Did you know that as much as half of your website traffic is coming from mobile devices these days? If you don't have a mobile-friendly website, you're making it very hard for visitors to engage with your content. A mobile-friendly website will also perform better in search rankings because Google has been expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor since 2015.
Believe it or not, websites are getting slower and slower. Custom fonts, large images, and analytics scripts are some of the common culprits. Third party content, like YouTube videos and Google maps, will also slow down your pages. But for many acupuncturists, a bad hosting provider or low quality WordPress theme may be to blame.
As you click around your website your pages should generally load in less than 2 seconds. If pages routinely take 4 seconds or more, you're almost certainly losing business, because page load speed has been identified as a major factor in website abandonment.
3. Your Visitors See a Wall of Text
Well-designed web pages make it easy for users to skim, scan, and scrollby using headings, sub-headings, bold, italics, links, and images to create visual hierarchy and visual anchors throughout the page. Visual cues make your pages easier to navigate and more engaging to read. This is especially important on mobile, because it's easy to lose your place when you're scrolling through a long page. Visual structure also makes your content more comprehensible by reinforcing key words and ideas for the reader. As an added benefit, providing structure and emphasis can create more coherent HTML code, which leads to better search engine rankings.
4. Your Navigation is Confusing
An awkward navigation menu is one of the easiest ways to frustrate your visitors. The best approach is to keep it simple. Don't make your visitors think about how to navigate your website. Avoid menu systems that require extra taps or have "creative" approaches like multi-level toggle switches. We also generally prefer menus that don't cover or block the page content and that don't interfere with scrolling the page.
Spot a problem? Fix it!
If you're suffering from any of these problems, don't panic. No website is perfect, so there's always room for improvement. But don't ignore the problems either. Talk to your website provider to find out if your problems are easy to fix. Or check out QiSites for fast loading, mobile optimized, customizable websites.
Google considers a link to your website as a vote for your content. Sites with high quality back links are considered to have more authority and will perform better in search rankings than sites with fewer links. Attracting links is one of the best ways to increase your search engine visibility.
All links are not the same
Google takes into account the quality of the websites that link to you. Links from popular websites, or high-profile sites like newspapers, government websites, or universities are weighted more heavily. Google also factors in the content on the pages that link to you — especially the text of the link itself — so the keywords on those pages will affect the keyword relevance of your website.
Publish Original Content to Attract Links
Publishing original, high-quality blog posts is the foundation of link building. Quality is better than quantity, so focus on writing articles that people will actually find helpful. Great content may naturally attract links, but be sure to promote your content on social media to attract attention to your hard work.
You may run across services that offer you thousands of links for a small fee. Don’t do it! Google is smart enough to know that these are fake links and you will end up hurting your website instead of helping it.
A Few Easy Links
When you’re just getting started, there are a few easy ways to get some links:
Add your website to your social media profiles.
List your business in industry databases, such as your state and national organizations.
List your business in local business directories, like your chamber of commerce.
List your website in your college’s alumni database.
Trade links with a few colleagues.
Write website testimonials for businesses you believe in — they’ll usually be happy to link to you.
One of the key components to search engine optimization is developing inbound links, i.e. getting other website owners to link to your website. The greater the number of (relevant) inbound links, the better you will do in Google. But how do you get people to link to you? As Google’s Matt Cutts explains, the best way to attract links is by doing something unique that will capture the attention and curiosity of web surfers.
If you’ve ever tried to use Google AdWords to run pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for your acupuncture practice, you’ll know it is not for the faint of heart. AdWords is a very power platform with a very complex and difficult to navigate interface. That power is great if you’re a professional PPC manager, but for the small business owner (even one who is fairly computer savvy) the complexity of AdWords presents a significant barrier to entry.
Enter Google’s AdWords Express. AdWords Express is specifically intended for local businesses trying to attract local customers. It’s an extension of Google Places, so there’s no complicated interface to use. AdWords Express is very easy to set up and doesn’t require ongoing management.
