How do you start your search for a new dentist in your locality? If you use the search engines to find out dentists in your area, then you are like the 3.5 billion people who use Google daily across the globe to find information.
Most businesses since the last three decades have been striving hard to appear in the top results of search engine result pages (SERPs). Technically, they are focusing on earning higher search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. What is the motive? To be the first solution for people looking for them. And the opportunities and advantages are no less for dentists and dental clinics. If you are a dentist or own a dental clinic, and wish to be the first option for online audiences looking for dental services, you must focus on optimizing your website and increasing your SEO value. SEO can be boosted using the following on-page and off-page tactics.
On-page SEO Tips
On-site SEO elements include optimizing individual web pages of a website so that the website earns higher SEO rankings. Here are a few on-site tips that you must consider while creating and designing your website for higher rankings on SERPs.
Design an Appealing Website
The website of your dental practice is the significant aspect that will affect your online marketing results. Good SEO starts with your site. Thus, you should first focus on the quality and effectiveness of your dental website. There are a few things you must keep in mind while designing and creating your new dental website. I will talk about each of the crucial aspects one after the other. I’ll start with the first thing that we l see on a website, the visuals. We all know that the first impression is mostly the last impression. It is the same when it comes to using a website. The visuals and user experience that the online users get in first 2-5 seconds is the deciding factor if these users will stay on the site for longer or simply bounce back. According to the Gomez report published in 2010 – Why Web Performance Matters, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Therefore, you must first focus on the good visuals of the entire website and not only the homepage.
Consider Your Website Structure
Creating an SEO-friendly website means allowing search engines to crawl and explore your website so that they are able to understand what your website is all about and accordingly rank them on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Another thing that you must keep in your mind is the architecture of your website. Yes, you got me right there. By architecture, I mean the website structure. What is the use of having too many web pages and a complex website structure? Understand that when visitors can’t easily and directly find what they are looking for on your dental site, they most likely leave the site. This largely contributes to the high bounce rate and affects or even lowers your website’s SEO value. Therefore, stress on keeping the website structure simple with easy navigation and limited web pages or categories. A simple website architecture and lesser web pages not only reduce the website loading time but also help in ranking your website higher.
There are some things that you must do so that even the search engines can understand your website’s structure and architecture. Create an XML sitemap of your website. This sitemap helps search engines understand your dental site’s structure when they are crawling your website and helps them understand that some pages on your website are valuable and prioritize them while placing on SERPs.
Create Readable Content
Next comes the content on your website. When people come to your dental website, they are surely looking for different dental and orthodontic services in their area and want to book an appointment, or they simply want to gain information about various oral aspects. It is important to give them quality and informative content. And when I talk about website content, I don’t only mean the content on different web pages, but also the blogs that you create. Make sure you create quality and unique content for all your web pages and blogs. Be careful that there isn’t any duplicate and plagiarized content on your website. Avoid using too many jargons in the content as your target audiences may not understand what you are trying to communicate. As a dentist, some terms related to the dental industry may seem ordinary, but your readers may not be customary to the same words and terms. For instance, you might very casually use terms like xerostomia and halitosis, but you should use dry mouth and bad breath respectively for your common audience to understand. Focus on providing useful information about your practice, services, and products on your site. Something like how your orthodontic, periodontics, cosmetic, restorative and pediatric services are different from other dentists and dental clinics in your region. Also, keep an eye on the length of your content. According to a report by Backlinko in 2016, longer content tends to rank higher, and the average first-page result on Google contains 1,890 words. Web pages and blogs with 400-500 words don’t make to the first or second SERPs.
Also, use the right set of keywords in your website content so that it appears on the top when your potential clients search for dentists or dental health-related information. I will talk about how to get the keyword list and use it in your website content in depth below, under the “Keyword” section. For now, understand that you have to create keyword-rich content but do not try to insert the keywords in the text when it’s not possible. Keyword stuffing or excess use of keywords can only damage your SEO rankings.
