Did you know that 68% of online experiences start with a search engine? Accentuating this statistic is the fact that the top five search results on Google receive the majority of web traffic. This means optimizing your website to appear high on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is essential for maximum online visibility. But how is this achievable?
This guide, brought to you by The Dental SEO Experts, helps you understand the most critical search engine optimization (SEO) considerations required for maximizing exposure. Keep reading to add our complete technical SEO audit checklist to your dental SEO marketing arsenal.
What Are the Four Types of SEO?
Local SEO is an essential technique for generating high-quality leads. It is concerned with attracting traffic from nearby web users in your geographical location. Its goal is not necessarily to reach the largest audience possible but to reach genuinely interested individuals who are likely to engage with your website.
Off-page SEO is the process of optimizing your website’s online visibility through external means. These include guest posting, link building, and even social media marketing. Here, the primary goal is to create signals that push search engines into boosting your website’s SERP rankings. Off-page SEO is a crucial part of developing a solid domain authority (DA), creating a sense of credibility.
In contrast to off-page SEO, on-page SEO is the consideration that takes place directly within your website. These include keyword research, creating valuable content, and content structuring. On-page SEO is concerned with several goals, including generating organic traffic and improving SERP rankings and domain authority. Any website should have some on-page SEO considerations if they wish to be discovered by web users.
As you can likely ascertain from its name, technical SEO is concerned with the structural aspect of a website, i.e., the part that requires specialized knowledge. Technical SEO techniques include creating a mobile-friendly site, using a custom 404 page, and speed optimization. Technical SEO helps improve your website’s user experience in a way that satisfies search engines, increasing your rankings.
Why Your Dental Website Needs Technical SEO
Increase Online Visibility
Where on-page, off-page, and local SEO makes your website appealing to web users, technical SEO makes it appealing to search engines, incentivizing them to show the site to more users. Technical SEO considerations, such as creating a well-structured XML site map, helps search engine bots to crawl your website and boost your search engine results page rankings (SERP). As you rise through the SERP ranks and your site is crawled efficiently, your practice’s website becomes visible to a broader audience.
Generate More Leads
SEO is the art of targeting specific web users, meaning that when traffic arrives at your site, they will likely be interested in your services. This is typically done through relevant keyword usage matching user search queries. When a user’s search term hits on relevant content featured throughout your website, search engines will present your site as a top result. Consequently, your site will gain more interested traffic, increasing your chances of generating leads.
How Do Search Engines Rank Websites?
There are many website elements that search engines consider in order to position it on search results correctly. The following are some of the most important parameters set out by search engines.
- Crawl Rate: Crawl rate denotes how efficiently and frequently a search engine is able to scan and index your website. The more your site is crawled, the more up-to-date the information search engines have, allowing them to understand your website better and present it to interested users.
- Website Speed: Slow websites drastically increase bounce rates, decreasing your SERP rankings. Search engines look kindly upon sites that provide an excellent user experience (UX), which is hindered by slow load times.
- Mobile Optimization: Almost 60% of web searches come from mobile devices. As a result, if your website is not optimized for mobile, you will be penalized by search engines, as it deters a substantial portion of users from entering your site.
- Keyword Relevancy: Including relevant keywords in your content allows search engines to connect web users to the right content accurately. Therefore, if your website features keywords appropriate to your business that match user search queries, your site will likely gain interested traffic. The more hits, the higher your SERP rank.
10 Technical SEO Techniques Your Dental Website Should Use
Add FAQs + Schema
Adding FAQs to your web pages and articles is a simple but effective way to increase word counts and provide more valuable information for users to enjoy. Useful information is recognized by search engines and helps to boost your domain authority and, therefore, SERP rankings. FAQs are also an excellent example of long-tail keywords, i.e., whole phrases, questions, and strings user search. Long-tail keywords are highly targeted and typically bring a higher customer conversion rate than short-tail–one to two word–keywords. That means by answering patient questions, there’s more chance of getting them into your practice.
So, what is an FAQ Schema? An FAQ schema is a piece of markup text implemented on a webpage that outlines your FAQs in a way Google can understand. Once Google recognizes your schema, it can display your set of FAQs, or at least the most relevant ones, directly in the search results as a featured snippet. This means that web users can view your FAQs without entering your site. Initially, this may seem like it’s taking traffic away, but having those answers embedded into SERPs adds to your credibility and could increase your click-through rate (CTR).
Create a Custom 404 Page
A 404 page is where web users are taken to if they click on a broken link or encountered an error while loading a page on your website. If your site does not have a custom 404 page, they are likely taken to a stipped back page that offers little information and almost no way to navigate back to your main site. This increases bounce rate, as users are 73% more likely to leave a website and not return after encountering a 404 page, thus lessening your chance of generating patient leads. This high bounce rate signals to Google and other search engines that your sites offer a poor user experience with low retention, meaning it’s not in Google’s interest to present the site to web users.
If you create a custom 404 page, you can include your own branding, which reassures users that you acknowledge the issue they’ve encountered, boosting perceived credibility. More importantly, custom 404 pages allow you to direct users back to your main site or the place they initially sought. This increases the chances of retaining user interest while they browse your website, preventing adverse impacts on your SERP rankings.
