SEO Debunked: How It Works

WebUpgrade Team

April 25, 2021

The world of SEO is fast-paced and very dynamic. Twenty years ago, ranking high on search engines was directory-driven. Today, ranking revolves around numerous, more-complex factors. That’s why you need to stay in the know and learn continuously.

It takes more than just adding a few keywords, updating old content, and building links to improve your site’s rankings and brand visibility. You need to understand and stay on top of:

  • On-site SEO
  • Off-site SEO
  • Site speed
  • Local SEO

While there are other SEO components to consider, these four will bring you closer to that coveted number one spot on Google. This guide will help you get started. 

What is SEO, Exactly?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. 

At its core, SEO is the practice of making a site rank as high as possible on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others. The higher the site ranking, the more visible the business, and the more traffic and sales that particular business is likely to generate.

However, SEO extends beyond what its acronym stands for. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the queries they’re using, the answers they’re seeking, and the content they wish to consume. 

Say you were extremely passionate about med spas, and you created a site full of resources regarding that topic. You wrote a blog about methods of prepping skin for summer. In this case, your objective would be to show up in search results when someone searched how to prep my skin for summer.

A lot more goes into med spa SEO than that, but you get the drill. 

A great way to think about SEO is with the acronym E-A-T (hint: it has nothing to do with food!). E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. These are the factors used to determine your website’s ranking.

E-A-T in a Nutshell

Here’s the technical description of E-A-T: “It helps a digital marketer/content creator/website owner understand what Google looks for in a web page.”

In short, Google is loaded with a lot of content on diverse subjects. But not all this content shares genuine information. That’s where E-A-T comes into the picture. Google upholds its reputation for being the best search engine because it generates E-A-T answers. 

Let’s go back to our previous example. If someone searches with the keyword “how to prep my skin for summer,” millions (60 million to be exact) of results will pop up on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Every page offers some information about the topic, but then Google can’t figure out which page, among these millions of pages, contains genuine answers to the query. E-A-T helps in this regard. This ranking concept helps Google to prioritize the search results based on the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness of the parent website.

To make sure your website meets E-A-T guidelines, you should focus on these three parts of SEO: on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and site speed.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of them below.

On-Site SEO

On-site SEO (otherwise known as on-page SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web content to boost a website’s organic traffic and search engine rankings.

On-site SEO pertains to content that is on your website. This includes blogs, alt image text, on-site links, metadata, title tags, and more.

You can improve your on-site SEO strategy with these eight tips:

  • Audit your content every three-to-six months to get rid of duplicative, outdated, and underperforming content.
  • Add high-value keywords for existing content.
  • Create a content calendar to help you stay on track with consistent content creation. Google loves fresh, high-quality content, so this is an area that you should take seriously.
  • Optimize page titles and meta descriptions.
  • Don’t just throw text on a webpage. Make sure it’s readable and has clear, punchy headlines.
  • Optimize your URLs.
  • Create a strong internal linking profile.
  • Optimize your image alt tags.

Now that you know a thing or two about on-site SEO, let’s move on to off-page SEO.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to all the activities you do off of your website to increase its ranking on search engine results.

These include link building, social media marketing, brand mentions, and customer reviews. 

Out of the four, link building is perhaps the most important.


Because Google wants to rank websites that demonstrate authority and expertise on a subject, and one of the ways to ensure that the sites picked up by its algorithms are trustworthy is through the number and type of incoming links.

For instance, if you want to be perceived as an authority and expert in the field of med spas, it’s not enough for you to say it or write about it on your website. Other related websites should agree, and this is portrayed through links pointing back to your website (otherwise known as backlinks).

In short, if a reputable site links to your site, then search engines see your website as more reputable too.

Even if nobody knows your name, it’s still possible to earn high-quality backlinks.

Follow these link building techniques to ensure you get noticed by the most trusted sources in your niche:

1. Publish link-worthy content

This may sound cliché, but it’s very important for one key reason. 

If you don’t have quality content, even if you somehow manage to secure links, your page won’t rank. 

Examples of link-worthy content are original research, case studies, well-thought-out opinions about a topic, and generally content that is unbiased and unique.

2. Guest posting on reputable sites

Guest posting is a popular way of getting quality backlinks. The drill here is simple:

  • You find authoritative websites that accept posts from guest authors. The Washington Post, Revitalize Your Health, and Healthline are a good starting point.
  • You pitch them with your ideas.
  • You get the posts published with a link pointing to your site.

However, there’s a caveat here. 

Since Google has realized that content marketers are abusing this method, they’ve added rules to their algorithms to sniff and de-value weak guest post links.

But there’s no reason to worry. As long as your target website is authoritative, has good content and good rankings, then your rankings will definitely soar.

Now, let’s shift gears to the third and equally important part of search engine optimization: site speed.

3. Site Speed

Website speed is a component of SEO that is often overlooked.

The truth is that page speed is a direct ranking factor and has been important for a while now.

We recently conducted a mobile speed analysis on 100,000 medical websites and found:

  • 5% were considered optimal by Google standards (<3 sec load time)
  • 3% were considered okay by Google standards (3-7 seconds load time)
  • 60% were considered bad by Google standards 

If you are the top result on Google, but your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, then you might as well be ranked 4th and 5th because visitors will not stay on your site.

So when crafting your medical SEO or dental SEO strategy, make sure you sort out page load time. If possible, keep it under 3 seconds.

What Else Is Important in SEO?

We’re not yet done with stripping down the concept of SEO.

If your practice/business operates on a regional level as opposed to a national level, then you need to consider local SEO. This includes Google listings, local listing sites, press releases, and more.

Local SEO can help your business be noticed when people search for “dentist/med spa near me.”

Optimizing your local SEO paves the way for more website traffic, more leads, and more sales since the strategy is more suited to your local client base.

Besides, 46% of all Google searches are local, according to Go Gulf’s 2019 study. So this is an aspect of SEO that you can’t afford to ignore.

Now you’re asking, “How do I make my local SEO successful?”


Follow these actionable tips:

  • Optimize your website for Google My Business.
  • Leverage the power of press releases.
  • Use a location-specific “About Us” page.
  • Write about local news.
  • Get regular reviews from satisfied customers.
  • Optimize for voice search.
  • Optimize your website for mobile.
  • Take advantage of online local listing sites.
  • Hone in on local keywords.
  • Create a dedicated webpage for each service/product you offer.

Wrapping Up: SEO Is a Long-Term Process, Not an Overnight Success

We want to end this blog by noting that time is a key part of SEO. The truth is that SEO success doesn’t come so quickly. It’s a long-term solution that likely takes 6-12 months to see the full significant results. In the initial stages, working on SEO for your practice or business can feel overwhelming, but if you choose to hire a modern digital marketing agency, it can be more manageable. Cheers and all the best in your SEO journey.

Do you need help with your medical SEO or dental SEO? WebUpgrade can help. Our expert digital optimization team is experienced in medical marketing. Whether your area of specialization is plastic surgery, plastic surgery, med spa, or aesthetics, our team can help you elevate your digital presence. Contact us today to learn more.

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