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Avoid These SEO Mistakes

SEO can be confusing, and like everything with a steep learning curve, you’re bound to make some mistakes. In this episode, we’ll show you how to avoid the most costly and most common SEO mistakes most people make.

Episode Transcript

Like everything with a steep learning curve, you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. But how can you avoid the most costly and most common SEO mistakes and increase your effectiveness and get more patients from Google?

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – this is the show where we give you actionable tips and advice to help improve your practice marketing, grow your revenue, and take patient experience to the next level. I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be continuing our look at Search Engine Optimization by exploring the most common mistakes people make when they first head down the path of doing SEO.

Otto Van Bismarck one said, “Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others.” 

That’s the reason behind this episode – we want you to learn from the experience and mistakes that other people have made so you can avoid falling into the same traps yourself.

Now, before we get started, let me just say that it’s ok if you’ve made some of these mistakes with SEO before. All of the mistakes we’re going to explore are very common, and people make them for a reason. If you’ve made any of these mistakes yourself, don’t feel bad – to some degree, we all have. So let’s dive in, shall we?

Mistake #1? Short-term thinking.

Mistake #1: Short-Term Thinking

By far the most common mistake people make when it comes to SEO is falling victim to the short-term thinking mindset. People expect SEO results to happen overnight, and they get confused and frustrated when they don’t begin to see results right away.

But the problem is, SEO takes time. There’s no good answer to the question “How long will it take before my website is on Page 1 of Google?” because there are literally thousands of factors that affect how you rank.

A study by Neil Patel of over 20,000 keywords found that it took an average of 3 months to begin ranking on Page 1 – and that was in 2016. More recent data from SEO software company Ahrefs has shown that among the most authoritative sites, only 10% get to Page 1 within a year. And if you’re running a small practice, chances are your website isn’t as authoritative as others in Google’s eyes. Among the lowest-authority websites, Ahrefs found that only 3% reached the top 10 results in Google within a year. That’s not to say it can’t be done, just that it takes a lot of work, and can take a fair bit of time.

The mindset that so many people fall into with SEO is that of expecting immediate results. But at its heart, that’s not what SEO is. SEO is a long-term play that takes a lot of work and a decent amount of time…but, it’s also one that has massive long-term benefits. When you engage in a smart, long-term SEO strategy, it becomes really, really hard for competitors to knock you off of those Page 1 results.

And don’t forget that everyone comes to the SEO game from a different place. Maybe you’re already ranking fairly high in Google. In that case, it may be easier to improve your rankings. But if you’ve never done any sort of SEO before, or if you’ve just launched your practice, it can take long.

Mistake #2: Set It and Forget It

Another mistake people make is playing the “set it and forget it game” as we saw in our last episode. They think that they can just write their content, optimize their site once, and soar their way to higher rankings, more traffic, and more patients.

But that’s not how Google works.

Google rewards those marketers who produce content on a regular basis, keep their site up-to-date, and consistently provide a valuable experience for their users over time.

If you read between the lines there, you’ll see that Google values those webmasters and marketing teams who put in the work.

Rarely do you see a website who hasn’t produced a single piece of content in years and yet enjoys top rankings for major keywords. It just doesn’t happen. It’s a common mistake for practice to not be creating enough content on a regular basis and trying to attract more traffic to that content.

If you want to be on Page 1 – or Spot #1 – you need to be building links, regularly auditing your website, producing content, and ensuring that people have a great experience with your online presence. It may not be obvious at first, but that’s how those websites at Spot #1 got there.

Bottom line? One of the most common SEO mistakes is to “set it and forget it.” If you want to get more patients from Google, you have to put in the effort to improve your website every single day.

Mistake #3: Overemphasizing SEO

Another big mistake is making SEO the king of everything. We come across practices all the time who think that Google’s algorithm is the most important thing in the world and as a result, focus on SEO and nothing else. It’s more common that we see practices underemphasize SEO’s role, but many doctors and practice marketing professionals still fall prey to this mistake.

