Search Engine Marketing

Looking Beyond Your Name for SEO Success

When was the last time you Googled yourself? Have you checked into Google Analytics to see how many times people Google your name? Chances are, if you do monitor your site’s SEO and the keywords your website visitors are using to find you, a majority of the top 10 keywords listed in the snapshot Google provides are variations of your name.

While monitoring the performance of your name online is important to overall brand awareness and online reputation management, this top 10 list doesn’t tell the whole story.

What Lies Beneath the Surface

2012 represents the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The commonly known tale acknowledges that the crew of the ship saw the iceberg, but underestimated its size, as the majority of it was below the water’s surface. Focusing specifically on the top 10 keywords visitors use to find your site will leave you with a similar sinking feeling, especially when that list consists of variations of your professional name.

While we tend to focus on the importance of top 10 lists, from sports highlights to Google’s search results, I urge my clients to look beyond this top 10 list. Sure, when you first look at this list, it looks important because you can see patients are typing in Dr. Smith, Dr. John Smith, John Smith MD, and so on to access your website. And of course, it’s important to a degree.

But there’s only so many ways you can slice a name, so the total of name searches pales in comparison to the total of procedural searches your visitors have conducted, when you consider the bigger picture.

Case Study: We’ll Call Him Dr. John Smith

Dr. John Smith sees six of the top 10 keywords visitors have used to find his site are variations of his name. However, when we dig a little deeper, the 6 keywords represent less than 2% of all keyword referrals. Additionally, all name-based keywords represent roughly 20% of all searches.

The majority of keywords potential patients used to find his site were based on variations of procedures he performs. The reason these are not in the top 10 is because there is a greater potential for variation with procedural keywords.

Compare the name variations above to the list of breast augmentation keywords used to find Dr. Smith’s site: breast implants, breast surgeon and city, best breast surgeon, boob job, before and after breast augmentation, breast augmentation and state, breast implants and city, natural looking breast implant, and so on. We haven’t even scratched the surface here.

While name variations may represent the highest attributing keywords for traffic, these only contribute a small amount of traffic when you consider the complete list of keywords and their variations.

Summation of Long Tail Searches

The term for this concept in SEO is summation of long tail searches. What this essentially means is that while the single keywords or phrases may not amount to much traffic on their own, the whole can be greater than the parts. This is often the case, as research shows the further a consumer travels down the long tail (or said another way, the more specific their search terms are), the closer they are to making a purchase.

The most important thing to remember though, is the top referring keywords don’t always tell the whole story. Dig a little deeper and you’re likely to find that patients are using a wide variety of terms to find you and your practice, so focusing on a single keyword, or variations of your name, can wind up sinking an otherwise successful SEO campaign.

For more on how to create a successful SEO campaign, read Sarah Dawber’s recent post “Which Comes First? Online Ad Buys or SEO?”

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Keith Humes


Keith Humes is Rosemont Media's CEO and Founder. Since 1998 Keith has been at the forefront of Internet Marketing with Surgeons and Dentists. He continues to stay ahead of the curve and offers innovative insights to the world of healthcare marketing. Keith also lectures nationally at leading industry events, such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Dallas Rhinoplasty Symposium.

Keith is an avid fisherman and master-griller. Next to fishing, Keith’s favorite activities include surfing, and spending time with family & friends.