The 2021 On-page SEO guide for Dentists

2021 On-page SEO guide for Dentists

As a dentist, your website is essential to attracting more dental patients from your online marketing activities. It needs to be able to rank well on Google, bringing in traffic to your website and leads to your e-mail inbox.

Getting your website to rank well on Google is not complicated, if left to a professional. You just need to know the ins and outs of SEO. It’s a diverse topic we recommend starting with on-page SEO.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • What on-page SEO is

  • Why on-page SEO is important for your dental website

  • The 3 main on-page SEO elements

  • How to optimize your dental website for on-page SEO

Ready? Let’s get into it.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is everything you can do on your dental practice website to influence SEO. It’s the practice of optimizing and tweaking factors and elements on your own domain to improve your search rankings.

This is completely opposite to the practice of off-page SEO. This involves strategies outside of your website that improve your website’s search rankings.

The most common on-page SEO practices include optimizing content, page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, and internal links. We’ll cover all of these and more further below.

Why Is On-Page SEO Important For Your Dental Website?

On-page SEO is important because it communicates what your website is about to Google and other search engines. This helps it rank for the right keywords that people are searching for when searching for a dentist in their area.

Basically? On-page SEO will help bring more people to your dental website via Google. You’ll be able to optimize the various on-page factors you can control, to maximize your chances at ranking well.

On-Page SEO Elements

On-page SEO comprises a variety of practices, methods, and strategies that improve the search rankings of your dental website. As a whole, they can be categorized into 3 key elements

  • Content Elements

  • HTML Elements

  • Website Architecture Elements

Content Elements

Content elements are the written texts and visual media (images, videos) of your website. These aspects of on-page SEO relate to the quality of the content on the page. This is the most obvious and most important way you can improve your SEO efforts.

Creating great content is the best way to get specific pages on your dental website to rank well on Google. All the other on-page SEO strategies, tips, and methods in this guide are secondary to this.

Below, you’ll find 4 key steps towards creating great content that ranks well on Google. If you want your dental website to get on that first page, then pay attention.   

  • Keyword Research

  • Search Intent

  • Text Content

  • Media Content

Keyword Research

Creating great content starts with picking the right topics to write about. You need to make sure that you’re creating content for a keyword that actually has value to your dental business. It’s absolutely pointless otherwise. 

Why waste the effort if there’s no search traffic? Why waste the effort if there’s zero commercial intent?

This is why keyword research is so vitally important, and typically the first step in content creation.

Keyword research for dental SEO is the process of analyzing keywords based on various factors, including:

  • Search volume

  • Cost per click (CPC)

  • Competition data

  • Intent

When keyword research is successfully conducted, it’ll let you know which keywords are right for your dental website. It’ll give you a list of keywords you should target and create content for.

Search Intent

Another important step before creating content is uncovering search intent. This is basically where you analyze the SERP (search engine results page) of a keyword, to see what the top results are. These’ll let you know why people search for that keyword.

There are 4 main types of search intent:

  • Commercial: researching products and services.

  • Navigational: looking for directions to a specific location.

  • Informational: seeking information on a general topic/issue.

  • Transactional: looking to buy something they’ve made their mind up on.

Uncovering the search intent of your keywords will let you know what type of content you need to make. For example, if your keyword has a commercial intent, you might make a product review/comparison content piece.

Alternatively, you wouldn’t want to create a product page, because that’d be a transactional intent.

If you know what to look for, uncovering search intent is not overly complicated. All you need to do is to look at the top results for your chosen keyword. Create content that is similar to what’s already ranking at the top.

Text Content

With keyword research and a search intent analysis out of the way, you can now begin writing your great content.

The key to writing awesome content online is to make it easy to read. You want to make it scannable, so that the valuable points of information can be identified and consumed.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Keep sentences 20 words or less

  • Keep paragraphs 3-5 lines max

  • Use subheadings (H2, H3) to structure/format appropriately

  • Break up points of information with bullet points and numbered lists

  • Use bold text to highlight key points of information

As far as what to write, that depends on your topic. In general, you should cite credible sources, and ensure your content piece is authentic.

