What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your business’ website to rank high in natural search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, for certain industry-related keywords. Market research shows that over 50% of online shoppers spend up to 75% of their shopping time engaged in product and business research – it’s no wonder that an increasing number of businesses are clamoring for those few top spots in the search results.
Benefits of SEO
Well optimized web pages will typically rank high in the search results for their keywords, and being found at the top few listings on the Search Engine Results Page–the SERP–is directly associated with legitimacy, relevance and credibility – over 20% of search result traffic goes to the number one spot. Given that over 75% of search engine users never scroll past the first page of results, it’s important to have well-optimised website to ensure that Google and other search engines credit it accordingly, and thus drive the most traffic to your actual site.
ImForza found that SEO-generated leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to the less than 2% close rate expected with direct marketing such as mail and email blasts. Depending on your total site traffic, this could be a rather significant boost in inbound business. Compared with the costs of other types of online marketing such as Pay-Per-Click campaigns, SEO remains a bedrock of your online business’ online presence. Without SEO, your potential clients will have a hard time finding your business and will most likely find your competitors before you.
You may have heard before that SEO is “a sprint, not a marathon” – and that’s true. Results typically grow exponentially over time in a linear fashion, however, once well-structured SEO campaigns are put in place, you can start to expect increased traffic to your site in as little as 30 days. Your results at 6 months should be significantly less than your results at 6 months, for reference.
National vs. Local SEO Campaigns for Orthodontists
There are two distinct types of SEO: Local, and National. Local SEO targets specific keywords linked to specific locations, giving users results based on their location, such as an Italian restaurant (keyword) in Miami (location). National SEO doesn’t target any specific locations and is more focused on brand imaging than direct business.
Picture this: if a person seeking orthodontic treatment in Los Angeles searches online for “Orthodontic office”, and gets results in San Diego, do you think they’ll drive the distance for their ortho needs? Of course not! Luckily, search engines are smart enough to place the most optimized, local-keyword strong web pages at the top of the results, so that users searching for a service – such as orthodontic work – can find businesses closest to them first.
Accessing your Orthodontic website for Key Performance Indicators
As mentioned before, websites need to be optimized in order for search engines to “understand” them. The site structure is important because if a search engine doesn’t understand your search engine or your product/service, it won’t index you for the desired keywords, and thus won’t rank you highly on the results page for those keyword searches. A lot of this however, is done through the back-end of a website. Elements such as backlinks and link taxonomy have to be well structured and organised in order for search engines to understand which pages of content are to be valued higher and displayed first over others. A well organised page system on a website will definitely rank higher in search results as the structure is more logical in the search engine’s eyes.
As mentioned, a lot of these optimizations occur in the backend of a website. Front-end optimizations include calls to action, form submissions, clickable contact links and more. These elements usually drive browsers of your page to convert into a potential client by clicking a phone number to call your office directly or emailing a query through an online contact form.
Both frontend and backend optimizations ultimately collect data referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These metrics are the way to measure an SEO strategy efficacy, by providing analysts with quantifiable data which can be used to track growth over a period of time, allowing for adjustments to be made to fine tune said strategy.
Examples of some KPIs are:
- Page Views
- Avg time on site/page
- Bounce Rate
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate
Backlinks and internal link structure on a website are major ranking factors, as mentioned before. Search engines analyse what’s known as a page’s “link profile” – that is, the overall authority and quality of backlinks to and on your site.Actually, your page’s link profile is probably the single largest contributor to its ranking. Backlinks from spammy websites or directory listings, and poor link taxonomy can be detrimental for a page’s credibility, directly hurting ranking and therefore traffic.
For your website to have a link profile, you generally want links to come from websites with high domain authority, with its own high value backlinks. Backlinks from generally credible sources (in a search engine’s “eyes”) build credibility for your own site. If i were to tell you that I’m the best basketball player alive, you’d probably doubt me. But, if you read in ESPN, that I was the greatest basketball player alive, you may reconsider. Google and other search engines work the same way.
On-Site SEO for Orthodontic Offices
As briefly mentioned previously, there are a few on-site optimizations that directly improve your chances of ranking highly. Keyword selection is one of the first steps to starting an SEO campaign. It’s the process of choosing exactly what search phrases you want to be found for when someone looks up you business. It also helps determine the tone and media for your content. Some examples might be “Orthodontist office in Miami” or “Braces in Miami”. A bit of market research can help you narrow down some keyword options to the most searched for and sought after keywords with which to tag your website and its content.
