Are Keywords Still Important in Dental Websites?

When it comes to dental marketing, you should know that Google no longer looks at keywords. The search engine giant doesn’t factor meta keywords into ranking criteria, and hasn’t for quite some time. Why? Because on-page text is more important.

Just a few years ago, there was a big stink about white hat SEO and black hat SEO. The white hatters, like white-hatted cowboys, were the good guys who practiced above-the-board search engine optimization. The black hatters practiced under-handed search tactics, like keyword stuffing. However, when search first came about, Google did place importance on meta keywords.

Meta Data in Search Engine Optimization

A dental marketing company worth its salt will tell you that there are three parts to metadata: Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Meta Keywords.

The title tag shows up in the page tab, as well as in the bookmark for a page. Keywords should be placed in title tags, and the length should be less than 70 words, including spaces. Each title tag on a website should be unique, and each page requires a title tag.

The meta description is a paragraph that describes a page, like a synopsis. Its length should be less than 155 characters, and keywords aren’t nearly as important in the description as they are in the title tags. Each meta description on a website should be unique, and each page requires a meta description.

The image below shows where title tags and meta descriptions show up in Google search engine results. Bing’s results have a similar structure.

Meta keywords is defined as a list of keyword phrases, separated by commas, and placed into the meta keyword tag in a website’s code. They don’t show up in Google search results and are not read by Google’s indexing algorithm. Most SEO companies don’t use meta keywords any longer, because on-page SEO has replaced meta keywords.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO involves integrating keywords, internal links (links to other pages on the website), and heading tags, among other strategic tactics, into live text on a web page. Live text is text you can highlight with your mouse. If you cannot highlight a portion of text, it is embedded in a design element and is read by Google as part of an image, not as distinct letters and words. Only live text factors into search.

The most valuable text to Google, that is to say the text that will gain the most credit and thus rank highest on Google, is original. The term original, in this instance, means any series of words, letters, and paragraphs on a website that cannot be found in an exact order elsewhere on the Internet. If you copy a paragraph from another source, you need to cite it and link back to the source. All uncited content on your dental website needs to be composed exclusively for you. Believe it or not, there are more than enough letter and word combinations in the English language to make this possible. If you think Google isn’t smart enough to spot duplicate content, just copy the sentence you’re now reading and put it into Google Search. No duplicates show up. Now copy the sentence below and paste it into Google Search.

According to the SEO experts I follow, Hummingbird’s primary purpose is to rank information more accurately for the most modern trend in search requests: questions.

You’ll see that this sentence comes from a dental marketing blog I wrote called “Long Tail Keywords Take Flight with Google Hummingbird.” You can do the same test with text on your dental practice website. Oftentimes, text about services, like Invisalign and CEREC, has been swiped from the manufacturer’s website. Even if the manufacturer does not care, you should care. The duplicate content negatively affects yourwebsite’s SEO for that service. Instead of settiling for service descriptions from a stock library of articles, invest in original copywriting for your dental practice’s SEO strategy.

Keyword Stuffing

Remember those black hat tactics I mentioned earlier? Keyword stuffing was one of the top tricks, and it has many facets. Web developers selling, for example, bottled water would list a ton of keywords about bottled water in the meta keyword area for a web page that discussed a something completely different, like sports injuries. The page text did not mention dehydration (as a sports injury) or bottled water. It covered twisted ankles and tennis elbow, yet the meta data was: bottled water, water bottles, water in bottles, plastic water bottle, sports water bottle, etc. This is one type of keyword stuffing.

A more obvious and, IMHO idiotic, practice included loading a page with nonsensical text that included a keyword multiple times. You might see fake words in sentence structure, with the phrase “bottled water” thrown in, and the keyword would link to the advertiser’s website, which sold bottled water. While these pages were put in place only for the backlink credit, if a potential customer found the goofy page, he was confused by it.

With a bit more thought, black hatters began to publish articles that swapped out one key phrase with a keyword. Remember Mad Libs? If so, you know just what I mean. An article that made complete sense was repeatedly injected with a keyword phrase. The result was messy and foolish text, but high keyword density. In this particular example, duplicate copy would become a problem, as well.

What Works for SEO

Today, keyword stuffing is much less prevalent, because Google has taken steps to ensure quality search results for its loyal users. Duplicate content, unrelated links, unrelated keywords, and meta keywords are problematic to a site’s SEO strategy. Google does not publish a “how to optimize” guide with all the juicy details, but it does offer a guide with basic SEO principals. In it, we’re told that original, informative content is the key to great SEO.

So, back to the initial question, are keywords still important for search engine optimization? Absolutely. Using Google Adwords Keyword Tool, we conduct research to determine the most popular keyword phrases for dental services and products. Then, we work those keywords into a comprehensive SEO strategy that starts with website navigation, URL naming, copywriting, headings, anchor text in links, and metadata – and continues indefinitely with regularly scheduled analysis of website traffic and keyword rankings. After each analysis, we take steps to build on the keywords that need work, and when all keywords are on page one results, we expand the keyword list. SEO, then, becomes an ever growing and ongoing process.

Ready for Great SEO?

Blogging once a week and having original content on your website may be all you need for page-one Google results. However, dentists in competitive areas often require a more intense and organized strategy to compete. Call MDPM Consulting today for a complimentary website analysis and SEO consultation: 972-781-8861, or email us here.