Organic search engine optimization is all about making your website appealing to search engines – and snagging new visitors in the process. With the thousands (millions?) of SEO recommendations floating across the internet, it can be tricky pinning down exactly what’s going to make a difference. That’s just one reason why it always pays off to just pay attention to what’s currently working – and do your best to imitate the approach.
Google has us all in its thrall – but we’re not entirely powerless. There are definitive steps website owners can take to stand out among the pack. And featured snippets are probably the coolest payoff for properly-optimized, high quality website content.
A featured snippet is the block of text above the list of regular search results that displays a relevant excerpt from the linked page. This is technically a search result, but it takes precedence over everything else on page 1 for a few reasons. One, it actually delivers a block of information, rather than linking the searcher to the website itself. And two, it’s the first thing you see on that page of results (with the exception of ads, which are always going to rise to the top because they’re a moneymaker for Google and other search engines).
Here’s an example of a featured snippet that answers the searcher’s question about tooth decay:
There’s more than just a single featured snippet, here – the list of related questions all open out to show additional featured snippets, with blurbs from sites above linked URLs.
Then, there’s the first of the standard search results – a link to a private practice’s site that has an informative and easy-to-read piece on common causes of tooth decay.
Featured snippets are Google’s way of getting searchers the information they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. As the behemoth continues making choices that enforce their commitment to a higher quality internet, we can expect additional user-oriented results that prioritize searcher intent.
Take a look at your website and consider whether there’s room to work on the following:
Don’t get overwhelmed – get active. If you’re looking for professional help, submit your website for a free evaluation and we’ll help you decide on next steps.
Is your website deisgn begging for retirement?
That’s a complicated question – and one that we’re happy to help you answer. In fact, there are a series of straightforward tools you can use to start diagnosing your site’s issues and considering whether they outweigh its strengths.
Deciding on a redesign should have you considering site appearance, function and versatility – and identifying which realm (or realms) your site is lacking in.
Looking for an expert’s eye? Request a complimentary website evaluation and we’ll provide an outside opinion as to areas for improvement. Sometimes, bringing in a stranger to take a look at a site you know so well reveals hidden problems that are begging for a fix.
When a website takes forever to load, a few things happen. One, the site visitor gets irritated and takes off without ever engaging with your site. And two, the search engines take this as a signal that your website is low quality – and alter their rankings to reflect that.
Site speed is always going to be crucial from both a user and bot perspective. And with our increasingly all-encompassing use of the internet, it’s only going to get more important.
So: how fast is your site? And is that fast enough to satisfy 2017’s demands?
The first tool to check out is Google’s Pagespeed Insights. Some of the factors they take into account are a little finicky, but the tool will give you an overall understanding of whether your site is sluggish. Then, check that score against a Pingdom speed test. We like this tool because it’s not logged down in Google-borne biases, and also compares your sites to others that have been recently tested to give you an idea of how it’s measuring up.
Are some of your site pages dead ends? If your site is old, it’s possible that some of the images and pages are no longer up and running. There may also be issues with certain browsers or devices.
In order to see exactly where users are hitting 404 errors, set up your website with Google Search Console. It’s easy to configure and will give you specific listings of which pages are throwing errors. All you need to set it up is access to your website’s registration account or the site files – here are some quick instructions.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own website, there’s a bigger problem at hand. You want visitors, especially new ones who have no experience with your business, to be able to quickly arrive at their desired piece of information. But bulky (or overly minimal) menus get in the way, as do pop-ups and other distractions.
We wrote a post about site navigation last month – check it out for some specific pointers.
This is an absolutely huge consideration – especially in today’s SEO landscape. Simply put, if your website isn’t responsive, it’s not going to rank. What does it mean to be responsive? All elements on your website should resize and realign based on the screen size and device that it’s being viewed on. This allows for the best possible user experience – and less zooming, reloading, and frustrated abandonment of the site.
