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Connect and Convert: Internet Marketing Best Practices

Connect and Convert: Internet Marketing Best Practices
Paul Dybala
November 21, 2011
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Editor's note: This is a transcript of the live seminar presented on April 28, 2011. To view the course recording, register here: /audiology-ceus/course/practice-management-marketing-business-issues-website-marketing-connect-and-convert-18540

Introduction

AudiologyOnline currently hosts Web sites for about 800 practices around the United States. (You can find an information site about these services at https://www.audiologydesign.com) The goal of my presentation today is to talk about the philosophy that we, at AudiologyOnline, have on why we recommend what we do for our clients. There are a lot of trends occurring on the Internet. We do an analysis of those trends and look at the evidence. Just as we use evidence based practice in our clinical practice, we can apply that to our business, as well. We do this to decide where the focus should exist with our clients, the recommendations that we have for them, and to justify why we do what we do for them. My goal is to distill a lot of this down so you have some information on which to base conversations that you have with your hosting provider, whether it be through us or with someone else.

It's important to begin by putting your website into context, as you may not have thought about how it relates to your overall marketing focus. There are different kinds of offline marketing, which are traditionally the things that we do to get patients in the door including ads in the printed Yellow Pages, newspaper ads, direct mail, print media and networking. Offline marketing also includes networking, which is your basic word-of-mouth advertising through patients, physicians and colleagues, and is probably the single best form of marketing. Online marketing expands our marketing potential in a larger way. Online marketing includes search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, e mail advertising, blogs, and marketing via social media such as Facebook and YouTube. No matter what type of online or offline marketing that you employ, 9 times out of 10 the next thing that people you reach will do is go to your Web site. If you are not thinking about your Web site as the center of your marketing focus, you are really missing a big opportunity because what this comes down to is your online credibility. I am going to talk about this a lot in our presentation today.

Many of us work on our credibility and stature within the community. We work intently on this both inside and outside our offices. If you are not seen as credible or reputable, are people going to pick up the phone and call you? Probably not. This is a key concept you need to think about when you are considering all of your online or offline marketing efforts. I am also today going to talk about some influential trends and how things are shifting from offline to online marketing.

Here is an outline of my talk today:
A. Connect



  1. The Aging of the Internet
  2. Paging Dr. Google
  3. Search Engines Local Search
  4. Social Media

B. Convert
 

  1. Website Credibility
  2. Information Tools
  3. Virtual Seminars
  4. Video Mini-Documentary

C. Web Walkthroughs

What I would like to talk about first today is connecting with people. How do you find people? Where are they? I have some interesting demographical information to share with you. How does search engine marketing relate to forming connections? What is social media? How does that work? Who are the most valuable people? Next, I'll discuss how to convert those people into potential referrals to your practice. You could be having 200 visitors a month to your Web site with numerous advertising ploys, but if it does not result in a phone call, you have missed your goal. There are different things that you need to do with your Web site to engage, inform, and educate people, while maintaining credibility. Lastly, we are going to talk about some different ways that we do that with our clients by giving some best-practice examples and Web walkthroughs.

Connect

According to Pew Internet (2010), in 2010, about 79% of people age 18 years and older were online. The number of adults age 65 years and older has been steadily growing since 2000, but there is still a lot of room for growth. If you consider your standard patient base, 78% of adults age 50 to 64 and 42% of adults age 65 and older were online as of May 2010. If you average this out, you could nearly say that 50 to 60% of your patients are online. Another important thing to realize is that even if your patient is not online, you better bet they have a spouse, child, or grandchild who is.

Here is where this gets interesting. If you think that you may have 50% of your patient base perusing the Internet, what exactly are they using it for? Pew Internet (2010) has also looked at activities by age groups, classified as Millennials (age 18 - 33), Generation X (age 34 - 45), Baby Boomers (comprised of Younger Boomer age 46 - 55, and Older Boomers, age 56 - 64), the Silent Generation (age 65 - 73), and the G.I. Generation (age 74+). The most popular activity across all generations is e mail, followed by search. The third most popular activity on the Internet is searching for health information. Emailing and searching are kind of the eating and breathing of Internet usage, the fundamental functions. Next to that, people are intentionally accessing the Internet to gain more knowledge and information about health topics. This has been consistent over the past few years. Once people get online, their activity level tends to be the same.

