How to Setup and Optimize Each Web Page On Your Dentist Website for the Search Engines
Now that your web pages have been built out on your dental website, you need to make sure that they are properly optimized for the search engines for dental seo. Simply creating these web pages doesn’t mean they will instantly show up and start ranking on the search engines. You need to make sure that certain page elements are set up in such a way that search engines like Google can find what they are looking for and that items you want to emphasize are coded or tagged properly. Many of the optimization strategies listed here are only visible to the search engine bots that will crawl your website.
Here are some of the most important parts of a dental website to optimize for, along with detailed explanations of each item.
Meta Title Tag
This is by far the most important SEO element to optimize for, so make sure you work on this correctly. This is the the part that shows up as the linked text on the search results page, and it also appears in the top of your web browser’s bar. It might not necessarily show up within the web page itself, depending on how you have it set up. If you followed our directions earlier for setting up your website with WordPress and adding in the Yoast SEO plugin, then you can implement it fairly easily.
- Include keywords that you want to target on the web page here.
- Make sure you have a unique title tag for each page on your site. Do not have any duplicates.
- Make sure you stay within Google’s guidelines for length of your title tag which is currently 600 pixels wide, generally around 50-60 characters long. Use the built-in features of Yoast SEO plugin if you are using WordPress to determine if you are within the acceptable title length.
- Make sure you put your main keyword towards the beginning of the title tag.
- Add your brand or dental practice name at the end of the tag, with a keyword separator before it. Types of separators to use are: The vertical bar, which is | or the hyphen or dash – For example: Your Keyword and Other Text | Brand Name Here.
If you look at your website’s code, the title tag should look like this, within your <head> tags:
<title>Your Keyword and Other Text | Brand Name Here</title>
Meta Description Tag
The description tag is used to provide the search engines with a summary of your web page and appears in the search results just below the title tag. Description tags don’t contribute to rankings or your overall SEO score, but they do act as an incentive to click through to your website.
- The description tag acts as an incentive to click through to read more, so use text that entices users to click to learn more.
- Stay within 160 characters or less. If you go any higher than that, the search engines will cut it off.
- Try to include at least some of the keywords you are trying to optimize for in your title here as well. That way, if the user is searching for that keyword, it will be bolded in both the title and description. This repeated bolding can draw more attention, thus making people more likely to click through to your website.
- Like your titles, do not duplicate your descriptions.
- The description tag should appear right after the title tag within your <head> section.
If you look at your dental website’s source code, your description tag should look like this:
<meta name="description" content="Summary description of your web page goes here.”>
There are several different types of heading tags, numbered from H1 through H6. The importance of the heading tag is listed in order of priority, so H1 is telling the search engines that the content within it is more important that the content listed within an H2 tag, then the H2 tag is more important than the H3 tag, and so forth.
For an example of how heading tags are organized, if you lived on Main street, it would look something like this:
<h1>Continent Name - North America</h1> <h2>Country Name - United States of America</h2> <h3>State Name - Virginia</h3> <h4>County Name - Fairfax County</h4> <h5>Town Name - Arlington</h5> <h6>Street Name - Main Street</h6>
You will notice that the font size is largest for the H1 heading and gets smaller as you work your way down to the H6 tag. Back before CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was invented, heading tags would appear like this. With CSS, you can style the text so that the difference is not visible, but you should make at least the H1, H2 and H3 tags look bigger than the text surrounding them.
Outside of the title tag, the H1 tag is one of the most important SEO elements to optimize for on your dentistry practice website. The letter H in H1 stands for Heading.
For the H1 tag, You should try to include one or more of the keywords that you listed in the title tag here. There are no restrictions to the length of your H1 tag, but since this shows up on your web page, you should try to limit it to a readable length of about one sentence long, and avoid having it taking up two lines of text. Think of the H1 tag as a sentence that best represents what will be discussed for the rest of the web page, and include your main targeted keywords in the H1 tag, making it readable for people browsing your website.
- Try to list the H1 tag as the very first text element of your web page. Show this before any paragraphs of text, and definitely before any other tags like H2, H3, etc.
- Try to incorporate the targeted keyword closer to the beginning of the sentence.
- Try to only list 1 H1 tag on your page.
- Keep it short and pithy. Make it readable, but also optimized for search engines.
If you look at your website’s source code, your H1 tag should look something like this:
<h1>Example of Heading for H1 Tags Goes Here</h1>
The H2 tag can be used within your dental website as a secondary heading or sub heading to the main H1 tag. It should contain text related to your H1 tag, and is used to put an emphasis on text that follows it.
- You can have multiple H2 tags on your page, and it is advised to show them below your main H1 tag.
- Try to include keywords in your H2 tags, but don’t overdo it.
If you look at your website’s source code, your H2 tag should look very similar to your H1 tag and look something like this:
<h2>Example of Heading for H2 Tags Goes Here</h2>
H3 Through H6 Tags
These heading tags can also be used and are subservient to the heading tag before it. These tags are less common than the H1 and H2 tags. I wouldn’t get too worried about the H3, H4, H5 and H6 tags, unless you have a very long web page that discusses multiple levels of hierarchical content.
Summary of Using Heading Tags
If you are a little confused about how to use all of these different heading tags, you should at least use the H1 tag and perhaps a few H2 tags on a web page.
