Everyone wants to be first in line. Being first is exciting; it conveys importance. It’s the key to quadrupling your conversion, conveying authority, and making yourself known. Right? Not quite. It’s true that the goal of SEO has traditionally been to score a top spot on search engine optimization results pages, but ranking is no longer the Holy Grail of Googling. Landing the number one spot won’t achieve your objectives on its own; it’s just one piece of the dental SEO puzzle.
What Are the Other Pieces?
Obviously ranking is still important. Prioritize page number—appearing on the first page is ideal, third is fair—rather than position. If you’re in the fifth spot on the first page, great. Aggressively defend your first-page status, but don’t throw everything you’ve got into moving upward a few slots. Search algorithms change frequently, and obsessing over minor movements leaves little room for agility in your SEO strategy. So if ranking isn’t the only goal, what else is there?
Boosting Site Conversion
Conversion means getting your website visitors to perform a specific action, such as commenting on your blog, visiting a specific page on your website, or submitting an appointment request online. How does SEO tie in with conversion rate? Two examples:
- On-page SEO compels you to provide relevant, specific content and keywords, which align with site visitors’ expectations. A visitor clicks your link because he wants information about teeth whitening. The information you provide on your website meets these expectations, so he is now willing to perform the action of calling your office, finding you on Facebook, etc.
- SEO requires you to provide organized, logical navigation for web crawlers and indexing purposes; this also makes it easier for your visitor to find specific pages within your site.
Establishing Trust and Authority
Online reviews, for better or worse, are gaining traction as a major factor in consumers’ healthcare decisions. It’s been estimated that between 80-90 percent of online users turn to online reviews as a decision-making tool. Search engines are taking notice of reviews, too, making this an essential part of your local SEO strategy. Healthcare consumers value online dentist reviews as a (mostly) unbiased recommendation. A patient who leaves a review has no incentive to do so apart from the desire to help others make decisions, whereas a dentist’s website is commercial.
Building a Strong Online Presence
Can you be an excellent dentist if you don’t have a website, or if you don’t have an SEO strategy? Absolutely, but you might find yourself turning into an excellent, bored dentist if patients can’t find you. Gone are the days when making yourself known to patients was as easy as placing a 2×2 ad in the local phone book. Today’s patient wants more information; he wants to know whether you offer sedation dentistry or financing, and his keyword choice and search behavior will reflect this.
By the way, there are plenty of would-be SEO experts who will gladly take your money to finagle your site into the number one position. Our advice? Don’t start gunning for the top spot until you’re confident in your ability to achieve all of these objectives. If you can’t deliver, visitors will leave your site and never look back–a fact unlikely to go unnoticed by search engines.
Next, let’s clear up some confusion about the value of links vs. content in SEO.