On-Site vs Off-site SEO for your Dental Practice
The benchmark of a healthy dental marketing strategy is a solid plan for SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of developing a website and content that answers questions people are seeking answers to.
Anytime a person enters a search query into Google or Bing, they’re essentially asking a question. It might be that they want to know what’s involved in a root canal or who the closest dentist is to them that performs root canals. Whatever they’re asking they want answers and they want them to be relevant and timely.
Most people performing searches tend to click on the top five searches, with the number one position being highly coveted, as it tends to get about 90% of clicks. Getting these clicks depends heavily on both you on-site and off-site SEO.
What is on-site SEO?
On-site search engine optimization is the process of creating and optimizing content on your website to rank for the intended keywords. There are several components of on-site SEO that should be incorporated into marketing for dental practices.
If possible try including a keyword in the URL of your blog post or page, as long as the URL can be kept at a minimal rate. This helps with indexing and ranking your content and can also make memorizing a URL easier.
The title tag appears at the top of your web page in the browser. This should include at least one keyword toward the front of the title and should not exceed 60 characters. Anything longer than 60 characters is truncated.
Your title tag also appears at the top of any search engine result, right before your meta description (see below) and URL.
If you’ve ever performed a web search you’ve likely noticed the short description below the title of the page. This description, while not directly correlated to rankings, tells people what the page is about and is used to encourage them to click through. It should be limited to 155 characters and should include at least one keyword toward the front of it. This keyword will appear bolded in the search engine results page, which could lead to an increase in clicks because it catches people’s eyes.
The key with the meta description is to make sure it reads naturally.
These are the large font headers used to segment page sections and paragraphs. Use these to draw attention to sections of the page and include keywords when possible.
Any good web page or blog post should include images. Unfortunately, search engine spiders cannot tell what an image is of. Alt tags tell the search engine what an image is of and can be used by people with visual impairments to improve accessibility.
Page Load Time
The rate at which your page loads is known as the page load time. Pages that are well optimized should load quickly on both mobile and desktop devices. Optimizing page load time means uses high-quality images that have the smallest file size possible, formatting videos correctly, and removing unnecessary bulk.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages but the one they started on. A high bounce rate can indicate that the content on your page isn’t engaging enough to get people to click through.
The bounce rate is particularly important in marketing for dental practices, as getting people to stay on your website is a key component of getting quality leads.
Off-site SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of time and patience, but when done correctly can reap enormous rewards. This is the work that’s done outside of your website on social media, reputation management, and link building.
Of all the medical marketing ideas, social media reigns. This is going to be where you can get the most bang for your buck if you put your time into it.
Social media is where many of your patients live online, so reaching them there and utilizing their network of friends to get new patients is both genius and efficient.
On your own social network, you’ll want to share useful blog posts that get people engaged. This means people will like, comment, and share the post. As people see their friends liking and sharing posts, they’ll begin to form a positive perception of your dental practice in their mind and think of you as a solution if a need arises.
You might even want to create an ambassador program for patients, where they can help spread the word about your office and their positive experience. The key with good social media is to create a strategy, execute it, and evaluate what’s working.
Social shares and engagement are a crucial part of your off-site strategy because it tells Google that your site is engaging.
Your online reputation is precious and absolutely crucial to preserve. Most dental marketing ideas include a plan to manage your practice’s reputation online. This is because now more than ever happy and upset customers have the opportunity to tell the world about their experience with you.
Creating a strategy to get patients to post positive reviews on sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp can help signal to Google and other search engines that you’re trustworthy. Additionally, a strategy should be created to handle negative reviews in a friendly, honest, and transparent manner.
Link building is the holy grail of off-site SEO and can take many months to even start to see traction. In the online world, links are looked at like votes of confidence. For example, if your practice specializes in root canals and other people looking for information related to root canals begin to link to your web page from theirs, it shows that your content is trusted.
This trust tells Google that your content should be ranked for what it is targeted towards.
It’s easy to attempt link building and become discouraged. The key is to attack it one bit at a time and begin to formulate and understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and where your audience might be.