Podcast #39

Your Top SEO Questions, Answered

Have you found yourself stuck with an SEO problem and have no one to turn to? Well, you’re not alone! We asked healthcare marketers far and wide if they had one question about SEO, what would it be? We then gathered those questions and posed them to Cardinal’s SEO experts in this episode of Ignite!

Episode Highlights:

John McAlpin

John McAlpin: “You should not create individual GMB listings for each of your providers. It can create cannibalization and for users, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless they’re looking for a specific provider. Instead, have a GMB listing for each location and then provider listings on your health directory. Directories are going to dominate most of you and your competitors. Get onto the directories and try to just have one location in GMB.”

Jacquelyn Green: “We always recommend starting with on-site SEO. Get your site in a good spot, create some really great content, and then the backlinks can come naturally. As you’re building your content, build backlinks along the way, but always have really good context to start with.”

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex MembrilloWelcome back to Ignite. I’m Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal. We have our two SEO experts on the line today. We have many more here at Cardinal, but these are the most renowned SEO experts in the country, I don’t care what anyone says. John McAlpin our SEO director and the best technical SEO. Check out John’s LinkedIn and Twitter. He loves Twitter, I don’t get it, but he does. John, he got tired of slow websites, so he developed his own theme on WordPress. The guy’s a super wizard. Also joining us Jacquelyn Green.

Jacquelyn GreenHello.

Alex McAlpinShe’s our associate director of SEO for yells information on how good Jacquelyn is at her job. The week started on Monday morning with a client’s website down. They called us, blamed us. This is why we’re now not even hosting it. Within an hour, Jacquelyn got it up, and John helped him move it to a new website platform. That’s how quick they move even if it’s not our fault. Big props to them. Jacquelyn manages the team here. Every time a client has a question, I sent it over to Jacquelyn and then they realized how smart we are slashy is, and then they want to be a client, but Jacquelyn’s so picky as part to be a client. Jacquelyn, welcome to Ignite.

Jacquelyn: Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.

Alex: We did, and ask me anything, then we got all kinds of questions for people that want to hear from y’all. This is going to be fun. We got a question from Madison, works in an addiction treatment center. Madison asks, which makes a bigger impact on-site or off-site SEO. What do you think Jacquelyn?

Jacquelyn: They both make a really big and important impact, but if you’re thinking about what to start with, we always recommend starting with on-site, get your site in a good spot, create some really great content, and then the backlinks can come naturally, always want to start with on-site, and then you can work from there. As you’re building your content, build backlinks along the way, but always have really good context to start with.

Alex: Content is the bag. What did they, John like does technical matter? Do you do the technical stuff before our dean goes and does all the on-site content and keyword revisions and adding blogs, et cetera?

John: It’s chicken and an egg. You have great content and links, but for sites not crawlable, it doesn’t mean anything that means said you could have great technical SEO, beautiful architecture, but if your content is weak or you have really bad backlinks then it doesn’t mean anything, you need everything.

Alex: You got to do it all. I know we start with the technical, it’s like building a house foundation. John, you probably love this [unintelligible 00:02:55], the technical stuff has become so important over the last couple of years, it used to be like, “Just check the box, if it’s fast is fast enough,” whatever. Now, our rankings for Cardinal side, we’ve gotten crushed because I don’t have you on it because the team won’t let me use it. That’s not fun. Technical than onsite, and then we get into building links.

John, I keep reading that Peter asked, Peter asked, these are not my words. I keep reading that I need to build things. How do I actually get people to link to my website? Are they all looked at the same as Google, talk in healthcare terms for provider group, what’s a relevant and easily achievable link to go get?

John: Right away, if you have multiple providers, or if you have, say start with your providers, your healthcare group, get directory links and your health grades, your rate my MDs, get pro profiles set up for your providers that users can find, and for your locations, get directory set up, use a tool like Yext or BrightLocal, just get someone to get all of your links and directors, that’s step one. Now to get those high-quality links, you got to reverse engineer that question is, why should someone link to you? Create that good content? Figure out, create a resource page study, create something that someone can refer to or patient guides, something that is worth linking to.