Media Content

Images and videos are especially necessary when creating great content these days. Whether it’s GIFs, screenshots, infographics, or videos whatever. You need visual assets to boost your content to the next level.

Try to make sure your media content is high quality, and is contextually relevant. Try to consider how it might affect page load speed, too. This is important for user experience it’ll be covered extensively under website architecture elements. 

HTML Elements

HTML elements refer to the HTML code that makes up your dentistry practice website every individual page. Although we see a live website, Google sees code.

HTML is important for SEO because it’s how you communicate what your content is with Google. If you want to rank well then you need to address the various HTML elements that affect SEO.

You can view the HTML of any webpage on the internet, simply by right clicking and pressing View page source.

Optimizing these HTML elements will largely be about putting keywords in the right places, as well as improving user experience. It’ll also be about communicating your webpage HTML properly to Google, so your search results are ideally represented.

Here are the main HTML elements you’ll address for on-page SEO:

  • Page Title

  • Meta Description

  • Image HTML

  • Structured Data

  • Keyword Density

Page Title

The page title also known as the title tags is one of the most important HTML elements. It’s your webpage’s title when shown as a search result on Google. This is what it looks like: 

Not only can it be seen within Google search results, but it’s also at the top of tabs within Google chrome.

The reason why it’s also referred to the title tags is because this is what it looks like as HTML:

Literally HTML tags called “title.”

As far as SEO is concerned, page titles are significantly important. Not only are they crucial for user experience, but they are the primary place to put a keyword. In fact, research from Backlinko found a correlation between keyword-rich page titles and 1st page ranking.

Image Source: Backlinko

Meta Description

Your meta description is the small descriptive text beneath the page title on the SERP (search engine results page.) Here’s what it looks like:

Although meta descriptions aren’t ranking factors, they can indirectly influence SEO by enhancing user experience. They act as blurbs to preview the content of the webpage. They entice the search user to click through, much like a good call to action, or sales letter.

Image HTML

Although the images featured on a website might be visual in nature, search engines only see them as HTML code.

To see the HTML of any image, simply right click and select Inspect.

The HTML code for the selected image should come up, highlighted in blue.

The 3 main HTML image codes you need to consider for on-page SEO are the:

  • Image Alt-Text

  • Image Title

  • Image Filename

Not every image will have all 3 of those tags. They’ll always have an image filename, but a title and alt-text will vary. It really depends if they’ve taken the time to fully optimize their images.

Image Alt-Text

The image alt-text is a HTML code that describes to Google what that particular image is about. It can also be referred to as the alt attribute, alt tag, or alt description. Here’s what it looks like as HTML:

An effective, appropriate alt-text for an image will help it show up for image searches.

Image searches provide you with more potential traffic sources pathways to your website.

It also provides greater accessibility to those with lower bandwidth. If one doesn’t have the internet connection to load the image, the alt-text will provide a description.

An image alt-text is much like a keyword, and should be treated as such.   

Image Title

The image title is a less common HTML image tag that helps provide more context and information regarding an image. Have you ever hovered your mouse cursor over an image? That little text popup that sometimes appears that’s the image title. 

Here’s how the image title looks as HTML:

It’s not nearly as important as the other image HTML tags as it doesn’t influence SEO. Most will ignore it, which is why most images don’t have one.

Image Filename

The image filename is the name you give to a saved image. Here’s how it looks in HTML:

It is important for SEO because like the image alt-text, it’s used to rank it for image searches. It’s kind of like a short-tail keyword for an image, while the alt-text is a long-tail keyword.  

Structured Data

Structured data is a way for you to reorganize your webpage data, so that it’s easier for Google to read. It makes it easier for your content to be crawled, ranked, and appropriately indexed. 

