SEO: Meta Tag Myths, and the Importance of Good Content

We have a lot of people ask us about the “meta tags” when setting up and maintaining their websites. We’ve noticed there are a lot of misconceptions about how these meta tags work, and more importantly – how they affect your ranking in Google and other search engines.

What are meta tags?

Meta tags are pieces of HTML code that are added to a website’s <head> section. This information is mostly hidden from end-users viewing your website, but can provide important information to search engines and other websites about your website’s content. Some meta tags used to be very important before search engines developed complex algorithms – search engines used to rely on the webmaster telling them what a site was about using meta tags. Now, search engines are smart enough to look at the live content of your site to determine what it is about and how it should be ranked, and relies very little on the meta tags that used to be vital.

Keywords Meta Tag

<meta name="keywords" content="keywords, key words, so many useless keywords">

Why it is useless.

For years Google has ignored the keywords meta tag, and so should you.

If you were building a website in 1996, the keywords meta tag might have been important. Today, it’s basically useless.  Before the complex algorithms of modern search engines, meta keywords were used to help determine what a website was about. This was an easy way for unscrupulous webmasters to lie their way to the top of search results. A website selling ugly shoes could have added hundreds of keywords about Titanic and Monica Lewinsky or anything else that they thought was being searched for frequently to give them a boost to search results. The abuse of this meta tag led to it’s demise, and now it is pointless to spend any time on it.

What should I do instead?

The keywords in this meta tag are not seen by the end user and are not looked at by Google. Search engines look at the content of your site to determine what it is about and how it should be ranked, the same content your visitors see. Write your appropriate keywords into the content of your site and blog posts. Say things like “We provide great acupuncture in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA.” or  “Did you know that our Seattle acupuncture clinic can help with back pain and headaches?” Write quality, unique content using keywords and phrases that potential patients in your area will be searching for online. *You don’t need to bold the keywords, that’s just to illustrate the good keywords

Description Meta Tag

<meta name="description" content="This is a description of my website">

How imortant is it and what is it used for?

The description meta tag has more usefulness than the keyword tag, but there are still misconceptions about it. Pretty much the only place this meta tag will see the light of day is on search result pages on Google and other search engines. When you do a search on Google, you generally get about 10 organic results. These results have the Title of the page in Blue, then the URL of the site in green, and then the description of the site in gray.

The description within search results is about the only place your meta description will show up – however Google’s algorithm will determine if your pre-written description is better than the one that Google will auto generate based on the page’s content. It uses the webmaster-provided description about half the time. However, like the keywords meta tag Google does not use the meta description as part of it’s algorithm to determine page rank. It is purely for the end-user to read within search results.

What do I need to do?

If you have an AcuPerfect Website, these meta description tags will automatically generate for you based on the page’s content, so you won’t have to worry about writing them for each page. If you’re feeling nit-picky, you have access to override the auto generated description for each page.

Title Meta Tag

<title>The title of my website</title>

How imortant is it and what is it used for?

Of the three meta tags covered here, this one holds the most importance. The title tag is used, obviously, as the title of your page. The title tag is seen:

  • At the top of your browser window
  • Highlighted in blue in search results
  • On other people’s sites if they link to you

The title should be easy to read and relevant to both the user browsing the web and search engines indexing your site. Use good keywords, but Google warns to avoid keyword stuffing (don’t add a bunch of different spellings of a word, every city in a 100 mile radius, etc. It can be seen as spammy.)

What do I need to do?

If you have an AcuPerfect Website, you don’t need to do a thing. During your site’s setup, we configure your title tag for your business and location. Your site will automatically generate a unique title for each page on your site, an important SEO tactic.

The Importance of Good Content

If you’ve read this article, hopefully you’ve made the realization that the most important part of your site isn’t hidden away in the meta tags, but is the content on  your pages that is read by both potential patients visiting your site, and by search engines deciding how to rank your site among your competition.

One of the first things you should make sure your site has is quality, informative, search-friendly content on your home page. Write in the keywords that people will be searching for into the home page content.

We realize that you’re health care practitioners, not writers or authors, which is why AcuPerfect Websites includes dozens of pages of professionally written content, information taken from the printed brochures and education cards at Acupuncture Media Works. While this content is well written in layperson’s terms, it’s not written specifically for your practice. The solution? You have full access to edit the articles we include with your site! You can go in and tweak them to fit your style of TCM or elaborate on your specialties.

Having good content is absolutely vital to having a successful presence online, and with AcuPerfect Websites you’ll have just that.

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Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Blog

1) Gain control of the content on your site:

Unless you know HTML code and can go in and change the content on the pages on your website, you will need to go through a web designer, which could be costly and time-consuming.

