Brand new website – what next?

Getting your new dental website ranked in Google

rising Google positionsSo you’ve just launched a new website and sat wondering what to do next to start making progress in Google? One option is to pay a marketing agency to start undertaking dental SEO work for you, but sometimes budget doesn’t always allow this, particularly where other practice expenses are pressing.

Equally it can be a minefield, with relatively few agencies actually delivering good results these days, particularly those who offer generic “bolt on” SEO packages which typically don’t achieve much at all, other than draining you’re budget.

So in circumstances like this, what do you do? As I’ve written previously in this blog, you can’t really afford to ignore your website SEO in the mid to long term, as getting good ranking results in Google is crucial in the quest to gain new patients. However, if you don’t have the budget to have a proven and trusted SEO agency look after this for you, there are some things you can do yourself to start gaining traction. Whilst the tips noted below won’t get you to the top of Google, particularly where competition is significant, following them diligently might just get you to page one of the search results and at least start getting you in the mix. Indeed, if you can do these things, then you are doing as much if not more than some of the agencies who charge you £175 a month and claim to offer SEO in their expensive monthly retainer fees!

Before you start DIY SEO….

There is one essential precursor here, in that your new website must be up to the job. There are two elements to SEO; “on-site” and “off-site” and it’s off-site tips I’ll be giving in just a moment. The on-site elements cover all the features that must be correct to make sure that your site forms a good foundation for an ongoing SEO process. This is covered in detail elsewhere in this blog, but it covers aspects such as good coding, fast loading pages, excellent content and correct formation of page elements such as title tags etc. Without these in place, then your SEO efforts may well be wasted.

We often see this where dentists approach us to carry out SEO on websites they’ve built themselves using the likes of WIX and Squarespace and where essential SEO components have been neglected. So make the time (and allocate a sensible budget) to ensure that the website is *right* from the off. Think twice before you do that yourself or even paying a third-party for a budget job – mid term, experience tells us that you’ll likely regret it.

Getting started with SEO

The first thing to do is to make sure Google actually knows that your website exists! So make sure that you exploit all of Google’s free tools to signal your presence and to give you an overview of how your website is performing. These are Google Analytics, Search Console and “My Business” page. You will find details about these tools elsewhere in this blog. By registering for these services, you will let Google know your site is online and encourage their “bots” to crawl your pages to help get you into the search results. This may well be a few pages back, but at least you’re on your way. Tools like Analytics and Search Console will also give you lots of invaluable data about your website, including any errors in its structure which may be holding you back.

Next you need to seek out good quality local business directories and enter your business details on there. Sometimes you will be able to add a back-link to you site which is very valuable for search engine optimisation. It’s important to avoid poor quality directories as Google will disapprove of links from this type of site. But how do you know what is good versus bad? That’s a very valid question and not one that an inexperienced person would really be able to evaluate. However, if the site looks professional, mentions a manual review of your submission i.e. a human reviews it, and other prominent dental businesses in your area are also included, then you should be OK. There are many opportunities to get listed like this if you search them out diligently.

You should also approach other businesses you know who may give you a link back from their own websites. Ideally these would be on the same theme as your own site, i.e. dental related, but a link from the local doctor’s surgery or an online press article about your new practice, would also be valuable. However, try to avoid reciprocal linking if you can, as these will cancel out and actually could harm you if you do too many.

Another important factor is to seek reviews from your patients. Google reviews are still the key driver but Google is also starting to aggregate reviews from other sources e.g Facebook. Reviews are excellent for helping your dental business to feature in the local/maps results but there are now clear signals that they also help you to feature in the traditional “organic” search listings too. Neglect reviews at your peril!

Following the tips above will certainly get your new website indexed by Google and start to progress you upwards in the rankings. However, it may not be sufficient to propel you up into the top half of page one where the enquiries really start to flow.

Next level SEO

It’s very few practices which actually get to the top of Google under their own steam and most of the businesses you see on page one are paying an agency to help them. This will involve a wide range of techniques including those above and a number more, for example blogging, authoritative link building (not just business directories and citations), content marketing and comprehensive use of social media to stimulate more third-party links. Good SEO campaigns of this nature take a lot of hard work and consequently aren’t cheap. However, the payback is substantial. Of course, you can also supplement your organic SEO programmes with paid advertising using Google and Facebook and the best “holistic” digital marketing initiatives will include these channels too.

Summary

If you’ve just launched a new website, it would be foolhardy to assume that it will rank well in Google. However, you may not have the budget to immediately invest in a comprehensive SEO campaign with an external digital agency. But you can start to get moving under your own steam by following the tips above. In areas of low competition, this could get you on to page one of the search results; however, the time will likely arise where you will need to employ the services of an acknowledged marketing expert to help you move to the next level.

If you need SEO advice for your own dental website or have reached the point where you need expert assistance to move to the next level, please get in touch with the digital marketing team at Dental Media on 01332 672548.