In this episode, Barbara and John discuss:
- What SEO stands for and how it can help grow your business.
- Pushing versus pulling to get users to find you.
- Claiming your Google My Business.
- There is more to SEO than just building a website.
- You have to understand the user intent. It’s a journey. Nobody is going to buy something right off the bat.
- Consider your worth – leave SEO to the professionals and stick with what you do best and are trained for.
“If you really want to grow your business and scale and position yourself as the expert, pay someone to [do the SEO for you].” — John Vuong
Barbara: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. This is your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today, we have with us John Vuong. He is the owner and founder of Local SEO Search. He helps small- and medium-sized businesses rank on Google and dominate their local market. John puts a strong emphasis on relationships and treats his clients like family wanting to not only help them rank but to help their business grow and succeed. Welcome to the show, John.
John: Well, thank you for having me, Barbara. I’m excited and hopefully I can share some great insights on SEO with your audience members.
Barbara: I’m sure so. A lot of our listeners may not know exactly what SEO stands for. Could you fill them in?
John: Oh, definitely. SEO is short-form acronym for search engine optimization and what that really means is organically or naturally appearing on Google search results without paying per click. So usually, it’s not the ad portion of the search result but the natural. So, anything below the ads which is the map and below the map. So how do you become more visible for people who are looking for you to generate more traffic to your website.
Barbara: Well, that’s so important. Let’s face it. If you are listed on page 25 of a search, you might as well not exist. People are not going to really go beyond page one or maybe the first half of page two. So it’s like you’re not listed. They’re trying to find you and they don’t even know you.
Barbara: Could you let them know how it can help their practice by boosting their rankings?
John: Definitely. The most important thing a lot of business owners have to understand is it just doesn’t happen as easily as building a website, right? It’s not like Google realizes because there are billions of websites that are now in operation. And therefore, Google has to somehow sort them and give preference to people that they deem would satisfy that user’s search query.
What you have to do is position yourself as that expert or that thought leader or authoritative figure in your local domain, those specific keywords that you want to dominate. What we advise clients is run a good business and we help them elevate the offline business to a digital footprint where then you would then appear more, become more visible and become that expert. But really, you have to understand some of the signals that Google is looking for to attract and position yourself as that leader, right? So, what are some of the things? Like content, links, references or reputation. There’s a lot of components to building a really strong foundation online so that you will then appear more naturally and organic on that first page.
Barbara: Okay. They may have heard of inbound marketing or getting links. How is that done?
John: Yeah. Inbound marketing is really the purpose of not pushing ads at people but hopefully people finding you inbound, right? There’s a two-different thing in terms of, you know, pushing versus pulling in terms of getting users to find you. And content marketing is a great inbound source of lead gen, same as creating a great website that positions you very well organically by providing the best laid out images or infographs or videos, how-to’s, guides, you know, well-researched information or block content which then gets amplified by a lot of shares and links from other people, right?
The whole purpose of doing this is positioning your website as the most authoritative website for that specific keyword that you want to rank. And it’s not an easy task to do because there are hundreds if not thousands of other businesses doing the exact same thing that you want to do at any given time, right? And it’s always a moving part because everyone’s competing for that real estate.
But what you have to understand is it’s more of a long-term play. And if you’re in business and you’ve been studying and you’ve been doing what you’ve been passionately doing for 10, 20, 30 years and now you want to start understanding how you can appear more so on digital and online, you should, you know, start getting into search engine optimization earlier as opposed to later because you need to understand what it means to be organically found, because it will give you a boost in terms of more leads, of more qualified leads, your type of clients that you want to see ideally in your practice. Because, you know, there’s going to be a lot of bad leads out there if you were to pay for it like depending on which medium that you’re very strong in.
