Search engine optimization (SEO) has been around as long as search engines. As soon as it was possible to optimize a site for search, there have been techniques that do just that.
In the 1990s, this was easy. You could start a site, toss in some keywords, and you’d probably show right up on page one of Alta Vista or Yahoo! Those days are gone, mostly because people would figure out ways to trick the system to get their site to the coveted #1 position. As people figured out tricks, the search engines tried to stay one step ahead by making it harder to game the system.
Now, it’s very, very difficult to trick Google. Which means that you have to work much harder to rank well in the search results. Because of the new ways that Google determines site rank, SEO is now just a tiny part of your dental marketing strategy, but since it still absolutely does play a role, we’ll discuss some of the important factors in SEO for your site.
The Keys to Search Engine Optimization
SEO can be defined today as on-page optimization that helps Google index your website pages. Here are the basic elements that must be optimized.
One of the most important of the meta tags, the Title Tag is what appears in search results for a particular page. The Title Tag doesn’t show up on your website page. For example, this page’s title tag is:
Dental SEO and Search Engine Optimization – Dental Websites by Waxwing
The Title Tag is important, because it tells Google what your site page is about. We see far too many dental sites that will have a Title Tag like, “Services.” When you have a weak tag like that, Google is going to have a very difficult time indexing your site page.
A much more powerful Title Tag would be, “Seattle Dental Services – Northwest Dental Associates.” This tells Google where your practice is located and mentions your practice name.
The Description Tags also don’t show up on your site page. They’re part of the HTML code that builds your page. They do appear, however, in the Google search results, as the blurb below the link. For instance, the Description Tag for this page is:
What is SEO (search engine optimization) and how can you boost your site’s ranking in Google and the other search engines?
The Description Tag is useful, because it also tells Google what your site page is about and it provides an opportunity to encourage people to click your link in the search results. Include a good “call-to-action” in your description tag, such as your phone number, and you can increase the chances of a patient clicking on your site. Also, make sure your description tag is unique for each and every page on your site.
I’m going to include this here just to let you know that these are irrelevant. In 2009, Google stopped paying attention to keyword tags completely, because people were cheating by jamming tons of spammy keywords in this field.
But here’s an important thing to note: if a dental “SEO expert” tries to sell you their service, ask them about keyword tags. If they talk about how important they are, they are lying to you and you should not waste your money with them!
We include keyword tags on our WaxwingCMS, simply because we got tired of people asking for them. But they serve no purpose and you should’t waste your time with them.
On-Page Keyword Optimization
Even just a few years ago, this used to be very important, but as Google gets smarter about indexing site pages, on-page optimization is changing. Five years ago, Google would look at how often a particular keyword was being used and then use that to rank the page. Again, people were abusing the system, and now Google looks at how useful the page is to your site visitors. They determine this by looking at how long a site visitor stays on the page and whether they bounce from your site back to the search results. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the content on each of your site pages is compelling and informative to the patient.
Video is a great way to make your site sticky and adding links to your site pages also make it more likely that people will click and visit other pages on your site.
As we can see, SEO still plays a role in getting good ranking for your site. When choosing a dental website host, make sure that your Content Management System (CMS) gives you have complete control over your title tags. Our WaxwingCMS does, but some don’t. Ask before you sign up!