In past posts, we’ve mentioned that the internet is the new frontier for external dental marketing. Now we will look at some of the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices to ensure that your website is optimized for maximum visibility to the search engines and therefore to potential new patients.
Your page titles are what display in big, bold, underlined print that you click on a Google search results page to visit the website. Every page on your site has a title, but to keep things simple we’re going to talk only about the most important one: your homepage title. If you think of your website as a book, the homepage title is the cover of your book. It tells the search engines what your website is about, and so it’s really the most important real estate on your website.
Many dental practice websites just have the dentist’s name or practice name as the title of site, but a major opportunity is being missed here. If you are Dr. John Enamel, chances are no other dentist in your market is trying to advertise that they are Dr. John Enamel, right? If someone Googles “Dr. John Enamel”, they already know about you and they’ll find you easily. But will a potential new patient who doesn’t know about you yet find your website instead of a competitor’s when they Google “Dallas cosmetic dentist”? Not likely if your homepage title only says, “Dr. John Enamel” and your competitors’ homepage titles all say, “Cosmetic Dentist in Dallas”.
While Google’s ranking algorithm is a mystery, their overall ranking philosophy is not: “Content is king”. We know that Google ranks sites higher that have relevant, unique content added regularly, and this is precisely the function of a blog. A blog installed on your website allows you to publish articles that ideally are unique to your website (no copying and pasting from elsewhere online!) and show search engines and potential new patients that you are an authority in the dental profession. Since Google doesn’t like static websites that just sit there unchanging, a blog also serves the purpose of keeping your site fresh and dynamic.
A blog can be the most powerful tool to help your website improve its ranking for relevant search terms. For instance, an original article about dental implants that you recently wrote and posted to your blog would improve the likelihood that Google will return your website as a search result if someone Googled “dental implants YourCity” than a competitor of yours who doesn’t have a blog and has had the same page about dental implants unchanged for five years.
Think of the web as a giant popularity contest, and Google is the judge. When Google sees a lot of other websites linking back to your website (known as linking domains), they perceive your website as being popular, and they tend to rank popular websites higher. Who’s going to win this popularity contest: your website that has 5 linking domains or your competitor’s website that has 50 linking domains?
Not only is the number of linking domains important, but so is the relevancy of those links. Two competing dental websites may each have a similar number of linking domains, but if Website 1’s linking domains are almost all dental industry websites and Website 2’s is primarily non-dental websites, Website 1 will be given the ranking advantage by Google.
Optimizing your page titles, blogging in a unique and relevant way, and link building are some of the most important things you can do to enhance your web presence. If your competitors haven’t implemented any of these factors into their websites yet, you could be the trailblazer in your market. If your competitors are already aggressively marketing online this way, you can’t afford not to: they are attracting new patients from the web that could have been yours.