Maybe your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts haven’t yielded results. Maybe you’ve been burned in the past by questionable SEO campaigns. Either way, you might need to start fresh with a new strategy.
Times have changed. Many dental SEO tactics that worked in the past no longer work today. In fact, many can be devastating to a website’s reputation. Google penalties that stem from shady SEO strategies can altogether tank your search engine rankings. And as Google’s algorithm becomes more sophisticated, so does its ability to detect strategies to game the system.
There are still many SEO practices relevant today. But due to more scrupulous search engine guidelines, it’s not always clear which avenues to pursue.
The following explanations of six dental SEO myths will help you cut through the misconceptions about what makes a successful SEO plan.
Myth #1: SEO is No Longer Relevant
Due to a rapidly evolving digital landscape, some people have given up on SEO. Others claim it’s no longer necessary. You’ll hear something like, “You should optimize your website for humans, not for search engine algorithms.” There is validity to the first part of this argument. In the past, webmasters would over-optimize a website to expedite its performance in search. In doing so, the user was ignored.
So, absolutely, your dental website should be optimized for the user. But it should still be optimized for search engines (keywords, title tags, quality content, etc.). Over-optimized sites are extinct; quality SEO is not.
“SEO is not dead, however … it's getting more complex and more fun.”
– Adam Audette, search marketing strategist
Myth #2: It’s All About the Keywords
There was a time when keyword density was synonymous with good rankings. Over the years, however, Google caught on to websites that would include an unnatural amount of keywords throughout a page. For example, you might be tempted to inject the phrase, “Chicago dentist,” 10 times on a 300-word page.
This would be excessive. It would degrade the quality of the content. You’d be optimizing only for search engines, without regard to the reader. While it’s important to include keywords that prospective patients are searching, they should be relevant and placed naturally throughout your pages.
Myth #3: More Webpages = More Website Traffic
In theory, this isn’t a myth. All things equal, a website with 50 pages should gain more traffic than a website with only 5 pages. If, however, quality is being sacrificed for the sheer number of pages this likely won’t be the case.
Remember, Google is smart. They’ve learned many ways that website owners attempt to game their algorithm. Which is the reason why they take visitor behavior as a more trusted metric. If visitors are engaging with your site (visiting multiple pages, spending substantial time on site, etc.), this indicates value.
You shouldn’t create additional pages to your site with the sole intent to increase crawling from search engines. Quality is a crucial factor for improving your site’s visibility – not to mention, for converting patients. Avoid creating pointless new pages simply to boost traffic.
On the other hand, publishing valuable content on a consistent basis will give you a leg up on the competition.
“Creative writing and visuals are essential for the human side of SEO, because they attract links, shares and engage visitors to become buyers.”
– Lee Odden, marketing consultant
Myth #4: Link Building is Dead
Link building’s so-called “demise” has been proclaimed many times before. While not in its traditional form, it’s certainly still around. Sure, many link building tactics have been kicked to the curb (or, at least, they should have been). But the fundamental goal is still present: If relevant websites link to you, you’re more trustworthy in the eyes of Google.
Many SEO contractors used to accrue hundreds, even thousands, of links for a website through comment spam, automated programs, and other shady practices. After Google caught on, websites started getting penalized. This is why the quality and relevance of the backlinks are key.
Being a dentist, it’s important to get links from local directories. After all, you want to be found when a potential patient searches for a dentist in your area. A business listing on Google, Yelp, and other listing sites tells search engines that you are a local business.
In addition to local directories, you can build relevant backlinks by:
- Posting regularly on social media
- Networking with dental organizations or influencers
- Sponsoring or speaking at an event
- Securing interviews with high authority websites
- Request links from local businesses you network with (laboratories, dental supply companies, etc.)
Myth #5: Social Media Does Not Impact SEO
True, the size of your social media following doesn’t necessarily translate to higher rankings. However, social engagement does. Google seems to see highly shared website content as a signal of quality. It makes sense. A page with 20 Tweets and 50 Facebook shares is likely a valuable resource.
As social activity increases, your authority gradually builds among many different platforms. This can help search engines discover your website. Furthermore, social sharing can contribute to effective link building. After all, the more people reading your content, the better chance you’ll earn a backlink.
Myth #6: SEO Modifications Generate Rapid Results
There was a time when adding new keywords and tweaking a page’s title tag could deliver instant results. Before, simple SEO changes could boost your rankings within a matter weeks. Or even days.
Now, it can take months.
When it comes to SEO, there’s no such thing as instant gratification. Be wary of making major reforms to your site too quickly or unnaturally. This can cause suspicion on the part of Google. Slow and steady adjustments will likely lead to slow and steady results – which are the results you should be looking for.
Myth #7: SEO is Your Website’s Most Prized Asset
It can be. But only if it’s generating new patients. How high your website ranks is futile if visitors aren’t compelled to schedule an appointment. Getting traffic to your website is only beneficial if you’re attracting qualified, patient-ready visitors.
If you’re a cosmetic dentist, a website visitor who’s only interested in a routine cleaning probably won’t do a whole lot of good. In addition, someone who is interested in veneers or teeth whitening, but isn’t satisfied with your site, might be lost to your competitor.
There are two ways to solve these problems: 1) Make sure your SEO strategy is targeting keywords that are relevant to your practice; 2) Redesign your website so it is built to convert new patients.
“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.”
— Jeff Eisenberg, marketing optimization strategist
If Your Dental SEO isn’t Working…
You either need to learn more about today’s online environment, or you need to hire the right company for the task.
Keep in mind that optimizing your site for Google isn’t your main objective. The ultimate goal is new patients. You can have great rankings, but if you’re not getting new patients, your SEO efforts are in vain. It isn’t an overnight strategy that occurs once and solves all your problems. It’s a continuous process that must be monitored and re-evaluated to ensure its efficacy.
As search engines evolve, our optimization tactics must evolve as well. So if you feel that SEO hasn’t worked for you in the past, it might be time for a do-over.
SEO is only one step for getting new patients from the Internet. Download our free eBook below for the other 4 factors of new patient success.