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The Relationship between Website Navigation and SEO

Refining site navigation and structure is so important when it comes to search engine optimization. The idea that you could just put up your web site and never change it has become prehistoric. Today web sites need to revised at least every two years. Not for an aesthetically please purpose but for speed, video, and most importantly search engine rankings. So what does an optimized web site navigation look like? Here’s an example of navigation in its most basic form.

Your home page filters into header tabs, then header tabs filer into subcategories, which are, related to the header tabs. Each of the lower levels supports the higher levels from a linking perspective. The lines are indicative of potential cross-linking relationships, the implementation of which would be assessed on a site-by-site basis.



 Search Engine Optimization and Navigation

 So what are the benefits of an optimized site? By creating straightforward and simplified navigation that access internal pages of a website are beneficial in the following ways:

  • Users are able to navigate the site easier
  • Search engines web site crawlers can easily crawl the site due to simplified navigation
  • Bringing exposure to subcategories within the site
  • Increases web site rankings

The above navigational structure is vital when it comes to users who have no idea the depth and size of your web site. Compared to a brick and mortar store, more than often, the consumer knows how large the store is before they walk in the door. Having a simple and straightforward navigational outline, an user and a search engine like Google will breeze through each component or department after department of your web site without a second thought. The goal here is to the make the user experience effortless. Making it so natural for the user simply allows the user to loose track of time and enjoy the entertainment.

As search engine optimization and usability experts, we often find that a website’s navigation can be simplified. By doing this, and creating a hierarchy of content supporting specific sections, we are improving navigation. But we are also creating a relationship which supports the sites linking, an absolutely critical component of SEO.

Ultimately, refinement of your navigation benefits the amount of pages Google and other search engines can locate on your site, allows you to increase your rankings, enhances your sites usability and improves your bottom-line. When you are creating your navigation, or refining an old one, make sure to take your time. In addition, consider the main keywords you are targeting to determine traffic and hub value. The bottom line is think about the end-user and how their experience on your site makes the most sense to find information. In addition, consider what common themes run through your site. This will allow you to accurately determine the correct paths and which links you would like to promote at the top of your navigation hierarchy.

Links pointing internally from the home page and globally on your website play a large role in your SEO success. Make sure your site makes sense from a usability and keyword traffic perspective and you will be a step ahead of many websites online.



Avoid the Pitfalls of building a Concierge Medical Practice

Are you considering transforming your medical practice into a concierge medical practice? If so, than there are a few do’s and don’t’s that can make the difference between success and failure.

The average family doctors see about 4,000 patients in their practice which leads very little time for one-on-one interaction with the patient. In order to have a successful concierge practice, you have to change your large insurance-based practice into a more patient-centric practice by reducing the size of your patient load so can provide a higher quality of care.

Starting a new concierge practice is not easy. There are many doctors who do it successfully while others have failed miserably. If you do it properly, you can reap the benefits of receiving higher pay, quality care with patients, and the overall rewarding experience of receiving cash for your time rather than the paper chase and denials of insurance-based practices.

Do: start with a business plan

It is completely astonishing that most small businesses lack a business plan that is relevant to their business services and produces as well as their position in the market place. A business plan is a road map to show you how to price points, service offerings and overall how to reach your goals. The best way to shape the future of your new business is to begin with a business plan that outlines how your concierge medicine practice will be structured. If you are planning to get financing to open your new office, a business plan is required to show the lender your financial viability to qualify for a loan. Your business plan should include information about your patient load, revenue streams, staffing requirements, and recruitment efforts to keep patient load at a sufficient level to support your business.

Don’t: use a ‘boilerplate’ business plan

There are sample business plans available online that you can purchase, and while these can be a great resource as a starting point to let you know the types of things to include in your plan, they should be treated as just an outline. If you copy and paste the information directly from the sample plan without customizing it for your area, the estimates about revenue, patient load, and other information will range from being either slightly wrong to wildly inaccurate, which can affect your success in the future. Spend the necessary time to customize your plan to fit the needs of the market and to position yourself in a more strategic place than your competitors.

Do: educate your patients of your new practice

Most patients today are very familiar with a traditional model for primary care doctor’s offices, and some may have never heard of a concierge doctor before. Change is hard for everyone, but you can ease the transition for your patients by communicating with them about your plans to become a concierge physician, and helping them understand what that means for them. If you surprise your patients one day without any advance notice or education about what a concierge physician is and why it’s beneficial, you may not be able to keep those patients in your new practice.