It doesn’t directly improve SEO, but it makes it more likely that your webpages will appear as SERP features. 

These are the extra, special pieces of information you often see on search results pages. They act as extra advertising for your search results, increasing click-through rate. 

Here are some examples:

  • Rich Snippets

  • Paid Results

  • Universal Results

  • Knowledge Graph

Keyword Density

How many times a keyword is used can help Google understand what your webpage is about. The concept is called “keyword density,” which is how frequently a keyword features within content. The equation for it looks like this: 

Keyword Density = no. of times keyword used / total word count x 100

Before various Google algorithm updates, people used to game the system by keyword stuffing. This is basically where you excessively spam keywords to boost search rankings. Some would have keyword densities as high as 50% because of this.

Keyword stuffing no longer works, and is most likely to negatively affect your SEO efforts. The ideal keyword density is generally between 1-3%, but to be honest, it’s not that big a deal. Just write good, high quality content you’ll naturally use keywords here and there.

Website Architecture Elements

Website architecture elements relate more so to your entire website every single page and how they relate to one another. It also refers to how your website functions from a user experience perspective.

The architecture of your website influences how easy or hard it is for Google to crawl, index, and rank your domain.

Here are some specific website architecture elements to consider:

  • Site Speed

  • Responsive Design

  • URL Structure

  • Internal Links

  • External Links

  • Duplicate Content

NOTE: Lots of these website architecture elements are also considered to be technical SEO elements. They’re usually addressed by a technical SEO team, but they’re also worth mentioning when it comes to on-page SEO.

Site Speed

The speed at which the pages of your website loads is extremely important when it comes to SEO. Google observes and tracks user experience, taking note of how search users behave on your website.

What does it say to Google if people leave your website because it takes too long to load? It says “this particular page isn’t what search users are looking for, we should rank it lower.”

In fact, there are a number of user experience “signals” that Google uses as ranking factors. Some examples include:

  • Bounce Rate: How many visitors of a webpage come and go without performing an action, such as clicking on another webpage.

  • Dwell Time: How long a search user spends on a page before heading back to the SERP (search engine results page.)

  • Pogo Sticking: Clicking on a search result, then exiting and clicking on another one on the SERP. 

All of these user experience signals are negatively affected by a slow page load time. In fact, a Google study on mobile page speed showed significant correlations with bounce rate. The results showed that:

  • Bounce rate increases by 32% when page load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds

  • Bounce rate increases by 90% when page load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds

  • Bounce rate increases by 106% when page load time increases from 1 to 6 seconds

  • Bounce rate increases by 123% when page load time increases from 1 to 10 seconds

Image Source: Think with Google

Yes, those results are for mobile search, but they’re most likely true for all forms of search. Regardless, mobile search is the dominant form of search today, and Google has admitted page speed is a ranking factor.

Responsive Design

How well your dentist practice website can be used on different devices is important for SEO. You need what’s known as a “responsive design.”

A responsive design is an interface that allows a website to scale itself to fit different devices and screen sizes.

Why is it so important for SEO? Well, firstly how well a website scales to different devices and screen sizes influences user experience. If a webpage doesn’t load properly on a mobile phone, search users will probably exit back to the SERP. 

As was mentioned under the “Site Speed” section, Google uses user experience signals as ranking factors. Not having a responsive design for your dentistry practice website will make it harder to use, hurting your search rankings.

Another reason why a responsive design is important for SEO is because Google actively prioritizes websites with them. In 2015, the infamous Google “Mobilegeddon” released, prioritizing websites with mobile-friendly designs.

Even though the update was only for mobile SERPs, mobile accounts for the majority of website traffic. Google’s priorities have only got more mobile focused since then, too it moved to a “mobile-first index” in 2018

URL Structure

The way in which the URLs of your dentistry practice website are structured greatly influences SEO.