Another thing you might find interesting is that 60-69% the Silent Generation use the Internet to read news. Do you think they could get news information about hearing aids and hearing loss? Absolutely. At least half of this same generation buys products online. There is other data that shows that for purchases over $1000, the amount of time someone spends researching online increases exponentially. If you are buying a car, you are going to spend more time online researching than if you are buying a pair of shoes. Hearing aids are not any different, and researching is a primary activity in which people in this age group engage.

comScore (2011) has researched the average number of hours spent on the Internet for the year 2010, broken down by age group. According to their data, if you compare the 65 and older groups to the 18 to 24 group you notice that the older category actually spends more time on the Internet, approximately 34 hours per month as compared to 32 hours for the 18 - 24 age group. That blows me away. I would think that the kids getting out of high school and entering college would be on the Internet all the time. The group that spent the highest number of hours per month on the Internet was the age group 45 to 54, who spent 39 hours per month online. This is also the age group we consider to be concerned caregivers and significant others that might be researching for a loved one. This is a very valuable group for us to pay attention to.

Taking this down yet another level, once users are searching for health information, what exactly are they looking for? Sixty-six percent look at a specific disease or medical problem, 56% a certain medical treatment or procedure, 44% for doctors or other healthcare professionals, and 36% for hospital or medical facilities (Fox, 2011). What this translates to, for our purposes, is that people first look for information on hearing loss, which is a specific disease or medical problem. Then they search for how to treat it, so they look for information on hearing aids. Once they have that together, they start looking for providers, and they check you out. This gets back to that credibility point that I was talking about. They are not just looking for information on hearing aids. They are looking for information on you. Are you online, and does your online presence reflect your online reputation?

How many of you have made a decision based on what you thought someone's Web site looked like? That happens a lot. If you have a knee problem, back problem, high cholesterol, you name it, what is the first thing you do? You go online and check those things out. The Internet and Google is de facto second opinion for patients seeking additional information about a diagnosis (Fox, 2011). This should not surprise anybody.

To add to those statistics, 81% of individuals searching for health information are college graduates, 83% have income of $75,000 a year or more, and 58% of these people are age 50 to 64 (Fox, 2011). Additionally, 48% of those searching for health information are doing it on behalf of another. If we continue to drill down and look at how often the words hearing aid, hearing aids, digital hearing aids, and discount hearing aids are entered into a major search engine, it comes to 10 million searches annually. That is a high level of interest. But what is important for us to realize is that these popular terms are just the tip of the iceberg. If you think about the additional keyword combinations that could exist, that number becomes infinite. There are a large number of other search terms that would actually would be better for your business on the local search-engine level.

Local Searches

What I am talking about when I say "local search" is something like Hearing aids Houston, Hearing aids Minneapolis, Hearing aids Los Angeles. There is a location next to the search word to narrow down the location of products or services. This is a very big trend across all the major search engines. Local search is where you need to focus your efforts, because these will be the people who are probably more interested in your products or services. If someone is searching for hearing aids and they live in Minneapolis and your practice is in New Mexico, odds are that is not the right connection.

Local searches are more action-focused searches. We all know of the proverbial seven-year continuum, where a person finds out they have a hearing loss and delays seven years before pursuing treatment. If you put that in the context of Internet search, a person who is just diagnosed with hearing loss may not be interested in hearing aids, but will still search for additional information on hearing loss in general. But then further down the continuum, that same person might search for hearing aids or styles of hearing aids. As we approach that seven-year mark, that person might start searching hearing aids Dallas. This is someone who is ready to take action. That is the type of Internet person you want to focus your marketing efforts towards.

Search Personalization

Search personalization is a big trend with search engines. Search engines want to try to predict your search intent to help make your search as accurate as possible. In some cases, for example, they may see from your search patterns you are a big fan of a baseball. So if you search ball they might show you a few more baseball sites than other types of sites because that is probably more relevant to what you are searching for. Different Web sites do this same kind of thing, too. Amazon might suggest certain books when you are searching based on your previous purchase activity. There are many ways cyber sources are applying this.

Google, specifically, has been focused on search personalization around local search. I want to explain the evolution of Google over the past few years and share some studies that support this idea as it relates to user activity. Figure 1 is a screen shot of Google from about two or three years ago. I entered the search terms hearing aids Austin.



