- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On December 19, 2013
According to research from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, 90% of consumers turn to search engines like Google and Bing to find local services.
That’s why it is essential for local businesses, even dental practices, to maintain an online presence. Basic search engine optimization (SEO) will help position your practice’s website so consumers can find you when they are looking for dental services.
According to research by Chitika Insights featured on the Marketingprofs.com website companies that appear as 1st search result in Google, receive 33 percent of search traffic, compared to 18 percent for those that come up as the #2 result.
The drop in traffic is even more significant between pages of search results. The first page of Google search results generates 91.5 percent of all traffic, while the second page only generates 4.8 percent of traffic.
Search engines refer users to the content that they deem most “match” the user’s search. Not so long ago, that “match” was determined by the number of keywords contained within a given web page that were the same as the user’s search terms. At that time, the way to succeed was to load your web pages with keywords that you thought your prospective patients were searching for.
But search engine providers, like Google, noticed that sending users to web pages with the most keywords was not always the best outcome. The goal for Google (and Bing and Yahoo) is to get you. the searcher, the best results. Google felt it could do better so they revamped their algorithm (and now they revamp their algorithm at least annually to keep improving the search experience.)
Keywords are still an important factor for determining search engine rank today but the number of keywords is not the winning factor. Your web page needs to have the user’s search term in it (actually not exact match but close) but it’s not the number of keywords on the page that match that will determine your rank.
A key factor today is getting links to your website or blog from other sites. The more important those sites are the better. Online content that has other authoritative sources linking to it is rewarded with higher search results. Reputable linking informs search engines that your content is considered valuable by others.
Another factor to consider is “freshness” of content. Search engines want to guide searches to more recent content over old content. Google is not keen to send you to information that was last touched in 2005. The world is changing too fast and Google knows information from 2005 is unlikely to be as valuable to you as information from 2013.
The upshot of this for website owners is that you need to produce content frequently. By frequently I mean every week or month at the minimum. The practical tool to help you do this is a blog. A blog is a publishing tool that allows you to simply type articles into a web-based system, as you would into Word, and have them automatically come out as a web page. This ease of producing content means you probably will and hence you will update your web pages often (a blog page is just a web page.)
Dentistry is a competitive business. SEO is today’s way of having the phone ring. If you don’t invest in your SEO you can expect your patient volume to erode as people in your area find your competitors’ websites not yours. Similarly if you invest in creating quality content for patients and prospective patients you can expect search engines to recognize this and reward you with much higher visibility.