Have you ever wondered how a search engine works? How is it that when a potential patient searches for "dentists in Seattle," certain dental offices come up at the top of their results-and others don't?
One big factor that goes into these rankings is choosing relevant keywords and incorporating them throughout a web page. When search engines like Google recognize that a particular web page ranks well for the keyword-and it comes from a trusted, user-friendly website-that web page generally shows up as one of the first search results.
If you want your dentist office to rank well in people's searches, you'll need to choose keywords that they'll actually search for and then incorporate those keywords seamlessly throughout your website.
Choosing the Keywords
Your first instinct might be to choose a keyword that's extremely common, like "dentist." Hold your horses. A keyword like this is used in hundreds of websites and will be extremely difficult to rank for. Besides, your potential patients aren't looking for any dentist-they're looking for a dentist in their location, or a children's dentist, or a dentist who also performs root canals.
To determine which keywords your website should rank for, an SEO marketer will choose a few potential keywords that relate to a particular web page.
Let's say for your home page, a marketer chooses "dentists in Seattle," "Seattle dentist office," and "Seattle children's dentist." Using online tools, they will determine how likely these keywords are to rank well. If there are already tons of well-ranking websites for these keywords, it will take a lot of work to get your website to rank well for them.
The SEO marketer will see how these keywords have been trending over the years and how they rank on social media. At this point, your marketer chooses keywords they think will work well for a certain web page.
Incorporating the Keywords
First, SEO marketers make sure the keywords are used in the site's URL, title tag, meta description, and other areas in the web page.
The URL is your web address, like www.seattledentist.com. The title tag is the 50-60 character title that shows up on web searches, like "Choose a Seattle Dentist - Eastside Dental Serves All Ages." The meta description is the 150-160 character description that pops up on web searches.
Next, copywriters write relevant content that incorporates the keywords. Search engines prefer keywords in the following places:
- Main title
- First 200 words of the copy
- Several times throughout the copy (about one keyword per 100 words)
You may have heard of keyword stuffing, the practice of inserting an overabundance of keywords in the written content. You'll see an example of this in the following example:
Choose a Seattle Dentist
"Do you need a Seattle dentist? Our Seattle dentists are standing by to give you Seattle dentist services that you need from a Seattle dentist."
This is not a good idea. Not only is it completely unreadable and ridiculous, it's also looked down upon by search engines. In the past, keyword stuffing might have provided high rankings, but not anymore. In fact, Google punishes websites that use keyword stuffing. If you follow this practice, don't expect to rank well.
Besides incorporating keywords, good copywriters make sure the content is actually relevant and well written. If readers find the content unhelpful, they'll click away from the page, causing the dreaded "high bounce rate." Google notices this and punishes sites that aren't user friendly.
We've noted that copywriters generally include the keyword about once per 100 words. Occasionally, they may include it more or less frequently; it all depends on how the keywords best fit into the copy.
It's best to focus on the original keyword. However, Google still recognizes the keyword if it has words in between. For example, for the keyword "Seattle dentist," a writer may specify, "In Seattle, choose a dentist who serves your whole family."
Some writers also change word order or pluralize the keyword-a practice currently sanctioned by Google-because readability is key. But try to stick to the original keyword as much as possible.
Tracking the Keywords
After keywords are incorporated on your website, SEO marketers will track how well your website ranks for them.
Meanwhile, plan to make adjustments down the road. For example, write better copy or choose new keywords. And of course, keywords aren't the only thing that help you rank well-SEO marketers recommend that your website has relevant links, well written blog posts, user-friendly web design, and other aspects that can boost your rankings.
Remember, getting your website to rank well with keywords is not for the faint of heart. Let an expert do the work for you, then sit back and watch the results. You may not see them immediately-but if you've done your homework, the results will be worth the effort.