How to Improve Your Dental Website Rankings in 2016 and Beyond – Part 3
Welcome to part 3 of our blog series about SEO for dental practices. Before we get started, let’s review what we covered so far: In part one, we described the overall factors that affect your rankings on Google search results pages. Then in part two, we described factors contributing to your website’s presence on Google’s snack pack.
Now, we’ll cover localized organic listings, which refers to the actual list of results:
Why pursue organic listings? Two main reasons:
- The top organic listings have always been considered coveted real estate because searchers are most likely to click on the first few results, and people will rarely go the next page. Instead, they refine their search to try to get Google to understand what they mean.
- Google recently implemented several changes to their results pages that pushes organic listings further and further down the page. These changes include introducing the snack page near the top of the page and most recently, discontinuing ads along the right side of results from desktop devices and instead moving them above the snack pack.
Now let’s go over what you need to rank well within organic listings. Improving your organic ranking relies heavily on backlinks, content, metadata, behavioral factors, and geographical proximity of the searcher to your business.
A backlink is a hyperlink that connects from another website to your own. Both the quality and quantity of the websites pointing back to your own website matter. Google considers backlinks to your website a vote of confidence but will look at the relevancy of those sites to you in order to determine the backlink quality. This, and relevancy of your website content to the topic in the search, all helps Google determine your own website’s domain authority.
To be considered as a highly authoritative website, other highly authoritative websites must link back to you. But, having a range of authority from your backlinks is OK as long as the way the links connect back to your site is logical. For example, if you have someone pointing back to you from a website about stereos, but content illogically mentions your dental practice, then this would be considered irrelevant and therefore a low-quality link.
Backlinks worth pursuing include location-specific links, industry-specific directories and authority sites.
A location-specific link refers to any directory that helps Google understand where your dental office is located. This is known as a structured citation. It can also refer to any link you may receive from a website that also originates from your general geographic location, like a mention from a local university or dental society. A link from a directory within a chamber of commerce website would fulfill both definitions since a local chamber of commerce is related to your geographical location and lists your NAP info:
An industry specific link includes websites that are relevant to you through your industry. For example, gaining a link from a state dental association back to your website.
Authority sites include major news sites and industry publications that may mention your practice. Admittedly, this type of link is difficult to obtain since these tend to be contextual and most often appear on content that is newsworthy.
Content and Metadata
Google visits your website pages to understand what it is about and how you relate to people’s searches. Crawlers will look at the actual copy and into metadata written within your website.
The best performing website copy is original, unique content. Prioritize your pages to update the Welcome, Services, and Contact pages with original content, containing keywords searchers might use to find that information.
Although implementing different types of metadata on your site (such as alt tags and header tags) is important, the first type of meta tag you should implement is titles tag on each page of your website.
Crawlers pay the most attention to the page’s title to understand the overall topic on that page. Your dental website should include the topic of each page, along with your city and state in each tag. For example, a dental office in Los Angeles would write Dental Office in Los Angeles, CA – John Doe, DDS. The title tag tells crawlers what the page is about (their dental practice) and where they are located (Los Angeles, CA). It’s especially important to include your city and state in the title tag of the page that your Google Maps listing is pointing to.
Behavior and Geographic Location
How often people click through to your website from a Google search results page is used as an indicator of how interested they are in your website.
Google uses this information as a trigger and will eventually rank pages who have a better click through rate higher. You can improve click-through rates through page titles and meta descriptions which are displayed on a search engine results page:
By writing your tags in a way that’s easy for people to read, along with a meta description that provides enough information to help searchers decide whether they want to click through, you’re more likely to incentive searchers to click through.
Of course, since these results could potential lead people to actual places in the real world, Google takes into consideration how close a searcher is to the “brick-and-mortar” business they could potentially visit. Because of this, search results may vary slightly depending on where the searcher is located. Because it is so important for Google to figure out where you are located in real life be sure to name the city where your practice is located throughout your content.
Now that we’ve covered overall ranking factors, and snack pack and organic listing ranking factors, you should be able to look at your website and start identifying areas that need improvement by:
- Ensuring all page titles and meta descriptions with keywords and the city you are located in
- Updating your content with contextual mentions of the city and state of your dental practice
- Claiming and verifying your Google Maps listing, followed by Yelp and Yellow Pages
Stay tuned next month for part 4 of this series, where we will list things that may be hurting your accounting SEO! To learn more about backlinks for your accounting firm’s website, download our free guide “Get Better Rankings on Google with Backlinks“