Because everyone thinks of social media as the buzzword because it’s free, right? Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, you know, there’s a lot of social out there but anyone can get into it, right? And you can just pay to play. And it’s not like a database where users are in control of their search. Because usually these platforms like Facebook is more of a social community, right, and there might be groups and forums that you’re a part of that you don’t want to get pushed ads at, right? LinkedIn is more of a job search and, you know, more corporate, right, B2B. But when it comes with Google and being in Yahoo and search engines, it’s all about depending on the buyer journey. It’s all about giving information, content that is rich in value. And that consumer/user is in control. So, you need to have search intent throughout the entire buyer journey.
Barbara: Well, as you would agree, putting out content that is not only in sync with your services but has keywords so that not only do your customers or patients know who you are and what you represent but the search engines recognize it too. How many keywords or long tail keywords should I, you know, consider trying to rank for?
John: So again, this is more of an art than the number. My take on this keyword research and understanding, publishing a piece of content like a blog piece or a guide or a how-to video or a service page, right, it all depends on your competition. What are they doing to rank on that first page? And there’s a lot of tools and software for that. And there’s a lot of variations like semantic keywords. And you’ll also have to have personas in play, right?
So, understanding that user intent, figuring out why you want to position yourself with that keyword and satisfying that user with appropriate content so that if it’s more informational, there has to be more to a call to action to get them to the next stage which is, you know, maybe ready to buy, right? And then when they are ready to buy, what happens afterwards? Drip them to a funnel or something at the end of it so that they are a part of a newsletter or a blog, right?
It’s a journey, right? No one’s going to buy something right off the bat without knowing your brand or knowing what you stand for. What is your core value, right? But if you bring them along the lines of following that whole journey and they like what they see and they feel comfortable with eventually doing business with you, that’s what that whole website can do for you, right? Educate a consumer, follow them along that whole journey and eventually they will be a lifetime client, your ideal customer as well.
Barbara: Yeah. What is Google My Business?
John: Google My Business is the Local 3-Pack, so it’s that map on Google. When you think about having a search, when you’re searching for your local restaurant or your local coffee shop, for instance, you’re going to typically search on a smartphone. You’re going to go nearby or near me, right, as a search. And usually, what appears is that map. And if you go in as a business owner, you should verify and claim that page because what you get once you claim it is full authority to make changes and get a lot more insight. You can then optimize that page for Google 3-Pack. You can then manage your reviews and comment on those reviews, post images, change your hours, put your categories and also do Google post on a weekly basis, right? There’s a lot of things that you can do and manage once you claim your Google My Business. And I advise every business owner to do that because it’s so critical as a business owner to manage and own all real estate assets digitally for your business.
Barbara: That’s great. Now, if a person is not brick and mortar, so let’s say a doctor is not in a practice that is freestanding building but is telemedicine and located in cyberspace alone, can they claim the town that they live in as opposed to the actual address in terms of Google My Business?
John: Yeah. Google My Business is a very interesting place to play if you’re a service type of industry, right? And we deal with a lot of contractors but also medical professionals. Usually, medical professionals have a brick and mortar office, right, and it’s a physical location that Google can deem like people are actually going in there and you’re paying rent and there’s physical people actually doing work at that physical location.
With the telemedicine in place because of the COVID-19 situation, most people still have that physical location, right, as their backup. And therefore, they are still with that physical location what Google deems fit. But right now, there’s an option for you to actually have a service area and not just put your physical location. So just like a service industry base like tree service or plumber or what not, they have a variety of radius of 20 to 30 miles, you can do the same thing now that your practice is, you know, servicing a larger, broader, you know, location, right, like maybe 10, 20 miles versus the 2- to 4-mile radius that you used to service, right? So, once you claim your Google My Business, there’s an option in there that lets you change your radius in terms of where you service your practice.
Barbara: Okay. Now, let’s say a doctor says, “You know what, this is way beyond me. I’m going to stick to medicine and my patients and what I know and, you know, let a SEO company deal with the rest. I can recognize that I need to do that as part of my marketing so that I not only survive but thrive but it’s just not in my purview. I’m just going to hire an SEO expert.” How would you suggest a person look for an SEO company or what should they look for? What should they ask to know that they’ve got the right one?
