SEO Myths That Could Be Hurting Your Acupuncture, Spa, or Tourism Business
I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what people are saying about marketing in the acupuncture, spa, and tourism industries.
I still see some persistent myths that can hurt a small business.
Here are some things I hear about SEO:
“I want my page to rank at the top of Google, but I don’t have time/don’t want to have to do any work.” (like blogging or building relationships with other site owners)
“I’ll have my IT guy “fix my SEO” for me and I’ll be done.”
“SEO is sooo boring and for tech geeks.”
“The only way I can do well is to pay someone a high fee to rank #1 in Google”
“Can I trust that agency who is charging me a LOT more than that other guy who can do it for $150?”
SEO is poorly understood, and for not a bad reason: It can be complicated and intimidating. I learn something new every day!
Let’s break down these assumptions one by one and I’ll guide you through the easiest, but also most realistic ways you can expect to make SEO work for your business.
1. My “IT guy/Tech guru/dev can do this for me.
Marketing has nothing to do with IT. To be accurate, IT isn’t another word for web development, either:
Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.
If your server goes down at your friend’s workplace, it’s the IT guy’s job to take care of it. But having your IT guy “do” your SEO, which is basically a marketing function, is like using the wrong tool to get a job done.
But what about my web developer?
So let’s say you have your web developer handle your SEO. Some are trained in it, but many are not. And if they are, you need to ask exactly WHAT they are doing to optimize SEO. Many simply verify your site on Google, adjust Yoast settings, and tell you to write a blog and nothing more, and will gladly charge you a hefty fee.
Having your “IT guy” “do” your SEO (or your website) is like hiring a mechanic to drive your racecar. (NO offense to IT folks.. they are great at what they do!) He or she may know the “technical setup” part, and may even also be good at marketing as an added skillset, but the marketing strategy behind it has much more to do with YOUR unique business.
It’s about setting up systems, crunching data, and detective work. It’s about applying those findings to an online marketing strategy that will drive traffic to your site.. not just via Google rankings but other metrics that also matter.
(If the above sounds like a foreign language, read on..)
Bottom line: You can’t just “set” SEO functions in Yoast for WP ONCE and expect miracles. The technical setup is easy, but only the very beginning of the entire process.
2. SEO is something that can be done once and then your site is “all set.”
Nope. Here’s why that’s not such a good idea:
1. Your competition is changing. For example, if the keyword “sports medicine” has been working for your acupuncture practice for years, but a new graduate opens a clinic near you with “sports medicine clinic” in the title of his clinic, all is not lost. But you may need to adjust.
In this scenario I would recommend writing some high quality blogs or making some videos that demonstrate and educate your audience what you do, specifically, while using very specific keywords in your content.
2. Link building. Nowadays, links are not just about ranking, but other numbers that determine how “trustworthy” your site is. It’s not something you can just “fix” overnight anymore than you can “order” a spouse on a dating site.
It’s a process, because building good quality links, the right way (the ethical way) takes time and a bit of effort. It’s a living, dynamic entity, much like growing a mature fruit tree. This is especially true if your site is relatively new, and you are the “new kid on the block.”
If this reminds you of exclusive, clique-ish clubs, well, it kind of is like that, although it’s algorithm driven. Is your site one of the “cool kids?” If not (yet)..don’t be discouraged and give it some time.
Most of the work in this area is going to be in the form of creating content and forming relationships with other website owners (guest blogs, cross-linking, etc)
3. Evolving search engine algorithms: Google changes theirs almost daily, to prevent less-than-ethical business owners from rigging the system. So even though it sounds as if it may be more work, it’s a good thing. This levels the playing field, and ensures that you are rewarded for giving your “tribe” the highest quality content.
Google is becoming more and more “merit based,” in order to provide the best experience for their users.
4. Outdated content and new content. I’ve seen websites that aren’t updated often, and are just sitting there waiting to be seen by someone who will magically find it.
The truth is that the acupuncture, spa, and tourism industries rely on good quality information and education, and consistently adding and updating new content.
For acupuncture, it’s obvious. Most people are not aware what it really is, and education is key. Blogging is a vital and often overlooked part of marketing for the acupuncture industry.
For tourism, it’s less obvious. You could just put some pics of your rooms on your website, or that fabulous swimming pool, and call it a day. But the best sites are generous and helpful sources about travel and what makes the destination so attractive. Is it a hike in the woods? A new cafe? A new boat tour? Is it exceptionally bike friendly?
Your city has a personality, and so do you. Making your website more about educating your potential guests about your city and what you uniquely have to offer will put you way ahead of your competition.
This content will be part of your SEO strategy!
5. Link Degradation. Links, like cars, degrade in value over time. So it’s a good idea to keep them fresh and updated.
3. I want my page to rank at the top of Google. But I don’t want to spend any time creating content (blogs, videos, etc) and I don’t have the budget for hiring someone who can help me with that.
