Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Dental Websites
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of improving your website’s ability to be found online via a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. If you improve your SEO, you improve your rankings in search engines, you increase the traffic driven to your website and you increase awareness of your practice and your brand.
SEO is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, however, it is also one of the least understood marketing strategies by many businesses. Dentistry is no exception!
Search engines use various metrics to determine how high your website or online content will rank in their search results. These metrics are used to decide how relevant your website is to any given searched term or phrase; search engines then match up the web pages they deem the most relevant or related to the search term or phrase. The key to SEO is to make sure your website and web pages are deemed as relevant as possible to the search terms most associated with your industry. Or, at least, more relevant than your competitors!
Your website doesn’t just need to be easily read by audiences, search engines need to be able to read them easily too. From user experience, such as header tags, page structure and layout to how many websites link back to your website, there are multiple tactics we can use to boost your SEO.
One of the key metrics search engines use is known as Keywords. Keywords are specific words or phrases that act as tags, letting search engines know what topic, industry or niche any given web page relates to and linking them to the relevant search.
For instance, a typical dental website will have pages on topics such as implants, fillings and veneers. Each of these is a keyword. When these keywords are searched online, it is the search engine’s job to determine which of the millions of web pages online are most relevant to the search. It is your job (or, rather, OUR job) to ensure your website is the one the search engines pick.
Keywords need to be optimised throughout your website to ensure the highest online rankings possible. This means targeting both the specific keyword and also all possible variations of that term or phrase. Of course, you can’t just make a page repeating the keyword over and over again. You need to be tactical with your use. You need to consider your page titles, your subtitles, the body of the text, the metadescription, the URL, the list goes on and on!
Use dedicated software, such as Ahrefs, to research both you and your competitors’ keyword rankings. This allows you to see which keywords search engines, such as Google, tag alongside your website and its pages, as well as your competitors. You can then examine how much traffic each keyword gets on average a month, which of your pages are linked to the keyword and how difficult it would be for you to rank highly for that keyword. You could also perform a ‘keyword gap analysis’. This allows you to compare keywords for which your competitors are ranking highly, but for which you rank below them, or possibly not at all! Using this information, you can plan which keywords you need to create content for.
Backlinks are the SEO equivalent of referring a friend. If someone recommends a product, service or company to you then you are more likely to use that product, service or company. The more you trust the opinion of the person who made the recommendation, the better that recommendation seems. The more reputable the source, the more you’ll trust the recommendation. Search engines work in exactly the same way.
Websites regularly contain links on their pages to other, external websites. Whether it is a further information link, a promotional link or a link to an affiliate website, most websites link through to another in at least one place. Whether it is for the BDA website, a sponsor’s page or an NHS page, your website most likely already has links to external websites. These are acting as backlinks for that external site (because you are linking back to their website). If such external websites have a link to your site, then they are acting as backlinks for your website.
To increase your SEO in terms of backlinks, you need to have as many backlinks as possible to your website from reputable external websites. The key here is reputable. Just like with referring a friend, the more you trust that friend or the better their reputation, the more you will trust that recommendation. In exactly the same way, search engines will judge your backlinks by how reputable or trustworthy they deem the external website to be. In other words, if the BDA, Gov.uk or NHS websites link back to your website, search engines will rank those backlinks higher than a website like obviouslyfake.co.uk or just4backlinks.net.
SEO isn’t just a question of making Google happy, it’s also about making the user happy. If your website is formatted poorly, if it is hard to read or navigate, if it takes too long to load or if your audience doesn’t find what they need quickly then your audiences are more likely to leave the website after a short span of time. Search engines know this. If your audiences are spending no more than a few seconds on your website, this tells the search engine that your website is not fit for purpose. Maybe your website is not relevant to the searched terms, maybe it is relevant but presents the information ineffectively. Either way, search engines will conclude that your website is not what the audience wants to see. Even if it is!
On-page SEO is the process of building web pages in such a way as to optimise your online rankings and improve the user experience. Remember how Keywords affect your online ranking? On-page SEO is how you make sure your Keywords are targeting or referring to the most relevant content and how you let search engines know that you have the content they are looking for. On-page SEO is effected by dozens of criteria. How many keywords you use on each page, whether those keywords are in the body of the text or contained in Header tags, how many variations of those keywords are referenced, these all effect your SEO. Everything from the length of sentences to how many transition words you use can impact the readability of a web-page.
Local SEO is the process of optimising your website for online searches by location. It is essentially helping audiences in close proximity to your business to find you online. There are several ways to improve your local SEO and make sure prospects in your area hear about you. Once upon a time you registered your business in the Yellow Pages and maybe the local newspaper. Nowadays, you need to get your business cited in as many local online directories as possible. From the big names such as yell.com and 118118.co.uk, to your local business directories, the more the merrier! We can source the best online directories for your business and ensure that you are cited in each and every one. The more local citations you have, the more visible search engines will make you to audiences in that area.
Your business’s Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) also has an effect on your online rankings. When you input your business details into Google My Business (GMB), it is this information that Google uses to match up your website to a given search. If your NAP does not match up EXACTLY across all your online citations, search engines will notice this. From incorrect addresses, varying business names to differently formatted phone numbers, there can be no difference between the information you have listed on Google My Business and the rest of the internet.