When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, change is the only constant. For most medical practices, it is difficult to stand firm on this ever-changing ground, when the rules are changing way faster than they get a chance to implement them. In the blink of an eye, SEO tips and tricks that were working just fine become obsolete and start harming your website.
After over a decade of changes and updates in Google’s algorithms, SEO has turned into a complicated strategy that you cannot take lightly anymore. As a chiropractic practice owner, if you want to survive today’s cut-throat competition, you have to learn to stay ahead of time and competitors.
Since 2017 is almost over, it is important to look back at all the SEO strategies that you implemented throughout the year and how powerfully they worked for you. Even if you had a consistent year, put aside all your failures and start preparing for the next year. And remember: The sooner you begin strategizing for the next year, the better results you can expect. However, while planning your SEO strategies, keep in mind the following trends that will be vital in 2018 for increasing traffic and attracting a niche audience to your practice website.
1. Build the Right Links
Link building is not likely to disappear in 2018, and it will be even more important to create a strategy that establishes quality links. This is one of the most effective ways for Google to know that a website can be trusted. Quality should be preferred over quantity when links are created. It is always better to have one link from a popular and trusted website than to have multiple links from irrelevant directories. There is no need to look for new links if they do not add value and help you build authority in your target market. It is critical to start thinking of link building as a long-term process. While the best links may not necessarily come from the most popular websites, it is important to seek coverage from relevant websites. Referral traffic can contribute a lot to your website’s organic search rankings.
A successful SEO strategy will shift toward relationship building and help your chiropractic practice develop powerful links that will be beneficial in the long term.
The biggest challenge will involve dealing with guest blogs and how to include them in your link-building strategy without hurting your practice’s reputation. Google has warned publishers that there will be a closer look at guest blogs in order to control spammy links. This means you will have to develop a diversified link-building strategy that aims for a complete backlink profile rather than individual links.
To be on a safer side, it is advised to make the backlink profile cleanup a part of your routine. According to the recent link-building survey by PowerSuite, most SEOs are struggling with the lack of opportunities, but there are some useful tactics worth trying. The advice for 2018 is:
- Not wasting time on spammy tricks
- Growing your profile at a natural pace
- Creating helpful content worth linking to
- Establishing relationships with the niche instead of rushing to get as many links as possible
- Turning to legitimate paid methods
2. Increased Mobile Optimization
2018 is likely to be the year when healthcare providers realize the importance of putting mobile first, rather than catering to mobile as a second thought. This will be even more important if Google decides to deploy its mobile-first index. However, even if Google does not, practices need to put mobile first. According to a study by BrightEdge, nearly 57 percent of website traffic comes from mobile devices. In addition, there is a massive difference between the way keywords rank on mobile and desktop. Therefore, mobile-first content is required to have the best chance of being visible in mobile search.
With most searches performed on mobile devices, the demand for accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) is growing. AMPs usually load in less than one second and use ten times fewer data than the non-AMPs. In addition, with our attention span now at eight seconds, it is essential to keep your readers engaged in those critical moments.
Google’s focus on AMPs has made a lot of publishers consider their use, currently counting over 2 billion AMPs. This demand is likely to grow in 2018, helping practices improve their patient engagement rate and overall patient experience through responsive mobile pages.
If you have not considered implementing AMP yet, it is a great time to get on board. According to Google, over 900,000 domains have accepted the AMP framework. Practices that want to keep up with the fluctuations in mobile search need to decide whether they want AMP or any other fixes to improve their website speed.
3. Voice Search Popularity Will Rise
Voice commands are becoming the norm for searching content from search engines. According to Google, nearly 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches, and this is likely to grow in 2018. Most users prefer to speak into their smart devices instead of taking the time to type out queries. It is much faster, convenient and is catching on fast. In fact, industry experts imply that if voice search sustains its current growth rate, then in the next three years, nearly 50 percent of the total searches will be via speech. The top reasons for adopting voice searches are familiarity and convenience. Smartphones and virtual assistants are on the rise, and they are becoming a preferred choice for those who prefer not to type on small screens.