Alex: If it ranks, then it gets naturally linked to, do we use any tools to expedite link acquisition? Do they have to just do directors and Yext, it’s great. What else? Give them the tricks.

John: To actually reach out to me, there is outreach. You can’t just wait for people to link to you, as much as Google wants us to just wait and not do it, but you do need to do some sort of outreach. We use a number of tools, looking at possibilities in the industry and looking at competitors, trying to find contact information. We use a fancy tool called Pitchbox to help manage this communication platform. It’s a really structured tiered process of reaching out to people with follow-ups and making sure that reaching out to the right people and making sure we’re getting relevant links, not just any links, links that are in your industry.

Alex: Known as digital PR, so it’s public relations getting guest blog posts, byline articles, all that kind of stuff, so you can submit your providers through Pitchbox for these kinds of articles. Also, a link help her report her out, you’re going to answer journalistic queries as fun. We use FATJOE for some guest blogging. Jacquelyn, we’ve got a question in here from Steve. Steve wants to know how long does it take to get SEO results? It’s just a five to seven days after you start an SEO program, right? It’s pretty quick.

John: Only Jacquelyn does it.

Jacquelyn: Only if you work with Cardinal. Now I think I’m going to give the age-old SEO answer, which is, it depends. It can depend on your industry, it can depend on how competitive the terms are going out there are and who your competitors are and how many athletes they have, content that we’re working with. It can depend. When we talk to clients that we’re onboarding, it can take between three and six months to start seeing some movement from SEO. Usually, won’t happen overnight. Usually, give it at least a couple of months to start taking off.

If you’ve got a solid foundation, if you’ve got a good site already, when you come to us and you’ve got some of the content that we can work with, that makes it a lot easier to get those rankings up faster.

Alex: Then once you rank up there, you just stop, you fire your SEO company, good to go?

Jacquelyn: No, don’t do that. It’s actually, one thing I always say to clients is they’re always really taken aback when they have a lot of keyword movement way back in the surf, but they don’t really pay attention to those one or two positions with minutes on page one, but those are the hardest to control and the most important ones, because that’s what’s really going to impact the through rate. If you’re ranking in position too, be happy with that, but you have to keep working if you want to maintain that and you have to work even harder, if you want to move to position one.

Alex: That’s the hardest thing to do is to move the number one, when I get to number two, I’m number two for healthcare marketing agency, trying to get the number one, it takes so many links and some things are out of your control. Google, just like something about the other site, more than you, so it is you, it’s not them kind of thing. Okay, very good. Let’s pivot to multi-location questions. Mary wants to know what’s the best way, John, to display multiple locations for groups with locations and across states. Should I use an interactive map? I guess he’s asking for the on-website location.

John: It sounds like how do you display it and retain SEO equity? Interactive maps are really fun for users. Now people think about this beautiful map that you can click on and move with, and that’s really cool unless you live in the Northeast and it was just near impossible to check on anything unless you have fancy tooltips and on mobile, it’s like completely useless. Really the big thing to consider is you can absolutely have these interactive maps with a few considerations. One is that they will hurt your load speed. If you can sacrifice that, great, improve the user experience with an interactive map.

Two is that make sure that these actually link that Google can click on. If you click on an image, you can have all texts to help give context on what that image link is going to be, but really hard HTML links are going to be important because otherwise, Google’s not going to discover your location pages. You can have them in your site map, we want links on the page. If you’re going to have an interactive site map, I suggest including some hard links somewhere else on the page, so that if someone even has a browser, they can’t interact with the map or maybe visually impaired and he’s using a screen reader, they can find those links to there because that screen readers won’t read those maps.

Think about the disabled, think about Google, and try to find some alternatives to accompany them.