Google has another tool that allows for easy peasy evaluation of responsiveness – try out the Mobile-Friendly Test.
This takes a bit of subjectivity – there’s no simple test you can run your site through to get a thumbs up or thumbs down on how current it looks, unfortunately. But what you can do is try to take an objective look at your home page. Compare it to other websites that you frequent on a regular basis – does it look like it was built in the same era?
Design trends change extremely quickly, and it doesn’t take long for a site to start looking like it was built years ago. That’s one reason why avoiding trendy design tactics and sticking to something tried-and-true can be a good approach, especially if you don’t want to keep having to invest in new designs.
Looking for help coming to a redesign decision? Just get in touch!
A website should make all the work simple for its visitors. But all too often, you wind up on a site that’s nothing short of baffling. As a site visitor, you’re not just confused – you’re frustrated. Because you didn’t sign up for a digital puzzle, you just wanted to get the phone number for your local Thai restaurant. But this site is taking you further away from that information, instead of delivering it to you.
The last thing you want as a small business owner is for your website visitors to fall into this trap. Attention spans are decreasing all the time. If a visitor doesn’t find what they’re looking for right away, they don’t work harder to get to that information – instead, they just navigate away and look for another provider.
Of course, there are many different ways to make sure your site design speaks to visitors’ needs. But today, we’re talking about the most basic place you can possibly start: site navigation. While every website has some kind of navigation, countless sites make big mistakes. And this isn’t just bad for the user, but it’s also sending a perplexing message to search engines trying to index your site.
Check out some of the most important tenets of site navigation below – and get in touch for an analysis as to whether your site is falling into organizational traps.
With mobile site designs becoming increasingly crucial – and often more important than desktop – there are all kind of tricks popping up for displaying mobile menus. But you should never journey too far from the standard menu signifiers. After all, you need your visitors to understand what the symbols on their screen are telling them.
Whether on desktop or mobile, keep the menu in the standard position – if you hide it all in the footer or have it difficult to access, it’s going to irritate more than a few visitors.
When planning out your menu, look at your website content from the perspective of an outsider with no knowledge of your practice. What would they be most interested in? Which page is going to be the most helpful in giving them the information they’re looking for? Make the heavy-hitters the highlights of the menu – for a dental practice, this is usually tabs like “New Patient Information,” “Testimonials,” “Contact Us,” and “Our Services.”
Don’t overwhelm a new visitor. Not only do fewer links increase the likelihood of a visitor finding what they’re looking for, our short-term memories literally can’t handle too much at a time. Research suggests that the human brain can keep seven items in mind at once (plus or minus two). So try to limit your menu to seven or fewer items. If you’re stuck with a ton of absolutely necessary items, you can always split them up into groups.
Items in the middle of lists tend to get lost in the shuffle. Those at the beginning and end are most effective, because the viewer’s attention is strongest. They’re also more likely to retain these items’ names.
Looking for some expert guidance with your website organization? Reach out today for a complimentary site analysis.
With data protection and online privacy continuing to play a role in world news and U.S. politics, more and more small businesses are looking at site encryption. But when you’ve already been running a WordPress site without an SSL certificate, how do you switch over without missteps?
As with many WordPress updates, there are going to be some hiccups along the way. But that doesn’t mean you should skip SSL. Getting your site more secure is an important step for any business – and https:// may even become a ranking factor for search engines in the future (Google’s hinted at this for years and now marks non-https sites that collect sensitive information as “Unsafe” in Google Chrome). And human visitors appreciate https, too – browsers show an indication of site security in the left hand corner of the URL address bar, and getting a green lock is always preferable to a grey or red one.
At Doctor Web Solution, we host all our clients’ sites on WP Engine. This server is WordPress-specific and already makes a big difference in improving site security by blocking unsafe plugins and automatically updating WordPress versions – we haven’t had a single hack since we made the migration to this server. And adding SSL certificates helps keep WP Engine websites as secure as possible – a top priority for any hosting provider.
