In online marketing, the phrase “long-term” is anything but sexy. In fact, the ever-expanding array of new tools and channels, as well as a dizzying pace of change with existing ones (are you listening, Google?) has conditioned us to think short term. Ironically, this has happened at the same time as search engines are increasingly emphasizing non-technical, long-term values, such as reputation and user experience.
So, while they are ubiquitous, these new, shiny objects in online marketing are not where the real advantage will be had, and the fundamentals of success remain rooted in long-term objectives. Of course, advances in web development technology, search engine algorithms, and the like cannot be ignored – so what do we do?
Here are a few dos and don’ts to help take the confusion (and distractions) out of the decision-making process:
- Successful internet marketing is no small feat. Nowadays, you need a team of copywriters, developers, engineers, graphic designers, SEO and SEM professionals, and capable account managers to make sure the team is working cohesively toward a unified objective. So first and foremost, find and thoroughly vet a vendor, follow their advice, and trust them to do their job.
- Focus your own energy on creating a website that serves as the best resource for your target audience. Ultimately, you know your subject matter better than any vendor ever could. Tune into what your potential patients find most valuable and get creative. A professional vendor should be able to make your ideas come alive on your website.
- Be patient. Over the years, search engines have learned that any tactic that is immediately rewarded will be abused. This is the strongest argument yet for taking a long-term view when marketing your website. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results, or if results fluctuate.
- Don’t look for the silver bullet. Search engines hire armies of very smart people whose sole objective is to make sure there is no silver bullet that will get you to the top of search pages.
Don’t waste time looking for the keys to the kingdom. They do not exist.
- Don’t obsess over rankings (or any one variable). Keyword positions, traffic data, and a few other metrics are very important indicators, but remember that many of these variables fluctuate regularly. Ultimately, the trend and trajectory of growth is most important.
- Don’t compare – if you do, be prepared to find contradictions. This is often the most difficult concept to convey because it goes against our basic sense of justice. For example, how can a website rank well with content that is obviously inferior? Fair question. Search engines algorithms are imperfect things (created by imperfect beings) that are made up of hundreds of variables that are not equally weighted. There are instances where search engines seem to break their own rules – BUT, this usually never lasts. The important observation here is that in the long run, your best bet is to play by the rules and focus on what inspires interest and trust in potential patients, and you will come out on top more often than not. It is important to note that I’m not advocating ignoring the competition, as there may be lessons to be learnt from them. The danger is in the narrow focus on a single competitor that can lead to an unproductive use of your resources.
- Don’t expect your website to do all the heavy lifting. A website is only a part (albeit the central part) of your marketing mix. You still need to be active in your local area, provide exceptional service, and gain offline notoriety.
Ali Kouros is the co-founder of MetaMed Marketing, and leads operations, engineering, productions, and practice marketing for the company.