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SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. Search engines are competing with each other for users. One competitive advantage they target is providing users with relevant search results which means they are constantly striving to improve their methods for ranking websites. This post will give an introduction into how search engines rank websites.
Search engines use algorithims which assess thousands of variables to rank websites. As if optimising websites wasn’t difficult enough, these algorithms are constantly changing so we are effectively aiming at a moving target. Google made its latest additions to it algorithms in April 2012, the details of which are a closely guarded secret.
Information on your website is gathered by search robots or search-bots. These operate in a similar manner to a worm virus only they are a constructive force. Search bots crawl your site of their own volition reading the site’s content and its meta tags. They then return the information gathered to a central depository where the data is indexed and ranked. It is important that your site is built in a way which makes it easy for search bots to navigate and collect the information they are looking for.
Long gone are the days when loading a website with key words resulted in high ranking search results. Getting good results is alot more complicated these days. The underlying idea is that search engines are looking to provide the most relevant results to their users so it is best to design your site with this in mind. Think of what the search user is looking for and then attempt to address this as best you can with the content of your website. It is difficult to find short-cuts to good search results and these are often punished with negative rankings.
Content is key. Providing useful, relevant and unique content will positively affect your search ranking. Content on a site for a dental clinic can generally be broken down into two sections - static and new.
Static content should generally remain the same with some ammendments over time. It includes information about your clinic, your team and their qualifications, the services you provide, any specialities, information on procedures, costs and any other static information that you think will benefit the patient.
New content can be added through a blog. Search engines like new material so it is a good way to optimise your site and also to provide new and timely information for patients. You can blog about developments at your clinic, new treatments, new offers, new developments in the world of dentistry to name but a few topics. WordPress offers a platform which is very user friendly and allows you to update your blog as and when you wish. If your blog gains the esteem of your peers, it can be a good method of link building.
Search engines use links to your website as a way of assessing its quality. Assessing links is the easiest way for search bots to authenticate the content on your site. Hence the term link building has become a popular SEO term. The value attached to a link varies depending on the relevance and ranking of the site providing the back link. For example if you are a cosmetic dentist, a link from a blog about dentistry is worth more than a link from a site about carpentry. Links from bonified local and national media sources and well recognised and are highly valued.
Beware of “black hat” links and search engine optimisation techniques. The term black hat SEO describes using short-cuts or loopholes to rank a site higher than it deserves to be. They aim to increase a sites search ranking without adding to the user experience. These techniques are to be avoided. They may provide short term gains but once found out they will result in negative rankings from google.
We hope this helps as a brief introduction to SEO for dentists. We will be discussing the topics introduced here in more detail in future posts.