We live in a different world than we did just a few years ago. Now, to reach prospective patients-especially Generation Y patients-dentists need to have a web presence that separates them from all of their competition online. We live in a different world than we did just a few years ago.
We live in a different world than we did just a few years ago. Now, to reach prospective patients-especially Generation Y patients-dentists need to have a web presence that separates them from all of their competition online. The good news is that they can accomplish this with effective SEO. The bad news is that SEO is a very complex process and most dentists don’t know where to begin.
To help provide a better understanding, I’ve compiled 7 of the most frequently asked SEO questions from dentists.
1. What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s organic results. The goal of SEO is to have your website rank on the first page of search engine results to increase website traffic and ultimately new patient conversions.
While everyone’s approach varies, a typical SEO strategy focuses on on-page optimizations (H1 and title tags, Meta descriptions, content) and off-site techniques (directories, link building, social media).
2. Is SEO a necessity?
If your goal is to have patients find your practice on the Internet, than yes, SEO is a necessity. The first page of Google accounts for 94% of all Google clicks. This means that if your website doesn’t rank on the first page, your practice is virtually invisible online.
Times have changed. A website that isn’t optimized for search won’t receive the traffic it once did. With so many competitors going after the same local patient pool, it’s imperative you crack the top 10 search engine results for relevant keywords such as “[town name] dentist.” If you don’t consider SEO a new cost of doing business, your competition will continue to grow and nurture a stronger referral base.
3. What is the difference between organic and paid search?
A search engine returns 2 types of search results; organic and paid. Organic results appear in search engines for free, based on an algorithm. Paid search results are ads that businesses pay to appear on search engines alongside organic results.
4. I’ve done SEO before (or I’m paying for it now), why do I have poor rankings?
Just because you stopped optimizing your website, doesn’t mean your competition stopped optimizing theirs. When Google “crawls” websites, one of the factors they look for in determining page rank is the frequency of website updates being performed. If your website hasn’t had any content updates in a long time, it can suffer lower rankings.
Another factor is the quality of work performed by your former (or current) SEO company. There are no Google-approved “silver bullets” to having page one rankings, so strategy and implementation can vary from one provider to the next. It’s important to find a company you can trust.
A third factor is your ability to stay on top of critical Google algorithm updates.
5. What happens during an algorithm update? How often does this occur?
Google’s ultimate goal is to reward websites that are relevant to users with higher search rankings. To ensure this, their algorithm utilizes countless factors that are continually updated and refined. In the last 2 years, Google has tweaked their algorithm 24 times. Some of these are minor tweaks. Others are so major that they force even the largest businesses to rebuild their web presence entirely.
The last major update was in April 2015 and was dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” Google announced they’d begin penalizing websites that didn’t pass their mobile-friendly test with lower search rankings. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, that should be the first thing you change.
6. How long until my practice is on the first page?
While there’s no guarantee your website will reach the first page, you can put your website in the best possible position to rank well. You can correctly design your website and implement a consistent, comprehensive SEO strategy. Other factors include the level of competition in your area and your domain name’s history.
At VivioSites, we typically see the greatest results somewhere between 3 and 6 months from start of service. SEO strategies, especially for newer websites, take time. Following the best practices of each search engine and being consistent with content often leads to first-page results.
7. I’ve been burned in the past by SEO “experts”. How do I find a company that I can trust?
The truth is that there are hundreds of SEO companies out there that claim to be the best. They promise you the world and then lock you up in a long-term contract. Unfortunately, Google rankings cannot be guaranteed and you’re often left stuck in a contract paying expensive fees, seeing little results, and having a difficult time getting your questions and concerns addressed.
Do your research and match your practice’s philosophy with that of your potential SEO partner. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you don’t have a ton of knowledge on the subject. For that reason, it’s a good idea to select a company that is completely transparent with unlimited, live support so you can speak to your SEO expert whenever a question arises.
You also need to remember why you’re looking into hiring an expert in the first place: results. Avoid any company that can’t provide you with several examples of first-page clients and can’t share with you exactly how they’ll customize your SEO strategy to meet your unique needs.
It’s also a good idea to steer clear of anyone asking you to sign contracts. To me, nothing screams “don’t trust me” more than a company that requires you to sign a long-term contract. Effort and results should be proven every month.
Anthony Giovine is the director of marketing at VivioSites, a leading online dental marketing company that specializes in acquiring patients for dental practices through mobile-friendly websites and advanced search engine optimization. VivioSites’ customer-first philosophy stresses no contracts and unlimited, live support with experts that get to know each individual practice. To learn more about how VivioSites helps dentists across North America reach the first page on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.