Significantly improve Google rankings by refreshing your dental website content
How we achieved top Google places with new website content and refocussed on-site SEO
Here at Dental Media we have a very strong reputation for search engine optimisation (SEO) which we’ve nurtured and grown over many years of working with dentists. We are specialists in achieving Google top rankings using a variety of techniques. Today we’ll take a look at a couple of those areas and the cornerstones of successful SEO – website content and on-site optimisation.
We have a number of prominent clients based in very competitive locations where the SEO work has to be extremely diligent and comprehensive to maintain ranking positions. This is simply because competitor practices are also running optimisation campaigns and because the search landscape is ever changing.
Towards the back end of last year, we’d seen a couple of cases where our client’s websites dropped from position 1 to position 3 or 4 for the key “dentist + location” search term over a period of 8 or 9 months. During this period, Google introduced several new ranking algorithm changes, in part impacting those website where the content had gone “stale” i.e. not upgraded or reviewed for a long period of time. What can happen here is that Google demotes sites which have become less useful and engaging for users, often caused because the site’s content has not been nurtured.
Before we continue, it’s worth remembering that whilst successful SEO is multi-faceted, it can broadly be generalised into “on-site” and “off-site” work. Off-site work is where external assets are used to help promote the target site, for example building back-links from third-party websites; whereas on-site SEO is all about the work needed to make sure that the website itself is optimised for Google. A huge part of the latter on-site element, is the quality of the content.
The upshot of this is that a good website with excellent rankings, can actually degrade over time if the content is not nurtured and allowed to go stale. In this circumstance, if the on-site content is struggling, no amount of off-site SEO, however good, is going to work as well as it might.
This is exactly what happened in the two cases I mentioned above i.e. the off-site SEO (link-building etc) was being compromised because the website content had become stale and considered less attractive by Google. The slight slip in rankings was the result and of course needed to be addressed.
What did we do to reverse the problem and regain rankings?
It is understandable that most dentists simply don’t have time to keep adding fresh new content to their websites; in many cases we just see some blogging and perhaps staff page updates a few times per year. However, there comes a point where the nettle must be grasped and a full content review is required. This is often the case after a couple of years where the website exists in areas of significant competition. We always stress that a website is never “fire and forget” but very often a degree of neglect can arise as dentists get involved with other initiatives. It is often a drop in rankings which prompts a refocus, together with encouragement from our SEO team to begin some comprehensive maintenance.
For both of the websites I mentioned above, we consulted with the clients and demonstrated the effects we were seeing. This was relatively easy to support with data from Google Analytics where we could analyse levels of visitor traffic and other key engagement factors such as the average number of pages visited and how long users were spending on site. So we could see and illustrate the gradual degradation over time, even down to specific areas of the website such as key treatment information pages.
We agreed a comprehensive set of remediation actions with the dental clients as follows:
- Full audit of existing content
- Full refresh of any content considered to be stale
- Addition of new content
- Re-instatement of regular blogging
- Re-work of key on-site SEO elements in line with the above e.g. page titles, keyword selection and placement etc
Content for key pages was re-written in depth i.e. in excess of one thousand words. Whilst Google tell us that long content isn’t in itself the key to good rankings, we do know that in general, well-written long-form content works better for ranking than minimalist content. There are ways to use this type of content so that it isn’t overwhelming for users and doesn’t interrupt the user experience, for example use of FAQ sections.
After the upgrades were complete, the websites were re-launched and Google encouraged to re-crawl and re-index the new content.
What were the results of the on-site content changes and refocussed SEO?
You should not expect Google to react immediately to changes like this and it can take several weeks for the changes to be evaluated and acted upon. However, for both of the websites where the work was completed, after 4 or 5 weeks, ranking positions started to recover. A couple of months later, both website are back at position 1 in Google for the main dentist + location search term as well as numerous, valuable treatments searches. Both of these websites are in extremely competitive locations and so the value of prominent rankings is immense, fully justifying the re-work.
Google is constantly looking to see which websites serve users best and gives prominence to those websites in the search results. A huge part of this relates to the relevance and authority of the content within a website and when that content goes stale and becomes less appealing, you can expect a website to start losing Google positions as we saw with the examples mentioned earlier.
Where such ranking demotions occur, and in the absence of any other factors which may have caused it, the Google positions can be recovered with a comprehensive content refresh and refocus of key on-site SEO elements. Please remember that your dental website is a key feature for new patient acquisition and keeping it running effectively and prominent in Google is essential – to do this properly, some ongoing investment will be required.
If you need similar assistance with your practice website, including a full diagnosis of what may be holding you back in Google, please call the Dental Media team on 01332 672548 for a no-obligation discussion.Google+