In the early days of Google, and when people started realising the value of being at the top of the SERPs, keywords were king. The more times your website had a keyword, the higher you’d rank – it got out of control. People were writing keyword in the same background color (as to appear invisible) all over the page, so that user’s couldn’t see it but Google’s “Spider” crawlers could. Nowadays though, it’s very different. Keywords are still important if not crucial, but they need to be used appropriately and effectively in order to gain recognition in Google’s eyes.
Keywords can be used in headings, subheadings, and regular content text. Keywords are also recognized in the form of image names, image captions, video titles and tags, and more, for multimedia content. Keyword research helps you identify the best type of media to use for your content and which keywords to implement in said content. An overly-repetitious use of keywords can be viewed as spam in Google’s eyes; however too little use of the keyword and you won’t be ranking.
Page and Content Optimization for Orthontic SEO Campaigns
Organising your website’s content and pages is another important ranking factor. Ideally, you want to present readers and Google’s crawlers with the most relevant, best content with as few clicks required to get to it as possible. In other words, if a reader who lands on your page can find what they’re most likely looking for quickly and easily, without having to click through various menus and categories, the better. Not only will they be more likely to convert into a customer after learning more about your practice, but the crawlers which index your pages in Google’s “internet file cabinets” will be able to find your content quicker and rank you higher for it, helping more potential customers find your first.
It should go without saying, hopefully, that all your content should be original and unique to your site. Not only does this avoid lawsuits and fines, but it also rewards your site more for ranking. Custom content builds somewhat of a branded narrative, which adds inherent value to the browser’s experience. While this content’s primary purpose is not to directly sell a service or product, it’s both interesting and valuable for its own sake – Google will recognise and reward custom content, helping you rank higher in the SERPs.
How do you know your Orthodontist SEO Campaign is Working?
Google Analytics & Search Console, is how. In a nutshell, G-Analytics helps you draw information from your site and display it in an understandable fashion. This information, also referred to as KPIs earlier, is used to create performance reports once a month; these reports are a mirror of your SEO efforts. Integrating these tools is essential to modifying and streamlining your SEO campaign.
The search console allows you to look up a slew of statistics which you can analyse and use, such as page load-speeds, search traffic, click-through rate, the quality of SEO traffic and can even help you put a monetary value on your SEO.
Starting with page-load speed, this metric will show you the average page-load time experienced by users, as well as their exit percentage – that is the rate at which they navigate away from that page. Typically, the data shown will show the direct correlation between page-load times, and the exit percentage, demonstrating how important it is to optimize your page for fast loading. When the particular page-load time is longer than your site’s overall average, that exit rate will skyrocket.
The click through rate let’s you know how many people viewed your result in the SERP vs how many actually clicked it and followed more links on your site. This also contributes to the search traffic metric.
Assigning a monetary value to your SEO is an interesting calculation. By evaluating the average per-click-cost of your keyword search terms, and multiplying it by the number of clicks you got per term, you can see what you’d be paying with a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. This value will always be higher than the actual cost of your SEO services with a well-performing and properly executed SEO campaign.
Last but not least, it’s important to ensure that the server on which you host your website has top-notch security. Not only do you want to protect your online digital assets and information on your site, but if your site is infected with malware, compromised or even offline for whatever reason, Google will certainly penalise your ranking for it.
Off-site SEO for Orthodontic Office Web Sites
As we just covered on-site optimizations to boost your website’s ranking, there are also considerable off-site optimizations which affect your page’s ranking. The ones we’ll cover are link building, use of directory listings, and your website’s link profile.
Link building, is another factor that Google’s web spiders use to identify your page’s relevance and importance. This is the process of having other credible websites link back to your website. If already-credible websites reference yours, this will in increase its ranking factor.
They actually state it on their website:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
They don’t only take into account the quality of links, but also the quantity of them. In the past, this led to highly-aggressive competition between sites, creating fake links on sites to artificially boost their site. Google’s algorithm changes hundreds of times a year, and of course, this craze came to an end. It’s still somewhat of a popularity contest, but you have to be friends with important people to get places to the top of those SERPS.
