Top 7 tips for SEO in 2016/2017
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has progressed considerably over the last couple years. When SEO first became a buzzword, companies were able to “game the system” by creating spammy links, driving a lot of traffic to their site and thereby increasing their page rank. Google’s Penguin update has changed the playing field and ranking through SEO is now based more on user experience, value and freshness of content, specificity to region, as well as page rank. Given that our website is probably our biggest lead generator in our business, here are my top 7 tips for SEO in 2016-2017:
Social content will continue to become more and more prominent in algorithm rankings. Google is paying attention to your social signals, and I believe it may account for 1/3 of your overall ranking. Activity on social media is a great way for Google to determine who is relevant. Social shares, social mentions, even hashtags. If people are talking about you, mentioning you, sharing links, then you must be bringing value to the internet ecosystem and in the end, that is Google’s PRIMARY focus (the user experience). Several years ago in social media, dental practices simply built a page, aggregated followers, and blasted them with articles and/or offers. Now, it’s important instead to think of social media as an organic system and an ongoing conversation on each platform. Instead of aggregating followers, aim for increasing your social mentions. Strive to get your content onto your follower’s feeds. This can only be done by putting out content that people want to share. The average user has over 223 friends per platform, so a ton of value can be derived from a follower of yours sharing your content on their feed. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all important. Snapchat is where the attention is right now. Focus on your strategy, think outside the box, think about how you can gain extensions into their timelines or sphere of influence, and put out content people will want to share.
#2 Videos are incredibly powerful. More and more videos are being posted on the internet as available bandwidth increases. If you’re not continually and consistently looking at creating video content- rethink! Video allows your audience to see you talking, describing a procedure, see your office, and build trust with you. Don’t worry too much about production value, videos can be just as successful when shot raw on a smartphone. Spend time creating a video with engaging content, then scale that video in perpetuity all across the web. With one video you can embed it on your website and get a ton of traction there, then you can use short clips of that same video on social media, Snapchat stories, blog posts, newsletters, etc. So they have a multiplicity effect!
#3 Mobile-Optimized websites are crucial. Mobile phones have surpassed desktop computers as the primary device for viewing webpages. At the time of writing, mine traffic to my site: AtlantaDentalSpa.com is 75.6% mobile in origin. Unfortunately, many websites are designed primarily for the desktop computer and that design can be seriously degraded when viewing from a mobile device, leading to a bad user experience. Find out if you have a “responsive website”. If you’re able to redesign your website, design from mobile perspective first. Make the mobile experience valuable for your target customer. Also make sure your page load speed is optimized. If your pages are loading slow a mobile user won’t stick around long enough to view your content. You can check this with a tool on Google called “PageSpeed Insights”.
#4 Look at long tail keywords. Voice search functions are increasing in popularity. These are sentence search queries, like “Siri, can you tell me the best dentist in my zip code?” vs “dentist, San Diego.” Long tail keywords are becoming more and more prominent. If you devote time to researching these long tail keywords and optimizing your content and search for them- you WILL be rewarded with massive traffic.
#5 Local SEO will become more and more important. Local is everything. Google has gotten smarter and can predict what users are trying to do, then returns results specifically for the location from where the search occured. Local SEO is an independent animal of regular SEO with different ways to rank. Citations are still important – these are NAP (name, address, phone #) listings across “yellow pages” type sites around the web. Growing in importance are signals like how many times people request directions to your office, having a complete profile on your Google Business page, and quantity and quality of reviews on Google, Yelp, etc. Most searches now show the top 3 hits for local, and it is awesome to be one of those 3 listed! User attention is focused where the local map is displayed and people click there very often.
#6 Focus on the user experience. This is hard to quantify, but it’s at the core of Google’s algorithm change. They are rewarding sites that have the best user experience. This includes a combination of overall site design, great content, a rich user experience, videos, social media – the complete package. One way to quantify user experience is to focus on lowering your site’s bounce rate. If you have high a bounce rate people are hitting your site and immediately leaving it likely reveals to Google that you site creates little value to the user, so it will go down in the rankings. Make it a goal to increase the time spent on your site. You can increase time on site by embedding videos, making sure your pages are content-rich with graphics, infographics, internal links, testimonials, etc. Low bounce rates combined with more time spent means you have an engaging site where people are finding value and Google measures this behind the scenes.
#7 Content is STILL king. Content will always be king. Sites used to be able to rank with 300-400 words per page. I now believe the best results are pages with around 1500 words (ideally) and also include video, internal links, and external links. Share the love for external sites you trust – Google rewards for contributing to the ecosystem. Plan to go deep with your knowledge, then go wide. Go deep with each page and add as much knowledge and content as you can with that particular subject, then go wide by adding more subjects. Include pictures, tag them correctly with your keywords, include video, etc. It’s better to have 10 deep pages than 300 shallow ones.
I encourage you to become knowledgeable about SEO and if necessary. Practice owners need to be intimately involved in creation of the content because it really can’t be outsourced very well. It can be daunting, but it’s totally do-able and will be the new norm in the dental industry. If you want to grow your business and aren’t paying attention to SEO / Content marketing, you’ll be left behind!