NOTE: You don’t want to over optimize your dental website’s heading tags. This can happen when you list your primary keyword too many times in your content, H1, H2 and H3 tags and the Meta Title tags. For example, during the early days of the internet and SEO, some webmasters would spam the search engines by listing their main keyword dozens of times in the title tag and the now disappeared Meta Keyword tag. Google and search engines will either de-index your web page or your entire website if you attempt to manipulate them this way. A good rule of thumb with SEO and optimizing your website is to think, “Am I writing this for the search engines or for my dental patients?” If you answered for the search engines, that may be an indicator that you are heading into spammy territory.
URL of Page
When naming the URL of your web page, make sure you include keywords in it. This helps with SEO, and the keywords within the URL will be bolded if they were included in the user’s search.
- Try to add keywords in URL structure
- Add dashes between words instead of spaces. Example: /page-name-goes-here/
- Try to name the URL that is similar to the title tag or the main emphasis of the page’s content.
- Don’t include every word from the title into the URL since that will make it too long and the search engines might truncate it. For example, if your title was “Get Your Dental Checkup in Any Town, USA”, you could name the URL: /dental-checkup-any-town/
It is important when adding images to your dental website that you include keywords in the file name as well as in the alt tags. This will help your images show up for image searches as well as give more information to the search engines on what your web page is about. It is important to rename the default image name that many cameras attach to images, such as DC000000123.jpg, to a name that is an accurate description and optimized for the search engines at the same time. Naming your images will also help those that are blind or visually impaired to be able to read your website better if they are using a screen reader tool.
- Rename the image to be something more descriptive and indicative of what it is.
- Use dashes instead of spaces in the filename. Instead of “image name here.jpg” it becomes “image-name-here.jpg”
- Include a keyword or two that relates to the image, but don’t overdo it. For example, if you have a photo of the outside of your dental office in Arlington, VA, you can rename it to “ABC-Dental-Business-Name-Serving-Arlington-VA.jpg”
- Make your alt tags descriptive and try to include a keyword, as long as it sounds natural.
- Don’t create alt tags for images on your site that are part of your template, unless it contains text in it that you want to describe. For example, you can name your logo or some buttons, but don’t name a background color image or images that are part of your site structure.
- Compress your images to the smallest possible file size without losing too much image detail. It is important that your website load as quickly as possible, not only for website visitors, but also because Google takes website speed into account for SEO.
- Don’t attempt to spam the file names or alt tags with too many keywords. For example, don’t do “Best-Dental-Dentist-Dentistry-Arlington-Virginia-VA-Fairfax-Washington.jpg”
Make sure you link to other pages on your website. This helps tell the search engines about other pages on your website, and helps spread “link juice” throughout your website.
- You do this automatically with your menu system.
- Add links in your footer that replicate your menu system, but you usually only want to show the main category links and not sub category or sub page links.
- Add links from within the content of your page to other pages on your website. Having a blog makes it easier to create internal links to the main pages of your website.
Sitemaps are outlines of your website that make it easier for search engine spiders or bots to crawl your website. If you want a page on your website to be crawled by a search engine then you include it in your sitemap. While the SEO benefit of a sitemap is small, you should still include one.
- Sitemaps are created in an XML format.
- If you have a WordPress based dental website, and you installed the Yoast SEO plugin as we outlined earlier in this guide, you can easily add your XML sitemap with a few clicks.
- Once you have created your sitemap, you should submit it within your Google Search Console area.
The speed that your website and web pages are able to load is not only a concern for your website visitors but also for Google. Search engines want to serve results where the pages load quickly since many people browsing the internet have certain expectations regarding loading speed. If your website loads any longer then a few seconds on a fast cable internet connection, then not only will Google penalize your website and lower your rankings, but potential new dental patients will leave your website by clicking their browser’s back button and going to one of your competitors.
Some of the items to look for when optimizing your website’s speed is:
- Enabling compression – usually called Gzip. You need to contact your webhost to enable this.
- Compress and reduce the sizes of your images, while still retaining quality. Usually, file sizes of your jpeg, gif and png files can be reduced. Also, if you have any video or other media files on the site, make sure you compress those as well.
- Upgrade your web hosting. Most web hosting companies jam hundreds, if not thousands, of websites onto one web server. See if you can upgrade to a faster account with less resources used or perhaps move to another web host.
You can test your web page speed with many different tools, but one to pay attention to is Google PageSpeed Insights.
Once you enter in your web page URL and click on “Analyze”, it will provide you with both mobile and desktop page speed scores ranging from 0-100. The goal is to get a score of 80 or higher.
There are many other ways to make your website load quickly, however, some of the tasks are fairly technical in nature, so you might want to get a competent web developer that is familiar with website speed optimization techniques to help out.
Summary of Optimizing Each Page for the Search Engines
We covered several different tasks to help optimize your dental website for the search engines. It might seem overwhelming to work on all of these at once. If you were only to do a couple things at first, we suggest working on your title tags and then on adding H1 tags. You can then go back and work on the other items when you have more time.
Now that we have worked on several on-page and on-site SEO factors, it is time to address off-page or off-site SEO factors. One of the most important off-site factors is link building, which we will cover next.
Add Content and Pages to Your Dental Website For SEO
How To Perform Link Building for Dental Websites