Conduct SEO due diligence before your website’s launch (part II)
Making sure all teeth are in order before biting big Google.
My favorite dentist has been in business since 1992 and has, unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, failed to adapt to digitalization. She hasn’t launched a website, she doesn’t advertise on Google and she doesn’t have a Facebook page to attract new patients either.
A few of her competitors did and eventually gained market share. She felt pressured to do the same in order to not close shop.
Fortunately, this dentist has a son who is keen to learn digital marketing, and particularly SEO. And this son knows Seif, a skilled developer who’s willing to launch a website for her. 🤓
The aim of this article is to analyze how to conduct an “SEO due diligence” before the website is launched. We will explore the preparatory steps you should go through to rank your website once it goes live.
Note: all the tools used in this article are listed at the end.
My mother works in Casablanca (Morocco) and is situated in a central location with plenty of competitors. When you type in French “dentiste Casablanca”, this is what the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) shows:
One of the first steps would be to create a Google My Business account, ask her patients to drop their reviews and gradually rank number one.
Past this Google Local Pack (the section of Google’s search results that shows the local business related to your query), there are YouTube videos, and then websites.
Here are the top 4 websites for the keywords “dentiste Casablanca”:
Let’s go a bit further to understand what the intent of searchers is when looking for a dentist:
Clearly, people are looking for dentists in certain neighborhoods. My mother’s clinic could fall under the “Maarif” zone, but not under the “Sidi Maarouf” one, this is something I will consider down the line.
From my understanding, ranking in markets such as Morocco is not complex, given how the SEO industry is not developed there. It is safe to assume that it would take more effort to rank well in New York than in Casablanca.
Given this specific situation, this website will not be focused on generating content but will act as a “showcase” website.
Cool! The objective is clear. Push all these dentists down and put my mama at the top. 🏆
There are more than 200 factors that come into play when ranking your website in Google. These vary and can range from content length or keywords to page speed and mobile friendliness.
In this piece, we will go through elements that are related to ranking and apply them to the dentist’s website.
Of course, I do not plan to rank well for “dentiste Casablanca” only. Also, it would be too cocky to just say “I will rank”, without first checking how difficult it would be.
Let’s use #Ahrefs (a toolset for SEO analysis) to discover that:
Interesting, here are the key takeaways from this:
- Average search volume per month of 900 — this gives me hope as I would need only 10 to 20 new patients per month
- 16% of all the clicks are for paid ads — this makes me consider PPC (Pay-per-click e.g. Google Ads)
Eventually, I will not focus on “dentiste Casablanca”, but will look for other variations:
As a start, I will rank for French queries. Once familiar with how to do this, I will move on to Arabic, if necessary. 🛂
This will be a good case to practice multilingual SEO and define what is the best domain and URL structure.
I did not know which TLD (top-level domain) to go for — a .com or .ma (which is specific for Morocco; in French it is Maroc). We ended up purchasing the following:
www.casablancadentiste.com (not launched yet)
Since keywords are included in the URL, I expect the search engine to recognize what the website is about.
Eventually, we will make only one version of the site browseable and the others will be 301 redirected (permanent URL redirection):
Speed is a critical ranking factor. Google clearly encourages us to create fast loading pages. ⚡
Let’s focus on the best-ranked website for the keywords “Casablanca dentiste”, as we do not have ours yet. To know if I am confronting a “beast”, I will analyze the best-ranked website and look out for potholes.
To be on the safe side, I use at least three tools to confirm my assumptions about speed.
Using #PageSpeedInsights, the best-ranked website has a rating of “slow” in mobile:
And “average” on a desktop:
The aim is to load our website equally fast on both desktop and mobile. We will make it 100% fast (according to Seif).
Using #ThinkWithGoogle, the best-ranked website has a rating of “slow” when it comes to mobile page speed:
Using #Pingdom, this is what we get:
Clearly, this website has poor speed and we will outperform it.
I use the free tool Yellow Lab for performance tests, here are the results:
It shows that images are not optimized, the page has a heavyweight and there are CSS glitches. The aim is to score way higher than 59/100.
Alternatively, you could use dareboost.
The website we will create must be mobile friendly. Google clearly states in its SEO Starter Guide that mobile-friendliness is a critical element.
The #Mobile-Friendly Test from Google did not work with the top-ranked website for “dentiste Casablanca”:
Google clearly suggest in its Help Center that it is advised to use HTTPS in order to protect users’ connections to the website.
The best-ranked website in the search “dentiste Casablanca” does not have a secure connection to the site.
The one we will build is naturally HTTPS.
Google clearly despises the deceptive use of duplicated content. Let’s see if the top-ranked website abuses that.
Using Copyscape, we see that the top-ranked website has almost no duplicate content, except for a few words that got collected in a portal that aggregates all dentists’ information.
Using BeamsUsUp (free), I discovered the following with this top-ranked website:
Clearly, the website was not built with SEO in mind. Titles are missing, meta descriptions are too long, and there are missing headers.
Number of pages
Given that this is a showcase website, we do not plan to have multiple pages. We want to keep it simple. Let’s look at the competitor:
Using site:domainname.com in the search bar, we see that there are 159 results. We will definitely aim for lower.
Conclusion: the website performs poorly in terms of SEO, yet ranks well. Let’s see how we will perform by following the guidelines.
Exchanging SEO best practices with the developer
We are not using WordPress or Squarespace to build this website given how Seif codes websites from scratch.
To make sure we don’t waste time after the website’s launch, we will make sure to:
✅ Create unique and short URLs — “you should create a unique title for each page on your site” is clearly mentioned in Google’s SEO Starter Guide.
✅ Write alt tags for all the images, structure the content with proper headers (H1) and write proper meta descriptions (meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor, but can boost CTR):
✅ Use Saney to make sure the website’s pages will look good on search results:
✅ While it is very much recommended to have a flat architecture and a simple website structure, we will aim to create a single page with different sections. This way, Googlebot will capture the relevant information immediately without crawling much.
Once we create a sitemap, we will submit it to Google Search Console.
✅ Experiment with Schema to attempt creating a rich snippet and experiment with #Google Structured Data Testing Tool and Google Structured Data Markup Helper.
Schema is a type of microdata that enables you to appear differently in search results. Here are examples of what it allows you to do:
Now that I have conducted a brief SEO due diligence, I am confident I can help my mother. The next steps are:
▶️ Launch the website, do an SEO audit (available on Ahrefs) and coordinate improvements with the developer.
▶️ Experiment with Google My Business, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Ahrefs.
▶️ Monitor the ranking, the page views and how visitors interact with the website.
▶️ Regularly check with the dentist if there are more patients — the bottom line is to increase the revenue.
▶️ Share with you the results and receive your feedback as I progress in my learning — if you are good in SEO, I would strongly appreciate your input.
There’s one article coming up every 1st of the month. Consistently! 🦏
Here is a list of the tools mentioned in this article:
🔧 Yellow Lab Tools: to test your website’s performance
🔧Beams Us Up: to crawl websites
🔧 Copyscape: to look for duplicated content
🔧 Think with Google: to test your website’s speed on 4G
🔧 Mobile-Friendly Test: verify if your website shows well on mobile
🔧 Ahrefs: to see backlinks and conduct SEO analysis
🔧 Pingdom: to test website performance
🔧 Saney: to optimize snippets and preview your results on the SERPs
🔧 Schema: to find data markups
🔧 XML Sitemaps: to create sitemaps
🔧 Zeit: to purchase domain names