2) Use your blog to stand out:

You can use your blog to showcase your passion and expertise about your career and practice. In fact, you can create the most informative and content-filled web presence in your area. Aside from establishing credibility, your Google rankings will go up due to the rich content on your site. SHOW YOUR PASSION

3) Become search engine friendly:

SEO experts say that Google indexes blogs faster than regular websites. Tagging your blog posts with keywords gives you a targeted and effective plan for reaching out to your ideal clients. Especially if you are living in a competitive area.

4) Build Relationships:

Your blog posts are an extension of your inner world- personally and/or professionally. When a reader leaves a comment or a question after your post, a relationship starts budding. It is all about connecting, interacting and building trust. Then the business or patient-practitioner relationship can flow naturally.

5) Go viral:

Once a month, embed a Youtube video (or two) to allow your visitors to experience you with more of their senses, then just reading your website content. When they see you talk about a subject, even if it is announcing your May specials, they get to feel out who you are.

6) Recycle your blogposts to redirect traffic to your website:

What this means is, repurposing the content of a blog and turning it into an article that you can submit to online article directory to increase your exposure and credibility. The more you write, the more digital footprint you have, which adds to your general visibility.

7) Blog your way into a book:

Blogging is an excellent way to break down the process of writing a book- even if that isn’t the initial intention. After blogging consistently for a year, you may notice common threads in your writing and might be able to pull enough posts in to publish a book. A great way to establish yourself as an expert! And a source of pride too!

8) Contribute to the lives of others:

Blogs are free and open to public. Unless you are intentionally trying to make money off of your blog, it is an act of giving, sharing of yourself and/or your expertise. Investing time and energy to share your perspective and input on something other people also care about is a way to serve humanity.

9) Keep them coming back:

Write a series of blog posts on a subject. Give them a reason to come back to your site. This keeps the top-of-mind-awareness active. Showcasing your expertise on a health topic will establish you as the expert in the patient’s eyes and they will be more likely to reach out to you if and when they suffer from those ailments.

10) Stay authentic while you market your practice:

No one wants to feel like a used car salesman when trying to get the word out about their business. You don’t have to become someone you don’t like to make a living doing what you love. Your blog will help build relationships and show prospective customers the intersection between the profession and the practitioner (you)- which is where the actually business happens.

 

Below are some resources to help you become a better blogger:

1) Belle Beth Cooper wrote a blog post called 16 Top Tips From Blogging Experts, you can read that here.

2) A never ending resource on blogging tips and ideas, access here.

3) Here’s a post on how to write a good blog post, see that here.

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How your patients can find you and yes, they are looking!

A business card alone is no longer enough. And no one uses the Yellow pages anymore! While business cards have their place, they are not enough to communicate all the benefits you offer and what sets you apart from other acupuncturists.

Would you ever consider practicing acupuncture without needles? Probably not, unless of course you are a Qi Gong master. In this day and age, a business without a website is like an acupuncturist without needles.

When potential patients are looking for an acupuncturist, one of the first places they turn to is the Internet. They’ll search phrases like “acupuncture Seattle” or “acupuncture help for headaches in New York”.

This is how business is done now—your future patients are “googling” around on the Internet trying to find someone to help them. Your future patients want to be able to learn about you and your practice, before they pick up the phone to call for an appointment.

Why are websites so important? A website will enable you to:

  • Develop your reputation and increase your credibility
  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Build trust with current or prospective patients
  • Be visible 24/7
  • and MOST OF ALL, get new patients from the internet and all that “googling” going on out there!

Having a cool, professional, easy to navigate and information-packed website will attract visitors and convert them from “visitors” into patients.

When you are getting a website designed make sure the answers to the following questions are a YES:

  1. Do you have the ability to edit and update text and photos yourself on your website?
  2. Does your website come with a built-in patient education library?
  3. Can you create new blog posts and announce specials and promotions with ease?
  4. Does your website have seasonal newsletter content, updated quarterly and interactive seasonal quizzes?
  5. Can you add and update testimonials as easily as creating a blog? Can you automatically rotate your testimonials so your content appears fresh?
  6. Is your website designed with Search Engine Optimization in mind? If not, do you know how to optimize your website for Google searches?
  7. Can new patients download a health history form before their first visit?
  8. Do you have live support Monday-Friday to help you solve problems that may come up with your website?
  9. Have you paid several thousand dollar to get a website designed for you? Are you happy with your website?

If you have answered No to three or more of these questions, you may be lose the opportunity to build a reputation, establish yourself as an expert and build trust with current or prospective patients. It may be time for a new website or time to get current and get one!