John: And that’s a great question because just like yourself as a medical expert, you’ve been trained and went to school and you’ve had years of experience with dealing with good patients and bad patients and you know best practices, right, and you’re regulated. With this industry in terms of SEO, it’s not regulated to the same extent as medical. Because it’s advertising and marketing, there’s no accreditation that needs to be put on people.
So, what you have to look for is either individuals with a really good track record as well as companies that you feel would be a good fit for your business, right? Because ultimately, it is a relationship and it’s a long-term relationship that you’re trying to harvest and build, right? So, there are questions that I’ll always ask, right, and let people know like, you know, what kind of track record have you gotten? Are you currently working with other medical practitioners? And what kind of results can I see myself? Can I call them as a reference to see how it’s been going, right?
And don’t really go on, you know, them saying heresy, like them putting on their website under testimonials. Do that extra stuff and do your own due diligence, right? See their hearty reviews. Check out their own reference and call people, right? Because it is an investment. It is a long-term relationship that you want to harvest. Because when you start working with an SEO agency or individual, they’re going to have full access to your back-end website, your Google Analytics, Google search console, your email. Like there’s a lot of confidential stuff that you might not want to share with someone that you don’t think would be a good fit. It’s like dealing with a medical practitioner, right? Someone that you’re going to share your whole life story with, medical history. Like that relationship is very, you know, very important.
Barbara: Sensitive, yeah.
John: Sensitive, right? It’s that same thing, right? Same as your banker and mortgage broker, right? A real estate agent. Everything is very sensitive. So it’s all about building a trusted relationship, that you feel that they’re in alignment with the same goals and they have the same core values as yourself, right?
Barbara: Okay. Let’s say we’re past that stage. You have convinced the doctor to go with an SEO expert and they say, “This is it. I’m happy. I’m plunking down my money. I’m signing along the dotted line. I want you.” What type of timeline can they expect before they see positive results?
John: So that’s a really good question as well because I get that on a daily basis. It all depends and I know people hate hearing this but because every instance is different, right? When you’re starting a practice, it’s very similar. Like you’re in a competitive space. You need to get your footprint out there. You have to be known in the marketplace. You need to show you do good work. You need experience, right? It’s the same thing that’s digital and having a website. Because if you’re just starting and building your own website, you’re starting from ground zero. It’s like Google doesn’t even know you exist, right? But then there are other medical practitioners that have had websites and have been doing SEO for three, five, 10 years before you started. So how do you expect to suddenly rank and superseding those people when they’ve been in business and doing this for many, many years?
So, what I always say is we always have to look at where you are and what your competitors have done before giving you either a right quote and expectations. And expectations, I’ve seen clients rank very quickly like one or two months and I’ve seen clients rank in two or three years because of competition level, right? If you’re in a big metropolitan area like New York or San Francisco, it’s going to take you a little bit longer because there are probably other companies that have been doing this for much longer, build a lot of influence and expertise and authority before you even started, right? So you have to, you know, think about that as well and be realistic.
Barbara: What analytical tools do you find most helpful in showing that the site is rising in the ranks?
John: Yeah. So, there are two metrics. There’s actually a lot of metrics, right? But ultimately, Google Analytics gives you a lot of insight in terms of where the traffic’s coming from, either it’s organic traffic source, direct traffic source, referral, social or page, right? But then there’s the Google My Business Insight Tool as well.
So, there’s analytics within that 3-Pack of maps, Google My Business. But also, I always tell business owners in any field, the best way to really monitor and track is, even if you have pawtracking in place, even if you put tracking on your website, it’s who’s picking up that phone and really analyzing are those people who are calling you not just coming from Google but are they the good clients that you’re looking to attract. Because every medium of advertising will have different types of outcome, right? And you’re going to target different people, right, because people are consuming content differently through search, through social, through printed ads, through magazine, trade shows.