Figure 1. Google search using the words "hearing aids Austin." Click Here for larger view (PDF)

This is your typical search result (Figure 1). You have paid search results that appear in pink and along the right side of the screen in a single column. Then right in the middle of the screen, you have the Google organic search results. Eighty percent click on these organic listings when they perform a search? Why is that? It comes back to credibility and reputation. These are the results that Google has determined are the most relevant for your search. The sponsored search results that appear in pink and along the side (Figure 1) account for about 20% of all resulting clicks. The sponsored or paid links use an auctioning system, where you as the sponsor have to bid to get higher up in the paid listings. It also depends on how effective your bid is. In other words, if you have a better ad that you scripted that gets more clicks, you have to bid slightly less. This is a pretty sophisticated process. As the sponsor, you also have to pay every single time a person clicks on that ad. That may or may not result in a phone call and you still have to pay for that click.

The Web site development program focused a lot on the pay-per-click arena because you have to fish where the fish are. We do not see the majority of activity happening there. Additionally, it is a pretty sophisticated model to keep on top of that every day, and in small businesses we find that it is difficult to measure and see consistency because there is so much management involved that must occur on a daily basis. Most of Mom-and-Pop types of small businesses do not have the resources to maximize that. You can spend a lot more money than your return on sponsored ads. This is an area we are examining long-term at AudiologyOnline to find a really good solution. We do not see there is one just yet. We focus our clients on the organic listings by doing organic search optimization. Once you get those rankings in there and get traffic from the site, you do not have to continue to pay Google for that. So that is an important thing to know.

Figure 2 shows the same search for hearing aids Austin from about a year ago. Notice what has changed. Instantly you recognize the mapping function. Google has two databases in its system. One is the Web site listings and one is an online business directory that includes the mapping function. The map is like an online Yellow Pages with corresponding text information to the side.



Figure 2. Current Google screen shot displaying the mapping function of local searches. Click Here for larger view (PDF)

These are two different databases you have to optimize for. Just because you have your Web site optimized does not mean you have your business listing optimized in Google. These two things interact to maximize your exposure on Google. Google added the mapping function about a year ago and applied it when someone searched for a city or location. They are predicting that you probably need to find a location in Austin in this case (Figure 2).

The next thing that happened, starting about last Fall, was they combined their business directory listings with their Web site listings. You can see all the push pins in the middle are interspersed with general Web site listings (Figure 3). They then moved the map over to the right. Here is the really shocking part to me. Remember that Google gets paid every time you click on these ads. That is how they make billions of dollars. When you scroll down the page, the map scrolls with you over the top of the paid listings. So if you want to try to get an indicator as to what Google deems important, it is the local listings. You need to make sure that you are optimizing these listings to ensure you are getting the right type of exposure. All searches on Google are local searches, and this is a trend you need to capitalize on. And just as a side note, Bing is doing the exact same thing. Bing powers a lot of Yahoo! search results as well.



Figure 3. 2011 screen shot of hearing aids Austin search, with mapping feature in the right-hand column, tied to organic Web links in the main body. Click Here for larger view (PDF)

The Yellow Pages: Obsolete?

A fair number of businesses still advertise in the Yellow Pages. A large majority of Yellow Pages phone books are recycled without ever being used. It is difficult for the Yellow Pages to compete with the dynamic local search results that you get on the Internet these days. In fact, some cities like San Francisco and Seattle are trying to pass city laws to ban Yellow Pages. Right now you can opt out if you wish not to receive it. These cities are trying to pass legislation to require it has to be opt-in if you want to receive the Yellow Pages. Many of us inlanders might say this is all the hippies on the West Coast trying to be too green for their own good, but I would support this. It comes down to responsibility. It costs each city $9 billion dealing with the Yellow Pages. There is more money that we spend to recycle these books, too. It is a big cost for cities. As we all know, we are in a big financial crunch across the United States, so states are looking into measures such as this.

TMP Directional Marketing publishes a local search usage study every year, incorporating behavioral data. For the first time ever back in 2008, a major search engine pulled slightly ahead of the print Yellow Pages in terms of local search medium. A few years later, print Yellow Pages lost an 8% market share (TMP Directional Marketing, 2010). You may have noticed that your Yellow Pages rep is not coming to you and talking about the different digital strategies that they have. Why is this? They are losing market shares like crazy. The search engines are gaining market share and Internet as a whole is getting market share.

