Is Your Web Presence Working For Your Practice and What the Heck is “SEO”?

by Bob Simpson of Canmedical and Pat Williams of CyberCletch
It seems everyone in the IT business has a solution to solve your website dilemma. Most of us are not aware of having a dilemma. And what the heck is SEO and why does it matter? I have a website, isn’t that good enough? Until a few months ago I thought the same thing, then I heard a podcast by website traffic specialist, Pat Williams. What she had to say opened my eyes to the “dilemma”. I had just built a fancy new website and few people were visiting it, despite my best efforts. I realized if I did not take heed, my website would languish like many other sites. As I researched how to increase traffic, I kept hearing the term SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Pat Williams explains that SEO is the process of optimizing your site so Google robots can examine, evaluate, and rank it. Google shares that information when searchers type in relevant terms, sending those people to your site.When you enter words into that Google search window, you are telling Google what you are interested in finding. The Google “robots” look all over the web for data that is relevant to your search words, better known to Google as “key words”.  If the “key words” your customers type in are not on your website or are not “indexed” by Google, your site will languish on page 103 while the tech-savvy Vet clinic down the road has a site appearing on page 1! So how does one ensure an appearance on page 1? Glad you asked.First, understand what search engines look for and how they weigh that information. The Google search engine market-share is about 80% of the North American market. This means Google gets to make the rules. There are millions of websites, all competing for the same #1 spot on Google’s page 1. Understanding the rules of engagement and how to make them work in your favor is the secret to success.

“Following the rules of engagement is REALLY important; many site owners have unknowingly used “black hat” techniques to rank higher on Google. “Black hat” techniques are used when trying to beat the system; taking short cuts to better rankings. For example, it may seem like a good idea to hire a firm to create a massive number of inbound links to your web site.  Inbound links occur when other web sites link to yours; Google considers this a confirmation of your content quality. If the company you hire creates a bunch of inbound links from poor quality web sites (or too many all at once), this is a red flag to Google and they consider it a black hat technique.  Google only wants to display results from legitimate sites linking to yours for legitimate reasons.  The potential outcome?  Being blocked by Google, they’ll refuse to serve your site.  Your BEST tactics to rank higher? Focus on providing the correct content for your target market and understand exactly what needs to be done for the search engines to consider your content as being shared in good faith,” says Williams.

Search categories

There are two types of common searches. The first is called a direct search. Type in the web address of the site i.e.,, you enter the Apple website.

An organic search is the second common type. When someone wants information on a topic such as computers, they type in “computers” and get 6 million hits and 23,000 pages of websites! The results are overwhelming. Most people look at page 1 or 2 and stop there. Clients will never know you exist if your site is on page 105. See the value of being at the top of the search results?

“Google is becoming smarter all the time! If your business serves a particular geographic area, there are ways of letting Google know so they rank you higher to searchers in your area,” Williams explains. “Now social media is becoming more important: Your page is served to potential customers you’re already connected to on social media. For example if ‘George’ has ‘Happy Hugs Vet’ in a circle on Google+, the Happy Hugs Vet website, video or social content will display on page 1 of the results when he searches for vet-related key words. Google considers George already interested in the Happy Hug Vet because he has a social connection with them.  This is a huge opportunity for name recognition and sales for any company – including yours!”

What next?

Optimizing your website to raise its ranking with Google is key to a successful website. As I researched further, I realized Google provides plenty of free and paid resources that are very effective at getting you closer to the page 1 prize. My website now resides there, but not by accident. I invested in SEO for my site and give it consistent follow-up and tweaking. An SEO specialist is the easiest way to get to page 1. However, I wanted to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, so I did it myself (with some amazing advice from Pat Williams!)

She suggests that an SEO strategy has many arms that unite to build success.  “Organic SEO takes longer to rank on the first page than paid SEM (Search Engine Marketing) but can be just as important and should be worked on simultaneously.”

Case studies

Stay tuned, Pat Williams and I will offer case studies on Ontario Veterinary clinic websites. Let me know if you’d like to be considered.  Our goal is to help veterinary clinics by providing valuable SEO tools to combat difficult economic and market trends we are seeing in the industry.

Posted in Business.