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February 2014

SEO... Validators and Busy Work

squareNote: This is the third article in a series of articles on Search Engine Optimization based on conversations with our dental website clients.

Several of our website clients have had experiences where they were persuaded to sign up for SEO and/or marketing services because they were shown a validation report which all but condemned the SEO performance of their website. Or, they were given pages of SEO changes to make to their website - many of which were of questionable value. This newsletter edition answers some of the questions raised to us in these situations.

SEOAs with our previous article, here are some of the most frequently asked questions we answer for our clients.

Q "Is our website is failing to bring in new patients because of the SEO errors shown in this validation report?"
A Generally, no. There are several important things to understand here. First, SEO validation reports can only do what I might lovingly refer to as a "uniform check." You remember those from your boy scout or girl scout or private school days, yes? Validators can only check to see if whatever code or text elements are present in your website. "Hat? Check. Pants? Check. Etc." They can not check to see how successful a website will return on any given search term.

Each validator has it's own criteria and weighting, making this or that more important than the other. One might say that a hat is more important than pants, when that may not really be the case for you. Validation reports need a great deal of interpretation in order to understand the relative value. "Doctor, look at this report. Your website is failing in these 4 areas." Naturally, none of use want to fail at anything, so we buy the SEO service - even though the website SEO may be doing great and some improvement elsewhere is needed in order to get new patients.

One way to gain some perspective is to run the same validation report on a few different websites you are familiar with. Perhaps choose a larger practice, a service company, and a national chain store. You may have guessed that each will have validation errors. With some interpretation, you can begin to see what may be more important to each organization, given their budget, business, and website needs.

You can also try a different validation report. There is no shortage of them online. Most only require the web address of your dental practice website.

If you need any assistance navigating this sometimes confusing area of expertise, please give us a call. We are happy to help.

Q "We just received this large list of changes from our SEO consultant. How much will it cost to make all of these changes? And, are they all necessary?"
A You are correct that requests containing large numbers of SEO changes will incur extra fees. How much depends on the number of changes and how difficult the changes are to make. Some changes are more important than others, and some may not be important at all. We try to take this view when we receive SEO changes and save our clients the money of making useless changes. For example, we are often asked to make "alt" and "title" tag changes or additions. While some "alt" tagging might improve the overall SEO value of a home page, "title" tags do nothing for SEO - however useful they may be to screen readers, etc. Generally speaking, we advise clients to follow this top-10 hierarchy of value when choosing how and where to spend their precious time and money.
  1. Fill your website with quality information about your practice, your team, your expertise and specialties, your community involvement, etc., and keep it current.
  2. Use great photos of yourself, your team, and your office on your website.
  3. Create a Google place for your office location.
  4. Create and maintain a Google+ account.
  5. Encourage patients to submit Google reviews of your practice.
  6. Be sure your meta titles and descriptions support searching for your practice name and location.
  7. Arrange for links back to your website from any associations, study clubs, charitable organizations, etc., you may be participating in.
  8. Participate in some form of social media.
  9. Ensure H1 tags are used for the headline information on each page.
  10. Use tags in your address and telephone information layout.
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Blog Posts

• February 2014
• November 2013
• October 2013
• August 2013
• July 2013
• May 2013
• April 2013
• January 2013
• December 2012
• November 2012
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