Visibility in relevant search results hinges on how the search engine algorithms view your website.
Search engine algorithms are designed to sort through the hundreds of billions of websites they’ve indexed to find the most relevant result for a search query. Search Engines exist to uncover, understand, and assemble all the content the internet has to offer in order to provide the best possible result for a given search query. In the dental world, a prime example occurs when prospective patients use a search engine like Google to search for a new dentist or orthodontist in their area.
For your website to show up prominently in search results, its content needs to be visible and accessible to search engine crawlers. In short, if your site cannot be found by someone looking for a new oral health provider, you will not be able to generate traffic to your website and interest in your practice.
Keep reading to learn about 7 important ranking factors used by Google, Bing, and other search engines to determine where a website should be displayed within a given search result.
Although over-saturating your website with keywords is against Google and Bing guidelines, creating relevant content surrounding the keywords you would like to rank for is a necessity.
I always say, “your practice won’t rank for ice cream, because you don’t have a landing page devoted to ice cream on your website.” You can’t expect to rank for “Invisalign” or “Dental Implants” unless you have unique content focused on those topics on your site.
Your practice’s website should not be challenging to navigate or use. If a potential patient cannot find where you are located, how to reach out to you, or where to request an appointment, they will simply move on to a competitor’s website that is easier to use.
When Google crawls a website, they check not only the onsite content but also inbound and outbound links to conclude your relevancy for a given keyword. Even though you may be the top provider of a service in your area, a doctor who has created a successful online campaign through link building with local community programs may rank better due to Google’s perception that they are the more “trusted and preferred brand” in the area.
When a website is responsive, the layout and/or content responds or adapts based on the size of the screen they are presented on. A responsive website is one version adapted for each screen size – tablet, desktop, and mobile. A website must be mobile-friendly to rank well online, as determining if a website provides a great experience on ALL device types is a key component of the algorithms used by search engines.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is the protocol that provides this encryption. SSL Certificates provide secure, encrypted communications between your practice’s website and your patient’s internet browser.
They ensure that sensitive information submitted to your practice’s website is secure and creates a trusted and secure connection between you and your patients. According to Google, for example, websites that have not upgraded to HTTPS (SSL) are flagged by Google Chrome, which negatively influences rankings and traffic.
If a page’s experience is poor, it may result in a high bounce rate. If users are not engaging with your website or leaving immediately, it is likely to negatively affect your website’s rankings.
If your website is slow to load, many would-be site visitors will get frustrated with the experience and leave right away. That is also likely to negatively affect online rankings.
By accounting for these 7 factors a practice’s website will be in a good position to achieve high levels of search engine visibility for relevant search results. Overall, search engines tend to rank a practice’s website high up in results if users are able to easily navigate and engage with that site online.
The goal of visibility is why engaging in strategic search engine optimization (SEO) on an ongoing basis is so crucial for online success. If your practice is in need of SEO support or if you have any questions pertaining to the search engine algorithms please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
—Naomi Newell, Lead SEO Specialist, Sesame Communications