Mobile Search Engine Optimization for Dentists
At WEO Media, we provide SEO for dentists, and many times, our clients ask us about the importance of having a mobile friendly website. It’s hard to keep up on trends in online marketing when you have a practice to run and patients to treat. However, it only takes a cursory glance outside, or even just your waiting room to see that almost everyone has their head buried in their smartphones.
Is mobile important for dentists? In 2014, internet usage on mobile devices surpassed that of desktops. Now, over half of all searches are performed on mobile devices. Also, almost 40% of traffic to local small businesses (like dental offices) is from mobile devices.
Why are so many people searching on their mobile devices? It's the same reason why 90% of people have only taken photos with a camera phone; it's available. When couples are sitting on the couch and one asks the other about a certain actor, more than likely they are not going to walk over to a computer to look it up online; they are going to do a search on their phone. Likewise, if someone is out shopping around town and remembers they need to make a dentist appointment, they are going to search for dental offices near them on their phones.
This is all to say that it is more important than ever for dentists to optimize their websites for mobile search.
How to do mobile SEO for dentists There are many pitfalls when trying to do mobile SEO. Often by trying to make a "mobile friendly" version of a website, you can significantly harm your search engine rankings. Luckily, dental websites sidestep most of these pitfalls, because they are considerably less complex than a lot of other websites. Dental websites are usually less than 100 pages and don't employ a lot of technology like Flash or pop-ups that are big no-nos for mobile friendliness.
Typically the most important factors for dental website mobile optimization are:
- Page Speed
- Local SEO
- Mobile Friendliness
Mobile users are impatient. They will not wait long for a mobile page to load. They want answers, and they want them now. If your site doesn't load within a couple of seconds, they will move on to a competitor.
The best way to ensure that your site loads quickly is to use page caching. Most websites do not use caching, this means their servers have to read the code and create webpages from scratch every time that someone visits a page. It would be like if every time you had to buy a newspaper, the person at the news stand had to collate it page by page.
Page caching stores the most recent version of the page, pre-assembled and ready to display. Page caching is something that WEO Media does automatically for every website that we build and maintain.
Local search optimization
Since dental offices are local businesses, they have to consider how they appear in local search results. Local search is any time that someone does a search on Google Maps, Yelp, Mapquest, etc. For businesses to appear in local searches, they must have a local listing with the search platform. This can be daunting, since there are thousands of websites and directories where you can create business listings. Luckily most listings are created and updated based on a (relatively) few directories.
The most important factor for success in Local SEO is to make sure your local listings across all directories remain consistent. This means that there is no difference in the spelling, abbreviation, or punctuation of your name, address, or phone number (NAP for short). Often dentists don’t have time to claim and maintain their local listings themselves and hire out that task to their marketing agency. WEO Media offers Local SEO as a part of every SEO package we sell.
Mobile friendly design
One of the most significant factors of success in Mobile SEO is whether or not your site is mobile friendly. Mobile friendliness is measured by how usable it is on mobile devices. If users have to zoom in to be able to read your pages text on their phones, or if they find it hard to select the right button, then they will have a frustrating experience. This leads to users abandoning the site and results in lost leads.
There are three popular ways to implement mobile friendly design:
- Separate mobile site with a mobile URL
- A dynamically served alternate page
- Responsive design
Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but all things considered, responsive design is the best option and the way of the future.
Responsive design allows a page to automatically scale itself based on the screen/window size of the browser. This allows you to consolidate page authority to one URL and avoids content duplication that can harm SEO. It often takes a considerable amount of work to design or redesign a dental website to be responsive, but once it is responsive, it takes a lot less effort to maintain.
Usage of Schema.org semantic markup
Schema.org semantic markup allows the code of a website to give search engines more information about what the content "is". Without semantic markup, all Google's spider sees is a bunch of words. Google then have to try to understand the context and purpose of those words based on a variety of methods. It is very complicated and takes considerable effort on their part to write code that allows their computers to parse out that data.
Semantic markup makes it very easy for Google to understand the content of a webpage. It gives information about the information on the page. For example, an address is just a series of numbers and letters to Google. To understand that it is an address, Google has to come up with the rules for what constitutes an address. With Schema.org semantic markup, you can just directly tell Google, "this is an address".
For small businesses like dental offices, it's important to use LocalBusiness schema. You can get even more specific than denoting that a website/page/address is for a local business, because nested under the classification for LocalBusiness markup is Dentist markup.
What is a dentist to do? If all this information seems daunting, that's because it is. Dentists and their staff do not have the time to do the necessary tasks to optimize their websites, let alone educate themselves how to do it. The best option is to outsource these tasks to a marketing agency.
WEO Media is a full service agency with expertise in marketing dentistry. Our focus on dental clients has helped us win acclaim, form valuable partnerships, and endorsements in the dental industry.
Don't put off mobile optimization, you could be losing half of your leads. Contact us today for a free website analysis and marketing consultation.