Fix Broken Links
Broken links are internal or external links to fail to take users to their intended destination when clicked. They may not work, may lead to a 404 error, or may take users to the wrong place. Whatever the result of clicking a broken link, they create a sense of deceit and untrustworthiness. The result is not just a distrust from web users but also an appearance of an unmaintained website.
Outdated websites tend to lose favor with search engines, notably Google. This is for two primary reasons. Firstly, it tells Google that your content may no longer be relevant and up to date with current events and trends, making it less valuable to users. Content usefulness is a significant ranking factor, meaning your site risks a SERP relegation if your content does not appear helpful. Secondly, if you are not regularly posting new and updated content, Google bots are unlikely to crawl and index your site. Any SEO considerations you’ve made will go unnoticed and fail to impact your site’s online visibility positively.
Include Schema Markup
Like an FAQ schema, general schema markup effectively communicates your website content to search engines using a semantic vocabulary. Schema markup helps accurate text snippets to appear on your website under its meta title (your site’s title that appears in search engines). In simple terms, a scheme markup gives search engines an understandable description of your website.
Once a search engine understands your website, it can more effectively connect the site with relevant users, increasing your CTR and chances of generating patient leads. Furthermore, when information from your site is embedded in-engine, like the FAQs, it takes up page real estate, meaning your website is more likely to be noticed. This helps to entice web users with the information in your schema markup.
Increase Site Speed
The speed of a website has a substantial impact on its bounce rate. For instance, 40% of consumers will exit a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. This means that if your website is not optimized for speed, you risk losing a large portion of potential patients. So, how do you increase your dental practice’s website speed?
The simplest way is to optimize images. Large image files are a common culprit of a slow website, but fixing this issue is straightforward. Ensure that your image dimensions are no larger than they need to be and that they are processed through a compression algorithm such as TinyPNG.com. Ensuring all your site’s images are compressed and sized appropriately will increase your website speed and decrease bounce rates.
Install SSL Certificate
In simple terms, if your website is SSL secure, it means it can safely connect web users to its services. URLs that start with ‘HTTPS’ are SSL secured. Otherwise, if it begins with ‘HTTP,’ for example, it is not. Many internet browsers warn users when entering an insecure website, forcing them to verify that they want to view the site. This adds an extra step to entering your site, increasing bounce rates and making your clinic’s website appear untrustworthy.
There are several ways to install an SSL certificate to your website, contingent on your domain provider and web developer. If you’ve built your own website, your domain name provider may already offer SSL certification for free with each domain name purchased. However, some providers require you to buy an SSL certificate separately–this can then be connected to your site through your DNS portal (usually available through the provider). Otherwise, you should ask your developer to ensure the site is secure.
Keyword Usage In Metadata
Including relevant keywords in your website’s metadata is one of the more simple considerations on this list. However, it still requires an understanding of keyword research and metadata placement. Thankfully, several tools are available to help you conduct keyword research, such as Ahrefs and Surfer SEO. Both have free options but work their best when all features are unlocked.
Once you’ve researched which keywords are most relevant to your dental practice, you can then include them in your site’s metadata. Metadata includes title tags and meta descriptions. These are the elements that appear within search engines to web users. Optimizing your metadata with appropriate keywords is crucial in enticing users onto your site. It also helps search engines understand your services and connect the area with the most relevant users.
Optimize for Mobile
Perhaps one of the most important considerations on this list is that your website is optimized for mobile users. This is because over half of web traffic is generated by mobile devices on Google alone. That means if your website is not well optimized for mobile devices, you risk losing a substantial audience volume.
Ensuring your practice’s site is mobile-friendly is challenging if you have little to no technical knowledge or use a simple website builder to create your website. Ultimately, you need to work with your development team to ensure your clinic’s site is mobile optimized from the start. Doing so will put you in good standing with search engines, as mobile friendliness is a significant ranking factor.
Use Canonical URLs
A canonical URL is a snippet of HTML code that enables search engines to determine the primary page in a set of duplicates, near-duplicated or similar pages. For example, if your website has a set of service pages all with the same content structure, layout, similar images, and copy, implementing a canonical URL allows you to tell search engines which page is most important.
As a result, when a user’s search is relevant to one of the sub-pages of your site, search engines can present to them the most essential and appropriate page, likely to draw in their interest. Failing to implement canonical URLs accurately can lead to web users hitting on relevant keywords for the wrong pages.
XML Map Optimization
An XML sitemap shows search engines exactly how your website’s pages are structured in relation to each other. For example, it denotes your main pages and sub-pages, respectively. This is an essential consideration as it allows search engines to determine which pages they need to crawl and, therefore, the index first. Once indexed, your pages may then appear on SERPs.
If your XML sitemap is not organized correctly, for instance, having sub-pages on the same level as the main, essential pages could be overlooked by crawl bots. This can dramatically slow down the site indexing process, making your crucial content less visible to potential patients.
Technical SEO from The Dental SEO Experts
If you’re looking to maximize your online visibility through a solid SEO marketing campaign but lack the specialist expertise required to do so, consider hiring The Dental SEO Experts. We have a team of experienced dental digital marketing professionals ready to help your clinic by building websites for dentists and ranking them to find you online success. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more.
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