Alex: Amanda has a question about GMB. She comes from a multi-location behavioral health clinic. Can you, John, clarify setting up GMB? Do I create a GMB listing for the location plus each provider?

John: That’s a age-old question. I love that this is from a multi-location behavioral health clinic. That’s my bread and butter. I personally and professionally believe that you should not create one for the providers as well, most of the time. Now there will be some use cases where it makes sense, but on the whole, I recommend don’t because it can create cannibalization. I think about if you’re really, really aggressive with your marketing and you’re doing things like review outreach. Do you send reviews for the provider or listing or the location? What if one providers already have a bunch of reviews and they’re outranking the location and all the other providers?

Really trying to support that is a marketing nightmare. For users, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense unless they’re looking for a specific provider. How I get around that is, I like to have just a GMB location for the provider, but then provider listings on your health directory is your health grades Rate My MD, things like that because those are going to show up too, so you want to be everywhere in the surf. When you looking at healthcare, directories are going to dominate most of you and your competitors. Get onto the directories and try to just have one location in GMB.

Alex: When someone goes looking for Dr. Johnson, if you don’t claim that GMB and it’s all jacked up from a previous practice they worked at, is that detrimental don’t you want them all updated?

John: You can claim them. If they have great reviews and you’re trying to merge, you can merge the reviews or you can shut it down. If they have great reviews, merge it.

Alex: Merge it into what? The practice?

John: The practice location, yes.

Alex: I didn’t know you could do that.

John: You have to have worked through Google support. You just fill out a ticket and you may have the required some kind of proof and say, “Hey, you know what? This provider got moved to this location. We’re there now at this location and this is the primary.” Say, “Hey, they are the duplicate, this is the primary, can you please merge the reviews and they’ll process that.”

Alex: God, I wonder what the provider would think if they knew someone was doing it. I guess if it’s in an independent practice, they wouldn’t want it. If they’re owners, if they’re provider owners, they probably don’t want that. If they’re employed, who cares?

John: It really makes sense if you’re having multiple providers at a single location, if it’s a single provider at a location, yes. Go for it, have a provider-based location.

Alex: Jacquelyn, we’ve got a lot of questions from the [unintelligible 00:11:17] presentation that we gave on GMB. People, having trouble, getting things authorized in GMB. Tell them real quick these little tips and tricks that you told them. I thought that was really cool. Some of the insights you told them, the workarounds for GMB.

Jacquelyn: Yes, John mentioned Google support. Is that going to go and I would say, “When you’re working with GMB in general, GMB support is going to be your friend.” I think a lot of times Google will try to push you to the forums and community for support, but we can bypass that. If you’re having a hard time, especially with verification, which can be a huge pain, especially when you have a ton of locations that you have to bear eye through, very antiquated post fragmented. You can actually go straight to GMB support and go through the process of asking online.

If you’re able to verify in a different way, typically what’ll happen is they’ll just ask me for a few pieces of proof like photos or a business card, or a picture of someone working at your office. Then they will email you back. They will set up a video verification for you if they can’t verify from the use of that it alone. Then you’re able to just have a quick conversation with a Google rep, show them around your office. They’ll usually verify you within 24 hours. I don’t think people know about it, but it’s really easy. it’s super accessible for anyone to do because you can send it to office managers, receptionists different providers across the country, and you can all do it within a couple of days.

Alex: That’s crazy and most people do not know about it, or they wouldn’t be emailing us. It’s a little trick and I’ll give you this, Jacquelyn, that’s very smart and it’s better than Facebook support. We have a huge six-figure issue happening with them and they just have bots respond to us. Facebook if you’re listening to this, please send humans. Jacquelyn, on a similar thread with GMB, can you provide some insight into how you actually structure your GMB listing when you have a bunch of providers?

