9 Small Steps to Boost Your Dental Practice's SEO Presence
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Optimizing your dental website for search engines can seem like a big project. After all, major dental SEO overhauls like improving page load speeds and designing mobile-friendly layouts are complex, labor-intensive tasks that are best left to the SEO experts, not taken on by dentists.
However, there are small steps you can take to boost your dental practice’s SEO presence, and if you manage your website, these are things you can do yourself every time you post content to optimize it from top to bottom. If you’re ready to optimize your online presence and attract loads of new patients through Google Search and Bing, this post is for you.
Know Your Keywords Before You Start
Before you even begin writing your website content, make sure you know which keywords you’ll be trying to optimize for. A little bit of keyword research can go a long way, and your approach to it doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about the topic you want to focus on, and then brainstorm some ways that people might search for it. Type those search terms into Google and check out the search engine results page (SERPs). See how competitive they are and which ones your competitors are already ranking for. If you want to dig deeper, Google’s Keyword Planner is an excellent tool to use for finding the best keyword ranking opportunities.
Once you settle on a primary keyword phrase, also make a short list of closely related search terms and synonyms that you can use to keep from being overly repetitive in your writing. Remember, you’re also writing for humans, not just search bots. If you want to make it to the first page, you have to write content that people want to read AND that Google understands.
For the actual content of your website pages, keyword usage is essential. When it comes to keyword placement, think quality and not quantity. Overstuffing a page with target keywords can get you penalized; don’t try to be fancy, the algorithms know what you’re doing! Instead, hand-pick the locations where your focused phrases will appear. We like to follow a process of including the keyword within the first 100 words, the last 100 words, and once somewhere in between (our content is generally 300-500 words in length). Also, sprinkle alternate versions of your keywords and closely related terms throughout your content.
Should your keywords be in headings and subheadings on your page? Well, yes and no. Google no longer assigns any extra importance to search terms that are placed in headings, but it does use the heading and subheading structure to understand a page’s hierarchy and how the content is structured. The best advice to follow? Write your headings so that they help your readers understand how your content is organized, and that will make Google happy too. Search engine optimization for dentistry is all about writing the best content for your potential patients, not publishing spam.
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You may not realize it, but an important metric that Google looks at is the amount of time visitors spend on a page after they click on a search result to get there. If too many people bounce out of the page or spend very little time viewing it, Google will assume that the content is not very valuable or relevant to the search term that was used. As a result, you could slip down in the rankings.
Relevancy is a key part of developing a successful SEO strategy. To keep from sliding, you need to hold the interest of your readers and keep them engaged. That doesn’t mean making your content overstuffed and overlength. That approach could backfire since it would be overwhelming to your audience. Instead, limit your content to a moderate length (think 500 words or less), but packed full of valuable information.
Additional items to help keep prospective patients engaged include a web design and user experience catered for mobile devices and displaying patient reviews on your digital business profile or Google My Business profile.
SEO isn’t just for written content. Your images are also searchable by Google and can have a significant impact on your dental practice’s SEO presence. Unless your images are purely decorative, they should have descriptive titles and alt tags applied to accurately explain what they are showing, such as the dental services they’re depicting. Remember that those tags are used by vision-impaired website visitors to better understand the images on your page, so once again, make humans your top priority. If your image tags are confusing to people, they’ll confuse Google as well; Google’s algorithm looks to these tags to rank your dental website in image searches.
Backlinks are another important part of your SEO best practice since Google uses them as a signal as to how your page relates to other content. Internal links can point to or from pages on your dental practice website that offer related information. You can also include links that point to other external websites. While it may seem counterintuitive to send your visitors away from your site, linking to other websites that are relevant and highly reputable will help boost your authority ranking and aid in link building.
When you’re ready to post your new high-quality website content, be sure to assign a URL that is search friendly. The URL should be short and contain the keyword you are optimizing for. You can also omit unnecessary words from the URL that do not help to clarify what the content is about. URLs should also be simplified as much as possible by eliminating complex hierarchy folders. Compare the two following examples:
Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
Next, turn your attention to your posted content’s meta titles and meta descriptions. Google doesn’t rank based on meta or title tags, but they are still important because they are what people will see on search results pages. That means you need to make sure that these tags are attention-grabbing to encourage more click-throughs to your website. Keep in mind, that the number of characters you can use in meta titles (50-60) and meta descriptions (155-160) are limited and will get truncated by Google, so be complete, but also be concise.
Once your content is posted, sharing it through social media can also boost your dental practice’s SEO presence. Although social posts are not specifically searchable, Google does pay attention to social signals when evaluating the importance of your website’s content. Make your social posts intriguing enough to encourage as many clicks and traffic as possible.
Google loves new content. Even after your post has been around for a while, you can breathe new SEO life into it by going back periodically and refreshing it with updated business information to keep it current. And while you’re at it, feel free to reshare your updated content through social media all over again.
Keep It Up
You may not see big jumps right away in your SEO from taking these small steps, but they do add up over time. The best overall tip we can offer is to be consistent and stick with a process that gives Google everything it needs to boost your dental practice’s SEO and digital marketing presence. Your hard work will soon be noticed by dental patients in need of healthcare advice.