In 2008, 30% of people used the Yellow Pages for local searches, and in 2010 that percentage dropped to 23% (TMP Directional Marketing, 2010) Thirty-one percent of people used major search engines in 2008, which increased to 33% in 2010. Internet Yellow Pages sites including local mapping sites like Google maps or City Search, are seeing more traffic. In 2010, 77% of all local searches started on the Internet. That is a huge amount, and the Yellow Pages are seeing this. They are scrambling trying to figure out a solution for this.

We can break this down further by age. We are not surprised to find that 75% of the 18 to 24 demographic uses the Internet for local searches, while only 11% use print (TMP Directional Marketing, 2010) Now, if we go all the way to 65 plus, it actually is neck and neck between Internet (49%) and print (46%) searches. If you go down just a few years you see that 57% of the 55 to 64 demographic are using online local searches versus only 37% who are using print. You can see where this is going. This is a trend that you need to pay attention to when you are deciding where to focus your marketing efforts.

Here is another reason to focus on this area. Although people search you on the Internet, they are much more likely to contact you by phone or in your office than through online contact pages that use e-mail (TMP Directional Marketing, 2010). If you are local business, they want to talk to you now, so they call. Why would they want to delay and wait for an e-mail response? In summary, an online search is the preferred method to gain information about local business, and people prefer using standard search engines to conduct their online searches.

Here is an optimization tip that is absolutely free. Google places little push pins on a map for free if you register a Google Places account. It will then throw a push pin down when someone searches for similar businesses in the area. At AudiologyOnline, we have a development program called Local Direct. We help to optimize their listing in addition to making their business information available to other search entities so those databases can be updated. This is where the most valuable searchers are. When people search locally, remember they are ready to take action.

Social Media

How does social media fit in? Or maybe to back up, what is social media? This could be a number of things: blogs, YouTube, Facebook. What it boils down to is that you have a profile and connections with other friends on these same sites. Social media is an online community. Market data shows 8 out of 10 patients recommend hearing healthcare practitioner to a friend. That is powerful. The problem is with that is that it is hard to get that word out. It takes a lot of effort. Say that one of your patients is very happy with the job you did today. If they want to tell their friends about you, they would normally have to call or e-mail and decide who they want to tell specifically. It is a lot of effort and the correspondence may or may not get done. However, if they go to the social media profile and post a status update that says, "I went to Dr. Smith today. I had a great experience with him." As soon as they post the message on their profile it gets sent out to their connections' profiles. Now that one recommendation has spread cyclically to numerous contacts who may then share that experience with others they know as well. You can see the power in this kind of word-of-mouth advertising.

Within these networks there are super nodes. A super node is another phrase for that person in the neighborhood that is well-connected, knows all the news and the goings-on of the community. There is one in your neighborhood, work, church, et cetera. If you have one of those people in your social network and they see that you had a good experience, they are more likely to share it widespread, which increases the potential for word of mouth growth. That is the power of the social network.

Facebook is the number-four ranking site on the Internet as far as unique visitors (comScore, April 2011). Starting in about July of last year, Facebook matched Yahoo! And Google in terms of percent of time spent on these Web sites. Last Fall, Facebook actually surpassed these sites in time spent (comScore, February 2011). Social media is easy to be drawn into, and we might want to jump right in and take full advantage of the opportunities there. However, there is a proper balance to this.

When you break down the age demographic for those using Facebook, the 65 and older age group is the smallest percentage at less than 5% compared to the 50% that we see in general Internet use (Ignite Social Media, 2011). While we do not have the mass of people in this age group, there are, in fact, people there. We do not want to ignore them. We want to have a presence. Remember, too, that the group that spends the most time on Facebook is the 45-54 age demographic. This corresponds to our notion that significant others or children search for information on behalf of a loved one. It is imperative that we have a presence and a specific message for this age group.

At AudiologyOnline, we are generally recommending to our clients that they set up a Facebook account. It takes five to ten minutes to set up. Once established, you should post updates to your Facebook page just as you would on your Web site. Six years ago I was telling people to absolutely register a domain name. Now I am telling them not only to create a Web presence but a Facebook presence, as well. Although not actually one of our clients, Figure 4 shows an example of a Facebook page for a speech and hearing clinic that includes some good elements. A picture of everyone who is a part of the practice personalizes the page nicely. Every once in a while they post about updates to their clinic. Figure 5 is another example that shows how you can use branding with your logo.