Jacquelyn: For any GMB listing, I honestly recommend not over-complicating it. I think that people tend to over-optimize with GMB sometimes, and GMB is great because it is set up in a way that is, pretty intuitive, so use all of the fields that are there and utilize services that you’re able to add to represent exactly what you offer, utilize the description, to explain your services, use those kinds of keywords within there and make sure that you’re keeping it consistent between your GMB profile and your other listings and a presence on the internet.

With your website, for example, make sure that you’re listing the provider’s name, the same way that you’re listing it on your GMB. That will help you maintain that consistency and almost teach Google who you are and help them to associate you with the correct listings that you have. Keep it consistent, keep it pretty simple, don’t stop with keywords, don’t over-complicate it, just use the fields and you’ll be good to go.

Alex: Don’t stop with keywords, that goes against everything in my presentation last week, it’s just me, but Jacquelyn’s right. Don’t stop it with keywords. I always say put the keyword in the title of GMB, but she’s right. She’s right. Don’t do it.

Jacquelyn: I will say sometimes it does work, but you still shouldn’t do it because it can confuse Google in the long run. If they see a bunch of different naming conventions for one place, they might think that there are multiple places and you might end up with a bigger mess than you started with, so play it safe and stay by the rules, if you can.

John: For the people driving, when Jacquelyn says, “Don’t do this,” she’s nodding her head.

Alex: You don’t want to put on your GMB profile, Dr. Johnson, urgent care provider, because it’s not going to be like that on Dr. Johnson’s profile page on the website. That’s what Jacquelyn’s getting at when she nods but said something very different. All right, Mary. John, I heard something fun at lunch with a great team this week, they’ve got a multi-location group, big group, big group, 200 plus locations that are consulting with us, with them, the whole thing, fun little partnership. There are thing about going with HubSpot as a website platform, I thought that was interesting.

What do we usually do is WordPress multi-site. What do you suggest for a website platform for everybody out there?

John: Long story short. I think WordPress is going to be your best bet for scalability, HubSpot has a lot of functionality. I think people like it because it naturally sinks into their own CRM. They’re used to, and it has that WYSIWYG feel to it, and you can drag and drop, when you’re building out a page, it looks exactly like that. I think that it has its own technical issues that people don’t think about, or really even know about on the backend. I think scaling it out, you have much more cost-effective solutions going with WordPress. We have clients on HubSpot that do okay. I’m just saying our WordPress clients feel so much better.

Alex: I think HubSpot is good when you need to deploy lots of landing pages or you want a similar backend. I don’t know, they seem very keen on it. I want to see how it goes. All right. We’ve got a question here and I’m just going to go ahead and answer it. If your website’s on Squarespace. Yes, you should be on anything else, but Squarespace. Jacquelyn, if it’s on Wix, should they also be on anything but Wix?

Jacquelyn: I tend to agree with John that WordPress is the best. I have worked with clients on Wix and on Thursday, and it is super easy to use. That’s really, really important to you. That’s valid, but you’re going to have some issues with some pretty basic and more technical SEO down the line. If it’s just a two-page website in your own way and you don’t need SEO, keep it, but if you want to grow, I would recommend using it.

Alex: We’ve got a question from Nico here. Nico wants to know. We recently acquired another orthopedic practice in a neighboring city. How do I fold that brand? Mr. John, how do I fold that brand into our website without losing their rankings and visibility on search? Is it just a bunch of 301 redirects? What are we doing?

John: Folding in new brands, acquired brands, is a multi-step process, even beyond SEO. My SEO considerations is, for one, make sure you get access to their analytics and search council and try to get some benchmark data for at least three months. You’d be shocked, how many acquired brands don’t even have analytics or don’t have goals set up or anything, so when you fold them in, you have no idea what to compare to. They say, “We’re doing worse,” and you’re like, “How do we know? How do we prove that?” Try to get it, before you merge them in redirect the site, try to get at least three months of benchmark data.

Now let’s say, you already have this, say they’ve already been tracking and they have this information. Great, we can hit the ground running. Create some one-to-one redirects, meaning that, trying to find, if you have a service page about orthopedics, trying to find the most relevant page on the new site and redirect there.