Consider Responsive Design
Another aspect that you must give importance to while creating your dental website is making it all-device-friendly. Making your site mobile-friendly so that they can function perfectly across all devices such as tablets and mobile phones is useful in many ways. Your users are interested in using a website that is easy to navigate and allows them to find the information they need on whatever device they use. According to a Google report, nearly 40% of people use their mobile devices or smartphones to get instant results of what they are looking for. This is because using the Internet and accessing various websites is extremely helpful and effortless while they are on-the-go. Give them this facility by having a website with responsive website design.
Focus on Quality Backlinks
Backlinks, also known as inbound or incoming links is another key component of successful search engine optimization. A lot of stress is given to building and earning backlinks from relevant and authoritative sources as backlinks represent a point of credibility and confidence from one site to another. The best way to gain organic backlinks from top-notch sources is focusing on the content. If you provide valuable and first-hand information, credible and authority websites are more likely to link to your website and blogs. The possibilities of these websites linking to your website increase if you provide quality content in the form of infographics, videos, slides, or another interesting, shareable form. You don’t need to worry about the quality of backlinks from these sources as they are most likely to be high-quality links. But you may wonder if the quality of backlinks is important. Well, the quality of inbound links matters too. You must have heard and read that while building outbound links, you should only link to relevant and credible websites. Linking to irrelevant websites such as travel and fashion and undesired websites such as gambling websites can lower your SEO value or do nothing good to it. The same is the case for inbound links. Links from only relevant and credible sources count for positive SEO. Therefore, focus on earning backlinks from quality and safe sources only, and stay off from any other backlinks. And if you want to add backlinks to your dental website manually, you can consider guest blogging on relevant websites and content syndication sites, and speak on forums and discussion websites.
Review your website and blogs, basically the backlinks from time to time in order to ensure that the backlinks are good and credible and don’t hurt your dental website’s SEO. You surely don’t want your online visitors to be directed to broken links, 404 Errors, and other link building issues. Therefore, review and audit your backlinks on a regular basis with the help of tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Google Webmaster Tools, and eliminate these errors and flaws of link building. Also, try to reduce the number of redirects links on your site as they do nothing to boost your SEO value but only increase the page load time.
We all know that keywords are words and phrases that help people search your dental business via search engines. But several other dental clinics will appear when your potential customers will look for dentists and dental clinics in your area. So how to make sure that your site appears on the top of these search results? That’s where keywords can help you. Keywords and SEO are directly connected because keywords are basic elements of SEO.
To make the best use of keywords for higher SEO value for your dental clinic’s website, you must follow the two-step approach – keyword research and keyword usage. I’ll first talk about how to find the most successful set of keywords. Keep in mind that not everyone uses the same keywords. Therefore, you must find a list of words and phrases that people widely use. In order to find the most suitable keywords for your website content, you can use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Long Tail Pro. Use localized keywords for better reach as you surely want to capture the local target market first. The keywords which will drive the most traffic to your website will be ‘Dentist + your location’ or ‘Treatment + your location.’
Once you have your list of keywords, place them smartly for better SEO value. Let us take an example of “pediatric dentistry” as the keyword. Use the keywords
In the title of the service page (Example: Pediatric Dentistry)
In the URL (Example: www.abc.com/pedriatic_dentistry)
In the meta tags and description
In the image file name (Example: pedriatic_dentistry.jpg) and the images’ alt text option
As the anchor text in hyperlinks and backlinks
You can also use the keyword with variations throughout the page copy such as “free pediatric dentistry.”
You can also use long-tail keywords instead of short words for better reach and quality traffic on your website. Long-tail keywords won’t have a lot of search volume as they are more specific, for example, cosmetic dentists in NorthWest Edmonton. But that isn’t something you should be worried about as there will be a high probability of conversion of most of these potential searchers.
Keep the Page Load Time to Minimum (Speed matters)
Whether it is on the computer, laptop, mobile, or any other device, if your website won’t load quickly, say in 2-5 seconds, your online users will leave the website and move to some other dental website to find what they are looking for. And you cannot always blame the slow internet connection for higher page load time. Page speed is not only crucial to user experience but also for higher SEO value. Google since a very long time has indicated page load speed is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And if your website has a high bounce rate, it will hurt your website’s SEO value too. Thus, most digital marketers stress on reducing the website loading time while making their website SEO-friendly, and you should consider doing the same. So what do you do to keep the page load time to the minimum? Don’t worry; you don’t have to do any major change. You just have to ask your website designer to keep a few things in mind while creating or redesigning your dental website.