Again, I wish I could tell you that you could flip a switch or do a cheap pay per click ad campaign and forget about it, but I wouldn’t be serving you by telling you that there is a “magic bullet.”
I’ve talked to acupuncturists who wanted to buy my practice, which included my website. But they didn’t see the value in the site.. and how much work I put into it. Nor did they want to put that much work into educating their audience, creating quality content, and improving their SEO on their own.
They wanted a “quick fix” for next to zero investment of time, energy, or money. (true story.)
With vacation rental or guest house owners, many are not interested in putting time, money, or effort into their own website, which I think is a mistake. Many are of the opinion that TripAdvisor and Booking.com is all they ever need to focus on. This is just plain dangerous!
If you are reading this, this is probably NOT you.. but I don’t want you to get discouraged, or have just another task on your already overloaded plate.
Here’s the thing:
SEO is complex, but it’s not voodoo. It’s do-able, once you have a system in place.
So let’s say you want to do it yourself. A slow period or during the off-season is a great time to develop a strategy and get some systems in place.
SEO and content marketing is simply gathering data and analytics about your site, interpreting the data, and taking action by adding valuable and SEO friendly content to your site. This is perfect for those who enjoy working with data, but also like using that data in a creative way to build what is called a “content strategy.”
Let’s say for example, you teach Italian cooking classes, but find that your competition in your area is ranking consistently in the top 5. To compete, you can write a blog about Italian cooking, skilfully weaving in keywords into your blog. (You can’t just “stuff” it with keywords, as Google penalizes this)
Or you can look at this data and decide that your thing is HEALTHY Italian cooking, and focus on the keywords “Healthy Italian cooking in.. (your city).” You can make a whole list of keywords that your audience will be searching for and use them in future content.
Each blog you create, with the right balance of quality content and the right keywords, is like a “magnet’ for Google’s search engine.
Another strategy is link building. The more good links (link juice) you have leading back to your site from “trustworthy” sites (and this is another metric you want to monitor) the better.
For example, you know there is a successful and established fertility specialist in town, but you each have a different niche. You can see the value of collaborating with her by patient referral.. but did you know that you can also boost your SEO via guest a blog or having a link on her site? Or that it can be mutually beneficial? SO you can see that SEO can also be about relationship building.
Note: You may have heard about backlinks and link building as a shady or “black hat” way to get more traffic to your site, but you can also build links in a very “white hat” way which will help make your site more trustworthy in the long run. (Flow metrics, a topic for another blog)
Bottom line: Shortcuts and cutting corners don’t really work well, but the process is do-able.
5. SEO is boring and for tech nerds.
There COULD be truth to this.. because a big part of SEO is gathering and analyzing data, which is appealing to those who enjoy such work.
But a BIG part of it isn’t left-brained work at all, and will appeal to those who are more creative, intuitive, and operate from a right-brained perspective.
Personally, I enjoy integrating the analytical, intuitive, and creative aspects of SEO.
SEO can be FUN!
It could mean making a new video on how to make the perfect Turkish coffee or pastry.
Or writing a blog about how you treat anxiety in your clinic.
It could mean that you need to go out and take some new photos of your city from a fresh new perspective, or of guests enjoying a wine tasting, to add to your site and various SM outlets. Or you could create a killer tourist guide that includes things Rick Steves wouldn’t think of.
5. “SEO is going to be expensive.”
None of this means that the solution is paying an expensive agency that promises #1 rankings in Google. This is just plain dishonest. Anyone who tells you this is probably scamming you.
Also, this isn’t realistic for the majority of small businesses, especially those that are just starting out.
My take on this is that you can adjust your percentages of time and money spent on your SEO strategy as your business evolves.
When you are first starting out, it may make more sense to invest in mostly your time. Same goes for those who may still be experiencing “feast or famine” periods, or who have a very seasonal business. I get it!
This way, you can educate yourself, build a basic system, and refine your niche and how you want to market to it.
As you start to build your business, you can outsource your marketing, SEO, and content creation. You may find this to be of the best value, because it can be time consuming.
My advice is to monitor the time you spend on each thing you do in your business, in order to determine the actual ROI (return on investment) for your time.
If you are spending hours on marketing, SEO, and blogging, but find that for the effort, your work isn’t giving you a good ROI… (in other words, you aren’t good at it or you hate it) it may be smart to outsource it and focus on what you do best and what best leverages your time.
It can be hard for many to do this.. for many reasons, including losing control, money mindset, etc.
Just make sure you hire someone who knows about online marketing and the needs of your business. NOT just an “IT guy.”
Hopefully this helped debunk some of the persistent SEO myths that can hurt your small business.
If you want to know even more about SEO, and if you should outsource it our do it yourself, I wrote a blog about that.. be sure to check it out!
If you are not sure how to optimize your blog (a vital part of SEO) read this.
In the meantime, if you need help, you can ask questions in the free Tech cafe Facebook group.
I’m also available for free 30 min consultations. Just click on the burgundy button below and we can talk about your SEO needs.