Don’t: assume your patients know what your new practice will be like, spell it out for them in your marketing materials

As a physician, you are very familiar with different types of practices and different models, and you know the advantages and disadvantages. Patients, on the other hand, are not familiar with all this information, and it is your job to educate them on why you are choosing to become a private physician, and how it will benefit them. If you’re not sure about the best way to reach out to your patients and help educate them, consider hiring a marketing consultant to help.

Do: hire the right team – hire slowly & fire quickly

Your new concierge medicine practice will require the support and help of a great team, including your staff, an accountant who understands concierge medicine practice models, an attorney, and a healthcare consultant with experience setting up and running patient-centric businesses. Every single employee from manager to operator needs to be on board with your patient-centric business model and culture. If one employee is not, then don’t waste your time. Fire them.

Don’t: hire a consultant with the wrong experience

There are a lot of healthcare consultants who can help you convert your practice to concierge medicine, but you want to be sure to hire one that has experience working with patients that fit your demographics, and not one that tries to make your practice fit into a “one-size-fits-all” model. I have noticed the greatest benefit that a consultant can have when being hired for a concierge medical practice is experience in developing a menu of cash services. You do not want the practice management consultant who only has experience in insurance-based medical practice business models. These two models are tremendously different. One model treats patients as if they are a number and the time the doctor spends with the patient is very limited. The other model is based on a patient-centric model whereby each contact with the patient ensures a positive experience.

Do: review your practice regularly

Constant gauging and auditing your progress is a necessary task that will show you if you are meeting your goals. Set a schedule to review your practice at least once a year to ensure that you are meeting your goals, and find areas where you can improve. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a consultant, to make sure that your practice is thriving for years to come.

Sometimes change can be scary, but both patients and physicians often appreciate the improved care that comes with a concierge practice.



Responsive Websites Rank High on Google SERP

Just when you think your web site is up to date, Google changes its algorithm yet again. This last month’s change has Google’s pack of 7 down to a pack of 3 business web sites on the organic search page listing. In addition, addresses and phone numbers have been removed altogether. As you can see, only three web sites are listed for “medical weight loss Las Vegas” and are supposed to be listed based on proximity and relevance of the search. However, these businesses that are listed are not close to my location nor are they weight loss centers. So what does this mean to business owners?

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Well it actually means more than you might think. It means that for you to be even somewhat competitive, you need to update your web site to increase your chances of being in the top three along with staying on the first page of Google’s organic searches. So how do you increase your chances to be in the top three on the local pack of Google? Here are five recommendations:

  1. Your website address is now more important than your phone number. In the new local pack, the address and phone number are removed from the main search result. Instead, the search results show your store hours, reviews and offers a link to the website and directions. Of course, you can still see the spot on the map where your business is, so address is still important. But it’s interesting to note that they make your website URL prominent and not focus on your other contact info. Make sure that your search listings have a Website URL, and it can’t hurt to make sure your hours are filled in too. Also, it’s extremely important for you to make sure Google has your address listed so you come up to the nearest prospect who is looking for your services.
  2. Google is taking away its emphasis on Google+. Google also removed the links to Google My Business pages. This makes Google+ less relevant, which might be a relief to a lot of people who felt forced into creating a Google+ account. In the meantime, it’s still best to keep up with your Google+ pages while we wait and see what The Big G chooses to do next with their social media service.
  3. It’s going to be even harder for a local business to rank here. While we always want to be as high as possible in search results, now it’s even harder. As you can see on the example above, there is A LOT of local competition in our area for the medical weight loss industry. I would be willing to bet that it’s similar in most other industries. This means that the majority of businesses won’t be listed on the local pack of Google. My prediction is that customers will rely less on this first page as a result. They might get into the habit of expanding the local pack to see all 20 top results, or looking in a different area for local results. People like options! If this happens, businesses will not place such an emphasis on ranking locally. Of course, it could be the exact opposite – competition for that 3 pack could greatly increase. In that situation, only the best, most relevant sites will prevail.
  4. It’s more important than ever to make sure your website is optimized. As you can see, Google is not going to slow down any time soon in aiming to give people the most relevant search result possible. This means that it is extremely important to make sure your website is helpful, mobile-responsive, complete, and relevant.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 5.09.04 PM
  5. Adding video on your website increases your rankings on Google’s organic searches. As you can see Unicorn’s YouTube channel is helping it come up in rankings on Google’s search engines. It’s not one or the other for testimonials, we recommend both as some prospects may want to read about other patients’ experiences while others may want to hear it. Giving options to your patients is key to success.  As you can see in the screenshot below Unicorn Medical Weight Loss & MediSpa tops the list on the organic search and it’s YouTube video is #4 on the first page of Google’s organic search engine.