Figure 4. Existing Facebook page showing elements of personality and continuous updates. Click Here for larger view (PDF)



Figure 5. Existing Facebook page showing use of a logo. Click Here for larger view (PDF)

Internet usage is increasing in older age groups. Health information is high priority, and a large number of searches are actually related to hearing aids. Claim your local listings, subscribe to Google places, and optimize your presence on major search engines, Web listings and Facebook.

Convert

Now that we know where all the people are, how do we convert them into patients? To convert your visitors into patients you have to engage them by incorporating engaging information on your site. As I said before, many of you have probably gone to a Web site and have decided not to use that service because it looks kind of sketchy. It is a powerful marketing piece. You have to get visitors to trust you, so you have to be seen as credible. The more credible you are the more likely the user will contact you for services. We are credible people for the most part, but how do we prove that online?

How do we define credibility? It is an abstract thing. Stanford University did a Web credibility research project over a three year period. They talked to 4,500 people and, as a result of their findings, list ten basic principles to help make this task more objective. You can view their findings here: credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html

Their top eight guidelines for Web credibility are:
 

  1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of information on your website
  2. Show there's a real organization behind your site
  3. Highlight expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide
  4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
  5. Make it easy to contact you
  6. Design your site so it looks professional
  7. Make your site easy to use and useful
  8. Update your site's content often (or at least show that it's been reviewed)

Let's examine three of the guidelines: expertise in your organization and service you provide, making it easy to contact you, and update your site's contents often. There are some different things we can do. There are articles you can have posted on your Web site. At AO we actually have an article widget, so if you have a short article you want to post, you can log in and have the most up to date information there. We have some people that are posting their latest patient newsletters. Since you are already producing and mailing it, post a copy on your Web site. You can include a blog. We actually have a news feed that we populate for you that can be posted as a widget on your site. Our clients love this. It is kind of a mini-blog, but visitors can see that you are staying up-to-date. There is a subtle impression there. It also enables you to post your own news items on the site, too. It does not have to be that you found a cure for hearing loss; it can simply be what is going on in your office.

Some locations have created an online tour of their practice so you can see the environment and what can be expected at the office. It gets people familiar with the practice and also lends credibility to the services you provide.

Make the site useful. Some people put their patient forms online. This makes it easy for those patients that like to come to the visit prepared with paperwork in hand. Include personalized maps so they can easily locate you, and directions to your office, especially if you are not in a free-standing building. All these things are powerful tools.

Figure 6 is the home page from one of our clients in Austin, Texas. The button right in the center where it says, "Thinking about Hearing Aids?" is actually a consumer seminar we have posted that provides information on hearing technology. It is a video that floats over the page when you click to view. In an effort to combat that 9% contact-via e mail rate, we actually have a PDF consumer's guide to hearing aids that the practice will send you if you complete the online Contact Us form. We are giving them an incentive to contact you, to get them over the hump.



Figure 6. Austin Ear Nose & Throat Associates Home page (www.austinaudiology.com/our-services) powered by AudiologyOnline.

There is other pertinent information throughout the home page that provides simple and generic hearing information. The online seminar is just one way that we can educate visitors and gain their trust and improve our credibility. As a side note, when you design your Web elements to float over the page or open as a new window in the existing site, it encourages people to stay on your page. They worked so hard to find you and get there, the last you want to do is open new windows or redirect traffic away from your site. We make all of our tools work within the site. At the end of all this, personalize it. We put your name, your address, your phone number and even e-mail so they can easily find and contact you and download that free PDF guide.

Another thing we have done to try to engage and educate people using these same credibility guidelines is to include helpful videos. We have actually recorded a library of videos from hearing aid batteries to degree of hearing loss to hearing aid styles, and then the patient can educate themselves on their own time, at their own pace. Again, we are not sending them off to YouTube; the player is integrated within your site to keep them there.