Directory listings, such as findyourorthodontist.com, orthopages.com, and bracesinfo.com will charge you on a monthly basis just to place your practice in their listings. Then, if you want to be placed higher in the listings, you pay more. SEO doesn’t work this way, and much like pay-per-click campaigns, costs much less in the long run, and has a lasting effect on your website’s organic ranking authority. Not only that, people searching for businesses and services online will typically search directly in Google and click on the first most relevant result. Being in a directory listing won’t place you at the top of these results.
However, they have their advantages. Directories are usually large companies, with significant credibility and authority. If you have you practice listed in a directory, and there’s a link to your website – you got a quality backlink! It also increases your site’s credibility, as Directories only list valid, existing and verified businesses, and have their own criteria to make sure your business is real.
The last off-site ranking factor, is your website’s link profile. This is, in essence, the ratio of “good” backlinks to “bad” backlinks. Just how quality link building is part of an SEO campaign, backlinks from websites that Google deems “questionable”.
For example, some factors that make a particular website questionable in Google’s eyes, are:
- Links on a low-authority or questionable domain
- Link points so a source which is not related to the original content
- Link is repeated too often on the page (looks like spam)
- Link is reciprocal – owner of original site als owns link-hosting site.
- Link is not embedded in any relevant content
Your webmaster will regularly assess your site’s link profile, and remove any bad link which hurt its ranking. Link from significantly bad websites will potentially result in a penalty. This is when Google workers manually rank your website negatively due to a bad quality link. Penalties, definitely want to be avoided, as they’re often difficult to recover from.
Social Media Integration for your Orthodontic Practice
More recently than ever, videos are having an increasing influence on online shopper’s buying experience. Just last year, CIsco published a study predicting that by 2020, over 80% of internet traffic will be video-based. Given this direction we’re heading in, it makes sense to start using videos to your advantage. Youtube, in particular, is an integral part of a local SEO campaign now. Not to mention, youtube alone has over 1 billion monthly users in 2017 – that is a lot of traffic to go untapped.
Much in the same way that Google search has algorithms to determine importance and relevance, youtube does too. And, they’re not too dissimilar in terms of criteria either. At the bottom of it all, youtube is just a search engine for videos. It values fresh, relevant content much like Google does, keywords play a major part in ranking, and has more ranking factors to be discussed below.
While it may seem daunting to create Youtube videos, they don’t necessarily need to be of top-notch quality. The content matters, and quality helps, but you don’t need to be the next Steven Spielberg to benefit from Youtube videos. For example, the metadata for your video is an important ranking factor. You need to tell Youtube what your video is about in order for it to understand what it’s good for.
On top of your input, Youtube also looks for user signals to rank your videos. For example, videos with comments responding to the content, or with longer watch times, will rank higher and optimize better for Youtube’s algorithm. And, just like for regular SEO, fresh relevant content is king! Also, you should ensure to tag your video and optimize it as early as possible, within 72 hours of uploading ideally, to ensure it sticks to the top of the results. Your orthodontic marketing strategist will help make sure all the checkboxes are ticked.
Tracking your Orthodontic Office’s Growth
You ever heard the expression “I know 50% of my marketing is working, just not which half…”? Well, it’s common, but with On the Map’s SEO services, we take out the guess work. Included with our SEO is a state-of-the-art tracking system, which keeps track of: the visitors to your website, the time they spent on it, how quickly they clicked away, the emails they send and the calls they make to you.
To break it down for you though we break it into two tracking forms: the traffic report, and the ranking report. The ranking report is bit more simple, it shows you the phrases for which you’re ranking on the front page of Google, and also in what position you are in. This is especially helpful in the long run, to see which search phrases are yielding the best returns. The traffic report, on the other hand, tracks more the number of people which go to your website, their activity including when they email you and call you, and more metrics which are presented clearly. These reports really take the guesswork out of what’s currently happening in your campaign, and helps you optimize it going forward for the best results.
Orthodontic Office SEO – A Proven Digital Advertising Solution
Orthodontists change lives by fixing and changing appearances. While a reputable and leading practice may have some of the best services, it’s important that they create and establish an online presence significant enough to reflect the office. SEO is amongst the most effective digital marketing strategies and has been proven to help increase business in both the business and medical worlds. With the right SEO strategy at your exposure, your clients will find you easier than ever.