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November 2013

SEO... Do It Yourself Questions

squareNote: This is the second article in a series of articles on Search Engine Optimization based on conversations with our dental website clients.

We are often asked by our dental website clients if there is anything they can do themselves to increase their SEO rankings. The answer is YES. It is a bit ironic that some of the most valuable SEO work to be done, can often only be done by the practice. These activities are harder to duplicate in a mass production scheme, are closely watched by search engines for fraudulent activity, and are therefore more highly favored from a SEO perspective.

SEOAs with our previous article, here are some of the most frequently asked questions we answer for our clients.

Q “What are 'inbound' links and why are they important to my practice?”
A Inbound links are links from other websites back to your practice website. They bring people from somewhere else "in" to your website. Search engines use inbound links as a gauge of how important and popular your website is. For example, a link from a website with thousands of views per day to your practice website is a sign that your website content is important and popular.

It's difficult to establish these links. Therefore, there are companies who try to shortcut the process, and they have a long history of fraudulent activity. They often set up hundreds of fake websites with links to unrelated content (their clients). For example, a person searching for "yellow pages" may end up on a fake website with ads and links to completely unrelated things, perhaps even dental practices. You've all had the experience of landing on a fake page. It's maddening. Unfortunately, many people can't tell the difference between a fake page and a real one, so the strategy persists.

Legitimate inbound links are valuable to your SEO strategy. Here's how you can work on establishing quality inbound links. First, make a list of every professional association, study club, community organization, and volunteer group your practice is involved with. Add to it any publications in which your dentist or practice has contributed articles to, is advertised in, or is a member of. Second, note which of these have a website with links back to dental practices. From there, use your spare minutes to contact them and ask for a link back to your website. It takes time, but can significantly increase your online visibility.

Q “I'm confused by all of the directories out there. Which directories should I be listed in?”
A First, let's clarify what you mean by "directory". There are many directories out there like Yellow Pages, Dr.Oogle, LinkedIn, Yelp, Google+, etc. Each has its own focus and features. Some you can sign up for, some you can't. Others are listings of reviews only. We would classify all of these as directories, though some may be more social and others more review centric. The reality is you can't have too many listings. More is better. Start with a Google+ page. It's easy to set up and it will improve your listing on a Google search result page. Then fill in with others as you see fit.

Q “I have been told that having a blog helps my SEO ranking. Is this true?”
A Generally speaking, yes, as long as you keep the blog current. Blogs can be a great way to let everyone know about your practice. Post news about your community involvement, service or humanitarian work, specialty treatments, staff activities, etc. There are many ways to set up a blog. It's usually best to use a service like Blogger or Tumblr. These services make it easy to keep your blog professional looking and online. Assign the task to one of your staff and make posting decisions and assignments in your staff meetings. Remember to have your website link to your blog and your blog link to your website.

Q “Do I need to re-write my website content to mention our practice name or city name more often? We have been advised to mention our city name 3 times on every page.”
A This practice is sometimes called "increasing search term density." While it is true that you should have your practice name and city name mentioned prominently on your website, it is not true that more mentions are better. Moreover, we have seen somewhat extreme cases where the integrity of the copy - and therefore your professional image - is negatively impacted. Having a professional image is your first priority. Sacrificing that image for the sake of higher search term density is not a smart trade-off, in our opinion.

Hopefully this information will help you in your efforts to make your dental website better. If you have any questions about SEO and your Treeline dental website, please feel free to contact Lyza for assistance.

Call us today to find out about adding a custom review page to your website for only $75. Reviews are essential to showing potential patients just what your current patients think about the practice, the doctor and the staff. Having a custom review page offers two things: 1.) You have control of which reviews are actually displayed on your website and 2.) You have the ability to eliminate bad reviews (so you can take care of any problems or negative feedback in private, NOT in public). We can even add video reviews to your website.

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