With WP Engine, adding an SSL certificate is free and relatively simple. As of October 2016, SSL certificates are free to add through Let’s Encrypt and available to all WP Engine installs. You simply add a certificate to each of your installations and then configure the settings. If you have any issues with redirect loops or broken plugins, open up their chat support for help.
When updating our sites, the most common obstacle we ran into was issues with older slider plugins not being SSL-compatible. This was usually because they continued serving http:// versions of photos over https:// – rendering the images broken. If you’re looking for plugin alternatives, shoot a us a quick note and we can discuss more about updating your current theme.
Now that you have your certificates set up, it’s time to make sure that your site is serving content properly. What does this mean? Now that you’re serving visitors pages over https://, you need to make sure that images, iframes and other elements within those pages are also being served over https://. This usually means updating the html – and you don’t have to go through and do this by hand. Plugins like SSL Insecure Content Fixer help you identify and fix insecure html so that you don’t get the dreaded broken lock on your browser address bar.
Now that you’re serving traffic over https://, your Search Console and Google Analytics tracking should follow suit (if you’re not tracking traffic and conversions via Google tools, just send us a quick email and we can help you get set up). Updating these settings will ensure you’re still correctly recording traffic and not missing out on https:// activity.
Complete these steps in Search Console:
Next, complete these steps in Google Analytics:
And with that, you’re on your way to a more secure website & happier site visitors.
How do you get patients back in your office for their next exam? More importantly, how do you show them available treatments that they might be interested in trying? Selling to your patients is a delicate business, and your staff has an in-office approach that informs and educates them. But backing that up with digital efforts is never a bad idea.
If your practice has never tried email marketing, now is the time to start. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide below – and if you’re looking for expert guidance, just get in touch to discuss your practice’s needs. There are many approaches to take when emailing your patient list – make sure yours is effective.
Never email just for the sake of emailing. Make sure that there’s a clear message you’re sharing with your email list – and that each email has something unique to offer. The last thing you want is to be written off as a spammer or damage your reputation with your patients. It’s a great idea to do a little thinking and planning before you initiate your first campaign. Identify your goals, and plan out each email so that they build interest in the service you’re promoting.
Kissmetrics has a great article on planning your email marketing mindset – check it out for more detailed guidance.
When someone receives an email, they have to be given the option to unsubscribe. Their email server also gives them the option to report the message as spam. If you get too many spam complaints, your email marketing platform could forbid you from sending to that list any longer. This screws up your campaigns and can lead to larger problems with your email marketing.
There are a few ways to make sure you’re only emailing people who are interested in receiving messages from your business. One, you can use an opt-in form. This is a form on your website or in your office that asks for the user’s information. It should have a clear message about the types of emails they will receive, and how often. This helps establish appropriate expectations from the start.
If you use an existing client list that you import into your email platform, you can follow up your first email with an extra opt-in email. This will also help ensure that your messages end up in the primary inbox, as opposed to Gmail’s Promotions tab or the spam folder.
Countless emails languish away in inboxes without ever being opened. Many recipients will delete your email without opening it, or just leave the messages and not interact with them in any way. How do you combat this? With a killer subject line.
There are so many different directions you can go with your email subject. Overall, remember that you’re trying to convince recipients to open the email. You can take any of these approaches:
…and so many more.
These campaigns increase in difficulty – if you’re looking for help implementing one, let us know.
Looking for guidance for your email campaigns? Get in touch today!
Feel like your ads are adrift in a digital sea, no lifeboat in sight? Let’s make sure they’re getting found by the people you’re hoping to target in the first place. Google AdWords is changing all the time, and offering up more and more options for small businesses looking to build detailed audiences for their ads. Between location, language, income, general interests, and so much more, there’s a way to target the leads you want, not just hope your ad comes up in front of someone likely to click through.
