Squeeze In Seo – 4 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Dental Blog Posts
If there is one mantra that is repeated more than any other among dental SEO and marketing gurus it is “create good content”. Since Google is continually honing their algorithms to return high-quality results for their customers, filling your practice website with fresh, unique, and informative dental information is a great way to stand out from your competitors. But let’s face it – writing posts for your dental blog can be a chore. If you are going to spend your precious time outside the office writing about the finer aspects of dentistry, you want to make sure you maximize the return on your efforts. Here are 4 ways to wring every drop of search engine optimization benefit out of your posts.
1. Keywords Are The Key
Zig Ziglar is credited with saying “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time”. While the rare dental professional may enjoy writing blog posts, the vast majority only do it to attract and educate clients, and to increase their online visibility and authority. And to accomplish both of those goals you should have specific targets in mind with each post you write. The needs of the clients determine the subjects to target with your posts, and the idiosyncrasies of the the search engines should shape the keywords you target when you write. Here are a two simple steps to keep in mind when crafting your masterpiece.
Don’t Stuff – Synonymize
If you are hoping to rank a post or page for pediatric dentistry, then it is reasonable to expect that keyword phrase to appear several times in a page or post. But using the same phrase too often is annoying to both your readers and the search engines, and both will penalize you for doing it excessively. The solution is to employ synonyms and related phrases. Google is smart enough to know that “dentist”, “dentistry”, “dental”, “tooth”, “teeth”, and “oral health” are all related. The same goes for “pediatric”, “child”, “kid”, “baby”, “toddler”, and “infant”. Just try searching Google for various combinations, and you will see very similar results. Mixing and matching related phrases in your posts will help you avoid keyword stuffing penalties from Google, and set you up as a good communicator with your clients.
Paint Your Target
You should use the tools at your disposal to highlight your primary and secondary keywords on any given page or post. There are a few different markup elements at your disposal in building a post, and you should use them to let Google and your readers know which ideas you are trying to emphasize. For example, if “dental implants” is the top target, it is helpful to get it in the URL (i.e. www.mysite.com/understanding-dental-implants), and also in the header tag (<h1>Understanding Dental Implants</h1>) of the page. There are 6 layers of heading tags – h1 to h6 – that you can use to mark up section headers, and Google does look at them to try to figure out what you think is important in your post. Let them in on your plan by using the tags, and throw in the occasional bold or italic item as well. Just try to do it in a way that your readers will interpret as you naturally emphasizing a point or idea.
2. Optimize Your Images
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and adding the right ones to your posts can certainly help you convey your point to your readers. But what about to the search engines? As sophisticated as Google is, it can’t tell a good photo from a bad one, nor can it accurately determine the subject matter of an image. But a whole segment of Google is dedicated to image indexing and searching, which means they are relying on you to tell them what they need to know. Here are a few steps you can take to get the most search engine impact from your dental blog post images.
Use Descriptive Names
Using descriptive file names for your pictures that include your keywords is a crucial step in image optimization. Google indexes those file names when it crawls your site, so changing the DSC_0015.jpg file name your camera produced to something like Dental_Implants_Syracuse_NY.jpg will get you an additional keyword plug on your page.
Use Alt Tags
The alt section of an image tag (<img src=”Dental_Implants_Syracuse_NY.jpg” alt=”Dental Implants Syracuse NY”>) is another critical way of associating images with keywords. Use plain English descriptions, and don’t keyword stuff. You should have alt tags filled out for every non-decorative image on your site.
Today’s digital cameras produce ridiculously large image files. Big files take a long time to load, and can significantly slow your site. The days of dial-up are gone, and the average person expects a page to load in 3-5 seconds, or they tend to bounce to another site. Because of that, site speed is an element in the Google ranking algorithm. One way that you can keep your site snappy is to resize your photos before you upload them to your site. Keeping them under 75K-100K is a good target to shoot for.
3. Leverage Link Love
The term Internet comes from an inter-linked network of pages. Your website should be a mini version of the Internet, with related pages linked together in logical ways beyond just via the menu system at the top of your site. Not only is it a great way to keep people bouncing around on your site, it also helps you rank. If you have any doubt that Google loves sites that link a lot, perform most any informational search on Google, and see how close to the top a Wikipedia page ranks. And no matter which page of theirs you look at, you will find it awash with links. Here are a couple tips for page and post linking on your site.
Infuse Internal Links
Beyond helping visitors find related content, internal linking helps spread inbound link authority (aka link juice) around your site. If another website links to one of your pages or posts, in the Google ranking algorithm that passes along a measure of authority to your page. If that page in turn links to several other pages or posts on your site, that increase in authority is then passed along to a lesser degree to the other pages, and ends up benefiting the whole site. Here are a few pointers for placing internal links in your posts:
a. Vary the anchor text
Google has gotten increasingly touchy about the over optimization of anchor text on links. Because of that, it is important to mix it up when building links, both internal and external. Use the same synonymizing tip above when building internal links, and it will help avoid any over-optimization penalties. Context matters, so even if you are linking with generic text in proximity to your keywords (ie read more about Internet dental marketing here links from a common word next to my keyword) Google still gets the picture.
b. Vary the targets
In addition to anchor text, Google has also cracked down on sites that have an abundance of links pointed only at one page or a few pages on their site. You will naturally get a larger percentage of inbound links from other sites coming to your main page, so linking to various inner pages on your posts will help diversify your overall link profile.
c. Don’t go nuts
Yes, Google loves internal links, and yes Wikipedia ranks very well utilizing them, but don’t think that means that you can do it to the same level they do. They get away with dozens and dozens of internal links on each page and hundreds of total links on a page because they are Wikipedia. For we hoi polloi there are limits. 5 or 6 internal links per post should be more than enough to help your cause.
Give To Get
Every dentist wants to be thought of as the dental expert by their clients, and the one that they go to for questions on oral health. But it is important to remember that blog posts aren’t just about setting you up as the authority in the eyes of your patients – it is also about establishing your website as a dental authority site in the eyes of the search engines. And one characteristic of authoritative sites is that they link out to other authority sites. That doesn’t mean that you should link to your competitors, but it does mean that there is a benefit to your site to drop in an occasional outbound link to a recognized authority page on Wikipedia, WebMD, or the ADA. They aren’t a threat to your business, and the additional information they provide about sub-topics in your post (ie linking to a page on dental porcelain in your post about veneers) will show your patients you care about educating them while at the same time giving your page or post an authority boost. Remember, link juice flows both ways.
4. Wring Every Last Drop
Once you have written your masterpiece post, varied your keywords, optimized your images, and inserted your links, you will want to maximize your return on sweat equity. That means just posting it on your website is not enough – you need to get social. The search engine algorithms are giving increasing weight to social signals, so you want to make sure you drop links to your new post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other social site you have an account on. It also would be helpful if the post got a few likes, +1’s, and re-tweets. All those things tell Google that your post is fresh, it is popular, and that your site is a dental authority website.
Steve Brown is the CEO of DDSRank, a company dedicated to helping dental professionals gain visibility in the search engines.
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