As a dentist, you know how important education, prevention and regular maintenance are to your patients’ oral health. Well, that same kind of proactive care should apply to how you market your practice. By now you surely have a website filled with quality content that’s optimized for web viewing and mobile access. However, if potential patients can’t find you in a sea of similar businesses, your efforts are a waste of time and money. You can have all of the content and bells and whistles in the world, but unless your website is optimized with targeted SEO for dentists, the chances of anyone locating you during a web search are low.
Separating the Good From the Bad
So, what makes good dental SEO, and how do you know if your website is doing its job? Choosing an SEO firm with dental practice experience is a start, but knowing what makes good SEO and what not to do will help you choose the right company from the outset and avoid costly mistakes before they happen. There are some key factors that will inhibit your web presence, and a few of them may even get your website dropped from rankings on the major search engines altogether. The top three mistakes are:
- Using ‘black hat’ or outdated SEO
- A stale or static web presence
- Providing bad content or an unsatisfactory user experience
Any online marketing effort or SEO firm that uses these methods is one to avoid, but what do these terms look like in practice? Black hat SEO is a means of using unscrupulous or manipulative techniques in an effort to game the search engines and the people who use them. It includes keyword stuffing, creating spammy or irrelevant content, and buying links or creating backlinks in order to create a false impression of relevance or popularity. These methods are intended to provide quick yet unsustainable results. Search engines are hip to these types of practices, and they will penalize any website that uses them; many thousands of websites and URLs have even been banned by popular search engine providers like Google and Bing for bad SEO.
User experience and content go hand in hand. You can use the best SEO practices in the world, but if they’re paired with bad content, you will lose any momentum you’ve gained. More and more consumers are demanding a quality online experience from businesses they patronize, and search providers are responding with metrics like Google’s Panda, which measures factors that include the timeliness and relevance of content as well as a website’s social media triggers and response. A good user experience is more likely when the content is high in quality, timely and relevant, and it has the perception of freshness no matter how long it remains on your website. Backlinks and social media response should be organic, with a progressive, sustainable build over time. Any SEO company that promises unrealistic results like getting you immediate page one ranking or uses artificial methods like buying followers, email lists and links should be avoided.
Assessing Your Website
Even if you’re not an expert on SEO, there are ways that you can tell if your website is optimized. In addition to using the apps and graphs available to measure your metrics, you should perform on audit of your website on a regular basis from the customer’s point of view. Does your website load quickly, or are your visitors being driven to competitors by long or incomplete page loads? Is the content relevant to your practice? Does it contain evergreen supplementary information that will offer continued value to visitors over time? Do you add fresh content on a regular basis?
Use online tools to search for your website using the terms that a potential patient might use if they were looking for a dentist. That will help you see where you rank in comparison with other dental practices in your area. You should also make sure that your website is optimized for local SEO as well as search engine compliance by including it in local online directories and review websites like Yelp that have high visibility and a good reputation.
Your marketing efforts are only as good as their results. If you’re not getting the ROI you expect from your practice’s website, the problem may not be with your content, but in how it’s presented. Due to the constant changes in search engine algorithms – as well as how and why people search for information – it’s difficult for even tech-savvy business owners to ensure that their practice’s website is optimized with the best dental SEO practices. That’s where a professional dental SEO company such as Solution21 comes in. A good SEO company keeps on top of changes in search engine protocols and metrics in order to give their clients the edge that helps them remain competitive.