Off-page SEO Tips
Off-page SEO elements refer to techniques that work beyond your dental website and contribute to higher SEO rankings. Here is how you can go about off-page SEO for great results.
Claim and Optimize Local Listings
Before focusing on global SEO, you must focus on local SEO so that your dental clinic gets more eyeballs, and ultimately, increase the footfalls of the local audiences. Almost every search engine has a free business listing option available which also affects the SEO value of business websites listed on those search engines. For instance, Google offers Google My Business (GMB), and Bing offers Bing Places where businesses of various categories can list themselves. The prime motive of listing on these websites is to provide all necessary information to people looking for dental practices in the areas they look for. Instead of immediately featuring dental websites, these listings will instead feature the business profiles along with contact details of local dentists. This provides quicker access to contact and service offered information. Even if you have an excellent website, if you don’t create profiles on local listings and directories, you will miss out on a major chunk of your potential customers. You can list your business on these free listing websites and online directories.
To optimize your local listings, add every crucial information after claiming them. Right from your dental clinic’s name to the contact information, to the hours of service, feed in every information. Add a compelling summary of your dental clinic with correct keywords so that your searchers can understand what kind of services you provide. At the same time, categorize your listing under right categories and classifications of dentists. Adding photos and virtual tours help your potential customers understand how your dental clinic looks like. Hence, add photos of your dental clinic and your staff too.
Encourage Customer Reviews on Google, Facebook & Yelp
When you look for information on search engines, let us say for a dental clinic providing Botox services, how do you select the best one? Do you select the very first dental clinic that appears on the SERPs or do you try to do a little more research on a few of them? I would personally take a look at the photos of clinics. I would also read the reviews and comments to understand what their past customers experienced. This way, I come to know if the clinics I am considering provide good Botox services and is the dentist reliable or not.
Just like the online directories and free listings, some websites offer people to add reviews and ratings for businesses. In fact, most listings and directories themselves allow online users to review and rate various businesses. This way, these directories provide a two-way benefit of providing information about the business and also tell searchers what other people have to tell about a business. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey done in 2017, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more. So it becomes even more important to claim your profiles on different review sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, YellowPages, FourSquare, Angie’s List, Local.com, etc.
Create YouTube Videos & Other Visual Content
Video marketing continues to gain popularity across the globe. And people have an ever growing interest in video content. This is one reason why search engines give importance to video content. Furthermore, videos have less competition, so they tend to rank higher on SERPs. You can use various types of video content on your website and even on your social media profiles. However, the best SEO value for videos is earned when you put videos on YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google, and that means you can expect significant SEO benefits for your dental clinic by creating a YouTube Channel and posting content to it.
Start with creating a YouTube channel with your dental clinic name. Create educative videos and post them on your YouTube channel. If you are wondering what kind of videos can you create related to your dental practice, then several options are available for you. You can upload videos of how you perform various dental procedures or interviews with renowned dentists Or you can simply make a video of basic dental care tips and information such as how to floss your teeth. Just make sure you always meet the interests of your audiences and create videos on topics that resonate with their needs from you. And yes, when you post, make sure that you use keywords in the description and tags on your video, upload a full transcript if possible, link to your website, and include your NAP (name, address, phone) information in each video.
Search engine optimization is a constantly-changing field. And to always get the best out of ever-changing algorithms, it is necessary you stress on creating positive SEO value with white hat SEO tactics. Some examples of white hat SEO techniques include using keywords and keyword analysis, backlinking, link building to improve link popularity, and writing content for quality readers. Although it may seem to be a tricky task, but you must also focus on helping your target audiences and provide the information that they are looking for. No matter what factors are included in SEO algorithms, they are always updated with the aim of helping the online searchers. And did you know that other online marketing types, especially social media marketing also helps your dental website’s SEO rankings and helps you get great results? I will talk about social media marketing and how it helps your dental practice in depth in my next post.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.