Once you have all of these redirects in place, you go to search console and they have something called a site migration and it expedites that process and helps people understand, “Okay, this is a site, it merges all of that, all the rankings and index pages over to the new site.” That is one of the best ways to retain all of the previous ex SEO equity.

Alex: I love it. Okay, so you need all of the historics is what John is saying. Make sure you get all the data because the providers are going to come knocking when their brand evaporates from being acquired. Then you say, I used to get so many leads, so have all your numbers so that you can refute that when you do do your redirects that, “No, the leads are still there, the traffic is still there, we did it right, here you go.” John makes a very good point as usual. Jacquelyn, quickfire here, best free tool for SEO?

Jacquelyn: My favorite free tool for SEO is Google because they can see exactly who is ranking for the terms that you want to rent for, and you can see relevant content opportunities that the people also ask. You can see your local competitors. You can see your national competitors. Google what you would search for, if you’re looking for what you provide, just start there. That’s my favorite free tool.

Alex: What’s the best-paid tool?

Jacquelyn: I really like SEMrush as a paid tool. I do like Moz as well for backlink research, but when it comes to keyword research, I love SEMrush. I love the functionality. It also allows you to use some lightweight Kroll features as well, so you can see a bit into the technical side of your SEO, as well as the keyboard side. I think it’s a pretty good comprehensive tool and I use it for all my clients.

Alex: Yes, I love SEMrush too. John, I remember when you spoke last in Dallas, the people that were there from that company, trying to brand it as SEMrush. I’m sorry, but it’s search N in marketing, we’ve been calling it SEN you named your company the wrong thing. It is the best tool in the books. Jacquelyn’s right, the SEMrush thing is never going to fly. John, we got a question from Rachel who works in behavioral health. What are some of the things to look into before I hire an SEO expert for my website? How do we stay away from the snake oil salesman?

John: Ask the tough questions, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. My best advice is go with your gut, if something feels off and you just have something about you just doesn’t have that level of trust, go with your gut. I know whenever I talk to new clients or from their sales meeting, my sales tactic is to be as honest and upfront as possible. Don’t try to oversell or undersell, just tell them exactly how it is, try to back it up approve, examples, and things like that. Years experience is helpful, but really go with your gut, ask tough questions. Look at there’s a million articles about what to ask your SEO expert? Look at them, make a list. You just ask the tough questions and see what they say.

Alex: Well, loving the experience. Ask for the case studies taught to previous clients, don’t trust the guy that balding. Just make sure they’ve worked with similar clients, that’s the number one thing, okay.

John: Yes, absolutely. Case studies are huge, they don’t have case studies or their cases are super generic and not specific to actual similar goals, that’s not the right person.

Alex: All right, I like it. Jacquelyn, one final, final question. What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to SEO in the last 12 months?

Jacquelyn: There’s so much changing in SEO every day, it’s impossible to pinpoint one major update that’s going to work in websites’ worlds. SEO is an always evolving field and it’s so fun to see the minute changes happening every single day.

Alex: It is so fun, it is my favorite part of digital marketing too. It’s a constant enigma, we never solve it, it never is done. If you’re looking for a new gig solving puzzles every day, check out the Cardinal LinkedIn jobs postings. You can join Jacquelyn’s team, working on enigmas, giving politically correct answers. John and Jacquelyn, this was a blast, we’re going to do another Ask Me Anything soon. If you want to watch John’s speeches that he’s about to give, check out his LinkedIn and Twitter like I said, very important. If you want to talk with Jacquelyn, by anything, reach out to us, and we’ll get you answered.

Don’t feel like it was the last time you can ask a Cardinal anything you want. Jacquelyn, John, thank you for joining me. This is as good as J and J gets and I like to thank you for joining us.

Jacquelyn: Thanks.

John: Always a pleasure.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast, leave a rating and a review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

[00:22:51] [END OF AUDIO]

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