Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essentially the process of improving the visibility of your website in a search engine’s organic results. (Results that don’t include paid ads.) The truth is, if you ask 100 marketers for explanation of SEO, you will likely receive 100 different answers. However, no Internet marketer will denounce its importance, and to see your website succeed, it is vital to at least understand the basics.
Put simply, SEO is the process of improving the quality and amount of leads to your website. By employing proven SEO techniques, your site will show up higher in search engine results. For example, when you need information, you use Google, Bing, or Yahoo because you know that is the easiest and fastest way to find it. The information that shows up on the first or second page of results tend to be the most relevant. By using SEO, you can ensure that your website is listed on the first pages of these results, which means you will have more qualified leads going to your site, and in turn, will acquire more customers.
Optimizing your website may involve editing its written content. The main areas to focus on are page titles, keywords, links within your site, back-links to your site and original content.
How It Works
SEO begins when search engines like Google send electronic “spiders” through the web, reading websites and looking for links to original content. Spiders read the web from left to right, much like you and I do. They follow each link they find and send another spider to read that website, and so on and so forth. Search engines store the data spiders find and make it easier for your site to populate search result pages.
The first step to taking advantage of spider capabilities is to make your site easy for them to crawl. This is most commonly done through creating text links that lead to important pages on your website, such as listing them in your Navigation menu or at the bottom of each page.
Before anything else, search engines send their spiders to your site title and description Meta tag to confirm that your site matches search queries. These are found and changed in your site’s source code, and should include keywords your target audience may use when trying to find your services. Here is an example of how the site title and description show up in searches:
Your keywords of dentist, or a specific specialty and your location should definitely be included. When writing your site title, don’t forget that humans will be reading this in search results – so don’t overload it with keyword phrases. Ensure that it makes sense and reasonably describes what your site does. It is recommended that you also try to keep your site title within 70 characters. Though search engines will read your title up to approximately 120 characters, what people see is limited to the 70 characters on Google, and similarly on Yahoo and Bing. Be sure that your title makes sense and does not cut off mid-word. Titles can be individualized for each page and post on your site. Keep it relevant to the page with the appropriate amount of keywords.
What About Keywords?
Keywords are also important in the copy of your website – make sure your sentences describe your practice and explain what you do while using phrases that people would use to search for your site on Google or Bing. Think about how people search. They would be likely, for example, to type in “Denver dentist” or “Chicago Endodontist.”
Since spiders crawl your site from top to bottom, your first few sentences should include your practice name, your location, your specialty, and words like “trusted” and “professional”. Remember that visitors to your site will still read these phrases – so filling the copy with too many keywords can become confusing and un-natural. Read your copy out loud to yourself before publishing and make sure it makes sense and flows. Filling your site with too many keywords is also easily detected by search engines, and can result in lower search engine rankings because they consider this “spam”.
Links within your site are very important. As previously stated, on your homepage there will be a number of links coming from your main navigation menu to various areas of your site. Links are important throughout your site, and the best SEO includes a balance one link per every 120 words on average. For a page on your site to be as visible as possible to search engines, be sure to include links to other areas of your site.
The process of back-linking is rather simple, but can take time. It entails making sure your site is linked on other websites, which shows the search engines that you’re credible, and will result in more spiders crawling your site, which means higher rankings in search results. Certain credible back-links can be created through social media platforms and article sites where you can publish original content. The most valuable back-links, however, are links back to your site from other high-ranking sites that have a lot of consumer engagement. For such a site to link back to you requires time cultivating a relationship through, for example, timely comments on the content or blog of their site. The point is that the people behind other websites need to see yours, like what they see, and post something about your site with a link back to you. Never use “link farms”, and be wary of companies that simply link all of their existing clients onto each other’s sites.
Content is King
It’s been said a lot, and is absolutely true. The best ranking sites have original, informative, relevant content. Recent updates over the past year from Google in particular have started rewarding sites with original content that is updated frequently. What may have worked in the past for sites maintaining a high search ranking no longer work. (For example, keyword stuffing or copied content.) For dentists, case studies and recommendations for patients can make for great content. At Engage Dental, we work with many dental professionals to create a content strategy that is relevant to your practice, and individualized to your personal character and distinctiveness. For example, at Innovative Dental Specialists, photography is a great passion of one of the doctors there, and so we include posts of her local photography.
This article simply touches on the basics of SEO. SEO is always changing, and Google tends to release updates on how their spiders crawl sites quite frequently, so for best results, make sure you are keeping up with these updates and not letting your site get pushed to the bottom of search results. The most important things that Google is always looking for is original content, a balanced use of keywords and appropriate links. At Engage Dental, we work hard to customize sites that showcase your professionalism and your character, following “white hat” SEO practices that keep your site visible to search engines.