DIY Dental SEO Playbook
DIY Dental SEO Playbook
Steve Brown of DDSRank offers tips, tricks, insights, and tutorials on SEO for your dental practice website.
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The Importance Of Ranking, Content, And Does Size Matter?

The Importance Of Ranking, Content, And Does Size Matter?

3/8/2017 5:46:29 PM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 123
If you are reading a blog about dental SEO or searching online for search engine optimization for your practice website then you already have some understanding of the value of getting your website as high as possible on the first page of Google.  But sometimes it helps to put some statistics together to quantify just how important search engine visibility can be to your practice.  Here are a few numbers to underscore the point:

  • A recent survey by BrightLocal found that 95% of the respondents searched online for local businesses over the previous 12 months.

  • According to comScore, Google holds 64% of the search market, followed by Microsoft (Bing) at 21%.  

  • After reviewing millions of searches, Chitika found that 91.5% of searches never go past the first page of results.

  • The same Chitika study showed that the top 3 organic (non-paid) results got 61.5% of the traffic.

While there are a variety of variables at play that may affect the numbers for dental-specific searches, the overwhelming evidence is that a strong web presence is vital bringing new patients into your practice in today's Internet driven society.

The Value Of Content

While there are literally hundreds of factors that determine how well you rank for various search terms, pretty much everyone in SEO will tell you that website content is one of the most important factors in the Google ranking algorithm.   While backlinks - links from other websites that point to yours - have a large influence on your site's performance, the page content also significantly impacts rankings.  It is primarily the content on a specific page that determines which keywords that page will rank for, and both what is said and how it is structured can help or hurt your performance.

It is difficult to get good links to your practice site from other websites - especially from authoritative and relevant sources.  That is why Google initially built their algorithm around links as a sign of popularity.  They believed that if someone makes the effort to link to your site from another website you don't control, it is often a sign of good content.  

But what you can control is the content on your own site.  You can choose how many pages to have, what topics they should cover, and how long each should be.  Since Google ranks individual pages rather than entire websites, you should have at least one page centered around each service you offer and want to promote.   And you should also have a general page describing your practice that targets the "dentist in city" searches.  For most single location practices that will be your home page.  For multi-location practices you usually want a separate landing page (i.e.,, etc.) for each office.  And that leads to a question we hear a lot: "How long should a web page be?"

Does Size Matter?

The answer to that question (at least for web page content) is a resounding yes!  As I said above, almost everyone agrees content has a large impact on both what you rank for and how high you rank.  But exactly what page length is best is a little less clear.  

Over 10 years ago Google mentioned that they had at least 200 different factors that contributed to a page's ranking, and undoubtedly that number has increased since then.  But never have they actually published what those factors are.  There are a lot of articles speculating on what the 200 ranking factors are and how important each one is to the whole calculation.  But no one outside of Google knows for sure, and they certainly don't know the optimal setting for each, including the optimal page length.  But that doesn't mean we can't make an educated guess.

Back when I was in high school one question always got asked whenever a teacher gave a writing assignment: "How long does it need to be?"  What we wanted to know was how little work we could get away with and still get a good grade.  The annoying teachers would answer with "Long enough to thoroughly cover the topic."   If we couldn't nail them down on a page or word count we'd have to wing it to try to hit their target.  If you went too short or too long your score would suffer as a result, and then you could adjust accordingly on the next paper.

In some ways trying to improve your rankings on Google works the same way.  You don't know all the factors that go into ranking a page, and for the ones you do suspect are important you don't know the optimal setting.   This ambiguity is the reason many dentists hire a good dental SEO company.  The truth is I don't know them either.  But I can show you how I would go about figuring it out.

Observation, Hypothesis, Theory

Good SEO is not trial and error - it is a combination of science and art.  The science part consists of testing done on sites built for that purpose, or by observing other sites that are doing well in Google.  A big part of my job is looking under the hood of other websites and researching their backlinks to see why they are winner or losing in the search engines.  It is a great way to get an understanding of what does and does not work in SEO.

For optimal page length the best sites to examine would be dental practices that are winning in the most difficult markets.   It is a pretty safe assumption that bigger cities are harder to rank in, so I grabbed the 10 largest cities in the US , searched for a dentist in each one on Google (using "dentist city"), and recorded the page size of each.  I skipped directory sites like Yelp that came up at the top in some markets (domain size and strength are what causes them to rank) and looked at actual dental practice sites instead.  Here are my results:

Word Count

Obviously my research is informal and my sample size is small, and page size isn't the only factor in getting to the top of these markets.  But I think it is safe to take around 1300 words of content as a good working average, and also use the min and max values as upper and lower guidelines.  Stated another way, if other things are right you can rank at the top of a market like San Antonio with slightly less than 600 words of content, and over 2200 words of content won't keep you from ranking at the top in San Diego.  

Similar insights can be gleaned by digging in to the search results for your own market.  Only instead of looking at the top result, examine all the sites on page 1 of your city to get an idea of what kind of word count Google likes near you.  And while you are at it, take a look at page titles, meta descriptions, h-tags, image alt-tags, and keyword density at the same time.   Then compare it to the same elements on your site to see how you measure up.

Or if that seems like too much work you could just contact us instead.  
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