SEO Tips and Insights Blog

Here's an archive of blog posts I've shared since 1999, including articles, interviews, books, news, and audits. Topics include SEO, digital marketing, copywriting, communications, and business.

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Google, SEO, and implicit feedback as a ranking factor

Are Domain Name Keywords Ranking Factors for SEO?

March 7, 2021

A client asked for my opinion on domain names as ranking factors. Specifically, she asked if Google pays attention to domain name keywords and the choice of domain name extension (such as .com).

Here was her question, redacted for obvious reasons:

I have not decided on a name for my practice. I’m wondering if I should register a unique brand name, my name (, or a generic but keyword-rich domain name ( But before I spend the money to buy a premium domain name, I’m wondering whether there is any benefit or disadvantage to using a .doctor or .clinic name for Google searches, or if it’s preferable to find a .com

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What's The Most Important Marketing Skill? 2 |

What’s The Most Important Marketing Skill?

February 19, 2021

I’m often asked by aspiring marketers: “What’s the most important marketing skill to learn? Is it SEO? PPC? Analytics? Copywriting? Video? PR? Social media?”

Surprisingly, it’s none of those things.

Before I tell you what it is, let me share a brief story.

Problem-Solving is a Balancing Act

When I was young, I used to rollerskate a lot. Not inline skates or rollerblades, but the four-wheel kind you see at roller derbies. I was quite good at it, too. But it took me a while to learn — a lot longer than the average seven-year-old child.

I was born with a congenital disability.…

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SEO consultant, UX design, and CRO marketing consulting

Why Did Michel Fortin Get Out of Copywriting?

February 19, 2021

Ever since I stopped accepting copywriting clients over a decade ago, it’s a question that seems to come up again and again. It’s understandable as I was quite prominent in that world throughout the 90s and in the early 2000s.

I really didn’t stop writing copy, but I left the business of copywriting and now focus on SEO, particularly after years of being a “top copywriter” — a label my peers often give me, although I never really considered myself to be one.

But the question about my departure has once again resurfaced, particularly after I appeared on a YouTube show talking about the shady side of the world of copywriting.…

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passages ranking SEO and content labyrinths

Is Passages Ranking SEO a Thing?

February 15, 2021

It was a busy week in the SEO world. Google updated its algorithms at the beginning of February, and I had a full plate working with my SEO clients.

Part of this algorithm update is passages ranking, which is now live in US and only affecting a small percentage of searches. Passages ranking is where you can rank based on passages instead of the entire page.

It’s no different from the way it ranks pages currently.

However, the benefit is that Google can understand subtopics better and serve pages for more relevant queries. This is a major plus for many plastic surgeons, as most of their content is long, educational content for medical purposes.…

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local SEO, street map, map, plastic surgery SEO for locations

How to Be Found Locally in 4 Steps

February 10, 2021

Close to two-thirds of the Internet’s traffic is mobile, and that number continues to climb at a staggering rate. Google has adopted a mobile-only approach by indexing just the mobile version of your website and not the desktop one.

Since smartphones come with GPS, this mobile proliferation has proportionately increased the number of location-based searches. Statistics show that 46% of all mobile searches are location-related, with a 900% increase in “near me” searches, reported by Google, in just two years alone.

What does this mean?

It means that people looking for your plastic surgery practice or medical aesthetic clinic will most likely do so from their mobile devices.…

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stop words, SEO, ranking, content

Can Some Words Stop You From Ranking?

February 6, 2021

In 2002, I wrote about how words can change the meaning of a sentence. In it, I explained that choosing certain words, including formatting, can help give a sentence more impact and even change its meaning completely.

I titled the article: “It’s not what you say but how you say it.”

At the time, I wrote it as a copywriter and from the perspective that words give meaning, and that your choice of words can change that meaning.

But since I’ve shifted from copywriting to SEO as my primary focus, I applied much of what I know about copywriting to SEO.…

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What's better for video seo: self-hosted or YouTube?

Will Hosting My Own Videos Improve SEO?

February 1, 2021

One of my SEO clients, a plastic surgeon who specializes in facial cosmetic surgery, wants to increase traffic to his website. His site has something that most plastic surgeons and medical aesthetic practitioners have…

Videos. Lots of them.

We all know that visuals are essential in plastic surgery. Images are effective, but videos are more effective and credible. They engage more senses and dimensionalize the experience as opposed to an otherwise static image.

This plastic surgeon has multiple procedure pages with videos. But some pages contain many videos, such as before-and-after clips from hundreds of patients.

He doesn’t host any of his videos and has them all up on YouTube.…

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surgery, hospital, doctor

2 Key Expertise SEO Signals For Plastic Surgeons

January 26, 2021

I recently completed a 360° SEO Audit for a plastic surgery client who suffered from a precipitous drop in traffic last year, particularly around May 2020. A look at this site’s Google Search Console revealed that the drop occurred around May 5th, with average daily search impressions being cut in half.

This coincided with a major Google Core Update on May 4th, 2020.

2 Key Expertise SEO Signals For Plastic Surgeons 5 | expertise seo

Google updates its core algorithm a few times a year. This major update specifically targeted websites or content related to a person’s health, wealth, or welfare, often referred to as YMYL pages (i.e., “your money or your life”).…

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SEO manager: finding the perfect one is like looking for a unicorn?

4 Traits to Look For in an SEO Manager

January 22, 2021

A colleague is in the process of hiring a marketing manager and wanted to know what traits I look for in a general marketer. I’ve hired quite a few marketing and SEO managers in my career, so I shared some of my thoughts with him.

I realized that this might be helpful to plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons who are looking to hire one, so I’m reprinting my answer here.

I think this just as applicable to an SEO manager as it is a generalist marketing one, because SEO is multifaceted and requires several skillsets that parallel those of marketers. In fact, to me SEO is just another form of marketing.…

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Content creation vs content expansion? What's best for SEO? Experts confirm.

Content Creation or Content Expansion? SEO Experts Confirm

January 18, 2021

Last week I was very busy completing a few 360° SEO Audits for two plastic surgeons, and one of them asked a very good question. After I recommended content creation on a weekly basis (about three times a week), he asked: “That’s a lot of content, can I add it all to the same web page?”

In essence, what the client was asking is if it’s possible to add to existing content instead of creating three new pieces each week.

Here’s what I said.

To clarify, when I suggested creating three new content assets each week as a best practice, it was a recommendation and not an obligation.…

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