Welcome to May 2020. We made it!
In an effort to keep things moving forward for our clients, we have been continuing our push to evolve and update our website platform. Along with the visual changes that are apparent on the surface, there are some new features not so apparent to the naked eye that are having a significant impact for our clients.
One of these fresh changes in our SEO campaigns is called schema markup. This form of optimization is one of the most powerful, but least-utilized forms of on-site SEO available to clients in the dental industry. While we’ve had schema on our sites for years, it was time for a complete overhaul and refresh of how it was displayed and used.
Schema.org is the brainchild of multiple search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo, who all came together to agree what they wanted to know from most websites. Their agreement set forth best practices and policies and dictate how easily a site can be read and understood. However, it’s still a very subjective code, and you have to make decisions to decide how it is displayed and what it looks like based on your website.
Essentially, it’s code that is placed on your website to help the majority of search engines return more informative and relevant results for users. This is important because as search intent and user experience changes, more potential patients are searching for terms like “who is the best dentist near me?” or “my teeth hurt and I need one pulled” versus just “dentist denver” or “teeth cleaning”. All of these are important terms, but understanding what those keywords translate to in user context has been a downside of search engines in the past. Robots can only think like humans some of the time (thankfully).
Once we decided the logic of how schema markup would be used with our platform’s code, we spent months testing, changing, and debating the pros and cons of different options available to us. After hours and hours of building and testing by our amazing dev and SEO teams, we released the update a month and we were able to boost client website rankings faster and easier across multiple search engine result pages (SERPs)!
With this update, schema gives even more information to the search engines about what your website content actually means, not just what it says. For example, let’s say the words “Dr. Jones” appear on the homepage of your website (it should already, right?). The search engine sees this, and produces a SERP entry with “Dr. Jones” for the user to read. However, if the correct schema markup type of <Dentist> is placed with the name “Dr. Jones,” your website has just told the search engine that “Dr. Jones” is a practicing dentist in their area, not just a set of random words. The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was searching for Dr. Jones DDS.
This also applies to your hours of operation, days of the week you are open or closed, as well as where you and your practice are located!
Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means — “Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.
Woah. That’s a lot of web developer speak. But, it can be summed up as websites that use schema markup will rank better in the SERPs than competitor websites without this markup.
Multiple studies have indicated that websites with markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs than those without schema markup. While it’s not totally clear that this higher result is due to only the markup alone, there is obviously some correlation we can draw from this.
Even though the benefits of schema markup are well known, according to recent research by Google (December 2019), less than 33% of websites use schema markup.
In other words, there are thousands of dental websites missing out on a huge source of SEO potential to rank as high as possible in SERP. When your website design uses schema markup, you’ll automatically have a leg up on the majority of your competition.
This recent roll-out is just the first step in schema markup changes for our company and clients. We will be tweaking and improving our schema religiously as search engines and web design philosophy changes over time.
The one thing we can always be assured of in the SEO industry is that change is always happening, and we will be ready to help our clients be at the forefront of these changes whenever possible!