In the last few years, there’s been a massive shift in how patients search for local dentists. Forty-six percent of all Google searches are now local searches. What does this mean for your dental practice? If you want your practice to stay relevant in your community, you need to get serious about local SEO. We’ve created this SEO guide to help you on your way to the top of Google search rankings. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of what SEO is and what your next dental SEO steps should be. We’ve included tons of resources, so you won’t get confused.
What are the benefits of SEO for dentists? It’s always important to start with the end in mind. Dental practices that implement an effective SEO strategy will see the following benefits:
- Quality new patients without paid advertising
- SEO gets more clicks than Google Ads
- Increased scheduled appointments and brand awareness
- Dramatically improved dental website traffic
- Greater social proof, reputation, and public relations
- The ability to capture your competitor’s website traffic
- Increased awareness and higher case acceptance
- Continual site assessment and monitoring
Your SEO road map: 7 tips for dental practice SEO
SEO starts with your dental website: To begin, you need to have an up-to-date dental website. If your website is old, out of date, or if you don’t even have a website, take advantage of our free website offer. We’ll build you a beautiful website for free. I know that sounds crazy, but we do it all the time to help out dentists.
There are generally two aspects to improving your dental website SEO. First are the technical issues: load speed; mobile optimization; correct metadata; bad links, 404s, and dead links; images too large and CSS issues; ongoing search engine updates; and hundreds more technical issues.
You can find out if your site has any of these problems with a quick website health report. If your health report comes back low, send it to your website management company and ask them to make the necessary updates and fixes. The second SEO issue with websites is content and links. They’re so important that I talk about them in much more detail below.
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Claim and optimize your practice’s Google My Business listing: Your Google My Business account is your Google business listing and it’s what shows up on the Google map. Dentists who are not familiar with Google My Business often think it’s their website that shows up on the Google map, but it’s not, it’s the practice business listing.
The first SEO step is to claim your listing. Then you can select your primary category and begin optimizing to help it rank higher. Before you get too far down the road with your local SEO optimization, you’ll want to find out where you’re already ranking on the Google map by running a Google map ranking report. By running the report you’ll find out where you’re not ranking well, and this will help when you fill in the “areas you serve” sections in your listing.
The best SEO strategies leverage video content: Your patients, just like everyone else, prefer video over images. Video content creation is an integral part of dental marketing. It’s likely to become the most valuable part of content creation as time goes on. What this means is that the video content will reach a wider audience and do a better job at educating.
Coming up with great dental video ideas isn’t difficult, it just takes a few minutes of your time. There are three apps that are very easy to use to create video content: Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts. All three of these social media applications have extremely flexible video creation user interfaces. They’re also all mobile apps, which means you can create content on the fly. If you have not used Instagram Reels or TikTok, you need to start.
SEO for dentists and social media go together: As hinted in the video marketing section, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are content creation machines. The days of hiring a production team to come up with video marketing ideas are over. How do social media and SEO go hand in hand? Well, have you ever landed on a dental website without any images or video? I have and they’re pretty lame. I didn’t spend much time there. Social media applications are the easiest way to create videos and images that will enhance the creative aspects of your website.
Secondly, social signals help strengthen SEO. Social signals are the engagements that social media content receive online. For example, if you post a video on your TikTok account and it gets thousands of shares, signals are sent to Google that the content is valuable. Because your social media account is linked to your website, some of the link value can pass through to your website. When you create interesting social media content, your chances of being found online increase.
Inbound links (backlinks) are a big deal: Inbound links are links that are on someone else’s website and link to your website. Consider them to be like votes. The more votes you have the more likely you are to win. There are lots of strategies to get inbound links because the best dentist SEO campaigns always have a solid link strategy. First you should claim your online directory listings and review sites.
Second, you should look for opportunities to write articles for relevant local businesses. For example, if you’re a general dentist and you refer out your orthodontics, you may want to write an article for the orthodontist to post to their website. In this situation your audience is the patients of the orthodontist, therefore, your article could be about how healthy dental hygiene helps with orthodontics. In the article you’ll want to link back to your website. This would be a highly relevant link and would help with your rankings.
Get tons of Google reviews: Google reviews are probably the most valuable digital social proof statement you have. We put together a local dental SEO annual report where we measure and rank all of the dental practice listings in the 100 largest US cities. The report includes more than 28,000 dental practices. We found that ranking at the top of the Google map is only half the battle. You must build a fantastic review profile. Think about it. How many times have you searched for a local business and NOT selected the top result in the Google map because the business’s reviews weren’t great?
Your Google reviews goal is to get more five-star reviews than any other dental practice in your area. It’s not difficult and lots of our client practices have done this. We’ve been measuring the effects of inbound phone calls on practices with more reviews than their competitors. It’s a big deal! In some situations, practices have doubled their new patients or inbound phone calls. If you’re not sure where to start, download this complimentary Google review campaign. It will help you set goals and give you the tools to start acquiring more reviews.
Active content dental marketing is a key part of SEO: To get to the top of Google you’ll need to consistently add new content to your website. Google loves to see a dental practice posting new content to their website. New content ideas include blog articles, location pages, adding copy to your bio or about us pages, social media and reputation management integration, and extending the copy on your service pages.
Unfortunately, writing is not easy. It requires quiet, uninterrupted, and creative time. Does that sound like a dental office? Does that sound like time at home after work? The last thing you’ll want to do when you leave the practice is go home and write. I actually did meet a dentist who wrote all the time, but he was weird. To help you out, we created five cosmetic dentists blog templates and seven general dentist blog templates. The blog templates get you about 75% toward a finished article. We’ve even included images with global use rights.
Here’s one last copywriting suggestion. Have you ever been on a dentist’s website and the picture on the “About the dentist” page is 20 years old? Well, that’s because the website hasn’t been touched in 20 years. Another way to bump up the copywriting on your website is to update your dental bio or about us page.
Now you’re an SEO genius! Well, maybe not a genius, but you definitely know more than you did when you started reading this article. Good luck in your efforts to improve your dental SEO rankings.
This article originally appeared inDE Weekend,the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.