Other guidelines to consider to help visitors maintain focus and gain trust from your site would be to show there is a real organization behind the site, highlight the expertise in your organization, and show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site. Figure 7 is an example from one of our clients in Massachusetts. This is Dr. Joan McCormick from Atlantic Hearing Care, and rather than using text and general topics, she has a welcome video to introduce herself, her practice, and the services the practice offers. We can shoot these kind of mini documentaries and engage our potential patients in a powerful way. She also has other videos of patient testimonials and product videos. You have to engage your visitors with compelling content, with a strong call to action. Internet video is one of those social media activities you can easily incorporate.

Web Walkthroughs

Now that you have potential patients on your site, what can you do to make them pick up the phone and call you? The first thing is to look professional. You have a physical front office. You have a virtual front office, or your Web site. Which one is more important? There is no right answer, but of course I am going to say your virtual front office. Let me put this in perspective. How many of you systematically sat down and thought about every detail in your front office so when a person comes in the right impression about your credibility is being made? I bet every one of you.



Figure 7. Example of front office and waiting room of a hearing care practice.

If you look at Figure 7, all the chairs are facing same way with handles on the side to assist patients in getting up. The back wall is lit up with the clinic's mission statement. To the right of that is a TV with a video, and to the left are informational brochures. You are already kind of molding these people, right? Then if you look down the hallway on the left you see framed diplomas and certifications, so the patient sees these as they walk back for evaluation. Building credibility starts from the moment a patient walks in the door. If you think about it, your Web site needs to do the same thing. In fact, 75% of users admit they make judgments about the credibility of the company basis on the design of its Web site (Fogg, 2002).

I bet more people visit your Web site than go through your office every month. I do not know if you ever thought about that. Also, impressions of your business from your Web site are made in 1/20th of a second (Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, & Brown, 2006). You do not have a second chance to make a good first impression. I may be preaching to the choir, but this is so fundamental. Your credibility is affected by both your online and offline marketing. After someone views a newspaper ad or flier, they will go to your Web site. All your materials and Web page need to reflect your logo, your colors, and your philosophy.

We want to make sure that your professional message and credibility is being shared with anybody who comes to the site and secondly, we want them to take action and pick up the phone and call. Figure 8 shows some examples of things we have done with some of our different clients.





Figure 8. Current Web sites designed and powered by AudiologyOnline.

When providing your contact information, double check to make sure your address and phone number are correct. You would be surprised how many folks do not have this right or do not have contact information in a convenient, intuitive location. If you want people to call or find you, you have to have that information on every single page. If someone prints a page, the name and contact information should be on that page, regardless of what it is. This also optimizes your chances of being found on a local search. How will Google realize that you are a hearing care practice in Denver, Colorado? Because you have Denver, Colorado all over your site, and you have a Denver 303 area code with your phone number. These are subtle but important things that build your Web credibility guidelines. Make it easy to verify the accuracy and show there is a real company behind your site. Make it easy to contact you. Make your site useful.

After a local search, most people want to contact you via the phone. The phone number needs to be prominent, even in two places if you like. Include pictures of staff. This is one of those areas where a client asks if that is necessary or if they really need to talk about their bio because they are embarrassed. You have got to get over that. This is a key point. Take the time to have a professional picture taken. There is something about seeing a person that makes a potential patient want to contact you. Highlight expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. I am going to say this over and over. Show that honest and trustworthy people also stand behind your site.

Internet Video

You are the most effective marketing piece that you have. There is nothing better than you sitting down with one of your patients. There is nothing better than when you are giving a lunch and learn or talking to physicians. The problem is you cannot be everywhere at once. We all have felt this at one point or another. This is where Internet video delivers, and where you can earn credibility by showing you are a real professional. Videos are the closest thing outside people have to physically sitting down and talking with you.

People today actually expect to see videos on Web sites. You can cover a lot of material with visual and spoken tools. It is a very effective medium to prove your credibility, showcase your practice, and engage the patient without even being there. Tell why you got into this profession and why you are passionate about what you do every day. People feel connected when watching videos and they will want to pick up the phone and call.

Conclusion

You are more than a phone number and an address. You are professional. You are experienced. You are caring. You are easy to work with. You work for better hearing. You make a difference every day in helping spouses and family members to communicate better. To enable grandparents to speak with their grandchildren is a powerful thing. All this today was about using these really powerful tools to be able to tell your story to as wide an audience as possible. By using the Internet, you are going to start having patients come in even before you speak with them on the phone. They can get to know you before they meet you, and, therefore, you are going to do better at helping them. They are going to be better educated so you will be able to do that much more for them. You are ultimately going to give them better patient care. In my mind, as an audiologist that is really what this is all about.

