As much as we would like SEO to be a magic, it is not. There is no SEO button that you can just press and get to the top of search engine results pages overnight.
It takes time, effort, and a solid strategy to get the best results. You wouldn’t tell your therapy client that they can feel better after just one session, just as SEO is more complicated process than just a few hours of time or a couple hundred dollars invested.
Even though information about SEO is abundant, it’s sometimes hard to know who to trust. Information about SEO is often needlessly complicated too, easy-to-understand information about SEO is hard to come by.
A symptom of SEO being over complicated to learn about: the abundance of misconceptions about what SEO is, what SEO can do, and what SEO cannot do.
Here are some of the common misconceptions about SEO and the true realities to be aware of instead.
Misconception: You can get the #1 spot
Reality: SEO probably won’t help you outrank a large competitor for the same search terms.
You can’t outrank other therapy websites that have more longevity or therapy directories that might rank for more general or highly competitive terms. Psychology Today Directory is probably going to rank higher for something like “Therapist Austin” than you will. And also “Therapist Austin” is going to be near impossible to get the number 1 spot for anyway because of how general and competitive that search term is, especially if you are just starting to optimize today.
Misconception: SEO can help you get found in search results
Reality: Yes, but, SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time.
SEO does not produce short term results. If you just launched your website yesterday and are hurting for getting clients in the door, SEO is not the best investment of your time or money. Competition, location, longevity are a few factors that go into rankings.
Misconception: You can pay someone a lot of money once to do your SEO, you’ll be all set for life.
Reality: SEO is an ongoing process.
SEO is not set it and forget it. Optimization is a process that takes attention over time. Search engines are constantly updating and changing and additionally your competition for those search terms are updating and changing what they are doing too. Moving up the rankings is one thing that takes a long time and maintaining your position takes ongoing care.
Misconception: SEO is a great way to get more clients
Reality: Ranking doesn’t automatically lead to more clients.
If you start ranking really high but for things that aren’t relevant, or with bad website design, or a website lacking conversion features, then a higher ranking or more visibility in search engine results pages doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting more clients. Good SEO actually takes into consideration things like design and conversion features but it can also be overlooked if you are solely thinking about climbing rankings instead of the entire process of getting clients from being website visitors to in your office.
Misconception: There are so many awesome, trustworthy SEO services available
Reality: Some SEO services are not trustworthy at all and like really bad.
If you are trying to hire SEO services, it’s good to go with an SEO or SEO company that knows what they are talking about. Like that story I heard recently of a therapist who hired a company for content optimization to find that they inserted “keywords” in a way that left the content unreadable to human visitors.
If you are hiring SEO services, do your research. It’s easy to claim “seo knowledge” and not really have it, do a bad job at it, or disappear. Unfortunately all three happen.
Misconception: If I put this keyword on my website often enough, my website will be the first in the search results
Reality: Search engines rank pages not sites
A common mistake made when it comes to beginners trying for SEO is trying to rank an entire website for a single keyword. Search engines rank pages and not entire sites, so ranking for a keyword has to be done by-page instead of by-site.
Misconception: The SEO that we use today, I’ll be able to use tomorrow
Reality: SEO is changing everyday
A lot of the SEO that we used to do isn’t useful anymore. Even things that many SEOs recommend, like inserting certain keywords into your metadata, is becoming less relevant. Many SEOs are predicting that google will move away from algorithmic search and into AI and deep-learning search.
What that means is that in the future, your actions around quality content, website user experience, and social media are going to be more important than stuffing a page with words in an attempt to match a search query. Why? Because google doesn’t want to reward people for SEO gaming tactics, google wants to reward people for quality content and experience that will satisfy searchers.
SEO: Not Magical (But Still Awesome)
Even though SEO is not a magical solution that will lead to overnight success for your private practice, SEO is still worth doing.
If you approach SEO with a firm grasp on the realities about SEO and manage your expectations accordingly, you can really get amazing results.
SEO can help you get found by search engines, it can drive traffic to your site, you can get found in local search results and be competitive in your market.
And at the end of the day, search engines are serving your clients too. The web pages that end up on the first page of search results are supposed to be the best and most relevant content on the web for the person searching. So taking the time to keep a human-factor in your SEO can help make SEO more consistent with who you are and more meaningful too.
Did you hold any of these misconceptions about SEO? What is still unclear to you about what SEO can and cannot do? If you have any further questions about SEO, feel free to send me a note or tweet me anytime. I love hearing from you!