As a dental practice, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your website may not be at the top of your priority list, however, if you want to gain more patients and fully utilise the power of digital marketing then it’s definitely something you should pay more attention to.
SEO itself is such a huge topic that it would take us a lot more posts to cover it fully, but hopefully our brief guide will break down this huge topic into simple terms so you can learn the basics and get started with SEO for your dental practice. This will help you to bring in more patients, build your brand online and rank well in search engines.
After all, in today’s online marketing landscape if you are not seen on search engines then in your patients’ eyes, you don’t exist!
Let’s change that for you right now.
What Is SEO?
SEO is the practice of optimising your web presence so that search engines can easily find and rank your website. This involves, but is not limited to, finding keywords that match your industry and expertise and what information or services people are searching for online. You then use these keywords in your content to rank for them on search engines.
If done well, SEO can help you rank in search engines, so that you are found by your customers. Most people don’t move past the first page when searching for things online, or even the top three results.
Why Is SEO Important For Your Dental Practice?
SEO should actually be a priority for ALL businesses but more so for your dental practice. Why? Well because as a dental practice you are competing with other dental practices on a local level and so there are only a limited number of local businesses that can be on the first page of Google.
If your SEO is not on point you won’t get seen, which in today’s marketing landscape is business suicide! This is why we are always trying to educate dental practices on the importance of SEO for their website.
How To Do Basic SEO For Your Dental Practice
Implementing SEO strategies for your dental practice is something that should be an on-going process and not just a one-time event. SEO takes time and requires consistent effort, and should ideally be outsourced to a reputable agency that is proven to get results. However, if you are looking to tackle the SEO beast yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind:
You need to start off by finding the relevant keywords that will get you ranked well in search engines, but these words or phrases must also be what your target audience is searching for.
You can either do this yourself using the Google Keyword Planner or hire an agency to do the research for you. These keywords can then be used in your content, on your web pages as well as the articles in your blog section.
Be sure to utilise the keywords naturally within the content, as overusing them can get you penalised by search engines.
On Site SEO
This is SEO that is primarily done on your website and can include a number of things which are outlined below:
1. Content Optimisation
Creating valuable content for your target audience plays a huge part in SEO, and shouldn’t be ignored. Creating new content consistently can help you rank well, as search engines love fresh, relevant content.
Make sure that you’re writing content that is relevant to your target market but also incorporates keywords and phrases that can help you rank well on search engines. The key is to strike a balance between writing content that not only helps you rank well in search engines but also provides value to your patients.
This balance will ensure that you are on point with your SEO efforts but are also providing information that your patients (potential patients) are searching for online. In addition, it also helps you establish yourself as experts in your specialism and a credible source of information in the dental industry.
A few things to consider when it comes to optimising your content on your website:
- Have a blog on your website, and update it regularly with case studies of happy patients, new recruits, dental news or studies that are relevant to your specialisms, basic information about treatments, dental anxiety information, maybe some ‘meet the team’ posts etc.
- Make sure it’s high quality, it’s all about the quality rather than quantity.
- Find a balance between using the right keywords and providing content that will resonate with your patients.
- Avoid stuffing content with keywords. Search engines are clever enough to see which content reads naturally and which content doesn’t. You WILL get penalised so avoid it.
2. Site Speed Optimisation
We see so many dental websites that are poorly made, and not designed to retain and convert customers into patients, have slow load speeds and provide a very bad user experience (UX).
The average time a user spends on your website is less than 7 seconds before clicking off so if you don’t capture their attention immediately they will bounce off your website, unlikely to return. This is why it’s important that you make sure that your website loads as fast as possible to provide a good user experience. Of course, this also helps in SEO too.
Compress large images so that they can load faster, also simplify and get rid of any redundant programming code that may be causing lag times. If you are unsure or don’t have anyone at the dental practice that has this knowledge then it is best to hire an agency that can get their website developers to tweak these issues for you.
3. Meta Data
Make sure your keywords are included in your Metadata. This is usually found in the header area of your website and includes the Title and Description of the page. Meta titles should be around 60 characters long and include your keywords for the page.
Meta descriptions should be around 160 characters long and encourage users to click on your link in search results by describing the content on the page (don’t forget to include your keywords). All these fields should be filled in so that when search engines crawl your website they know what your website and business is about.
Off Site SEO
These are activities that you can do for SEO that occur outside of your website. Generally, organic link building is the main off-site activity that businesses can do to improve their off-site SEO.
How To Do Off-Site SEO Link Building?
There are a number of ways to effectively get links back to your website, including:
- Articles on trade magazine websites related to your practice specialisms.
- Partnerships with a chosen charity, event or sports team.
- Creating unique content that websites want to link to, such as survey data.
- Running question and answer sessions on a reputable website, for example, a local lifestyle magazine or newspaper.
- Interviews on dental-related podcasts, YouTube channels and industry relevant platforms
These are just a few ways you can improve your off-site SEO efforts.
Type Of SEO Links
No-follow– This sort of link is primarily to get a reader to a particular website or page, it holds little bearing on SEO and it doesn’t get crawled by search engines, generally. This link can help to build awareness and traffic to your website from other relevant sources.
Do-follow- This is the golden link opportunity you are looking for. Do-follow links are ones that as well as providing a link back to your website, they also pass over valuable ‘link juice’ back to your website which helps improve your SEO.
Why Is Link Building Important?
Search engines love it when external sites link back to your website, whether that is to a valuable piece of content or even a tool or service you are offering.
The algorithms see your website as an authority as it is being linked to from other websites. This indicates to them that the content on your website must be of value and hence boosts your SEO.
Not all links back to your website are equal though, larger, more authoritative sites like dentistry.co.uk or dental-tribune.com would hold more weight than smaller, more dubious sites.
Some cowboy agencies offer black hat techniques where they buy links on small scam sites and promise you quick results with SEO. Don’t fall for these as this can ultimately damage your business and reputation, not to mention getting your website blacklisted by the search engines.
The white hat (safe) principles we out line in this guide are sufficient to start off your SEO efforts for your dental practice and ranking well in search engines. Following the correct advice and implementing SEO the correct way can lead to increased brand awareness, reputation and revenues for your dental practice.
If you’d rather hand over your SEO activities to a reputable agency that delivers results then get in touch with us today. We’d love to advise you on the best course of action, allowing you to concentrate on what’s important…. growing your practice!