The top four most important areas to prioritise.
Whilst Google advises that there are over 200 signals they measure to work out where websites are placed in the search results, consensus in the SEO community suggests that there are four key factors which move the dial more than the others.
So it probably makes good sense to prioritise those when it comes to working on your own optimisation campaign. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and how you might work them into your own strategies.
Over the last few years, Google appears to have focused more intently on the quality and depth of content contained within a website. The days of being able to compensate for poor on-site quality with lots of off-site SEO, e.g. back-links, have largely passed. Indeed a simple inspection of the search results for various topics, tends to show websites with lots of high-quality, detailed information at or near the top. There are exceptions of course, but in general we can say that websites with lots of useful, engaging content tend to work better in search engines than those with more minimal content.
Perhaps the main thing to acknowledge here is that a website is not a “done deal” once it has been built and launched. If you want it to succeed, both for your visitors and in the search engines, then you should plan to update and add new content regularly.
Links have always been a key driver for search optimisation and this is still the case today. However, the quality and relevance of those links is still critically important and “bad” links can get your website heavily penalised. So it’s essential to seek out links to your own site from sites which are reputable and preferably in the same niche as your own business. One of the key ways to acquire links is through a technique called “content marketing” – this is where you create useful, engaging content and then promote this as widely as possible, for example via social media channels. If your content is good enough, people will want to link back to it – and your website gets the associated boost.
It’s also important to look for poor back-links which may be pointing at your site and holding it back. These may have been placed in an old, misguided SEO campaign, or could have been picked up naturally. Ideally you need to contact the originating website and ask for the links to be removed; failing this, Google provide a “disavow” tool where you can ask for the links to be ignored by their ranking systems. (Caution – these techniques are not really for the inexperienced, so if you feel your website has been adversely affected in this way, please get in touch for guidance).
This is another key factor i.e. making absolutely certain that your website presents information correctly on all types of devices, whether hand-held or desk-top. Whilst over 70% of websites for dentists are now “responsive” (mobile optimised), 30% still aren’t. This is quite hard to understand, particularly given its importance and how hard Google and the web industry generally, has been pushing mobile friendliness over the last 3 years or so.
If you are still procrastinating about an update, it really is time to act! This is not just to ensure a better experience for your users, but also because Google is now prioritising mobile crawling and indexing over desk-top versions. Put simply, if your website is not mobile friendly, expect it to shoot down the search rankings.
On-site technical factors
OK, so this isn’t just one element but quite a few which can logically be bundled into the same category. Some of the important elements to address are:
- content mark-up – this is related to the use of “tags” in your website code which help search engines to determine what your page is all about. Although not quite as important as it used to be, particularly now that Google is increasingly sophisticated, correct structuring and use of website code still pays dividends when it comes to search positioning.
- use of encryption – although still considered to be a relatively small ranking factor, the importance of “https” is growing. It’s not a trivial exercise to switch, but you should consider it.
- page speed – Google is very keen to speed up the web and if your website pages load slowly, either due to poor coding or perhaps an overloaded server, you can expect to be held back in search results.
Whilst we shouldn’t doubt that Google does actually use many different ranking signals, we can also be fairly sure that the factors discussed above are high up there in terms of priority. If you do them well, you will definitely be on track to get your website up there at the head of the search results.
If you’d like to discuss any of these aspects in more detail or perhaps need an audit of your existing website to see what’s holding it back, please get in touch with the digital marketing team at Dental Media on 01332 672548.Google+