The role of website content in search marketing
In our goal to answer many of the popular questions we are asked by dentists who are embarking on digital marketing campaigns, this blog discusses how the quality and breadth of content on a website can materially affect Google ranking results.
Size matters… usually….
Quite a lot of dentists are keen on minimalist websites, perhaps seduced by the slick lines of non-dental website they’ve seen elsewhere. Whilst this quest to differentiate in a sea of generic WordPress template websites is commendable, is it always a good move? The truth is that in general, large, well-elaborated websites tend to work better in the search results than minimalist versions. It is important to understand that this is not always the case – Google is very smart these days and will surface popular content in the ranking index even where it was published on a smaller website. However, these cases are rare and generally it is fair to say that, on a like-for-like basis, a new larger website will form a better search platform than a new smaller website.
Why is this?
There are a few factors to consider here. Google likes differentiated information which we need to take into account when setting up the architecture of a website. So where a dentist crams information about several treatment types into a single web page, this is very hard to optimise and consequently Google will be confused about what to prioritise. To avoid this type of content dilution, it is important to make sure that each of your main treatments has its own web page and specific optimisation. This will invariably give you a better spread of results in Google; so casting a wider net for new dental patients who are searching for services.
Going further than this, if you are promoting a specific type of treatment, e.g. implants or orthodontics, it can really help to have several web pages covering different aspects of the discipline. If you really want to maximise the advantages, then a treatment specific website is a great tool – we discussed this in detail in an earlier blog here.
Google is incredibly adept at identifying “authoritative” information – so good quality and depth usually wins out over minimalist.
It’s no use thinking that cramming lots of junk into a website will work to satisfy the content breadth equation. Whilst this sort of SEO technique used to work a number of years ago, Google quickly wised-up and started to penalise those attempting it. It goes much further than this these days; simply writing short, repetitive content and adding it to your blog can be seen as “thin” content and whilst it is unlikely you will be penalised, it’s likely to be ignored by Google. It’s much better to publish a couple of longer articles which hold a user’s attention, rather than several very short ones which add little or no value.
Adding new content
It is desirable to extend a website’s overall footprint over time to help build up it’s reach in Google and overall authority. So for example if you start to offer new dental treatments, be sure to add some high quality information about it on to your website. Also consider adding new pages to boost your main treatment headline pages as mentioned above – so for example, rather than simply having a single page on implants, consider adding supporting pages about the associated sub-treatments too. This works hand-in-hand with regular blog posting which is also a great tool for building your website footprint over time. But please keep the content quality criteria firmly in mind!
Refreshing old content
Does website content go stale? The answer is that it can but doesn’t always follow. The guidance from Google is that if website content is still useful, then it should not necessarily degrade in the search results. You may wonder how they can measure this; well they have access to all sorts of user engagement metrics which all feed back into their search algorithms. So whilst we don’t recommend refreshing web content every ‘x’ months “just in case”, we do watch analytics metrics such as bounce rate which helps us to determine when content may be going stale. At this point, we will recommend a review and update.
Whilst small websites can work in Google (and a small website is better than none), it is generally valid to say that larger websites tend to work better for search ranking overall. There are other considerations too – for example a smaller website with an exceptional “off site” SEO campaign can still do better than a large website with no SEO, but it’s much easier if there is a substantial footprint to work with in the first place. It’s also important to realise that websites are not fire-and-forget; so if you are serious about search ranking (and you should be) your SEO campaign should also include periodic reviews of existing content as well as adding new.
If you’d like to discuss the workings of websites for dentists in more detail and how to build an excellent example for your own practice, please get in touch with the Dental Media web team on 01332 672548.Google+