As valuable as SEO is, this might not be the wisest strategy, because it puts all your eggs in one basket. As we saw in our last episode, SEO is an incredibly valuable part of your practice marketing plan, but it shouldn’t be your entire marketing plan. There’s a place for SEO, but you need to diversify your marketing plan to be attracting patients from a variety of sources.

In 2019, 8 out of 10 patients begin their search for a doctor, so Google is obviously important. At Messenger, we would never advise a client or potential client to not engage in an SEO strategy, but we always ask clients about their other marketing initiatives to make sure that SEO is playing the correct role.

This is a more nuanced topic, and every practice is different – everyone has a different geographic market, a different target demographic, and different goals for growth. So if you think you might be susceptible to this SEO mistake, take a listen to Episode #9 about the role that SEO has to play in a practice marketing plan.

Mistake #4: Thinking You Absolutely Must be #1

Most times when we talk to a new medical practice about their SEO strategy, we hear something along these lines: “We absolutely must be ranking at Spot #1 for [INSERT KEYWORD HERE]. Anything other than the top spot would be a failure for us.”

To be honest, I get it. We’re attracted to success. We all want to be #1. But there can only be one #1, and statistically, the odds are stacked against every single one of us.

It’s not a mistake to want to be #1 – that’s a really good desire, and something that every practice marketer should aim for. A recent study found that the #1 spot, on average, attracts 33% of clicks on Google. But it’s really hard to get there.

The mistake comes into play when doctors get laser-focused on that #1 spot…but they’re currently ranking on Page 8 for their keyword.

The old adage that “the best place to hide a dead body is on Page 2 of Google” rings true here. Page 1 receives 95% of all traffic. By the time you reach Page 2, the numbers drop off a cliff. So if you’re actually on Page 8, you’re probably not getting any clicks at all.

The better practice here is to focus on moving from Page 8 to Page 1.Don’t get so obsessed about that #1 spot that you lose sight of any other improvements. Once you’ve gone from Page 8 to Page 1, then you can start making optimizations that will vault you to that coveted #1 spot. Just don’t make the mistake of putting the SEO cart before the horse.

Mistake #5: Forgetting About Patient Experience

And finally, the last mistake we see doctors make all the time is getting too focused on SEO and forgetting about patient experience. Yes, being on Page 1 for your “money keywords” is a good desire, the best medical SEO is focused on patient experience.

Too many marketers get too “into the weeds” about technical fixes and complicated link building strategies, but forget that Google is really focused on user experience.

Yes, Google uses technology to crawl the web and create its search engine results, but they have optimized their algorithms over time to focus on the content that users find most valuable. At the heart of Google’s algorithms is user experience – and as a marketer, if it matters to Google, it should matter to you.

So if you want to improve your SEO, there’s a time a place for technical fixes and marketing strategies, but don’t forget to focus on patient experience, too. Be helpful. Answer questions. Create valuable content that patients want to read and engage with. Because when you provide a good patient experience, Google will notice.


So, to recap what we’ve learned, if you want to be good at SEO, here’s what you don’t want to do:

  • Remember that good SEO takes time – don’t fall victim to short term-thinking.
  • on’t set it and forget it – if you want to rank higher, you’re going to have to put in the work.
  • Don’t be tempted to overemphasize SEO – it has a role to play in your marketing plan, but it’s not wise to put all your eggs in one basket.
  • If you’re not already on Page 1, a desire to be at Spot #1 isn’t going to do you any good. Focus on first things first.
  • And whatever you do, don’t forget about patient experience. The best online experiences are human, so if you want Google to take notice, focus on providing value to your patients.

That’s all for today’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to the show and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform – it helps us grow!

Next week, we’ll talk about what you should do when a Google algorithm change affects your practice’s traffic – it’s going to be a really great episode, so don’t forget to tune in.

As always, you can check out the description for a link to the show notes for today’s episode, and while you’re at it, browse our website at – we’ve got tons of great resources on how to improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level. For Messenger, I’m Crawford Ifland – see you next week!

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