Part 2 – Search Engine Optimisation For Dental Practice Websites
Continuing our mini-series on SEO for dentists
In last week’s blog we looked at why SEO for dental websites is important and laid out a list of 9 key areas where a dentist will benefit from a solid working knowledge of the process. We looked at what SEO actually is, why it makes great sense to do it and also the role of Google, the main force in search engines in the UK today.
Moving on, in today’s blog we’ll cover the next three elements; choosing your dental SEO partner, the two main types of optimisation and the role of “local” SEO. Let’s get started.
How to choose a good SEO partner
In our blogs already, we’ve touched on various reasons why you need to take care when choosing someone to help with your SEO, but it’s certainly worth re-iterating again in this mini-series. Firstly it’s worth remembering the slightly “murky” reputation which SEO has gained and indeed why this has arisen. Whilst it takes hard work and experience to keep on top of Google’s regular updates and this should not be under-estimated; too many SEO companies fail far too often which has resulted in disenchantment amongst many dentists.
Sometimes optimisation teams step outside of Google’s publishing guidelines and cause their client’s websites to be penalised. This can be unrecoverable resulting in the dentist having to start again with a new website on a fresh domain – potentially thousands of pounds out-of-pocket and back at square one.
Another recurring problem is where web design companies offer SEO but actually don’t do anything! This is particularly rife with companies who offer maintenance contracts which claim to include SEO but at best, do the bare minimum and certainly not enough to make meaningful improvements in Google. Yet many dentists and/or practice managers get caught out by this.
So with SEO, you do need to be very careful and make sure to choose a reputable practitioner with a solid track record. Check the results and also be sure to avoid signing up for long-term contracts where you’ll likely still have to pay up even if the expected results aren’t forthcoming. Also take care to treat recommendations cautiously – there are a couple of popular dental design companies in the UK who actively incentivise clients to recommend them, albeit if when you look closely at their results, the true picture becomes much clearer and it isn’t always what you’ve been led to believe.
On-site and off-site search engine optimisation
These are the two main areas of SEO and in some ways it’s self-explanatory what they relate to. These are optimisation techniques used on the website itself and then other techniques used on third-party websites which positively influence the target site.
On-site optimisation – this is where the framework and content of the website is enhanced to make it as Google “compatible” as possible. This includes technical aspects such as loading speed, internal linking, excellent code and more. It also ensures that the content itself is not only compelling and engaging for users, but also great for Google ranking too.
Your web designer should discuss your targets and optimise your website content and layout accordingly. For example, do you want to promote specific treatment types, concentrate on more generic “dentist” searches, or both? The breadth and depth of the campaign will dictate the amount of work which is required and hence the cost.
Please contact our team for more information about the type of content which ranks well in Google and how it should be structured for best results.
Off-site optimisation – this covers all of the techniques which come into play which aren’t on the target website but reference it elsewhere. Perhaps the strongest ranking signal for Google is back-links and the number and quality of these will have a big impact on where your own website ranks in the search index. Most of the effort in off-site SEO campaigns goes into link acquisition in one form or another, simply because it is such a powerful ranking element.
Please get in touch to discuss off-site optimisation in more detail and to get a quotation for your project.
Before we move on, it’s also extremely important to understand that poor quality links can be very detrimental to a website and it is key reason why they get penalised by Google. Using irrelevant links from poor quality domains, buying links or relying on things like guest blogging can easily get your site penalised – Google will eventually catch up with you! So if your optimisation partner uses techniques such as these, you need to step away.
Local SEO and the power of reviews
When you look at page one of Google you will see that it is split up into distinct sections, for example ads at the top, ten (typically) traditional blue links, video snippets, a “knowledge” panel (sometimes) and the local results. The latter section is the panel at or near the top of the page which shows local business together with links to their websites, reviews and mapping information. This is a very prominent section, attracts a lot of traffic and hence deserves special attention when it comes to optimisation. Indeed there is a special type of SEO directed towards this, understandably called “local SEO”.
Google is heavily oriented toward local search where it presents local businesses to local searchers. So if you were based in Derby and searching for “dentist Derby”, you would be presented with a list of the local business, not dentists from other areas, even adjacent ones. This is important to understand, particularly for businesses which have several different locations and then try to get then all to rank well using a single website. This is never as effective as using one website per location, simply because the optimisation opportunities are much greater and less-diluted with a discrete website per location.
There are a number of techniques which can be used to improve local rankings and to gain a solid presence in the local results. Firstly you need to ensure that your Google “My Business” page is present and optimised. Next you need to ensure that your main website has sufficient local references. When these foundations are in place, you can then start to address your business reviews, another very strong local ranking factor. Whilst there is no published correlation between local ranking and the number of reviews a business has, what we tend to see is that more, good reviews tends to lead to more consistent presence in the local results. There are other factors in play too, so to discuss in more detail, please call our team for more information and advice.
That covers the elements 3 – 6 of our list of key SEO elements, leaving the final 3 for next time. To conclude, we’ll be taking a look at how to measure the success of your campaigns, what SEO campaigns typically cost and the returns you might expect, plus a last look at some of the ‘snake oil’ tactics some suppliers use to hook you in before ultimately letting you down.
Please check back next week for the conclusion of our blog mini-series covering the SEO basics for dentists and if you have any questions in the interim, please call the Dental Media team on 01332 672548.Google+