Below, we’ve put together a quick guide for dentists hoping to up their pay-per-click game. Whether you’re advertising on Google, Facebook, the Display Network, or somewhere else, take another look at your ads and see where improvements might be possible. Feeling a little lost in the great PPC advertising ocean? We’re here to help – reach out today to learn more about what we could offer your ad efforts.
Google AdWords and Facebook are the most popular advertising networks for healthcare professionals. We’ve broken down simple ways to adjust ad settings for each one – Google instructions are below, and check back in a couple weeks for Facebook guidance. The two interfaces work very differently – if you need help setting up your initial account, check out this AdWords guide and this Facebook guide.
From within the All Campaigns view, click the Settings tab. In this view, you can see the broader settings for all of your ad campaigns. This is useful if you’re making larger changes that will affect all campaigns. You can check this view to see how all your campaigns are currently set in terms of
If you’re trying to make changes in this view and getting confused, click through to the campaign you’d like to adjust. Some settings, like Budget, can be adjusted in this global view, but most need to be edited within the Settings tab for a particular campaign.
Once you’ve clicked through to a campaign, you can get really granular. This is where you’re able to set targeting by income and interests – explore these options when setting your location targeting. Click through each of the Locations, Ad Schedule, and Devices tabs at the top of the Settings window to access all your options. This is also where you’ll set a tracking template to add parameters to URLs and use a call tracking system or other advanced tracking options.
Negative keywords can seem a little complicated. How is it that you’re setting a group of terms that you don’t want your ads to come up for? Well, it all comes down to similar phrases that don’t actually apply to your services. For example, if you provide porcelain Lumineers, you don’t want to come up for searches for “Lumineers band,” where searchers are actually looking for the popular music group. This is also a great way to disqualify leads before they make it to your website, such as those looking for “free dental work.”
It’s easier to set negative keywords once you’ve been running ads for a month or two. You can check the keywords by clicking the Keywords tab in the main menu, and clicking Keywords again in the sub-menu (you’ll notice that Negative Keywords is right next to it – we’ll get to that in a second.
Here, you can browse the keyword phrases that have triggered your ads. By checking the number of clicks against conversions, and using some common sense, you can figure out which keywords aren’t a good match for your practice.
Once you have a list ready, click through to the Negative Keywords menu and add the keywords. You can do this at the ad group level or campaign level, depending on how specific your keywords and ad groups are.
Ready to implement these tips but not sure where to begin? Get in touch for expert PPC guidance!
With 2016 reigning large as the year of indecipherable algorithm updates, it was almost refreshing to hear about its clearly delineated “intrusive interstitials” penalty. In August of 2016, Google announced that it would begin rolling this out in early 2017. The guidelines were fairly clear (at least at first glance) – mobile site designs with obnoxious pop-ups or overlays that interfered with the user experience would experience penalties.
Now that we’re past the update rollout, we’re left wondering: what happened, exactly? The uncertainty comes from the lack of penalties faced by even sites with problematic pop-ups. Webmasters are reporting little to no impact on rankings, no matter the state of their interstitials. So is it time to learn back and relax? Not quite.
As always with SEO, we want to be proactive. Learning more about what kind of design practices Google is trying to dissuade (and why they’re cracking down on pop-ups) is a perfect intermediary activity while we wait for the full effects to take hold. Read on for what this could mean for your dental website.
Pop-ups are useful for many different reasons – announcing flash sales or other ecommerce opportunities, presenting visitors with a newsletter or eBook signup, or providing livechat support. But the ways in which each website provides this content can vary wildly. There’s an unbelievable difference behind a respectful pop-up that can be easily closed, and one that blocks out all navigation and refuses to budge until you’ve promised it your firstborn child.
