Dental Corporate and Micro-Corporate Website Search Engine Mistakes
Avoidable SEO errors when dentist’s websites are moved or consolidated
Over the last few years we’ve seen several clients taken over by larger dental groups as UK dentistry reorganises and consolidates. This is inevitable and something we expect to see periodically as clients retire or otherwise move on in their careers.
Part of the transfer involves a transfer of the seller’s website which usually starts with transfer of the domain name and within a few months, transfer of the website itself. It’s at this stage that our involvement in management of the website typically ceases and the new company takes over. Unfortunately it’s also at this stage that the mistakes begin and bad things start to happen, particularly with the search engine ranking of the website. But why is this and what happens to cause it? Let’s take a closer look.
Websites built here at Dental Media typically rank very well in search engines, particularly where we carry out ongoing SEO for the dentist. This optimisation is a continuous process whereby we use legitimate techniques to improve the search engine positions of the website for numerous search terms. The returns from this process are exceptional in terms of new patient enquiries and it’s something we encourage all of our clients to participate in. However, the process is quite technical and easily disrupted and it’s this disruption we tend to see when a new business takes over.
Common website take-over errors
In the example of a corporate of micro-corporate website take over, the main (and disastrous) error we often see is where the site is incorporated into the single website of the company taking over. This usually involves taking a multi-page website with excellent Google rankings and rationalising this down to a single “location” page on the corporate website.
This results in lots of great Google results essentially disappearing overnight as the overall website footprint for the business is drastically reduced. Even where some mitigation is completed e.g. page re-direction, the search engine traffic to a website which is rationalised in this way will be significantly reduced. It does beg the question as to whether the web/marketing representatives of the new business actually understand what they are doing, particularly in that the importance of Google for new patient acquisition is abundantly clear.
As a slight aside, we have also seen this quite recently in another scenario where a dentist moved his website to the control of a local company who had associations with his partner. The new company rebuilt it on a DIY platform known as Squarespace, failed to complete any optimisation and page re-directs etc. We still had access to the analytics data and we saw an instant 3 fold reduction in website traffic and Google ranking dropping dramatically over the following weeks. This also resulted in far fewer patient enquiries to the point where the dentist contacted us and requested that the old website be re-instated. This is quite an extreme case, but similar adverse effects often also occur in the corporate takeover scenario discussed above.
What should happen when a website is transferred?
This is quite a technical exercise and can be very time-consuming, but is essential if you are serious about preserving your search engine rankings and dental website traffic when a site is moved or re-configured.
Maintain the website footprint – what I mean by this is avoid rationalising the website severely. It may be tempting to cut out a lot of pages and run a “lean” site but be aware that your Google rankings will very likely suffer if you do this over-zealously. You should also keep the site on its own domain if at all possible, i.e. don’t consolidate it onto a single “location” page as is often done with the corporate example. This is a sure-fire way of significantly reducing your exposure in Google.
Check and maintain the on-site SEO – a reputable company should have performed diligent on-site SEO with the existing website and this should be replicated and/or enhanced for the new site. Fail to do this and the website rankings will be destroyed as we discussed in the earlier example.
Complete page re-directs – when a website pages is indexed and included in Google, it appears with a unique link or address of that page. With a new site, either the original link needs to be preserved or as a minimum, a search-engine friendly re-direct applied. When done correctly, this should preserve most of your Google rankings and ensure that any links clicked in Google still go to the correct page on the new website.
Moving, re-building or consolidating a dental website is a risky business if you don’t know what you are doing. There are a set of key factors to be taken into account and various actions to be performed if you want to maintain your presence in Google and keep the associated web enquiries coming in.
As we’ve seen with several corporate website consolidations and indeed a few other website moves, the significance of this is hugely under-estimated and the effect on web traffic, and ultimately business, can be very pronounced. Ideally this type of activity needs to be under the jurisdiction of an SEO professional who can ensure that any disruptions are minimised and (huge) mistakes avoided.
If your website has been subject to a move or re-design that hasn’t gone well or failed to yield the results you were promised, please get in touch with the SEO team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 for a complimentary diagnostics audit and advice.