You’ve built or re-vamped your practice website (or hired a marketing or web design firm to do it for you.) You’ve added photos, content and details about your specific services and procedures. You might have even tasked someone on your staff to do all of the behind the scenes online marketing work that is supposed to help your website show up on the first few pages of a Google search.
You feel pretty good about your marketing choices. After all, you are a dentist and not an online marketing expert, right? Then it happens. You have some downtime between patient appointments, so you decide to sit down at your laptop and search Google for dentistry services in your area. And BAM! Right there, on page one, are all of your local competitors, while your site is nowhere to be found.
You have every right to be confused as to why (and how) your competitor’s practice websites are organically showing up before yours in a Google search for dentistry services. Hadn’t you done everything you could?
The truth is, Google is constantly (and we mean constantly) tweaking, changing and altering what it deems to be “the right way” to optimize your website to show up in the first few pages of a Google search. At times, it can be a full time job just to stay on top of all the new rules changes. What makes it even more difficult is Google is notoriously ambiguous about how and why they change the rules and it truly does take a trained marketing expert to interpret the changes and implement them correctly.
So, why would that “other” dentist’s website rank higher than yours? While we could speculate all day about the possibilities, here are just a few of the many key elements of a good search engine ranking that could be making the difference:
Quality and Quantity of your Website Content – We’ve heard for quite some time now that Google rewards websites that have high quality content that is unique to your website. While that is still true and will probably continue to be for the foreseeable future, the amount of copy on each of your practice website service pages is also important. Make sure each service page of your website has at least a few paragraphs of quality, unique content. A sentence or two just won’t cut it. TIP: We’ve also been hearing that conversion is starting to matter more to Google (ie- how many people click on your “Contact Us” button.) Make sure each of your service pages are built to convert.
Number of Google Reviews – Most dentists know that getting positive reviews and recommendations from their current patients is beneficial for many reasons. But many don’t know that they should be strategic in where they ask their patients to go to post them. Research has shown that positive reviews on your practice’s Google+ profile are fairly supportive in helping your search engine rankings. But make sure they are genuine. Google is incredibly intelligent and has advised against posting fake or false reviews and asking your patients to post the review right in your office.
Social Signals – We’ve written about social media a lot lately. You can see a few of our articles here. Several studies have been released (and subsequently debated) that found social signals like Facebook Likes, Facebook Shares, Twitter RTs and Google +1s contribute to your website’s search engine ranking. What we do know is that evidence is beginning to show that Google is favoring content that is being “interacted” with; meaning shared and commented on within social media networks. If your practice doesn’t have social media profiles on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, now might be the time to consider creating them.
Keywords that are too competitive – All dentists want their website to be found when someone searches for “dentist + your town.” But, depending on the size of your market, the possibility of showing up organically for those keywords can be next to impossible. If your website is trying to rank for generic and very competitive keywords and you live in a metropolitan area, you may be fighting a losing battle. When choosing your keywords, try to imagine what your potential patients actually type into a Google search and try to refine your keywords. Additionally, Google has just re-vamped their search algorithm to accommodate for people using voice search on their mobile devices and typing in complete sentence questions in their Google search bar. You can read about how that affects dentists here.
Domain Authority – Believe it or not, Google considers the age, popularity and size of your website’s domain when it decides which websites to display. Your domain is the web address that your potential patients see or type in when they want to be taken to the home page of your website – a hypothetical example is www.mydentalpractice.com. Google tends to give favor to domains that have been registered and used by people for a long period of time because it shows that the website can be trusted. So, if the dentist up the street’s website is ranking higher than yours, it could be, in part, because it’s just simply been around longer.
Keeping up with Google’s consistent updates can be a timely process and usually takes a seasoned marketing professional to manage and implement them all. If your website isn’t ranking where you want it to, contact our digital marketing team today, we specialize in dental websites.