Perhaps one of the most common questions we hear from clients is why their dental website hasn’t made it to the front page of Google. This is a good question and one any office looking to grow should consider. After all, think about the last time you performed a search. You likely clicked the first result that showed up and if you didn’t click that, you certainly didn’t bother to navigate to the second page.
Getting your website to rank on the first page of takes effort. It takes planning, strategy, and execution. And more than anything else it takes patients and the willingness to test a variety of dental marketing strategies. After all, you might try using certain content and find it doesn’t resonate with your audience. If that’s the case you end up back at the drawing board.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of creating quality web content that answers questions people are seeking answers to. So, for example, if you’re a dentist in Carlsbad, California and someone searches for “dentist Carlsbad, CA” they’re essentially asking Google to provide a list of dentists in Carlsbad.
There’s no one factor that makes a difference in SEO. Instead, it’s a combination of many smaller factors that all come together that make a website that performs well in search engines. Google is the king of search engines, however, competitors like Bing and Yahoo also consider the following factors when ranking websites. The weight put on various factors, however, will vary. Now, all of these factors do have one thing in common – in one way or another they rely on quality content to truly perform well.
The title tag is the tag that appears at the top of your browser’s page. It should include a keyword that is relevant to the content and intent of the page. A well written title tag should be about 70 characters long and concisely communicate what’s on the page. The title tag also appears at the top of each search engine result. Including your keyword is, therefore, important because it not only helps rank you in search engines, but also because it can attract people to actually click the link.
The meta tag is the small description that can make a huge difference in your dental marketing. While the content in a meta tag is not used by search engines to rank content, it can play a huge role in engagement – the number of people who click through to your website. A meta description should be no more than 155 characters. The description should appeal to readers and clearly communicate what the page is about. If possible it should include a keyword.This keyword will appear bold and can catch the eye of the person performing the search.
H1, H2, H3 Tags
These tags are used to differentiate between headings and subheadings on pages. The tags signify importance, with H1 being the most important, then H2, and so forth. When possible, try your best to include a relevant keyword in the tags. And, remember to prioritize your keywords, including your primary in the H1 tag.
You’ve likely heard that content is king. And that couldn’t be more true. And while content includes images, title tags, and meta tags, it also includes the body content of your page. It’s easy to write up a long page that details whatever comes to your mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s good content.
Good content is clear, speaks to the user, and provides answers to the questions the user is seeking answers to. One of the best marketing ideas for dental websites is to create a blog that is regularly updated with quality content.
Search engines have a lot of flexibility and reach, but one thing they can’t do is discern the content of an image. To understand what a picture is actually of, alt tags must be used. This helps get them indexed in search engine image results and can improve accessibility to the visually impaired.
Linking is another large part of SEO. When people begin to view your website as trustworthy and an authority on its subject matter, they begin to link back to your website. Backlinks are looked at by Google and other search engines as a sort of vote of confidence.
Backlinks can be earned by people linking to your website from their own website or sharing the content on social media. Links on social media are particularly effective because if a person sees their friends recommending a service or individual, they’re more likely to take action. There’s more of an inherent trust.
External Factors in SEO
If you’re doing everything you can to rank, but still aren’t seeing results, perhaps it’s time to consider what your competitors are doing. If you live in a market that’s saturated with dentists, the competition is going to be quite high. As a result, you’ll need to kick your dental marketing up a notch.
- Start by reverse engineering your competitors’ websites. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are they doing?
- What type of content are they putting out?
- How often are they putting content out?
- What’s their social presence look like?
Understanding all of this will help you get an idea of what you’re up against. If your competitors are putting our more content or higher quality content, then there’s a reason they’re outranking you. Similarly, if your competitor is very active on social media and getting reviews on websites like Yelp or Google, then your solution might be to ask patients for reviews. The key is to do this ethically, meaning don’t pay for reviews or offer anything in exchange.
Finally, look for opportunities to establish yourself as an authority in your town. This might include offering free consultations or creating a weekly podcast or news segment where you talk about your expertise.
Your SEO strategy will change over time. The most important thing is that you take the time to observe what’s working and what isn’t and tweak as the online world changes.