Links, Social Media and Website Traffic Monitoring
In addition to the text and media you add to your web pages and blog posts, there are a few other strategies and tools you can use to boost your SEO ranking.
- The number and quality of websites that link to yours play a significant role in search engine ranking.
- Using social media can also help improve your online visibility and ranking.
- Monitoring your website traffic (anonymously) can help you figure out what content draws the most attention from your visitors, which you can use to help decide what to promote or who to market to.
We’ll start by looking at links.
Links, which is the short form of the term “hyperlinks”, are connections between webpages. They can connect two pages on the same website, or connect two entirely different websites. Clicking on a link takes you from one page to another.
Google checks which websites have links to your website on regular basis. Although the number of sites that have links to yours is important, it’s quality over quantity that’s most important. The credibility and popularity of a website that links to yours will influence how important that link for your rating. A link from a popular website like WebMD with a high credibility rating will boost your ranking more than links from dozens or even hundreds of more unknown websites.
Links included on websites with bad reputations can actually hurt your search engine ranking. A website can have a bad reputation for several reasons. Malware infected websites and websites full of spam are typically considered bad. Link farms, which are websites built specifically for the purpose of linking to other websites in an attempt to boost the SEO ranking of those sites, also very quickly get bad reputations. Many of the black hat – or unethical – search engine optimization companies will use tactics like link farms to initially boost the ranking of their customers, but it ends up backfiring more often than not.
The most common type of link is text. Text links are usually a different colour from the regular text, most often blue. Text links will usually be underlined as well. Making sure links are easily identifiable is important for website accessibility.
Images are often used as links. Clicking on the image works the same way as clicking text links. Usually, the images that act as links will draw attention to that fact, like in the popular example of a “Click here to book online” image.
The menu for a website is composed of links as well. Each menu item usually takes the visitor to a different page on the same website. These types of links are called internal links, since they don’t take the visitor to an external website. Search engines don’t usually usual count internal links as factors in ranking. It’s only the links from other websites that matter.
To help build your website’s reputation and links, there are a few simple strategies.
You could offer to guest write a blog post for another website, or propose a trade. When guest writing on another person’s blog, it’s common etiquette to include a small biographical entry about yourself at the bottom of the post which includes a link to your site. If you guest write for the websites of other local health care providers, you’ll get the benefit of exposure to their readers, as well as the SEO benefits of the link. You could write about a topic that was popular on your own website to save on having to think of new ideas every time.
If you get approached by a company offering to improve your search engine ranking for a fee, be wary. Many of them use black hat tactics like link farms or comment spamming to try for short term boosts in ranking, that eventually end up hurting your business’s reputation and search engine placement. If you’re going to hire someone to do search engine optimization work for you, make sure to research them thoroughly first to ensure they are legitimate and well respected. Ask them how they plan to help.
Comments on other websites’ posts can also include links in most cases. If you intend to do this, make sure that your comments are actually meaningful and well thought-out. Most website owners will remove comments that are added solely for link building, and search engines will penalize commenters who try to link build that way. It’s common etiquette to include a link at the bottom of a comment, as part of a ‘signature’ which also includes your name. The goal of commenting shouldn’t be link building, but it can be a nice benefit if you provide meaningful responses to the blog’s post.
Social Media Use
Social media activity can be a great way to improve your ranking, for a couple of reasons:
- Sharing blog posts and other content from your website on your social media profiles can help boost traffic, which will help improve your ranking.
- Social media has built in engagement tools, such as likes, comments, and shares.
- Social media profiles increase your clinic’s visibility when someone searches for your brand.
A consistent boost in website traffic can be very helpful for search engine ranking.
You can add links to your website’s content directly in your social media posts, allowing easy access to your webpages. Sharing a summary of a blog post’s content, and including a link to the full article, is a great way to build traffic to your website. Although you can share the full content of the post on many different social media websites, it’s better for SEO purposes if the reader ends up on your website to read it. Many social media sites like Facebook create quick visual previews of a blog post’s content when you past the URL of the blog post into a new status update or comment.
Creating posts on your clinic’s social media profiles is important to share the content with your followers and fans, but consider also posting the articles in social media groups that allow for you to do so. Make sure you follow the rules of the group you want to share in blog post in – some don’t allow this, or ask that content only be shared in particular contexts. Make sure the information you’re sharing is not an advertisement for services either – you want to be sharing helpful content, not posting advertising spam. If a group doesn’t allow for sharing your own blog posts, don’t just ignore the rule and wait for the content to get deleted or removed… it’s disrespectful and hurts your online reputation.
If you post something that’s helpful, funny, or otherwise appealing, it’s easy for other social media users to share it with their friends, family, followers, etc. It’s an easy way to gain exposure (and more website traffic). Of course, this only happens if the person is interested in your content – it’s not likely someone will want to share details about a sale your clinic is having, but they may share a homecare tip that helped them recover from some ache or pain.
