SEO Best Practices
Following SEO best practices is essential to get your dental website ranked highly in search engines. It’s estimated that 75 percent of people look no further than the first page of results when they enter a search term. That’s why SEO best practices for your target keywords are critical in achieving and maintaining high visibility in major search engines such as Google.
First, though, you need to understand exactly what SEO is as it relates to dental websites.
What is SEO?
SEO – search engine optimization – refers to techniques to improve the amount of quality, quantity traffic to your website – crucial for dental offices to stay engaged with existing patients and attract new ones.
Organic, natural SEO gives you a way to promote your practice without paying for online advertising and provides an effective long-term strategy – according to Google, it can take several months to reap the full rewards of SEO.
Best SEO practices revolve around methods such as:
- Optimizing user experience.
- Understanding search intent.
- Using the right title tag and meta description.
- Having quality content.
- Using internal links.
- Getting good backlinks.
Optimizing User Experience
User experience (UX) is a key factor in SEO best practices and includes ensuring pages load quickly to avoid a drop in rankings and frustration among users.
Steps you can take to help your pages load faster include:
- Reducing server response time.
- Browser caching.
- Deleting unnecessary plugins.
- Reducing redirects.
Another technique to improve user experience is image compression.
Images play an important role in enhancing the experience of visitors to your site but can also be used to improve SEO by:
- Using a file format that will optimize site loading speed – usually JPEG for pictures and PNG for images with line drawings or text. An alternative is the WebP format.
- Compressing images with a tool like TinyPNG to reduce the size of PNG files.
- Using alt tags to help search engines understand the image.
Understanding Search Intent
Search intent refers to the reason people enter a specific term into a search engine, and Google places a lot of importance on it when deciding which content to put at the top of search engine results pages (SERPS).
User search intent is usually categorized as:
- Informational – the user wants to know something. Keyword example: “What are dental implants?”.
- Navigational – the user wants to find a product/service they already know about but don’t have the website URL (uniform resource locator). Example: “Invisalign provider in Spokane”.
- Transactional – the user is interested in acquiring a product or service. Example: “Cosmetic dentistry practice in Orlando”.
Navigational and transactional SEO is typically achieved with the main section of your dental site – home page, about us, and service pages. Informational content lends itself to your blog section.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Title tags are clickable headings that appear in search results and give users a quick insight into the content of a web page and how relevant it is to them.
Points to bear in mind when creating your title tag include:
- Google displays only the first 60 characters of a title.
- Target keywords should be included – but don’t overdo it by keyword stuffing.
- The title tag should match search intent.
The meta description follows the title tag and is a concise summary of the web page. Although they don’t directly affect SEO, meta descriptions can increase click-through rates.
Meta descriptions should:
- Have fewer than 160 characters.
- Be unique to each page.
- Contain target keywords.
- Match search intent.
Ensuring Quality Content
Superior, well-researched, authoritative content on your website will impress search engines as well as your site visitors. That’s why a strong blog section is important on your dental website to help generate traffic and establish your authority. Each blog post you create can help your practice to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your site.
There’s a strong case for long-form blog content, and some content marketing professionals advocate posts of at least 2,000 words. However, shorter blogs definitely have their place. Many posts are around the 500-word mark, and they can still offer useful information to improve SEO and help you connect with existing and future patients.
Used properly, internal links can significantly boost rankings by helping search engines to better understand the structure of your website, especially if you can link to high-ranking pages on your site.
Adding the right internal links gives search engines an insight into the relevance, relationship, and value of pages. Links from one page on your site to another also help users to navigate through your site to find other content they may be interested in.
Backlinks – also called incoming links or inbound links – are created when one website links to another. The process of getting these links is known as link building.
High-quality backlinks from authoritative, trusted sites continue to be a key ranking signal, considered by search engines as votes of confidence. To get these links to your site, you need good content worth linking to.
Final Thoughts on SEO Best Practices
The SEO best practices we’ve outlined give you a sound starting point to achieve higher search rankings for your dental office.
However, competition for the first page on Google is intense, and SEO needs to be an ongoing process with a long-term strategy that keeps up to speed with complex, ever-changing trends and techniques.
Once you’ve laid the foundation for increasing your practice’s visibility in search engines, you can progress to more advanced link building strategies and keyword research.
The best SEO practices for dentists involve multiple factors including local search, website design, and security, social media, and videos.
Be aware, too, that dodgy SEO practices – regarded as black hat techniques – can see our site plummet down search engine listings or disappear completely.
Contact DentalROI if you need help to establish and maintain the best SEO practices for your dental website.