Maximizing Website Visibility, Part One: Website Planning

After reading Dr. Salierno’s post “Make Your Website More Visible for Free, Part One: Go Organic,” I thought I would add some ideas on how to get patients to your practice through organic SEO.  But, first my credentials.  I am a general dentist in Boise, Idaho and am also the founder of an SEO, web design and web analytics company called Valitics.  While I do not know everything about SEO and website assessment, I have applied what I know obtain the #1 keyword ranking for my practice for several phrases in our area.

Organic SEO generally takes some time to obtain, but can pay large dividends once you are on top of the rankings.  The first step in organic rankings (hopefully) is a website assessment.  The best way to think of this is treatment planning for your website.  You want to set goals that are measurable and actionable.  Below are several factors to consider when planning your website.

  1. Domain Name: This is what a user/potential patient types in the browser address bar to get directly to your website.  One of the premier SEO resources online is www.seomoz.org.  In 2009, they polled 72 experts in the field on the factors associated with ranking well for you keywords.  Here is the report: http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#ranking-factors.  A lot of this stuff  you don’t need to know, but #3 in the first section is using the term in your domain name.  For example, my office website in Boise is: www.boise-dentist.com, which is the #1 search term I am going for.  On a side note, your published website address doesn’t have to be the same as the primary web address.  www.boisedowntowndental.com gets forwarded to www.boise-dentist.com.  This is an easier domain name to remember and can be used for other marketing purposes with the added benefit of tracking anyone who uses this domain name to get to our site.
  2. Keyword Research: Google Adwords has a great tool that will tell you the search volume for certain terms.  This is a great way to find terms that you would want to put in your website.  Wordtracker, another keyword research tool, also lets you find out which terms have the least competition and thus lets you know which terms could generate the highest ROI.  You can try to use these tools yourself, but it may be worth finding someone with knowledge of keyword research to help (Hopefully your website designer is researching this stuff to start the site building process).
  3. Keywords in Title Tags: #1 in the SEOMoz survey is to use the keywords you found in the title tags.  A title tag is the text at the top of page and tells the search engine what the page is all about.  When returning the results of a search, you will see the title of the main index page for a site followed by some text within the site.   Title Tags example
  4. Keywords in the H1 Tags: H1 tags are the headlines of the text.  Use your keywords in the title tags.  As an aside, tags help define the type of text or code in a site.  If you really want to know more, here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_%28metadata%29.
  5. According the SEOMoz, the most important non-keyword factors are “Existence of Substantive, Unique Content on the Page” and “Recency (freshness) of Page Creation.”  Basically, create your own content that is helpful and unique.  Try to stay away from template sites that reproduce content and write your own.  My experience is that patients also like this.  Second, create a blog for your site and spend 20 minutes every 2 weeks writing in it.  This creates useful and up-to-date content that you don’t have to pay your programmer to put in your site.

Hopefully that helps.  Please make any comments on questions anyone may have that can be addressed in future posts.

The next post will be: The Value of Website Analytics and Ongoing Keyword Research

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Please note that I can no longer answer questions from the public regarding their personal dental care. I am unable to properly diagnose or recommend treatment over the Internet. If you are looking for a dentist, please visit the "Find A Dentist" feature on healthysmiles.org