Over the past few months I’ve discussed some strategies and tactics for dental practice SEO. In some cases I bet some of you are thinking “I need help with my website and SEO (search engine optimization) and do not know where to begin.”
If you think you may need to hire SEO help for your website, I want to offer some guidance that may help you with this. Quite honestly I’ve seen some terrible advice from some dental marketing/SEO blogs when it comes to this and wanted to add my thoughts. There are standard business questions that could be asked of any service provider (Tell me about other client projects, Could you give me a client reference?). I’ll try to focus on the more SEO specific questions.
There are no sure-fire ways to guarantee rankings for your website
In fact, if somebody is guaranteeing you a specific ranking they might be using paid links or some other black hat SEO method that has the potential to come crashing down by getting your website blacklisted by Google. Yes, paid links can work at times, but Google has shown that they can quickly update their algorithm to find these types of tricks and once they do, you are in trouble.
Make sure you and your SEO understand what you want to accomplish with your website
It’s quite common for an interaction between an SEO and client to go like this:
Client: “I want my website to rank higher in Google.”
SEO: “OK. When can I start?”
In the ’90s this was probably enough to get started, but today this isn’t going to cut it. Many dental practice websites want to make their website a more efficient lead generation tool. In other words, it’s not just about rankings and traffic on your website; it’s about getting higher quality traffic that is more likely to set up an appointment for a service you provide. In the web analytics world this is called “conversion” or the process of a user on your website completing something that you define. This process can be referred to as CRO or Conversion Rate Optimization or optimizing your website so that you are increasing the % of visitors who are completing an action such as setting up an appointment.
The main point here is that you need to be as specific as possible about your objective. Getting your page to rank higher in search may result in more traffic, but may not result in more business. Here are some examples of a few specific goals:
- I want my practice page to rank on page 1 in Google for “Oral Surgeons” locally in San Diego.
- I want to increase the % of users visiting my website who fill out our new appointment form.
From here, an SEO should be able to evaluate the competitive nature of searches for Oral Surgeons in San Diego and come up with a strategy to assist with this. Secondly, knowing that your objective is to have users fill out a new appointment form will help build the strategy around that goal.
A good SEO strategy often takes time to develop
After you and your SEO partner are on the same page about what you want to accomplish, the following are good next steps:
- Website audit
- Keyword and competitive research
- Outline of current digital channels used (Social/Email/Blogs/Videos etc.)
A good SEO can take pieces from the steps above and construct a coherent SEO strategy. Yes, it takes some time to do the research, but it’s tough to get the results you want if you go straight into tactics without a clear strategy.
For example, it’s likely the steps above will uncover some easy wins. Perhaps not all of your pages have consistent NAP info (Name, Address, Phone), or maybe your pages don’t have meta descriptions (valuable SEO real estate when used properly). Perhaps your competitors are only targeting a few keywords, but keyword analysis uncovers more opportunity to target specific services you offer.
Paid search ads can be part of a successful SEO strategy, but require careful management
Paid search ads (i.e., Google AdWords) are a great thing to have in your toolkit and budget. When set up correctly, they can be effective in generating traffic to your website and ultimately driving business objectives. However, it seems too often that AdWords campaigns go into autopilot and deduct marketing budget every month without much analysis on the actual results.
While interviewing potential SEO partners, the topic of paid search ads may come up. There are many SEOs that are capable of setting up paid search campaigns, but just like with your website, it’s critical that you know what you want to achieve with these ads and how you will measure success. When set up properly with analytics, you can see the % of traffic coming through ads that are performing a specific action on your site, like filling out a form. Additionally, your paid search campaign will require constant adjustment as you learn more about what is working for you and what is not. Will your SEO be managing your campaign or do you have an internal marketing specialist that will be doing this for you? This is an important question to ask.
I hope you find these good discussion points with your potential SEO partners. I’m sure many of you have additional questions. Feel free to ask additional questions below in the comments as they relate to hiring an SEO and I will respond.