Correct keyword usage is one of the most fundamental aspects of optimizing a website for search engine visibility. Search engines analyze the written content of a website to determine what the site is about, so it’s important to include words and phrases—known in Internet marketing lingo as “keywords”—that are highly relevant to the business, which ensures that search engines know what the site is about. However, targeting the wrong keywords can be a tremendous waste of time. A small business such as a dental practice sees the greatest results when its dental website optimization efforts focus on keywords that drive local, targeted traffic to the website.
Local traffic is the Holy Grail for small businesses: these are local users who arrive at your website after conducting a search for a term related to your business. Since they’re searching for a product or service your business provides, you know that you have a good chance of converting those users to paying customers, especially since they’re only a phone call or a short drive away from scheduling an appointment. You’re likely not the only practice in your area, however; how do you ensure that those searchers are funneled to your website and not those of your competitors?
The search engine giant Google has graciously provided a free traffic estimation service called the Keyword Tool. The tool allows anyone to view Google’s data on the number of times that any particular term is searched. The service is an invaluable tool for determining the keywords that your website should target; for example, a dentistry practice in Durham, North Carolina could use the tool to determine how many users are searching Google for variations of the phrase “dentist in durham nc” and optimize its website accordingly. Once you’ve identified a popular keyword relevant to your business, you can optimize your website’s content to include the keyword, which signals to search engines that your website should be included in the results for that search term.
Don’t be afraid to target less-popular keywords. Known as “long-tail keywords,” these search phrases are often longer and sometimes more difficult to include naturally in website copy, but you have a better chance of appearing near the top of the search engine rankings with less-competitive keywords, and they still drive valuable traffic to your website. Whichever keywords you choose to target, be sure that they’re related to your business: search engines don’t appreciate “keyword stuffing,” or the addition of excessive keywords intended to drive traffic, and they often punish websites that practice keyword stuffing by lowering their rankings.
Targeting the right keywords is a matter of performing thorough research to determine both primary and long-tail keywords that will drive local traffic to the website, then implementing those keywords in the text of the website. In this case, it’s worth doing your homework: the right keywords can make or break your dental marketing efforts online.