Did you know that nearly every industry, outside of dental, now considers search engine optimization (SEO)to be worthless? That’s right, it’s a complete waste of money. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s still very important to optimize your online presence. But rarely should it be done in the way the resident dental marketing expert tells you it should. While most are focused on keywords and where they rank in search, prospective patients are visiting your site each and every day and yet they still aren’t converting into appointments.
It used to be easy to explain how to optimize for Google. Today, SEO has become convoluted as Google continually changes the game. The more Google expands and it’s tools become part of our lives, the less precise the process of optimization becomes. Nowadays, the immense amount of data that we exchange with Google now challenges even the most skilled provider. In other words, as we say here at Legwork, only Google and God truly understand the way in which Google works.
This challenge often intensifies when Google decides to publish a change to their search system or launch a new product like Google +. Providers are often left scrambling to rebuild their strategies, only to find out after completely switching gears, that the published change had no real effect on their clients search results. Google has made a mockery of the SEO industry after launching products like Google + only to discard it relevance quickly.
Another example was Google’s recent mobile update. It was hyped to be the biggest thing ever to happen to search engine optimization. Moblegeddon, as it was called, had companies spending millions as they scrambled to meet Google’s mobile-friendly stipulations. And yet all the craziness was for nothing. The Internet’s billions of daily Google searches yielded less than an 11% change in search results. Certainly, not worth the hype that Google created and not worth re-thinking your entire strategy overnight.
So, what does one do to stay up with the ever-moving target that is Google? To answer that, we must first remember that Google’s end game is about selling advertising. 95% of their revenue comes from advertising. Therefore, just because Google makes the suggestion that all websites be responsive doesn’t always mean that is the best use of your short term budget and time it takes to re-adjust your strategy. More specifically, the dental industry rarely aligns with the rest of the world's typical strategy. Consumers simply don’t choose their dentist the same way they choose a toaster! For example, of the millions of dental website search results we see in Legwork, we consistently find that direct searches still dominate over organic searches. In other words, patients rely more heavily on social proof such as testimonies, direct responses from social media and referrals from friends and family way more than they randomly search a keyword when looking for a dentist.
Legwork has found success with SEO by focusing intently on conversion of incoming traffic versus being overly concerned with where you rank. Ranking does not ultimately determine success, conversion does! Below are the top 5 tactics we find to be most effective methods for optimizing dental website conversions:
Pay close attention to on page web metrics not where you rank
Knowing what consumers are viewing when they hit your website is more valuable than where you feel you should rank in search. Why? Well, first because you can no longer fool Google into thinking that your site should have more authority for a specific keyword than it currently does. You have to earn Googles' trust over time and with tons of content.
In addition, your desired keyword ranking often yields less quality traffic potential than working to enhance the site pages that are already ranking well. Focusing on the website content, page design and call-to-action on pages that are garnering more traffic will prove more valuable than any off page SEO. Especially in the short term. Even better, this process will help you acheive your longer term keyword ranking goals.
Focus on high-quality content
As consumers have become more sophisticated, so has Google. Optimization for keyword searches has now been replaced by intent searches to be more aligned with how we search today. Most dental websites contain overly clinical, keyword dense phrases that are terribly generic. By focusing on quality content you’re improving upon your on-page strategy (what the consumer is looking for) as well as your intent search strategy (what Google wants to see) all-in-one. That being said, quality content does not come easy. It must be written with the consumer in mind. A skill that arguably should be left to the professionals.
More content is better. Avoid Analysis Paralysis
Being overly concerned about semantics causes many dentists to feel paralyzed as they analyze meaning and accuracy of a certain phrase or word use in their website content. And rightly so, considering your career revolves around being precise and accurate. However, when it comes to content and search marketing, many of the rules you were taught in English can and should be broken. Google cares most about on-going fresh updates to key pages of your site, consumers care about content that answers their questions quickly while sparking their emotions, and you care about website visitors converting into patients. Therefore, more is better.
Consider the different consumer behaviors
Some consumers will access your site merely to grab a phone number or address. Others aren’t ready to schedule but want information. Considering the many ways in which consumers access and engage with your website can vastly improve retention and conversion. An
e-book, for example, is an excellent way to encourage visitors to interact with your information and in doing so, you will retain their interest. A video provides a more engaging visual and auditory experience. And finally, web forms can allow a consumer to opt-in to accept newsletter or follow-up information which allows you to retain and nurture the relationship along to encourage an appointment at a later time when the user is more accepting.
Would you rather do a random search on the Internet to find a heart surgeon, or ask your friends, read reviews and research your provider before making such an important decision? Consumers searching for their next dentist are presented with the same question. Therefore, acquiring Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews are crucial to your online reputation and are a vital component to SEO. Additionally, keeping active on your social sites, mainly Facebook and Instagram are important to building top of mind awareness around your practice.
Search engine optimization is an important element of your marketing mix when you remain focused on what matters most. It’s hard to argue that conversions equal success, not search rankings.