When considering Medical and Dental Website Marketing for your practice, there are 5 key fundamentals that are important to your success. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always evolving, and it’s important to understand the basics. Doing the basics of SEO will ensure that you can achieve quality ranking within search engines, while suffering little impact from search engine updates. While there are certainly ways to cheat the system (Black-Hat SEO tactics that we do not recommend), updates to search engine algorithms make these methods ineffective in the long run.
As a long-term solution, SEO can be very effective if done correctly. Following the 5 fundamentals listed below will ensure better search engine ranking for years to come.
5 Elements for Medical and Dental Website Success
1. HTML Based Web Design
The days of using FLASH are dead. If you find that your current website is based heavily in FLASH, it’s time to update your site! Providing quality content on your website for prospective patients is the most important thing you can do to enhance your Search Engine ranking. If you use FLASH, it is invisible to search engines and returns to Google as a blank page. With new developments in HTML, website designers and developers can now achieve the same effects that FLASH offers and still be recognizable to a “search bot.”
2. Page Titles, Descriptions, Keywords
Another important thing you can do to maximize your on-site SEO is to enter effective page titles, descriptions, and keywords. The search engines are giving you an opportunity to tell search bots what you do and what your website represents. Don’t waste this opportunity! While it can be time consuming entering this on each page it will be worth it in the long run. It is essential to ranking well within search engines and you should make this step a priority in your Medical or Dental Marketing plan.
- Page Titles: This is the most important of the three. Page titles are your opportunity to tell search engines about you and your practice in 70 characters or less. Moreover, it is the text that will appear in bold on the search engine results page. Titles should be concise, specific, and relevant to the page content.
- Descriptions: Short descriptions appear in the search engine results page. These descriptions can also be used to tell search engines what any given page is all about. Typically limited to 150 characters, a well written description can have a large impact on click-through-rate (CTR).
- Keywords: Keywords used to have much more value in the SEO world. You used to be able to rank for keywords by simply including them in your on-site SEO, but this is no longer the case. While there is no data to show how much value keywords have, there is a chance that these have zero value. This area is commonly used for misspellings or keywords that may not be searched frequently.
3. URL’s – Search Engine Friendly
SEO is hardly a new idea and it has gained importance with the popularity of Bing as a search engine. Recent studies have shown that Bing favors sites that use keywords in the actual URL. You want to use a keyword that has high search volume. For example, if you are a plastic surgeon in Florida who wants to increase your traffic for breast augmentations, your URL might be: www.floridaplasticsurgeon.com/breast-augmentation. This will give your site a little more credibility than your competitors who may not be using this technique. (Read more about recent updates concerning Exact Match Domains)
You’ve seen the word “sitemaps” on websites before, but do you really understand what they are and how they function? If you’ve ever clicked on a sitemap link, you’ve probably been taken to what appears to be a simple directory of a site. It’s not typically user friendly, and seems to serve little purpose, but guess again. Sitemaps are meant for search engines to read. A search engine can see every page of your site through the sitemap which increases the chances all of your pages get indexed for search. Keeping an updated sitemap will also help to update search engines when you make changes or add pages to your site to reflect immediately in search results.
(Note: When this article was originally published, some techniques were effective that are no longer effective. The below content has been updated to reflect changes within search engine algorithms)
Building links is the most effective way to generate credibility for your website. Each link that links to your site is essentially voting for you. They’re telling the world that they agree with your content and value it as a good resource. The important thing to remember is that links coming from a reputable site are always more valuable to your overall rank. A site that has no authority linking to your site is worth nothing. So unlike election season, not every vote counts.
Links out to other sites are also good, but who you link out to can be just as important. While links to reputable sites that are seen as experts in your given field can be valuable. Likewise, links to random sites that have no authority can actually bring down the inherent “value” of your site. You’re essentially putting your stamp of approval on a website, so make sure you approve first. Some believe that you lose value for each time you link out to another site because you’re essentially telling search engines, they know it better, so they get the credit. Either way, links out to other sites should be carefully planned and used appropriately.
While these 5 fundamentals for search engine marketing success are not the total solution, this can be a great start to improving the marketing plan for your medical practice website. With new tools and programs coming out daily to help with conversion and click-through-rate (CTR), staying on top of your marketing plan will help to grow your practice exponentially.