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WebWorks by Terry Young


Promoting your site takes time, experience, repeat

Probably our most consistent call-ins over the last 19 years have been from practices and businesses who want us to Search Engine Optimize (SEO) their site so they can be found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. However, they are shocked to discover how much time, and therefore cost, is involved with Search Engine Optimization. Furthermore, SEO is ongoing: even after a site has reached the first page, those results may only last a few months.

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The main reason for SEO cost is that it involves not just your site, but your competitors' sites. SEO requires that you appear in one of only 10 places on the first page of results. If you count how many competitors you have with websites in the Hampton Roads area, the task of getting onto the first page means fighting the SEO companies of at least the top nine of those competitors.

SEO is literally an arms race. A good SEO company has to examine your site and then spend days comparing it to what your well-ranking competitors are doing. Once the comparisons have been made, they need to draw up an action plan for changes your site needs for each search engine. These changes involve all elements on the page, including meta tags, titles, pictures, links, and text content. Search engines don't publish what makes a site rank highly, so SEO is based on intuition and experience rather than an exact science. 

Even if their
client's site goes up,
there is no guarantee
it will
stay there.
A competitor may have a new
site launched,
or their own SEO company might
adjust their site.
Either can force you
back down the list again.  

After the changes are made, the site is submitted to the main search engines, and then comes the hardest part: waiting up to 30 days to see the effects of the work.

Google only applies changes, called the 'Google shuffle', every 30 days. Once started, this process takes about 24 hours. During the shuffle, search results can go up and down like a yo-yo, before finally stopping at the position they will occupy for the next 30 days.

When the shuffle is completed, the SEO company examines where their client's site ranks compared to where it was before, praying that they have gone up, not down, and then the process begins once again.

Even if their client's site goes up, there is no guarantee it will stay there. A competitor may have a new site launched, or their own SEO company might adjust their site. Either can force you back down the list again.

Other things affecting SEO are any actions of Search Engines themselves. Several times a year the searches have to change their own rules, usually because some people have used black hat (unethical) SEO techniques to trick sites to the top. When such scam results happen, the search engines adjust their rules, outlawing that kind of bad behavior. Google updates its parameters three to four times a year on average. Each time it does, the SEO company needs to quickly determine if those changes may affect your site's position, and make adjustments accordingly.

All of the ongoing effort is worth it when it comes to being seen by potential clients and customers.

If you have concerns with your web presence reaching your widest patient base, now is the time to look into our WebUpdate system sites. Not Open Source, they take advantage of advanced SEO, social, and responsive features to give your practice the best competitive edge online.

Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design, the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.

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