An SEO Eyeful: Interview with Ronald Herskowitz

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SEO Summary:An SEO Eyeful: Interview with Ronald Herskowitz

Some SEOs choose to specialize in particular fields. Ronald Herskowitz focuses on the eyes -- literally. In this interview, you'll find that even the specialists learn plenty of tricks that can be generalized to many different kinds of web sites.

Ronald Herskowitz is of Medical Management Services Group, L.L.C., actively and other refractive surgery services for dozens of individual Ophthalmology practices. Now based in North Andover, his previous practice as an optometrist gives him a unique set of skills to oversee the content and development of the portal, six ophthalmic directories and 110 individual sites for medical news and individual practices.

Having known Ronald for many years, I have learned a lot of specific search engine optimization tips from him. I recently had the opportunity to spend more time with him and learned more about his broader Internet and search engine marketing practices in which SEO techniques play one role.

This interview reinforced for me many tried and true tenets in marketing such as knowing your market, knowing their needs and constantly working to stay relevant. Further reinforced is the fact that while SEO rules and tricks can be used on any web site, they only serve the broader business purpose of the site owner. Although Ronald's business practices serve a highly specialized niche, his general methods can serve as a model to anyone interested in search engine marketing.

What is the mission of your business?

Our business is a non-equity based physician practice management company limited to the development, operation and management of elective services lines within medical practices. Our specific concentration is in the sub specialty of Ophthalmology in the service lines of refractive surgery, including corneal laser eye surgery and lens replacement surgery for vision correction.

What is your Internet strategy?

As part of the services we provide, marketing plan development and execution is a key area in practice development. Since 1998, the use of the Internet in health care has grown so significantly across all age groups that it has become a core part of the overall marketing strategy. From our own research, we know that in the past 5 years 78% of patients have used the Internet one or more times during their information gathering to learn about physicians, practices, costs and technical issues.  

More recently, if we look at some of the research published by Focalyst, which is a joint venture between AARP, Inc. and Millward Brown, indicates that seniors consider the Internet to be the second most important source health care information after face-to-face interactions. What makes that even more important is that over 50% of people age 42 - 72 report that they are regularly online. Of those, 6 of 10 report using search engines to learn about various aspects of health care. This demographic cannot really be ignored when developing marketing communications for eye care. They are not just looking at pictures of their grand kids! 

So, as part of the marketing mix, the use of the Internet has just become more important and we believe will continue to do so. In order to serve our clients' needs, we've been active in helping them develop and execute Internet marketing strategies across multiple vehicles on the web. Most practices today either have a web site or would like to have a web site, but the understanding of how to use the web site for patient communications, building brand awareness as well as creating direct response is pretty limited. And, unfortunately, most of the web designers and web developers that seem to be active within the medical community don't always find the right balance. Those web developers with the consumer community seem to go a little too far the other way. 

We have carved out a niche in helping people design, develop and optimize sites that blend that medical-retail continuum that elective procedures fall into. We use the development and optimization of an individual's site as the core of the strategy by using ongoing SEO to build visibility across research-based keywords and phrases which are relevant to the consumer behavior we see across these service lines.

The second part of the strategy that we typically help practices implement is based on the fact that an individual practice site is likely to encounter difficulty achieving first-page ranking for relevant, consumer-driven keywords. Terms such as lasik, lasik surgeon or cataract surgery are extremely competitive terms and it is unusual to see an individual practice site rank within the first two or three pages, rendering it useless for generating traffic or brand awareness. 

So we maintain a refractive surgery portal that integrates hundreds of pages of continuously updated content as well as a geographically exclusive physician directory for the clients. We take the responsibly for ongoing search engine optimization, content generation and updates. The final part of the Internet strategy is building, maintaining and using targeted email databases for conducting ongoing health information awareness as well as conducting highly targeted direct response and inquiry to specific practices.

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