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.
There 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!