Click here to upgrade the presentation of your professional identity and sign up for a content-filled, ready to go website!

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Features in detail

1. Feature: A lead capture feature with a Free Report Download*

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The websites come with a PDF report titled “The Top 10 Reasons to Try Acupuncture” already written and professionally laid-out for your potential patients to download for free.

Benefit: The potential patient who comes to your site looking for a solution to a problem will be able to easily download free information that makes their decision process easier. In exchange, you get their name and email address and can take the first step in starting a relationship with them.  It turns a “ghost visitor” into a “warm lead”.

2. Feature: Integrated Blog

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The latest blog posts appear on the front page of your site, allowing you to run specials and promotions, entice potential patients with images and articles, and announce the latest news about your practice.

Benefit: This method keeps your content fresh and helps you rank better in search engines. This is also a great way to create a sustained top-of-mind awareness with your current patients, an effective strategy in having repeat customers.

3. Feature: Testimonial Page

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A testimonial page catalogs all of the testimonials you have gathered, and a widget on the sidebar picks random testimonials from your collection of happy patients.

Benefit: “Word of Mouth” is still a very effective way to get new business and a credible testimonial placed strategically on your website will serve the purpose of your potential client hearing about you from someone else. A good testimonial substantiates the claims you make about your expertise and ability to solve the problems of your patients.

4. Feature: Acupuncture Education Library*

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We converted the most popular brochures by Acupuncture Media Works into a library of information for your website visitors.  Also available are 27 symptom-specific ‘What We Treat’ modules, such as Pain, Allergies, Headaches, Insomnia, PMS etc., taken from the print versions of Acupuncture Media Works popular education cards.

Additionally, you will have full access to add, change, and remove text and categories from the provided content!

Benefit: This library of information establishes you as an expert in your prospective patients’ eyes and distinguishes you from other acupuncturists in your area.

5. Feature: Search Engine Optimized*

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Acuperfect Websites are designed with Search Engine Optimization in mind. Give us keywords and a description of your business and we will add them to your site’s meta tags. We will submit your sitemap to Google and other major search engines to increase your rank. Google Analytics will be installed to so you can track your site’s visitors.

Benefit: Google is the name of the game, period! Though our Basic and Premium sites only have on-page SEO (hiring a full-featured SEO company can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month), having a site built on a platform that is designed to be easily indexed by Google (and other search engines) is essential for good search engine placement. Our Ultimate website package has both on-page and off-page SEO. Learn about the difference here.

6. Feature: Designed for acupuncturists by an acupuncturist

Acuperfect Websites are conceptualized by an acupuncturist who has been in practice for 14 years.  The websites are designed with a blend of online marketing principles and acupuncture industry needs in mind.

Benefit: The information and the features on the websites are geared towards eliminating some of the misconceptions prospective patients have about acupuncture.  The solution AcuPerfect websites offers is: powerful, interactive patient education tools written in a concise and clear language.

7.  Feature: No contracts to sign

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Selecting an Acuperfect Website for your business does not come with any strings attached or contracts to sign.  You can see for yourself how powerful these websites can be without fear of being stuck in a long-term contract.

Benefit: You are free to use the internet and drive traffic to your website as often or as little as you want without being bound by the cost or the limitations of a contract. You can add your website to local listings and post articles that link to your website or exchange links with other practitioners.

8. Feature: Interactive Widgets*

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We included a digital flipbook version of our popular “Acupuncture in a Nutshell” and an interactive quiz that teaches current and potential patients about the meridians and how they relate to the seasons, as well as what conditions can arise if they are not properly balanced. The quiz is updated automatically 4 times per year.

Benefit: People form a connection and interest when they interact with different features.  Interactive features woven creatively into a website content makes a website successful at capturing the attention of the visitor as they stay engaged, increasing their interest in you and the likelihood of them becoming a patient.

9. Feature: Updated Seasonal Content*

Every quarter, new seasonal content is added to your site.  This content offers engaging articles about seasonal wellness, self care, seasonal foods and other interesting articles and stories.

Benefit: People are drawn to new and updated information.  Updated seasonal content offers fresh, changing information for your web visitors to look forward to read each season while also promoting your expertise and increasing your credibility.

*Some features not available in every website package. See our full list of pricing and features here.

In summary:

Your competitors have online presence and are using a website to maximize their exposure. Staying behind the times and not jumping on the marketing wagon online will lead to less patients and a need for increased traditional marketing efforts. Why miss out? We have everything setup. You just need to jump on the wagon that is stopped at your station now!

Questions?  Let us know.

In health and prosperity,
Jeffrey

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