By PETE JOHNSON
(Listen to an audio version of this blog by clicking the blue play button above)
Did you know that 48% of Google searches are seeking local businesses? As a dental practice, most potential patients are going to find your website through Google search. Therefore, it is critical to position yourself favorably in the eyes of Google.
The question is, how do you stand out amongst competing practices in your noisy corner of the Internet?
The answer is simple — search engine optimization. So, what exactly is SEO? It’s the process of enhancing aspects of a website to ensure that it ranks high on a list of results in a search engine. Every second of every day, Google crawls the Internet, seeking fresh content to serve to users. These crawlers identify aspects of a website and determine its purpose and value. To appeal to them, it’s important to follow a variety of guidelines and industry standards.
Choose Optimized Keywords
Keywords are terms added to your content that help your website rank for similar or identical search phrases. For example, when seeking a dentist in Chicago, a user is likely to search “dentists in Chicago”. Therefore, it would be wise to include a phrase similar to this in your site copy. This may seem simple, but it’s important to conduct keyword research to ensure the phrases you’re using are best for your website. When using obvious keywords, you may have to compete with more websites using the same term, decreasing visibility in the search results. If a keyword is more obscure, you run the risk of using an unsearchable term. Keyword research lets you see what users are searching and how your competitors are performing in order to position yourself well.
Additionally, it’s important to insert keywords into the right places on your website. The best spots for terms are within titles, headers, and in the first few sentences of copy. When crawling, Google first sees these aspects in that order. Additional locations include image names as well as image alt text.
While writing your copy, be sure to avoid stuffing too many keywords close together. Now more than ever, Google values well-written, coherent content. Both users and search engines will recognize when you’re stuffing too many terms into a small paragraph. Therefore, make an effort to weave in keywords organically for a pleasant user experience.
Enhance Your Website’s Structure
Google wants to send users to websites that offer a pleasant user experience. Even if you have optimized keywords, search engines will rank you lower if your landing page is faulty.
Seamless navigation is imperative for website design. If a user lands on your website and is immediately lost, they will click away and head to the next website on their list. When this happens, Google notes a high bounce rate and then lowers your ranking. In order to keep users on your site for longer, make sure they can get to any page on your site within three clicks. It’s also very important to make contact information as visible as possible. The ultimate goal is to book appointments, therefore, make this transaction seamless.
In a 2017 study Google determined that bounce rate increased by 32% if a website took more than three seconds to load. When a site took longer than five seconds to load, the bounce rate rose to 90%. On both mobile and desktop, users have no patience for slow websites. In order to stay on top of your speed, you can test loading times on sites like GTmetrix checker. From there, you can work with developers to compress images and videos, remove unnecessary code, and utilize Google’s accelerated mobile pages.
In 2020, it is also imperative to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Users lead busy lives and most of the time are searching for services like dentistry on-the-go. If your website is unappealing on a phone or tablet, you run the risk of losing conversions on these devices.
Appeal to Local Searches
The vast majority of patients are those who live in the area. Therefore, it is vital for dental sites to appeal to local searches. There are specific strategies to employ when you’re targeting users within your corner of the world.
The first step is to create a Google My Business page. GMB is a free tool that helps small businesses create and manage their listings. It acts as a direct outline for what Google should index, adding an extra boost to your ranking. Along with Google My Business, you should also add your website to other local listings. These can include Yelp, Facebook, ZocDoc, and Foursquare.
Create Quality Content
Now more than ever, Google values useful and relevant content. Back in the day, websites used to get away with cheap tactics like keyword stuffing and the use of duplicate content. Google is smarter than ever and tapped into the minds of its savviest users. Therefore, it’s important to appeal to them with quality content.
To create quality content, make sure to answer users’ questions before they ask them. Anticipate their needs and speak to them with knowledge and confidence. If you provide insightful information on procedures and pertinent queries, more and more users will spend time on this page which will alert Google that you are a credible source.
Additionally, you should consider the length of your copy. Many websites are tuned into the fact that Google appreciates long-form content. The more words, the more chances there are for Google to index content. However, Google now recognizes when a thought is drawn out or when necessary rhetoric is disguised as useful information. Therefore, the best practice is to provide comprehensive and detailed information where it makes sense on your website. If a user is not likely to be interested in the drawn out version of something, it’s better to keep it short and sweet.
Along with copy, there are various other forms of content that can be optimized. These include videos, images, podcasts, etc. Now more than ever, users love videos especially, as they provide quick and captivating information. When included on a website, be sure to include SEO-optimized forms of these types of content. Make sure images and videos are compressed without sacrificing quality. Additionally, you should name them with relevant keywords and provide appropriate alt text.
Backlinks is a desired currency within search engine optimization. They are links to your website from another website. When these links are inserted into credible websites, your site’s relevance is noted by Google. Consider these links as referrals. When someone of importance refers you to a job, you’re way more likely to be considered.
So, how does a dental website obtain the elusive backlink? It’s easier than you would think.
A popular strategy is guest blogging. This is when you are featured on another website. As a dentist, many lifestyle and medical sites are seeking credible voices to answer users’ queries. In these blog posts, you can insert links back to your practice, reaching a new audience and signaling to Google that your voice and business is relevant.
Another strategic location for links is in forums. Websites like Quora and health forums provide a space where users ask questions you can answer. Simply reply with insightful responses and include a link to your website.
Stay Mindful of Algorithm Changes
As consumer mindsets shift and the Internet evolves, so does its search engines. Google is constantly updating its algorithm to appeal to the masses. A recent algorithm change that sent waves was its new stance on having a secure website. In the past, it was suggested to have a secure site with a URL beginning with “https”. Recently, it became a requirement.
It’s important to remain mindful of changes like this to avoid penalization. Luckily, Google just wants what’s best for its users. Therefore, if you adapt to its requirements, you’ll be bettering your website and your brand.
Are you ready to make the most of your SEO strategy? Contact us at Get Practice Growth and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.