There are 4 main components to a URL:

  • The Protocol: HTTP/HTTPs

  • The Domain Name: The unique website name chosen

  • The Subdirectories: Category pages

  • The URL Slug: Individual webpage name

Regarding SEO, the protocol of your URL is important Google considers HTTPs a ranking factor. You should have an SSL certificate anyways, as security of your dental website is essential.

It’s also been reported that URL slugs with a keyword boosted click-through rate by 45%. Google themselves even recommend having a keyword featured in your URLs.

Internal Links

Internal links are extremely important for SEO. If you didn’t know, internal links are simply links that go to other pages on the same website.

Effective usage of internal links can make it easy for Googlebot to crawl, index, and rank your website and webpages. The improved internal link architecture of a website can help pass what’s known as “link juice” to important webpages.

Link juice also known as link equity is a term for the SEO ranking power a link sends. Internal links can help prioritize the valuable ranking webpages on a website.

As a strategy, when internal links are effectively utilized, it can have immense SEO benefits. One such case study from NinjaOutreach resulted in a 40%+ increase in organic traffic.

Image Source: NinjaOutreach

External Links

Like internal links, external links can and do massively influence SEO. There are 2 basic types of external links:

  • Backlinks

  • Outbound Links

Backlinks are external links you received from other websites. They’re one of the most powerful Google ranking factors top 3 in fact. 

Although backlinks are technically external links, specific strategies to acquire them are more of an off-page SEO endeavor. However, applying on-page SEO strategies will no doubt help you acquire more backlinks and better search rankings. 

Outbound links are links you create on your website, that link out to others. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, outbound links can actually improve your SEO efforts. No, they’re not specifically a ranking factor, but they can improve user experience, which does impact SEO.

Former Senior Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller had this to say about the manner in 2019:

“Linking to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Oftentimes, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions they have.”

A 2020 experiment by Reboot Online also concluded that outbound links seem to improve rankings. They created 10 different websites, half of which had outbound links.

The result? The 5 websites with outbounds ranked higher on the SERP.

Image Source: Reboot Online

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content when content on a webpage is too similar to preexisting ones on the internet can affect SEO. This includes not only from separate websites, but the same one.

Google wants to promote original content, ranking it high. It doesn’t want cheap imitations or knockoffs to get more traffic. 

How to Optimize On-Page SEO For Your Dental Website

Taking all that information above and putting it into action can be complicated. To make things easy, here’s a simple, actionable summary of what you need to do.   

1. Optimize Your Content

  • Perform keyword research

  • Uncover search intent of your keywords

  • Write scannable content

  • Use images, screenshots, GIFs, infographic, and videos

  • Use keywords naturally

2. Optimize Your Page Titles, URLs, and Meta Descriptions

  • Put a keyword in page title

  • Frontload the keyword in the page title

  • Keep page title under 60 characters long

  • Put a keyword in URL slug

  • Keep URL slug 1-5 words long

  • Write a descriptive/persuasive meta description

3. Optimize Your Images

  • Put a keyword in image filename if it makes sense

  • Put a keyword in image alt-text if it makes sense

  • Compress to maximize page load time

4. Optimize For User Experience

  • Improve page load time

  • Use a responsive design

  • Use HTTPs

  • Utilize internal links to prioritize important webpages

  • Link to other credible websites/sources of information

  • Avoid duplicate content

  • Use structured data to appear as SERP features

Optimizing for on-page SEO is easy. Simply create great content, address the right HTML tags, and ensure your website runs smooth.

Final Thoughts

In this guide, we covered everything you need to know about on-page SEO for your dental website.

As a dentist, your website is paramount to attracting more business to your practice. Being able to get the pages of your website ranking on Google is a must if you want to do that. Utilizing the various on-page SEO strategies outlined in this guide will help you accomplish just that.

Did you find this helpful? Got any questions? Leave a comment below or get in touch via the contact form.