The great thing about AdWords Express is that it automatically targets your ad based on the geographic location of your acupuncture practice. So if your practice is in Tucson, your ad would be shown to someone who searches for “acupuncturist in Tucson” and would also be shown to a person who’s already in Tucson and searches for “acupuncturist.” Chances are this is the exact kind of targeting you want.
One potential downside of AdWords Express is that it determines your keywords for you. You select your business category (e.g. acupuncture clinic or alternative medicine practitioner) and Google decides which keywords will trigger your ad. There are several ramifications:
- You can’t target a niche market.
- If your ad isn’t showing for a specific keyword, there’s nothing you can do.
- If you’re getting clicks for a keyword that doesn’t fit your practice, there’s nothing you can do.
- Every acupuncturist who is using AdWords Express will be competing for the same keywords.
In a region with relatively low advertiser competition the AdWords Express system looks like it could work quite well. But in competitive markets you would usually want to target niche keywords, which is impossible with AdWords Express. This will likely mean that with AdWords Express you’ll pay more per click than you would with traditional AdWords. Of course with a traditional AdWords campaign you would likely have to pay someone to set it up and manage it for you, so the extra cost per click might end up being acceptable.
Ad Types & Placements
AdWords Express only supports simple text ads (the kind you see next to the search results on Google.com). You cannot run image banner ads or animated Flash banners. AdWords Express ads can appear above or next to the search results on Google.com and in the left hand panel of Google Maps. Unlike traditional AdWords, your ads cannot show up on 3rd party websites.
How Much Does it Cost?
AdWords is pay-per-click advertising. That means that you only spend money when someone clicks your ad. The amount you pay for each click is based on a bidding system, so the more competition there is for your keywords the more you’ll pay. In AdWords Express the bidding is handled automatically, so all you need to decide is the total monthly maximum budget you’re willing to spend. Google will suggest a budget based on your business category and advertiser competition, but you are not required to use their suggestion.
Your bang for the buck will largely depend on your location. Let’s say you budget a modest $20 per month. In a geographic region with low advertiser competition a click might only cost $1, so a $20/month budget will allow you to attract up to 20 new visitors to your website. Not bad, right? But in a competitive region like New York City or San Diego a click can easily cost $5 or more, so those same 20 visitors might require a budget of over $100/month.
Writing Effective Ads
Your advertising copy should always be direct and honest. Don’t sell what you can’t deliver. To be effective it helps to have a clearly stated offer and a call to action. Here’s an example:
In the example we’re offering a “free consultation” and we want them to “call today.” Rather than linking people to your home page you may want to create a special landing page for your ad. The landing page should reiterate the offer and the call to action and provide some additional details (but not too many).
If you’d like to test the waters of online advertising and don’t have much money to spend, AdWords Express is an easy place to start. You can get up and running in just a few minutes and set a monthly budget you’re comfortable with. In regions with moderate competition AdWords Express may be all you need. But in more competitive markets it’s likely that you’ll need a more robust and expensive solution.
Swipe Credit Cards on Your iPhone, iPad or Android Device
This is cool! A new start-up called Square is offering a credit card swipe device that connects to iPhone and iPad as well as Android phones and tablets. Oh, did I mention the device is free? And their processing fees are very competitive at 2.75% of each transaction, with no monthly fee and no fixed per transaction fee. The traditional credit card pricing model is something like a $15/month fee, plus 25 cents per transaction, plus 2.3% of each transaction.
I haven’t signed up for Square myself, because I don’t need to physically swipe credit cards. But I’ve seen it in action and it’s pretty awesome. This looks like a great solution for acupuncturists who want to accept credit cards in the office. There are no startup costs.
Are you using Twitter as part of your acupuncture website marketing mix? Have you even needed to link to a web page with a long URL? The solution is to use a URL shortening service like bit.ly. This neat little service will take your long URL and shorten it to something like this: http://bit.ly/dSTELH. It’s a must have for anyone using Twitter… and it’s free!