Thursday, April 15, 2010

Randall Wong, MD: What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a type of marketing strategy used to maximize the placement of your Web site on a search list. It is based upon the relevance of your site, and its content, to the keywords used to generate a search. It is the basis upon which search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) rank your web page on a search list.

It is not paid advertising - it's free.

The actual content of my Web site now attracts more visitors from search engines than any other source. As of this morning, 64 percent of the traffic to my blog comes from search engines. Most of my visitors arrive to my page after performing a search looking specifically for health information on retinal diseases.

This did not happen over night. Search engine optimization takes time and persistence. There are three basic concepts to establishing SEO:
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1.Relevance - The content of the your site must be relevant to the keywords, or search terms, used on the search. Google wants to provide Web sites that are highly relevant to the terms used for a search. The search engines want your search to be as successful as possible, that is, they want you to find what your looking for as fast as possible.

The key to successful searches: Relevance.

2. Referrals to your page - Other Web sites, with time, will be linking to your page. Based upon the content of site linking to you and the "anchor text" used to create the link, search engines will validate the relevance of your page. These are also called backlinks.

Anchor text is the words highlighted to create a hyperlink, or link, to a Web page.

Example #1: For more information on retinal detachments, click here.

Example #2: Retinal specialists fix retinal detachments.

Both links get you to the same place, but example #2 uses more relevant terms to guide you. This is noticed by the search engines. It tells Google that my Web site is related to retinal detachments and is a big endorsement with regard to my site's relevance to retinal disease.

3. Refreshed content - The more often your page is updated, the more attractive you'll be to the search engines. This is one reason blogs have become so popular. It's easy to add content to your Web site via blog software.

So, SEO is really about creating credible information. From a marketing standpoint, it is the most concrete way to get your Web page ranked and noticed. There really are no gimmicks. Although you can still pay to advertise your Web site, the only way to gain rankings is to create Web sites that provide relevant information.

From a consumers point of view, say our patients, SEO increases the credibility of the information provided and found on the Internet. It increases the likelihood that our patients may find health information that is really useful to them.

Next week I'll share some of the tools I now use to maximize the SEO on my site.

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