SEO: Can You Ever Stay Ahead of It?

Every business dreams of coming up on the first page in an organic web search.  And every day I talk to dentists who want to improve the SEO of their website.  All while Google keeps changing how the results look and what satisfies their search algorithms.  They just did it again on August 6th in a fairly big way.

Let’s talk about that change first.  The big differences are:

1. The map results on computers now only show 3 practices. This now mirrors what happens on mobile phones.

2. The full address of the practice is gone.

3. Everything “above the fold”–what is immediately viewable on a computer screen–is now essentially paid for.

SEO search resultsThere are still listings of organic results on the first page, meaning if you scroll down you will see them, and not have to click to see the next page of results, but in this particular search Yelp had the first three “organic” positions.  This is because they know how to maximize SEO, and can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making sure they are doing everything that Google wants. You can’t do that.

Also, notice that on the right the paid ads do get their address to show up.  And they can even offer specials or a have a specific message.  But clearly Google makes it easy to get to the paid advertisers’ websites.  And you can be sure that the bidding for those places is escalating all the time.

This is all happening because Google is in the ad sales business, and they want you to pay to appear.  The results are even more narrowed toward paying advertisers when you search on a mobile device (which is where more than 60% of searches begin, by the way.)

Face it, when you have 80% of dentists who now have a website, they’re not all going to show up on the first page organically. It’s not physically possible, and clearly getting more challenging all the time.

So what should your strategy be?

You still need to find as many ways to create good SEO as possible. But don’t fall for some company guaranteeing that they can get you on the first page. There are too many factors out of anyone’s control. Read my previous blog on this for more insight on that.  It’s more true now that ever.

Here’s what you need:

1. A dynamic website that allows you to change content easily yourself and have constant new content feeding to it automatically.  It should be simple, modern-looking, and easy to navigate.

2. Reviews are powerful content, and if you are surveying your patients using PatientActivator or some other application, then you can have those appear automatically.

3. Embed Yelp reviews in your site.  It will only show three, but it will keep people from leaving your website and going to Yelp to see reviews.

4. Add new patient testimonial videos every week.

5. Write a blog, and link it to your website. It should have your town included in most posts, as well as some key dental phrases. Your blog is for Google to read. Most humans won’t. So being local and with relevant words is what matters most.

6. Make sure all the directories across the web have the exact same information about your practice. ReputationMonitor, which is included with PatientActivator, makes it much easier to do this.

7. Have a form where patients can request an appointment.

8. Make sure your website is responsive, meaning it plays properly on every device–particularly mobile phones–and in every browser.  The first test is to look at your website on your own phone.  Easy to read? Pretty? Better be!

But overall, concentrate on giving a great patient experience, because your website is only one part of your promotion and practice awareness. Social media and review sites will play a larger and larger part of that with every passing month.  It all has to work together, with your website as the hub.  And what patients post out there matters more than ever.

We build websites with our WebDirector product, but there are other reputable companies out there as well.  You can tell who they are because they don’t promise magical results.  We will also help you integrate all the social media aspects that you need to make everything look consistent and connect to each other.

It’s a daunting, moving target, I know. But it’s the way of the world, and ignoring it or thinking it doesn’t relate to your neighborhood is going to prove to be failed strategy.  So stay on it!

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “SEO: Can You Ever Stay Ahead of It?

  1. As part of making my practice’s website more dynamic, I plan on embedding a tumblr blog into the website (not through an iframe, but to actually have the text, link and pictures on the actual website), and then I can add videos and content to the site easily with Tumblr. Searchability is disabled on the tumblr account to avoid dulplicate content penalties, but because blogs should be separate from the website for linking SEO, should I start a blogger, too, and have it run alongside the Tumblr?

    I assume if I did this, the blogger would be more SEO/Google-oriented, whereas the tumblr would be more geared towards making the website more dynamic and user viewability; and because this is tumblr, the posts could be shareable across social networks and among other tumblr users. Would I be at least somewhat right in this?

    • The blog is definitely done separately from your Tumblr feed, and be geared toward keywords and location info. I like the Tumblr idea, but I’m not sure if Google sees the video content if you block the searchability, and it would certainly seem like it doesn’t. If they are embedded right into your website then that content gives you good SEO when unblocked.

      • This is a good point. Tumblr’s embed script does allow both Youtube-linked and Tumblr-uploaded videos to be embedded onto the website with descriptions underneath, but I don’t know right now if Tumblr’s video uploads will be picked up by Google if they’e blocked at the source. Then again, Tumblr video SEO might be limited anyway since you can only add a description to the post and not a title (tags don’t carry over to the website embed). I’m still testing the tumblr script right now.

        I assume it would be best just to use videos already uploaded on Youtube since the video info would carry over no matter where or how it’s embedded. Does Google have anything against sites with Youtube embeds or would it help SEO at all?

  2. “I welcome your comments–don’t pull any punches! ”

    . . . chuckle . . ., ok.

    I do love looking at dental websites. If I may, I would like to comment on #8.

    Responsive websites are important. Your website needs to look good on iPads, iPhones, big monitors, everything. One way to check this is to grab the lower righthand corner of the browser, while looking at the dental website, and resize the window. The website should respond immediately and look good in whatever dimensions you change your browser window to. See here for the definition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design

    For example. take http://seasons-of-smiles.com/our-staff, grab the lower right corner and resize the window, the website responds immediately.

    Or, if you’re watching a YouTube video, and you need to resize, the video should be responsive to the size, even while it’s playing. For example, take http://seasons-of-smiles.com/how-do-invisalign-aligners-work.htm. Start the video, grab the lower right corner, and watch the video respond as you resize the page.

    Websites by Futuredontics.com are beautiful. If I had a dental college looking for a dental website, I would not have any reservations recommending Futuredontic websites, they really are great. For example, http://beautifulsmilescny.com.

    But they are NOT responsive in the truest sense of the word. Grab the lower right hand corner, resize the window, you’ll see what I mean.

    I love your blog Fred, and thanks for all you do in the dental community.

    • Most of our previous sites were not responsive, as we believed the most important thing was that the mobile version reformat to a simpler view and layout. Now we offer both options.

      • I agree, mobile is VERY important, and it should take precedence. Recently I was looking at our website analytics, 40% was mobile traffic! I think I understand why google is giving mobile such emphasis.

        I’m thinking mobile optimized websites and responsive websites, are not mutually exclusive, I would be asking my web guys for both. 🙂

        It amazes me how fast websites can age. How often would you recommend updating dental websites?

        Changing the subject, we are a small dental office on the coast of Maine. As an office, we will be going to Yankee Dental this year. On Thursday night, January 28, after the convention, we will going out for dinner. If you or any of your computer guys would like to join us, you’re invited. It could be fun.

        🙂

        http://seasons-of-smiles.com/1-800-dentists.htm

  3. #8 is more important now than ever, since Google implemented changes which essentially punish sites that aren’t mobile optimized in search results viewed on mobile devices. So now not only would your mobile users have a lousy experience, but some of the won’t even be able to find you in the first place!

I welcome your comments--don't pull any punches!