Dental SEO, or Search Engine Optimization can be an excellent source of new leads and referrals when done correctly. Being the number one site across key dentistry searches can bring in many brand new clients every month.
However, correct dental SEO in 2015 is a bit of an art, and can be detrimental to your website in the long run if you get it wrong. To help you avoid going wrong with your dental SEO, we’ve put together this checklist of things to make sure you’re doing on your website.
Of course, there are other off-site factors to good SEO such as backlinks, social media and reviews, but we’ll just concentrate on on-page SEO today.
1. SEO Friendly URLs
When you’re creating a new page on your website that you want to rank well amongst a competitive Google search, you must have your keywords in the page URL. The page URL should convey two things:
- It should show the user what the page is about
- It should show a search engine that the URL is relevant to the on-page content
For example, the URL of this page is dentalwebsitedesign.com/dental-seo-checklist. This shows you (the user) that the content is based around an SEO checklist for dentists, and it shows Google that the URL keywords match the content.
Some tips for an SEO friendly URL:
- Use hyphens to separate words. /dental-seo-checklist is far better than /dentalseochecklist for both the user and the search engine
- Keep them meaningful. Don’t use unnecessary numbers or words
- Change the default permalinks. If you use WordPress, make sure you change from their default permalink structure of /?p=123. This can be done in Settings -> Permalinks.
2. Include Your Keywords in The Title
This should hopefully be fairly obvious. The title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor. A good title tag can drastically improve your rankings, the same as a poor title tag can reduce them.
That is why it is recommended to include the keyword you are trying to rank for, however, ensure to not only use keyword wisely, but that the title is compelling. Use the principles of writing good headlines by writing title tags that are understandable, simple, and get right to the point.
Tip: Use your keywords towards the beginning of your title if at all possible. It carries more weight with Google’s algorithm.
Here’s a quick checklist for your title tag:
- Length: the title should be a maximum of 70 characters (including spaces)
- Keywords: use your most important keywords towards the start of your title
- Keyword separation: use pipes “|” to separate important phrases
- Keep your important phrases simple. Avoid using words such as “if”, “but” or “then” if at all possible
- Add your company name at the end of the title if it isn’t already used within your important keyword phrases
- No duplicates. Create a different title tag for every page
- Make your title tags relevant to the content
3. Use H1 Tags
Your on-page title should be wrapped in an H1 tag. This is a “headline tag” and uses the <h1> HTML code.
An H tag (yes, there are more: H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) is there to show the search engines how your content is structured, and it helps them to identify the page subject. H tags also help to keep the user engaged as they break content up.
The typical structure of a well optimized page is:
- One H1 tag at the top of the page, used on your page title
- H2 tags for subsequent page headings
- H3 tags for any sub headings
- You usually won’t use any more than H1, H2 and H3 tags
You should ensure that if you are using keywords in your H1, H2 and H3 tags that those keywords used in that context should make sense to the user. After all, the user experience is paramount. SEO should always be thought of after user experience.
4. Use Meta Descriptions
Use a maximum of 150 characters to create a meta description for your page. Meta descriptions are extremely important in search engine results. Think of it like you’re getting 150 characters of ad copy for free.
Use the meta description to make a call to action, your USP, promote your location or your brand name. A well written meta description will help to bring users to your website.
5. The Content
Your content should be the most important thing on your web page, and it should serve a purpose. Website content should solve a user’s questions, or provide insightful and interesting knowledge of your field.
A typical example of website content on a dental website is a set of articles about your treatments and dental health. Each article should be unique (not simply copied from another website), and should be well written (without grammatical mistakes or factual errors).
There are many reports which say that a page’s content should be between 1500 and 2000 words to allow it to rank well. The best thing that I would recommend is to write what you feel is enough to answer any questions your user may have, and do not worry too much about the word count.
It’s better to provide excellent information in 500 words than trying to string the content out to 1500 words purely to make a search engine happy. Remember: user experience should be paramount.
Your content should include your keywords as well as some natural variants of the keyword. Here is a good example from Moz.com, outlining the process of natural variants.
The page’s strict keyword is “Dog Photos”, and there are natural variants of the keyword, which will aid in ranking the content.
6. Internal Linking
Your goal should be to keep search engine spiders on your website for as long as possible, making them delve deeper and deeper into your website until they have all the information your website holds.
If you mention a specific page or resource that’s elsewhere on your website, be sure to link to it with a call to action phrase such as “Learn More” or “Sign Up Now”.
Don’t overwhelm your user or the search engine with website links. A maximum or two or three per page should be adequate.
7. Outbound Links
Linking out to references, or other sites in the dental industry can be seen as a good sign by search engines. It shows that you’re adding value to the user’s experience by linking to relevant websites. By the way, Moz.com is an excellent resource to learn more about SEO.
There is a lot to consider when trying to rank well for a competitive keyword, and these seven checklist points are just the tip of a highly complicated iceberg. However, these are all things that you can do yourself in order to make sure your website and content are optimized not only for your reader but for the search engines, too.
We do provide Dental SEO services which can take care of all of this and much more, so that you have time to focus on your dentistry! Get a quote from us for more details.