When was the last time you gave your website a Google checkup? Just as your patients’ teeth needs regular exams and care, your dentistry website is no different. And just as every toothbrush must have toothpaste to be effective, your website needs Google if you are going to maximize your marketing results year in and year out. Why do you need Google? It’s pretty simple.
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According to a recent whitepaper titled “Practice Marketing and Patient Communication Platforms in the Digital Age of Dentistry“, more than 139 million consumers use the Internet to find healthcare information on a monthly basis. And since most people turn to Google more than any other search engine to seek out the information they need, providing the search engine with 40,000 search queries every second, it only stands to reason that you should focus on Google when it comes to marketing your website to the masses.
To find out just how much Google loves your website, conduct an Internet search for a few of your top keyword terms. Search first for your specialty along with your general area. If your practice is a general dentistry office in Austin, Texas, you might search for ‘Dentist in Austin’ or ‘General Dentistry in Austin’, for example. If, after conducting your searches, you find that your website isn’t listed within the first few spots on Google’s organic search results, you’re more than likely missing out on the massive amounts of attention you crave. That’s because LunaMetrics found that the top organic and paid spots in Google get nearly twice as much traffic as all other spots.
So how do you get the love from Google that you desire? Here’s a ten-point checklist to get you started. While the exact requirements for Google’s algorithms largely remain a secret, Google wants what users want – a simple web viewing experience. Keep that in mind as you go through each point one-by-one and you’ll soon warm to Google’s good graces.
1. Simple Navigation
Visitors who land on your website want to be able to find whatever they’re looking for in a matter of clicks. One click is great, two is pretty good and three clicks is okay. Any more clicks than that and your visitors might get impatient, causing them to bounce and seek out a competitor. Providing your visitors with an easy-to-use primary menu bar solves the too-many-clicks dilemma. The best menu is one that lists your Home, About Us, Services and a Contact pages right along the top. You might want to provide a side menu with all of your individual services to provide even more quick-to-click content.
2. Informative Content
Making your content easy to find won’t be effective if the content you do provide isn’t as informative as possible. The rule for content is that your visitors shouldn’t have any questions by the time they’re finished absorbing the information you provide. Whether it’s an article, a blog, a video or an infographic, you should research and know exactly what your visitors are hoping to find. Then you should provide that content if you want visitors (and Google) to love your website.
3. Pages That Load Quickly
Our society isn’t very keen on waiting for things. Microwave ovens, fast food and millions of TV channels, not to mention the Internet, have spoiled us to a large degree. In fact, if we have to wait longer than five minutes for anything, we get impatient. Web visitors will particularly feel this way. To prove this point, eConsultancy conducted a study that showed that 40% of users will click off a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. You can make your website fast-loading by choosing a well-managed infrastructure (like WordPress) and by limiting the images you showcase. Test your website right now and see how long it takes each page to load. If your pages take too long, you might need a web overhaul.
4. Contact Information Prominently Displayed
Prospects and patients who land on your website are most likely looking for your content information – your phone number, address or email address. These should be placed in the header of your website, in your footer and on a dedicated Contact Us page for best results.
5. Mobile-Friendly Content
The omnipresence of mobile devices mean that websites need to be altered to accommodate all computers – mobile and desktop alike. The best way to do this is by making your website responsive. A responsive website theme changes the layout of your site depending on the device with which people use to access it. If someone lands on your site using their desktop, for example, your content should look good on a regular computer monitor. If someone lands on your site using their smartphone, however, the buttons should be large enough and spaced wide enough apart to be easy-to-click, images should be sparse and properly sized and your content should be such that people can read and absorb what you’ve provided without too much scrolling going on. A responsive site solves these needs beautifully. If you need more reasons to make your site mobile-friendly, consider that 61% of people have a better option of a brand when its site is optimized for mobile.
6. Regularly Published Content
Web visitors and Google will be more likely to love your website if you keep the content coming. No one wants to land on a site that hasn’t been updated in months or years, and Google understands this fact well. That’s why it’s always good to keep a blog that is updated at least once every two weeks, and preferably more often than that. If you’re stuck on what to blog about, share your knowledge of the dentistry industry, list the answers to frequently asked questions, provide interviews of your patients and other professionals in your field, or conduct a survey of your patients to find out what they most want to read. Your blogs don’t have to be long, they just have to be informative and interesting. Let your passion for your profession guide you and populate your blog and website with regularly published content that your visitors won’t be able to get enough of. Do that and Google will love you.
7. Listed on Local Directories
You will gain far more clout from Google if you can manage to get your website listed on the more than fifty local directories that can be found online. These include sites like Google+, Angie’s List, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, YellowPages.com and others. To make this process easier, visit Yext.com and insert your practice name and phone number when prompted. This will produce a report where you’ll be able to see how and where your practice is listed across the web. Then go through each directory to list or correct your information accordingly. Provide consistent information along with a short description of your practice, upload your practice logo, provide images and video, and don’t forget your website URL. The more directories you work on, the more authority your site will gain, and Google will have little choice but to pay attention.
8. Easy-to-Find Patient Reviews
As a dental professional, you know full-well how powerful word-of-mouth can be for gaining you appointment-ready patients who are interested in what you have to offer. In our digital age, online reviews have largely taken the place of word-of-mouth. We still want to know what our friends and family think of the businesses we choose to give our money to, but online reviews can mean just as much as a personal recommendation. To wield the power that digital reviews hold over the local populace, you would do well to place real-life reviews from your patients directly on your website. The ideal move is to place a dedicated Review Us page on your website so that it can be easily found-and-clicked from your primary menu. While it’s never been proven that reviews help with SEO rankings, they will provide traffic to your site that will validate your practice in the eyes of new patients and Google alike.
9. Social Buttons and Recent Social Posts
If you want to connect with prospects and patients online, you would do well to develop a healthy social media presence. Keep a social media calendar and keep your profiles consistently updated. Then place social buttons and your most recent social posts on your Home page and elsewhere on your site. This will help your website visitors find and share your content more easily, which will also help with Google optimization.
10. Connect Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Last but not least, you should connect Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to your website. These platforms are free-to-use and will drastically help you fix whatever might be broken. Analytics will tell you which of your pages are the most visited and where your traffic is most originating from. Webmaster Tools can tell you where your site is going wrong in order to assist with your rankings. Together they can give you everything you need to get all the love you want from Google.
Put this checklist together and you have an easy-to-follow roadmap to online success. With regular efforts, your rankings will rise and so will your traffic. And with regular traffic, your phone should start ringing and your lobby should start filling up. And remember, if at any time you feel overwhelmed, give us a call and let us do all the digital marketing work for you. That’s the easiest way to more Google love.