how websites and other online properties appear in search results at any given time. If Google, for example, updates the formula for what they consider the ideal combination of factors to help a website show up in their results, a website can rise or fall, or simply appear to have “moved” because another site moved up or down based on the new unknown criteria.

What does all of this mean for your rankings? It means that there’s more than simply jockeying for first position. The change one can see at any given moment with rankings means our strategy has to be bigger than that. We have to effectively market you online to get your contact forms filled out, your phone ringing, and ultimately get people in your office for consultations.

Hopefully this answers the age old question, “Why is that guy outranking me when our practice is better?” Google and other search engines are not going to be ranking websites solely based on how good the businesses are. The only way Google knows if a business “isn’t that good” is if they have bad reviews all over the web, and even then, it doesn’t count a site out. We have to aim to make your online presence better at all times. Older sites can often trump sites created in the last 5 years, for example, and it doesn’t matter that the older site owner may not be the best in the business. There are plenty of unseen aspects of SEO that can be at play.

So yes, your fiercest competitor who cuts corners and isn’t the best can still do better than you online when it comes to rankings. So what do we do?

A well-rounded online marketing strategy replaces traditional “SEO”

While we perform SEO services for our clients, it is with a completely different approach than past incarnations of SEO strategies.

In the past, it was a bit simpler; we held to tried and true ethical SEO strategies waiting for good rankings to come. Now we must coordinate with every other aspect of your online marketing suite to create a web presence that brings you business.

In the past, most marketing firms would stop at rankings and say the rest is up to you to get the paying business. We are different, and have found we MUST be different. We track your success by a number of metrics beyond rankings, including the most important: increased revenue to your professional practice.

Today’s search engine optimization includes:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media (including interactions, shares, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (the code, etc.)
  • Proper keywords being used
  • Relevant inbound links to your website
  • Online reviews
  • Interaction with search engine services (Google especially)
  • Tactical page by page website strategy
  • User experience (what happens after the click through?)
  • Proper tracking and reporting
  • AND MORE!

Firm Media is focused on all aspects of your online presence, including your organic SEO results. If you have questions, our team is more than happy to schedule a time to chat. We customize each client’s strategy for the needs and goals specific to his or her practice.

Next time you find yourself wondering, “what are my rankings?”, rethink your question and ask, “am I getting the results I need?”.

– Anna Bourland (SEO Specialist)