This is doubly true on mobile. The screen you’re working with is a small one – there’s just not enough real estate there to allow for both pop-ups and navigability. This is why Google is taking this newest step in their battle to make the internet a higher-quality, user-driven experience. As the ruler of all we do (lest we make a misstep and be banished to the long-distance rankings tier), Google is working harder and harder to make websites more friendly. If the user is irritated, Google isn’t going to look fondly on that domain.
The intrusive interstitials rule doesn’t outlaw pop-ups entirely – rather, it dictates their size and their annoyingness factor. Take a look at the graphic below to see Google’s official statement on the update:
In short, as long as the pop-ups don’t detract from navigation or cover the content which the user is hoping to access, they’re ok. We’ve seen live chat providers change chat boxes from mid-screen and floating to a small ribbon at the bottom of the mobile browser.
Wondering why any healthcare professionals like yourself would be using pop-ups? In truth, live chat feature are becoming more and more popular on medical websites. This is a great way to capture leads who aren’t quite ready to fill out a contact form, but are interested in learning more about your practice. Many chat providers are fairly inexpensive and will provide basic information to the user before forwarding their inquiry and information to your front desk.
More competitive practices like med spas and cosmetic dentists can also make good use of pop-ups to provide newsletter access. Lock visitors into your email campaigns, and you have a much higher chance of re-engagement (and future business) down the road.
Whether your site design currently makes use of interstitials or not, the pros and cons are plenty. Overall, pop-ups can be a useful tool for engaging site visitors at the beginning of the buyer’s journey – just make sure those pop-ups don’t annoy them along the way.
Looking for help with your site design? Worrying that your website interface isn’t pulling in leads the way it should? Reach out today for a complimentary website evaluation. We’d love to help you move forward & take your practice to the next level!
During the holiday seasons, your opportunities for online marketing explode. But you need to plan ahead to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s not too late for a boost to December business – follow our tips below to get some new patients into the office before the new year. The best part? This won’t take a ton of effort on your office’s part – just make sure to set aside a little time this week and you’ll see the results come January 1!
Looking for a little assistance fine-tuning your practice as we head into 2017? We’d love to be a part of your marketing team – just get in touch for details on how we could power up your online presence.
Holiday Dental Marketing | Dental Marketing During the Holidays | Dental Marketing Tips
Promoting your practice can be as easy as pulling out your smartphone!
How’s your practice’s social media presence? Do you post on a regular schedule, or just when you remember to, or have you lost the password to your Facebook account? No matter your current approach, there’s probably room to improve your patient engagement. Social media might seem frivolous, but it’s become a driving force for small businesses. Many patients actually ask questions and even schedule appointments via Facebook – if they can find your office’s page. But how do you make sure you’re out in front of current and prospective patients?
Don’t get overwhelmed by the social media machine. The practices with the most engaged followings are the ones posting personalized photos and other content that relates to the individuals connected to the office – both staff and patients. While an educational, eye-catching infographic or a goofy comic can go a long way, patients want to feel a connection to your practice’s community. And that means thinking about online content during the workday.
This doesn’t have to be tedious or time-consuming. By putting some steps in place, getting valuable photos, blurbs, testimonials, and other social media (and website) gold will feel second nature.
If you’re ever looking for help with your social media, we’re here to offer expert tips. Just get in touch!
Don’t get bogged down in code – here’s what the symbols within are saying about your SEO
How strong is your website? There are so many ways to go about answering that question, so the process can feel understandably weighty. What is “strength” when it comes to a website, anyway? And where do you get started with the evaluation process? The answers to your website’s strength might seem hidden away, but there are free tools and expert tips that you can try on your own before deciding on next steps.
We’ve compiled some of the most valuable below to help you along the way. These will determine how effectively your website appeals to both search engines and users, the two audiences that determine your online success. Once you’re paying attention to both fronts, your site is firing on all cylinders. But in order to get there, you’ll need to perform a thorough analysis first.
Need help performing your analysis, or implementing any improvements? We’re here – just request a free website evaluation for a detailed rundown of where to get started.