Does your website need an SEO facelift? If you think you need to update your site and boost your organic traffic, click on the image below to learn about our website packages.





It’s Time to Talk

Talk is cheap, but a good talk is priceless. We are social beings. We crave communication but we tend to eschew it at all wrong times…like when it’s most needed.

It’s tough enough to be a poor communicator in private life, but in the long term it’s a recipe for failure to be one in the business world. A typical small business with employees is a multi-layered organism. The only way this organism can thrive is if there is meaningful communication between all of the layers and between the employees that inhabit these layers.

photodune-567166-time-to-talk-sOne of the more puzzling things I find as a business consultant is why good communication is even absent when it’s in a person’s best interest. A colleague spoke to me last week about a project where the managers where having quality control problems with a vendor. The managers knew that the standard operating procedure for this problem was to immediately notify the vendor as well as the COO of their company, but nobody did. They just suffered in silence for a week before saying anything. If they had just spoke up and brought it to the attention of all parties they would have avoided what was daily frustration and a loss of productivity.

warkprofileprofessionalMany of my clients over the years have been in the medical profession. Communication problems can be particularly acute because of the interaction between highly trained medical professionals, a rigid regulatory environment, and the sensitivity of dealing with patients. If people aren’t effectively communicating between themselves and their patients, there is more at stake than the success of the practice. Fixing this problem is a process, because you are dealing with behavioral characteristics. Don’t be afraid to create a structure help this along. Here are a few ideas in how to start the process.

Put it on the Calendar-Schedule a regular time every week for managers and employees to speak with each other, and an opportunity for an interdepartmental meeting with the boss. At least everyone will be together once a week for the expressed purpose of expressing themselves.

Don’t be Vague-When making a specific request, make the “who, when, and where” very clear.

Face-to-Face-Improving interpersonal communication skills requires fewer emails and more personal communication. If you have something important to tell an employee, good or bad, do it in person, and do it in an un-distracting environment.

Customer Care-Lack of communication is the number one complaint of clients. Things get busy and hectic and clients can become a second thought. Use a customer management system that will remind your employees when to reach out to speak and listen. If needed, create a script for your employees to get them used to saying the right things at the right time.

Don’t Reward the Gossip-make it clear that the cheapest talk is gossip. Managers have the ability to assist in shaping the work environment by creating disincentives for troublemakers and employees who cannot conduct their speech in an encouraging and productive way. Don’t let these employees poison the business.

These are places to start. Ultimately much of the needed change is attitudinal, and is going to have to come from within the employee. Creating a framework for this change will get your workforce in the habit of communicating better and that’s a great way to start the process.





Love Hate Relationships

warkprofileprofessionalAs a business owner at some time, (or many times), you will have an “I can’t stand the human race” kind of a day. It’s all about the love/hate relationship we have with colleagues, customers, employees, vendors, ourselves, etc. Regardless of the business you are in, you are in a people business. Even if you are running an e-commerce site out of your mother’s basement, you at some point are going to have to talk to a live human being.

When we talk about a “people business” it’s almost always within the context of customers and sales. But the success of your organization begins with the people on your side of the counter. We all have a tendency to keep our focus on the till and take everything else for granted. There are a lot of moving parts that make that cash register ring. When it doesn’t ring as often as it should, start at the front and work your way back.

Not only do we want more customers, we want to keep the customers we have. Good customer service is a combination of having the right customer service people, and having the right customer service systems and processes. You can have wonderfully friendly employees dealing with customers, but if they aren’t up to speed on all of your products and services, company policies, and office systems then customer service suffers. All of these components need to be drilled into front line employees on a daily basis. Good employees will embrace the rigors of this blocking and tackling, and the bad ones will chafe at it. Get rid of the chafers. Even your best employees will have a love/hate relationship with customers, but they will always remember that the customer is always right.

team_killers_slideIf this is all foreign to your employees, who in the world is in charge of that department and how come they haven’t been trained properly? Is the person that you hired as a manager or supervisor the right person? Did you make the age old mistake of using tenure as the main criteria for turning an employee into a manager? A competent manager should be the ultimate “people person”. They should ensure that the employee in their care is trained and equipped to be the best that they can be. A manager worth their salt will be organized, even in the most harried situations, because they will have the maturity to adapt systems and processes to practically any situation. After all, why should you be spending your time as an owner constantly putting out fires and reacting to everything?

