Innova Magazine by 3M
Orthodontic science and practice excellence
  • SEO Fundamentals, Part 1 – Four Ways to Make Your Orthodontic Website SEO Friendly

    Orthodontist leaning back in office chair as he looks out window

    • When orthodontists first recognized that their practice website had the potential to supplement their referral network, the direction was simple: “Build it and they will come.”

      But today, as website search engine technology and analytics have become more sophisticated, and reveal more insights about searcher habits, the bar has been raised. It’s not enough to just have a website; it’s critical to design and populate a website in a way that appeals to searchers who are not familiar with your orthodontic practice. 

      With this in mind, 3M has put together a series of articles that gives orthodontists practical tips on how to make the most of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), one of the keys to creating an effective practice website.

      Here, in Part 1 of our series, we review the fundamentals of SEO – what it is, why it’s important and where you might use it to improve your website’s standing in relation to other orthodontist websites.

      What is SEO?
      Defined, SEO is the process of raising the visibility of your website in search engine results. If you follow the process you will increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your site. But this is easier said than done. After all, search engines are busier than ever these days. Google®, the most common search engine – accounting for 63.5 percent of all online desktop searches and 94.4 percent of all mobile searches – processes over 3.5 billion searches every day, or over 40,000 searches every second. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, if you’re not paying attention to SEO.

      Where a Search Engine Could Use Tinkering
      Here are examples of situations where a search engine might benefit from these helpful tips:

      1. Duplicate content can hinder search results. Often when a website is created, multiple versions of a page are generated. These can cause search engines to mark content as “duplicate,” which can hurt a site’s search ranking.

        Tip: Ask your web designer if the number of duplicated pages on your site can be reduced.
      2. Non-text content like photos, video and audio can slow results. As sophisticated as search engines are, they still struggle with processing multi-media content.

        Tip: Make sure your photos, videos and audio each carry image-alt text in HTML format.
      3. Using proper names that may not match terms consumers use can create confusion and lower your search ranking. Particularly with a subject like orthodontics, numerous situations occur where a proper name may not match a more commonly searched consumer term. “Ceramic brackets,” for example, is a term less likely to be used more frequently than “clear braces.”

        Tip: In the text of your website, wherever possible, include terms consumers are more likely to use.
      4. Lastly, search engines have no way of gauging quality content. Instead, search engines are forced to speculate what people are looking for based on how they act, what they click on, what they share, and initially what they link to.

        Site popularity boosts its appearance in search engines, so ask current patients what they want to see on a practice website and build those elements in to your site.

      In Part 2 of our SEO series, we will break down how fine-tuning Objective SEO can help your orthodontic website move up in the rankings. To learn more SEO fundamentals – including common misconceptions and ways to get your content out into the world, view our “SEO Fundamentals” webinar here.

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