– Chris Faul
This article does not attempt to turn the reader into a web site designer or a digital marketer, it merely serves to convey the importance of setting up a functional website and to better understand how organic search and paid ads work.
The main function of a web site can only be to inspire visitors to do business with you. The internet is littered with terrible optometrist’s web sites, not only from a design point of view, but also being void of many other elements required to make it customer-friendly. Differential advantage within the optometric domain remains a challenge simply because all optometrists have access to the same product and service. However, differentiate we must – that’s what gives a potential customer a reason to choose you. The first step then is to find something inspirational that will make them choose you.
Moreover, a presence on social media platforms needs to be managed on a day to day basis. There are agents who specialise in doing this.
The internet cannot convince the public to do business with you. The technology can help people find your web site, but from there it is over to you, your product, service or offer. Most business on the internet is generated by making an attractive offer, a call to action, which must be converted into an action or sale. This in itself requires a specialised skill set. The point is, there is so much more to web site design than getting someone to use a template to display some pretty pictures. To be effective it must have a call to action.
Organic Search vs Paid Search
Organic search happens when someone uses a search engine like Google by typing in a word such as optometrist, which will bring up practices according to how Google ranks the web sites. The method for acquiring traffic from organic search is known as search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand. SEO is achieved by meeting a whole bunch of dictates set by Google, and is done by experts trained in this field.
Paid search traffic happens when visitors click on a link in an advertisement or sponsored listing that a business has paid for in order to appear at the top of search results. This advert is usually set up as a “wow” offer to buy or to register, or to subscribe to something. This is the call to action which ideally will result in the appropriate action and is then measured as the conversion rate. Facebook as a matter of course, blocks most of our posts. You would have noticed, only a handful of friends are ever active on your Facebook page. Once a posting is paid for, Facebook unlocks it to reach the masses. That’s how paid ads are made to work and they are extremely effective.
In Fig 1 the response to an R50 a day advert is shown for 3 days, compared to organic search results.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engines, by utilising algorithms, crawl the internet at lightning speed to find what is asked of them. SEO has two sides to it. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they are seeking, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Apart from knowing the audience’s intent, it must also be delivered in a way search engine crawlers can find and understand it.
Here are some of the things that will be attended in an SEO audit:
- Crawling friendly so engines can read your website
- Content that answers the searcher’s query
- Font size of headings to follow the protocol
- Keywords researched and optimised to attract searchers & engines
- Load speed on all devices and a great user experience design (UX)
- Content worthy to be shared and that earn links, citations, and amplification
- Title, URL, & description to draw high Click Thru Rate (CTR) in the rankings
- Snippet/schema mark-up to stand out in Search Engine Report Pages (SERPs)
Why SEO is important
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines. SEO is a marketing channel that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. With good quality content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas paid adverts need continuous funding to send traffic to your site.
When you Google something, the paid ads will come up first, followed by the organic results, which appear purely in order of your Google ranking, determined by the quality and content of the page. Traffic that comes from people finding your links among these results is classified as “organic search”.
The downside to organic search is that it takes time to get indexed and really start generating traffic from this source.
The benefits of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has brought massive benefits to the table.
- It is cheap with a fantastic Return On Investment (ROI)
- It can target very specific demographics such as age, interests, income, etc..
- It can target very specific geographical areas
- It can present a call to action
- Results can be measured instantly – conversion rate
All roads lead to the Web Site
All social media platforms should link to the web site. Think about the first impression you will make on visitors to your landing page. Will you inspire them to do business with you? Present your differential advantage and brand position clearly. Your brand position, by way of example, could be; The Family Practice – Advanced Contact Lens Practitioner – Presbyopia Specialist. Avoid at all cost the clichés such as, we do a comprehensive eye exam, we care about our patients, and so on. Keywords are very important and Google has tools to help to find the right ones. Within our personal consciousness, there is the stuff we know, such as how to swing a ret. Then there is the stuff we know we don’t know, such a doing a tonsillectomy. And finally there is the stuff that we don’t know we don’t know. Herein lies the danger. Don’t let digital marketing pass you by like a ship in the night. In this day and age, optometrists can ill afford to not take advantage of what digital marketing has to offer. Those who don’t will be left behind by those who do.
Some useful links: