John is a technical SEO expert who’s deeply engaged in the local and national SEO community. With over 15 years of web management experience, John has led digital strategy for many enterprise healthcare companies such as Epic Health Services, Aveanna Healthcare, Cornerstone Healthcare Group, and more!
Founded in 2009, Cardinal Digital Marketing has been ranked the #1 fastest growing agency in the Southeast (The Agency 100). In addition, they have been consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies in 2014 and 2015. The agency has also been a multi-year recipient of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Pacesetter Awards as well as selected as one of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.
Cardinal keeps pace with rapidly shifting trends in Digital Marketing, and develops engagement strategies that are not defined by a platform or a category, but leverage the best marketing vehicle to solve every unique challenge. They approach every situation with the client’s customer in mind and measure success not by increased traffic or impressions, but instead higher client profits.
Services offered include Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media Management, Web Design & Development, Mobile Marketing, Online Reputation Management, Web Analytics, and more. What are your specialties?
In this interview we focused on SEO and search marketing for health and wellness businesses. We covered:
- The difference between SEO and Search Marketing and how this differs from other types of digital marketing.
- Current trends are you seeing for wellness practices with SEO marketing in 2019.
- Tactics that were expected to perform well or had a lot of hype, but failed to take hold in 2018.
- The top 3 things that a wellness center should be doing online to see a return from their SEM efforts.
- The top strategy that should be followed, but often marketing teams get it wrong.
- Marketing strategies your team is currently testing that you don’t think many other agencies are implementing for their clients.
Please be sure to subscribe to the Social Speak Podcast for more interviews with experts in digital marketing for health and wellness businesses.
Hello my name is Caitlin McDonald, and welcome to the most recent episode of the Social Speak podcast. I am so excited, today we are joined by SEO expert John McAlpin. Now, John works for Cardinal Digital Marketing. Founded in 2009, Cardinal digital marketing has been ranked number one of fastest growing agencies in the South East. In addition, they have consecutively been named on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies in 2014 and 2015.
Cardinal keeps pace with the rapidly shifting trends in digital marketing and develops engagement strategies that are not defined by a platform or a category, but leverage the best marketing vehicle to solve every unique challenge. They approach every situation with the client’s customer in mind, and measure success not by increased traffic or impressions, but instead, higher client profits. Services offered include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, mobile marketing, online reputation management, web analytics and more.
Our guest, John is a technical SEO expert, who’s deeply engaged in the local and national SEO community. With over 15 years of web management experience John has led digital strategy for many enterprise healthcare companies such as Epic Health Services, Cornerstone Healthcare Group, and more so let’s give a warm welcome to John.
Caitlin: Welcome John, we’re so excited to have you on the show today.
To kick things off. Tell us a little bit about your background in digital marketing.
John: Sure, it actually started way back when I was 11. I started building websites when I was 11. I found it interesting and saw my dad doing it So, I found W3 schools and started teaching myself how to do all that. But at a professional portion of my career I started in the corporate side, mostly in a tech field, international e-commerce, and then I moved into healthcare and fell in love immediately. I was doing full digital strategy for a healthcare company, and then from there, I transitioned to a agency life and never looked back really. I love agency life. It’s nice to get a little mix of everything.
C: Yes, it definitely is. There’s always a new project to be working on … So John a key aspect of Cardinal digital focuses on SEO and search marketing. Can you describe how this differs from other types of digital marketing?
J: Sure, on it’s own this is a really interesting topic. A lot of people get confused about the actual true definition of SEM. I even heard people consider Social media as a part of SEM and so I think it’s really important to know the difference. Search engine marketing is any type of marketing that has to deal with a search engine. Specifically people refer to it with paid search, like PPC or CPC however you want to refer it to, or SEO. And so that’s essentially search engine marketing. While things like social media channels, have a search box that’s different than a search engine. It is important to note. And so search marketing really is just another form of inbound marketing and what’s unique about it compared to other things, is you’re catching both people during the discovery phase, where there’s no intent to purchase, and during the intent to purchase phase.
C: Great, great thank you for diving into that. So what current trends are you seeing for wellness practices with the SEO and SEM in 2019?
J: What people are in healthcare are starting to do is find alternative ways for people to book appointments. Traditionally it starts with a call then developed. Now we’ve got great technology to book appointments on the website, but now it’s gonna find alternative way to give people more options, to book appointments.
Something that we’re doing is Google My business is actually having features to help integrate their platforms truly need to visit your website, to book an appointment, you can even text or even other direct links. There are some other third-party industry sites like if they’re a directory that we can book appointment straight from there. For example, in the restaurant space Yelp, you can order straight from Yelp. And so, the future is hoping to get voice functionality working out. So all you’re a home assistant, such as Alexa, to help book appointments, that’s a future hope. I don’t know if you were gonna get there, in 2019, but it’s definitely in pain that see a lot of people going towards.
C: That’s pretty incredible. So I’d just be able to say “Alexa, schedule my appointment with this center,” and to be able to do it.
J: Right. I predicted to see a specific company, not a healthcare company, but a technology company developing an application. There’s a lot of partners with it, who are trying to work together to develop this type of technology, so I see it being… You signed up with a partner and they will add you to their list, of preferred vendors, and then you would be able to use their system. That’s the place I see this going.
C: That is incredible, that’s wonderful. Now, in a previous podcast episode, and this isn’t something that we talked about previously, but in a previous podcast episode one of our guest Abby was talking about how interactive websites is actually really helping out with SEO because people have more time on site. A lot of health care centers, direct people off-site to do the scheduling and booking. Is it better to have the scheduling tool actually embedded on your website, rather than directing someone off-site?
J: So, that’s an interesting topic because there’s a couple of things that you wanna think about here. Not just your SEO interactivity, but also how you track conversion. A lot and people who have booking on their site or using an Iframe, which means that your analytics may not be able to track.
And so, really it gets to the point where Google is aimed more to the user experience and that’s where people get that time-on-site type of metric, and technically it’s better to have people to book on your site versus off because it’s less steps to take an action, but in a perfect world we be able to develop software to have booking on our site, and have our own proprietary thing. But, not everyone has those kind of resources. And so it is really however you can get the job done. An Iframe will work. Just be careful about what you’re tracking. As marketers, it is hard for us, so we don’t always have the ability to track it. Cardinal specifically does a good job of working with a whole lot of vendors to make sure that we can get the information that you need, but a lot of agencies don’t have that reach or those resources so be careful.
C: Alright, so let’s jump to the next question, are there any tactics that were expected for well or had a lot of hype, but failed to really take hold in 2018?
J: Voice. I think, voice is gonna be a big one. It’s not the future. It’s now. Some data scientists are predicting that 50% of all searches, are gonna be voice by next year. And I think this is a little confusing because people are getting confused between Voice Search and Voice Assistance.
Asking for the weather, asking certain time or something like that. It’s just those are voice assistance not voice search. And so right now we don’t really have a good way to track search. Also, it is important to note that your Search Console data, a lot of these queries can be voice and Google won’t be telling you which are voice.
I’m sure they will, but they’re not telling you right now. It’s also important to know that as far as asking questions that come from your website, all answers are first position featured snippets. They wanted to be voice focus on getting those featured snippets ranking high. And it’s important to know that feature snippets can appear anywhere in the search and only 30% are in position one.
C: Is there any way to be able to do research about how voice searches and the phrases and terminology that people are using and search differ from me typing into a search engine for something?
J: So as far as tracking or as far as optimizing?
C: As far as optimizing.
J: Sure it’s really just answering commonly add questions that you can relate to your business. Anyone can really get a question answered, but that doesn’t really lead to a conversion or help your branding at all.
So if you really wanted to optimize for voice, currently, before the future hits, it’s really answer the questions as quickly as you can. One of two sentences, the question needs to be answered. A lot of people will try to think about word count, not word quality. So they add all of these filler words. Work to really answered the question directly, in a first two sentences. The rest of that page can be or filler content.
Yeah, and those first two sentences, then you can work your brand name and according to Dr. So and So, at whatever your business name, is, the flu can be treated if caught earlier.
That was a the brand recall there. They can go and search that later or if they just are searching that question online at all, on the paper knows your name at the features on it. Oh, the that’s who I heard that from. And they can follow group.
C: I assume that that’s going to be one of the answers to this next question, but what are the top three things that a wellness center should be doing online to see a return from their SEM efforts?
J: Actually, it’s not one of the three in a lot of the…
There a more important foundational things that people need to worry about. A as far as voice, yes. One of the things I focus on Q+ A answer format. Include all of your services include all of your conditions on separate pages and have a way to inter-link them, Focus on your internal in-between them, so that they can relate and people can learn more information.
One of the first things they need to do is focus on having clean citations and for people that don’t know is a caption. That’s just your directory listing thing about Google My Business, Yelp. And then also think about your industry-specific citations.
Rate My doctor and things like that.
These directories have a huge impact on voice search and how business appear – having a consistent citations in.
So there’s a lot of tools that help it is or you can do it manually, but a lot more work, but you can pay more to have is, will do it for us if a lot of out there for it so I think the biggest factor that wellness centers and we really need to focus on is the user experience.
You can do SEO to a crap site. But if it doesn’t convert and people are turned off by it, they can’t navigate through it, it doesn’t mean anything that is so important.
Yeah, you can put a Band-Aid on it. But it’s not going lead to the results that you need in the end. And I feel as though Google with its algorithm, says, “Well it’s ranking site’s higher that have that positive user experience. People are staying on the site longer, they’re going directly to it.”
C: And then, let’s see, what is the top strategy that should be followed but often marketing teams at these health and wellness centers get wrong or other agencies, just get wrong?
J: So SEO, technical SEO, that’s the first thing I noticed that it’s wrong, but really the biggest missed opportunity is having a holistic digital marketing strategy and having your teams to silo doing their own things, not so picking on the same goals or focus or when teams are working on different ways to achieve different tactics towards the same goal.
Specifically, they need to be blending to the technical side of SEO, PPC, social media and their content. Repurpose your content for different channels.
C: That’s great, that’s great. You work for Cardinal digital, which is a full service agency and one of the top-ranked inbound marketing agencies in the US. Tell us about your company and your services, because you do really merge all of those different silos together for work with your clients.
J: As a strategy partner, we use the term partner, because it really is a relationship that we try to build, we try to build long-term collaborative relationships with national enterprise healthcare companies, because not one company is the same as the other, and everyone deserves a customize strategy. There’s no recycled formula for everyone … See what works best for everyone. We also have a really strong paid media team, and extremely simple track or record merging all of our tactics that blended to re-All full welcome out strategy.
C: Are there any marketing strategies that your team is currently testing that you don’t think many other agencies are implementing for their clients?
J: Sure almost doing a lot of the same one-off tactics and traditional SEO things, and payments paid media, but one of the things that we do is that I’ve seen that I have not seen other agencies really focus on is develop cascading edge tracking software.
We’re trying to use every tool the book to make sure that we can unlock the most insights so we can do the best action because really we put the data in the hands of our clients.
This is what we’re seeing our recommendation and this is how we collaborate with our clients, so, but they are fully aware of every step and they can make the best position possible because we give them the best information possible, and that to be anything from, not just keyword tracking, but also heatmap tracking it seems… How users are actually interacting on their site, so we can have the full holistic US experience.
C: Definitely, definitely, that’s great. And then, John, is there anything that I should have asked but I didn’t?
J: Yes, a lot of questions, I don’t know. I think you have a great job…
C: Awesome, well thank you so much for joining us, has been such a pleasure learning about your experience, your take on SEO and SEM and some of what Cardinal Digital is doing for their clients. So thank you again for joining us today.
J: Thanks so much for having me.
C: Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you to John for joining us today. He shared such wonderful information and it’s no wonder Cardinal digital is such a top-ranked agency with talent like John.
We spoke today about optimizing your directory listings, including both services and conditions pages on your website, as well as how to increase your exposure for voice search by having an FAQ section on your website. All of these are simple tips that you’ll be able to implement on your wellness website to help out with SEO and SEM.
Thank you again for tuning in, thank you to our guest, John for joining us today, and I will see you on the next episode of The Social speak podcast.