Question & Answer

Q: Does Google take into consideration how often an organic search Web site is clicked to decide how it is ranked?

A: The short answer is, no. You could visit the site multiple times a day or have computers that are programmed to visit the site and falsely influence that ranking. There are about 203 factors that come into consideration when those organic search listings show up. One big indicator is whether you get links in from other sites. People started to create fake sites, with not much content, just links to the sites to increase their rankings. Google updated their algorithm to account for the link farms, and if you use them now you actually get penalized. They even look at the pattern and over time how many links you are acquiring.

The best way to improve rankings is to network with other sites. Ask for links on other friends' or professionals' sites. It is a local indicator because it is from another Web site in your area. Publishing a simple update every once in a while is important. If you have a Facebook page, post a link from your Facebook page over to your Web site. People will start to share some of your content, and that helps with links, too.

Q: How long should a new site wait for good rankings before optimizing their site?

A: I would say 30 to 60 days, because Google is constantly crawling the web and updating relationships between sites. That is the typical time line. We see sometimes it is quicker and sometimes it is slower. Sometimes after that time period if we're not seeing good rankings, we have to do a little diagnostic check and say wait a minute. Everything seems to look right. Let's dive deeper and see if there is not something off.

Q: What is the optimal video length for an imbedded video on my Web site?

A: Good question. If it is too long, they lose interest. If you actually looked at that video that we talked about earlier for Dr. McCormick, it is about one minute. That is kind of the sweet spot. Typically, a good length is thirty seconds to a minute and a half. This does not mean you do not want to have some longer videos with more in depth information. Typically, a personalized video that we do is about a minute. Because it is personalized, people are most likely going to sit through it. The shortest you want to make it is about 30 seconds.

Q: Does time spent on your site increase ranking on the search engines?

A: Let me answer that two ways. The search engines do not really recognize how much time someone spends on your site. There are ways to determine how many visits your site gets, but that is a different ranking factor. If you look at Google rankings, one of the things they do look at is how long a site has been around. It is a hard thing to fake. Every time they take a snapshot of your site they are cataloging it and they have some data how long the site has been around. It is kind of like visiting an old hometown store that has been around for decades. That is an indicator of quality and credibility to someone who just walks down the street and visits the store because it has been around forever. Google does the same thing, too. A site that has been around longer gets more credibility than a Web site that just launched.

References

ComScore Data Mine. (2011, January 13). Average time spent online per U.S. visitor in 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from www.comscoredatamine.com/2011/01/average-time-spent-online-per-u-s-visitor-in-2010/

ComScore Data Mine. (2011, February 7). Sneak peak: 2010 digital year in review. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from www.comscoredatamine.com/2011/02/2010-us-digital-year-in-review/

ComScore. (2011, April 22). ComScore media metrix ranks top 50 U.S. web properties for March 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/

Chappell, B. (2011, April 6). 2011 social network analysis report- demographic and traffic data revealed. Message posted to www.ignitesocialmedia.com

Fogg, B.J. (2002). Stanford guidelines for web credibility: A research summary from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. Stanford University. Retrieved August 10, 2011, from www.webcredibility.org/guidelines

Lindgaard, G., Fernandes, G., Dudek, C. & Brown, J. (2006). Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression! Behaviour & Information Technology, 25, 115-126.

Pew Internet. (2010, September 10). Updated: change in internet access by age group, 2000-2010. Retrieved August 5, 2011, from www.pewinternet.org/Infographics/2010/Internet-acess-by-age-group-over-time-Update.aspx

Pew Internet. (2010, December 16). Generations online 2010: summary of findings. Retrieved August 5, 2011, from www.pewinternet.org/Infographics/2010/Generations-2010-Summary.aspx

Fox, S. (2011). Health Topics: 80% of Internet users look for health information online. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/HealthTopics.aspx

TMP Directional Marketing and 15Miles. (2010, September). Bridging the gap, from search to sales - local search usage study. Retrieved June 20, 2011 from www.tmpdm.com/

Signia Xperience - July 2024

paul dybala

Paul Dybala



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