How to Improve Your Dental Website’s Rankings in 2016 and Beyond – Part 4
Up to this point in the series, we’ve covered the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), how to improve your rankings in the snack pack on Google, and how to get maximum visibility in local organic listings on search results.
Now, we will focus on factors that can negatively impact your rankings and what can be done to fix them.
Negative On-page Ranking Factors
Negative ranking factors are things that may be making your website lose its rankings. The more ranking factors you’re doing (whether on purpose or by mistake), the more they’re harming your visibility. Here are the most common on-page (website) issues that may be hurting you.
1. Your page titles do not include city and state. Your page title is a type of metadata and should include your city, state, and keywords (e.g. Dentist or Dentist in [City, State]). Page titles are shown on search engine results pages. Therefore, it essentially works to persuade visitors into clicking your website over the others listed on the page.
2. Your meta descriptions don’t include your city and common keywords. Your dental website’s meta descriptions should include common keywords that searchers would use when they’re looking for your services. For example, “Family dental services in [City]”. Similar to a page title, meta descriptions appear on search results pages to help searchers understand what the web page is about, and may impact their decision to click through to the website.
3. You don’t have H1 tags on your web pages. An H1 tag creates a header for the copy on your page. Usually, the copy is enlarged and bolded to look like a title. And although enlarged copy vs. copy in an H1 tag visually look the same, a real H1 tag can be identified by <h1></h1> tags on the back end. To really nail your H1 tags, remember that they should include keywords that are commonly used in searches and only one should be included per page.
4. You don’t have ALT tags on images. Anytime you have an image on your website, you should include an ALT tag to provide a clear text alternative of the image. Be sure to use keywords where applicable, too. (Note: These types of tags need to be coded in, so ask your webmaster for help adding these in.)
For example, an ALT tag on a firm’s logo could read John Doe, DDS, Dental Practice Logo. This way, both “DDS” and “Dental Practice” are keywords, but also accurately describe the image.
5. Your page is not optimized for Google My Business. If your Google My Business profile points to your website’s homepage (most dental practices do), make sure your homepage includes your name, address, and phone number exactly how it appears on Google My Business. Google relies on this information to triangulate it with the address on you Google My Business profile and understand your geographical location.
6. Your website copy is not optimized for local search. In addition to highlighting your services, your website copy should include contextual references to your firm’s location (city and state). This way, when someone searches “Dentist in [City]” your website is optimized for that area. Make sure to read your website copy out loud to ensure that any mention of your city and state sound natural.
Negative Off-page Ranking Factors
Negative off-page factors are things that occur outside of your website, but could still be harming your rankings.
7. You have inconsistent/duplicate name, address, and phone number information in online directories and on your website. Your business is likely listed in numerous online directories. You want to ensure that all of your name, address and phone (NAP) data is identical and accurate across all directories to avoid confusing the search engines. In addition to having consistent NAP data across online directories, it’s important that this information matches the contact information on your website too.
You can check for consistency using Moz Local’s Listing Scanner. Simply enter your practice’s name and zip code to get a consistency score. With the results, you can claim and optimize listings that have wrong and/or missing information.
8. You list virtual offices, P.O. boxes, and toll-free numbers in directories. Listing this type of information goes against most directories’ guidelines because it does not specify where you are located the same way that a physical address and area code would. If you do have a toll-free number, make sure to only include it in addition to a local phone number. Solely using a toll-free number prevents search engines from identifying where your practice is located.
9. You selected the wrong business category. Most online directories (including Google) ask you to select a business category from a pick-list. Most dentists should list their primary category as “Dentist” or “Dental Clinic.” You can choose additional categories as well but always choose your most important category first.
Note: Use this guide to help you decide which to choose.
10. You do not have backlinks. Backlinks are links on other websites that link back to your website and are essential to helping you rank well organically on search results. It’s extremely time-intensive, but well worth it in the long run. To start building more backlinks, reach out to associations that you are part of and see if they have a membership directory where they can list your website.
Note: Download this free whitepaper for additional ideas on how to obtain more backlinks.
Stay tuned for our final part on How to Improve Your Rankings where we will explore how competition can influence your rankings.