Sharing is a form of what is called ‘engagement, which is a term used to describe interaction with your content. Sharing is a great form of engagement, but it’s not the only kind: “likes”, comments, retweets, repins, and many other types of engagement exists on social media sites.
Engagement is great for search engine ranking because it exposes your content to more people. It doesn’t just happen on social media websites either, engagement can happen right on your site when someone clicks to watch a video, comments on a blog post, or interacts with your content in one of many other ways.
You can include social media integration on your website to help improve or promote engagement. Integration, in this case, just means adding functions of a social media site right onto your website. You’ve probably seen Facebook comments included at the bottom of a blog post or article, or maybe a “share” button on the post which lets a visitor post the content to their own profile. Other popular examples include “follow” or “like” buttons for Twitter or Facebook accounts added to a company’s website.
Increase Brand Exposure
One primary goal of search engine optimization is to increase your brand’s online exposure during searches.
Profiles and Pages you have on the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will show up when people search for you on those sites, but they also show up directly in Google searches. The more ways of getting information out about your clinic and services, the better. The existence of your profiles doesn’t improve the SEO ranking of your website directly, but since those profiles also feature content you’ve shared (and a way of contacting you to book an appointment), they still improves your brand’s visibility online.
Google has its own social media website called Google+ (pronounced “Google Plus”). Other users on Google+ can “+1” the content you share, which works the same way as “liking” something on Facebook. Posts that get a lot of “+1″s may do better in search engine results depending on who is searching, so it’s worth creating a free profile sharing your content on Google+ specifically.
The number of followers or fans on social networks does not have an impact on your search engine ranking specifically, but it can affect your visibility on each individual social media site. For example, a Facebook Page with 10000 fans won’t necessarily rank higher than a Facebook profile with 10 fans on Google, but it might show up higher if the person searches directly on Facebook.
Some examples of social media integration on websites:
Share buttons appearing above or below a blog post, allowing visitors to share the post with their friends or followers quickly and easily.
A Twitter feed included on a website, showing the most recent tweets by the company and letting you send them a tweet without going to the Twitter website first.
Copy and pasting the URL (www address) of a blog post into a Facebook status update, letting Facebook create a preview of the post automatically.
Website Traffic Monitoring
Being able to track where you receive visitors from, what pages they visit, and other information about your website traffic is very important. The term for the analysis of visitor behaviour on your website is “analytics”. In order to monitor this behaviour, you’ll need to use analytics software.
Google offers a free analytics service called Google Analytics. You’ll need to create a free Google Analytics account in order to use the service. It can be added to just about any website, but it’s not something that is included on most websites by default. Adding it to your website initially requires a little technical skill – ask your web developer to help you with the process.
The information collected by Google Analytics is anonymous. You won’t be able to use the information to identify any individual person looking at your site, but you will be able to gather general information about different demographics as a whole. The ratio of male to female visitors for instance, or a breakdown by age group is available, but you can’t see the age or gender of a particular visitor. Not every visitor’s demographics will be listed – some visitors may block information from being gathered about them by adjusting their browser’s privacy settings.
In addition to demographics, you’ll also be able to see what websites your traffic is coming from, what pages they look at, how much time they spend on each page, and more helpful information.
Using Analytics Info to Boost SEO
Analytics can be helpful for your marketing and SEO strategies for a couple reasons, but having Google Analytics installed on your website does not, by itself, increase your SEO ranking. It’s the information you’ll gain from monitoring your website traffic that will help you get a boost.
You can see which blog post content draws the most visitors. This can helpful to figure out what to write about in the future, what type of language to use, and what offline marketing you should focus on. If 75% of your visitors look at posts about shoulder pain, you should write more material about shoulder pain home care, how massage helps, and so on. If you notice that posts using more anatomical language tend to draw more visitors than posts with lots of laymen’s terms, you can adjust the way you write your future posts to appeal to your audience. The trick is to check in periodically to see what types of posts draw the most interest.
You can also see which social media sites are referring the most traffic. If 90% of your visitors are coming from Facebook and 10% are coming from Twitter, you’ll know to focus your efforts on Facebook, or change your Twitter posting strategies. The same logic applies to websites that you guest write for, or that include links to your website – focus on the ones that bring more traffic to your website.
The demographic information can be helpful for the same reason. If most of your traffic is female between the ages of 20-40, you can focus your online marketing efforts on impairments that affect that demographic.
There is a LOT of useful information that Google Analytics can provide you. This course doesn’t even scratch the surface about the number of helpful features you can take advantage of once you have it installed on your website, but they go way beyond the scope of this article. If you’re interested in learning more about Google Analytics and the various features that may help you improve your marketing (both online and offline) as well as measure your progress, Google provides detailed guides on how to make the best of the service:
Hopefully you’ll be able to use some of the information in this article to help improve your search engine ranking and online exposure. This has been a quick introduction to some of the easier-to-complete tasks you can follow, but there are many, many other factors that influence ranking. Many of them require more technical knowledge, and some are outside of the control of website owners.
If you have a web developer, make sure to discuss search engine optimization strategies with them to find out which steps would be appropriate for your website.