Your manager should be an excellent communicator. They should be able to express their praise, correct, and admonish employees in a constructive manner. They should have the confidence to express themselves in a constructive way with you too. Will a good manager have a love/hate relationship with employees? Sure, if your manager isn’t a robot. A good manager will always be prepared for irregular ops, and irregular employees.

I think you are starting to see a pattern here. Success in your business is often manager-centric. If you hire the right managers, equip them to do their jobs, and get out of their way you should see it manifested in retained customers, great word of mouth, and increased sales. You will also find that your marketing dollars go farther.

Making changes at the managerial level is like getting a root canal; painful but necessary. I suppose that’s why we have a love/hate relationship with our dentists…and just about everyone else.


Sales start with a conversation

Unless you are independently wealthy, or an egomaniac with a very expensive hobby, all of the money, time, and resources that your business is spending on an internet presence and social media needs to create a return on investment. In short, at the end of day a significant number of all of your likes, and followers, need to become paying customers. You need more conversions.

The path to conversion is seldom a straight one. The only people that will immediately jump to your online shopping cart, or shoot you a quick note on your contact page are the good folks that were looking for you in the first place. The reality is that you are going to have to “sell” almost everyone that finds your business.

Look at it this way: If someone walked into your business the first thing that you would do is engage them. Hopefully this is would be a conversation where you ask them if you can help them find what they are looking for and they respond with an explanation or perhaps a series of questions. Sound familiar? We have all been on both ends of that conversation a million times. Your on-line presence needs to mimic that.

Conversions most often require Conversations.
One of the best conversation starters is “gated content”. Gated content refers to the screen that pops up asking a user for their contact information. Social media is ideal for gated content, because people that have allowed themselves to be lead to your contact page have been motivated enough to get that far. They probably were lured by your brilliant marketing tease to access “a secret report” or perhaps get a generous time sensitive coupon. But in order to get their grubby little hands on those goodies, you need to find out who they are so you can continue conversing and converting them.

Be gentle with your gate. People are concerned these days about how much and to whom they share their information. They are also fed up with getting pummeled with emails, texts, and push notifications. Make your gate a simple friendly handshake instead of an interrogation. People don’t like being shaken down for info when they walk into a brick and mortar why would they like it online? Name and email is all that’s needed. Make sure that you tell them that you are not going to use their information to introduce them to a thousand of your best friends, and be sure that you don’t destroy this new relationship by bombarding them with information that they have not asked for. Give them a separate place to sign up for other information if they desire.

Conversions are about relationships and gated content is a perfect way to create that first conversation.


Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

The Old Fashioned Buzz in the Digital Age

Are you ranking on the first page of Google when you do a search for your specialty?  Why do some web sites show faces of the prospective authors and others don’t. Staying on top of the Google Search engine is a lot like playing “King of the Mountain” when we were kids. We could push and shove our way to the top but maintaining the top position could be even more of a struggle than moving up the mountain.  Well SEO and ranking high on search engines are a lot like the struggles of King of the Mountain. Shoving and pushing our way to the top has been replaced with web sites, blogs, forum comments and social media channels.

10.ophthalmologyLong gone are the days where a doctor, lawyer, an accountant or any other professional could hang out a shingle to let the world know that new services are available. And sadly, the old way of joining the country club, attending the sports leagues for his/her children or patronizing local eating establishments to build a practice on word of mouth has become a footnote in the digital marketing world. Or has it?

Teeing up a practice with word of mouth these days is very difficult. We live in a world full of more choices than ever. Establishing your footprint in the community includes securing the digital real estate that people will access with mobile devices. Enameled dangling shingles are now flashing electronic signs on social media forums and search engine pages. In the midst of all this, a personal comment from a person you trust continues to be the greatest influence on a patient conversion.  While it would always be nice to walk down the street and have everyone recognize and greet you, it only happens on Andy of Mayberry reruns. However, it’s important that you create your daily messaging with a little “Mayberry” word of mouth strategy.

warkprofileprofessionalUse your digital world to give people something to talk about. If you plan on marketing a new product or service, roll it out on a limited basis to a limited number of people. Exclusivity creates buzz, and buzz is the great sound of countless mouths, or texting fingers, spreading the personal, persuasive good news about you and your business.

“Giving them something to talk about” requires a good digital marketing plan with a creative, and a well thought out hook. Watch your shingle become the talk of the town.

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