Optimization for voice search might be challenging as it is different from the traditional way of Googling queries. Instead of incomplete phrases, visitors will now speak proper questions, which search engines will have to understand. You will also need to optimize your website for the new set of “voice keywords.”
Unlike text-based queries, the voice search queries will be more specific in intent, and the searchers will get immediate solutions. In order to adapt to voice search, you may have to apply the following changes to your content:
- Incorporate long-tail keywords.
- Use natural language and a conversational tone.
- Include an FAQ page and phrase the questions the way real patients would ask them, and provide comprehensive answers.
- The most common intents behind the voice searches are “to know” “to go,” “to buy” and “to do.” Understand the needs of your audience and offer solutions accordingly.
- Keep your local SEO updated as most of the voice searches are local in intent.
4. Content as Quick Answers
Another feature from Google, Quick Answers scans the web for a snippet of content that will answer the user’s query. These snippets are usually in the form of short sentences, bullet points or lists. In order to rank for this snippet box, you need to identify common queries and the intent behind your users’ search queries. You should then aim to answer these questions within your content. FAQ pages are a great way to tackle this. Optimizing your content in order to rank for the rich snippet feature will be a new achievement for healthcare marketers. However, the aim is to be more concise and mobile-friendly. Providing the user with a quick snippet of content that solves their query reduces the need to scroll through long blogs and articles.
Content optimization goes far beyond keywords and requires a more complex approach. The quality and relevance of content will continue to beat quantity. A lot of experts are of the view that producing short pieces of content is less efficient than creating comprehensive “long forms” and keeping them updated.
One of the top SEO trends is optimizing a website to have the content featured. Often, lists are highlighted in the Quick Answers section. By creating a list of solutions to a question, optimizing the page with valuable links and ensuring the page is optimized for mobile users, a website has a higher chance of appearing in a prime location on SERPs. Unique, helpful content tailored to your target audience will never go out of fashion.
5. HTTPS Over HTTP
In April 2017, Google announced that websites requiring users to enter personal data would need to have Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) as an extra layer of security. HTTPS is a superior web browser protocol because it encrypts and filters all communications between the site and the browser. In October 2017, Google started displaying a “not secure” warning for any website that collects user data but does not have HTTPS. However, this warning is only for websites that are viewed in the Chrome browser. By doing this, Google has made it evident that it will favor secure websites over those unsecured ones.
Switching from HTTP to HTTPS makes referral traffic almost obsolete by blocking users from other destinations. In order to implement this SEO technique and retain your referral data, you must back up your HTTP data from HTTPS and make sure your referral data is passed along during the transition.
This is the beginning of Google’s fast-changing approach toward providing a better user experience. If you wish to gain higher search ranking, then install an SSL certificate on your website without any further delay.
Improving SEO Performance in 2018
As it seems, the year 2018 will be an exciting year for SEO. What is important to understand while we proceed toward 2018 is that SEO is already evolving, and ranking on the first page is not the ultimate goal anymore. As the search engines evolve, there will be many more opportunities for increasing your search traffic without focusing much on organic SERPs.
The rise of featured snippets, voice search and mobile optimization can yield better results than an organic ranking. This is why it is useful to keep up with the latest trends and discover how your chiropractic practice can maintain a successful SEO strategy by blending established and the latest trends.
It is difficult to predict how big of an impact each one of these tips could have on your practice, and it might not be possible to implement all of these on your practice website. Assess your business goals and make a list of what you think would be most beneficial for your practice. While traditional SEO techniques are still efficient, many new trends could impact your rankings.
Your chiropractic practice needs to have an SEO strategy in place if you are looking to expand your reach and visibility. SEO is one of the most critical components of any practice’s branding efforts and online presence. The SEO experts at Practice Builders have extensive experience helping chiropractors attract more traffic and convert more visitors into leads and patients. Check out our chiropractic marketing services and make sure to adjust your SEO strategy for 2018 accordingly.