Ian McNickle, MBA, discusses strategies to rank highly on Google and other search engines
In part 1 of our series, we defined SEO, and how it works at a high level. The primary takeaway from part 1 was that search engines evaluate your website and online presence on a monthly basis, so it is important to have an ongoing and robust online marketing program in order to be rewarded by Google.
As a reminder, Google has over 200 variables it evaluates when assigning search rankings to websites. I normally group the most important variables into five major categories: 1) website code, 2) website content, 3) incoming links to the website, 4) online reviews, and 5) social media.
In part 2 of our SEO series, we will explore these five major categories, so each practice will be able to understand what they need to do (or what their SEO company should be doing) in order to rank highly on Google and other search engines.
Category No. 1 — website code
There are literally dozens of things Google (and other search engines) look for in your website code, but we will focus on our discussion on the primary items: title tag, description tag, image tags, and keyword tags. Each of these items should be properly implemented on your website in order to tell Google what it wants to know about your business. Remember Google reads your code; so if you don’t put the right information in your website code, Google likely will not rank your site well in search results. Ask your website or SEO company to install these elements in your website code and to contain the primary keywords you want to rank for (type of practice, primary services, etc.). If you are paying for SEO and these basic items are not done, then you are certainly not getting real SEO.
Category No. 2 — website content
The main factor you’ll want to make sure is that your website has unique content. Search engines give very little credit to websites with duplicate content (i.e., content that also resides on other websites in addition to your website). Your SEO company should write entirely unique content for all pages on your website in order to get the best search results. Most companies say they’re doing SEO, but don’t even do this fundamental step, so make sure your SEO company is doing this critical item in the SEO process.
Category No. 3 — incoming links to your website
When another website has a link on it that links back to your website that is considered an incoming link (or backlink) to your website. Search engines reward websites with lots of incoming links. Think of it like a popularity contest online; the more links pointing to your website, the better because Google will consider websites with numerous incoming links to have more valuable information and will rank them higher in search results. In general, more links are good, and links from websites with lots of traffic are even better.
Category No. 4 — online reviews
In the dental industry, the four most important online review sites are Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, and Facebook. Google is always the most important, but they are all very important. Search engines place a high level of importance on the number of reviews, and how recently the reviews are posted. It is wise to implement some sort of program to generate online reviews. Our company offers a service called WEO Reviews, but other services exist. The main point is to have a strategy to generate new patient reviews on these four major review sites on an ongoing basis. In addition to helping your SEO performance, the other major benefit is improved online reputation.
Category No. 5 — social media
Obviously, social media is a huge topic, but for the purposes of SEO, we’ll just focus on a couple of items. In general, it is helpful to have ongoing posts on your social media pages, but what really helps SEO performance is when people actually engage with your posts by commenting, sharing, retweeting, reposting, etc. Social media engagement can be a strong SEO factor. Facebook is the most important social media site in the dental industry, so focus most of your efforts there, although other sites can have significant importance as well.
Is your SEO working?
If you are working with an SEO company with the goal of driving new patients, then their recommended program should have all five of these categories covered as part of their strategy. In my experience, the majority of SEO companies do not properly implement a comprehensive SEO program covering these five categories and often don’t do nearly as much as they should be doing.
In part 3 of our series, we will discuss questions to ask when interviewing SEO companies, and how to spot scams (and low-end SEO services).
If you have questions about your website, SEO, social media, or online marketing, you may contact WEO Media for a consultation to learn more about the latest industry trends and strategies. The consultation is FREE if you identify yourself as a reader of this publication.
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