These people think differently, right? So ultimately, what you want to do is monitor it from the standpoint of either the reception or business owners and figure out who are these people coming in, where did they find you, and are they the right type of people that you want in your practice as a customer, right?
Barbara: What would you say is the most important aspect of SEO?
John: SEO, the most important — There’s really not one because there are over 200 signals, right? Building a solid website is very foundationally important. It’s like the foundation of building a solid home, right? You need that foundation to be solid enough so that Google could index and doesn’t find errors on your website. And yes, mobile friendly is important. Site speed is important. Making sure that your content is unique.
It has compelling argument that you know what you’re talking about with some experience and backing around that with testimonies, before and after images or whatever it may be, right? Building a solid website, that’s the foundation. But then after that website is, you know, running a good business, right? Because if you run a good business, people will start referring you. Word of mouth is important. And in a digital standpoint, it’s more about reviews, right, getting third-party reviews, getting people to write reviews on Google. Or if you’re in medical like there are other companies like RateMDs or Opencare or other places that people can actually write reviews for you, right? It’s important to just run a good business and everything should translate to more digital once you run a really good business.
Barbara: Wow! We certainly hope so. What about the doctor that says can I do it myself? How hard could it be?
John: It’s very similar to like users trying to — Like anyone could go on YouTube and try to figure it all themselves. It’s just like any profession, right? Medical to contractors to digital, anything can be self-taught. If you have that willpower to do it yourself, sure. But I always tell people that if you’ve been trained doing what you love and you’re earning way good of an income doing what you love and you’re passionate doing it, focus on your strengths, right?
Do that very well and let other people do things that you’re not so strong at. And it’s a lot less expensive to let other people do what they’re good at and are very passionate than what you’re good at. Then you’re busy doing what you love and you’ll be able to earn way more money because they’re going to keep you busy by amplifying your message.
Barbara: Yeah. So you know, I just want to point out, I would hate to have an appendectomy done by somebody who’s like studied it a few times on YouTube. And also, you have to remember like what are you worth? How much money do you consider your hourly wage? Even though doctors don’t charge that way but like what could you make in an hour? And then think well if I wasn’t studying YouTube videos on how to do this, how much more money I would be making and leaving it to the SEO pros to do the rest?
John: Exactly. It’s very similar like people have been studying medical for 10, 20, 30 years, right? Like if you’ve been doing that all your life, to pick up something that is a foreign language to a lot of people, it’s very difficult to grasp, right, because your mindset has been on this medical field for so long. Understanding the technical field, unless this is a pastime and it’s more of a hobby for you, I get it. There are some people like that. But if you really want to grow your business in scale and do things and position yourself as the expert, let others do what you’re really — You know, that you love continue doing. But if you don’t have time and you know they will do way better of a job than you will, let them do it, right? Pay someone to do it.
Barbara: Okay, John. How can our listeners reach you?
John: So, my website is www.localseosearch.ca. And if you want to reach me directly, there’s actually a section on the website, it’s a team page. You can find myself, John Vuong. I’m the owner. And you can connect with me on LinkedIn. So I’m here to support and educate and help people understand this whole SEO space but I’m also sharing a lot of insights because of my background. I’m very much of a business marketing guy that loves and is very passionate about understanding the entire journey of business owners. If you are interested in not just SEO but growing your business, feel free to reach out to me.
Barbara: Thanks so much for being with us today, John. It’s been really very inspirational and also you’ve given us a lot of knowledge.
John: Thank you so much for having me, Barbara, and I look forward to hearing from your audience members. Thank you.
Barbara: This is another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors and your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Thank you. Until then.
Connect with John Vuong:
Facebook: Local SEO Search
YouTube: Local SEO Search
Connect with Barbara Hales:
Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com