Dental SEO is becoming an increasingly important part of any great dental marketing plan. As more patients turn to the internet to find a dentist, dental practices — even those without websites — will want to have a Google My Business page and various other local listings to ensure patients can easily find them online.
SEO for dentists is not always easy, but it is necessary. There is no better time than now to have a quality dental website and solid SEO processes in place. And the great news is that, once the initial work is done, SEO will continue to attract new patients to your practice at no direct cost for many years to come.
In this blog post, we’ve outlined what it takes to rank for key dental terms in your locale.
The majority of dentists will benefit most from local SEO
As is the case for most medical practices and brick-and-mortar businesses, dentists will want to rank well in local search results. Local SEO — different in practice from traditional SEO — aims to position your dental practice high up in local search results.
Excellent dental SEO will focus first on local search, but will not neglect traditional SEO, keeping in mind that Google’s algorithms are always evolving and that Google includes many local businesses in the main search results.
We’ll discuss traditional dental SEO in a bit. But first, we’ll focus on how to favorably position your dental practice in Google local search results.
Dental SEO best practices: a step-by-step guide to local search optimization
1. Create a Google My Business listing for your dental practice
A Google My Business (GMB) listing is a great place to start for dentists who are new to SEO.
Even if you did not consider SEO in your prior dental marketing efforts, chances are good you have at least heard of GMB and have an active listing. If you do not have a GMB listing, create one now. You will need to verify your business and optimize your listing.
Here’s how to optimize your Google My Business listing:
- Ensure your contact information is complete and consistent with all other online citations as well as the contact information listed on your website.
- Include your business hours, the date your business location was opened, a detailed description of your business, and any relevant attributes.
- Include pictures. New patients are more likely to engage with listings that include pictures.
- Make sure your cover picture is appealing. This will be the image users see first.
- Add a short video, if you have one available.
2. Create other online listings
The more places your accurate contact information exists online, the stronger the location signals are for the dental SEO of your website. Strong location signals will help local and traditional SEO efforts. Plus, your dental practice will be included in many directories that have their own brand name power and rankings, such as Citysearch and Mapquest.
Here’s how to get started with other online listings:
- Use the PatientPop diagnostic tool to check the health of your local listings. The tool can point you to different aggregators and platforms where you should create complete and consistent listings.
- Delete duplicate listings and correct inconsistent citations.
- Create a listing for your dental practice on any relevant healthcare directory sites.
- Submit your dental practice to local directories as well.
3. Encourage patient reviews
Search engines love quantifiable, algorithm-friendly data such as star reviews. Encouraging positive patient reviews is one of the most impactful practices for effective dental SEO.
Here are a few tips to encourage patient reviews:
- Ask for reviews from current patients by sending them emails. Consider offering a discount or some other incentive in return for a review.
- Respond to positive reviews.
- Create a page on your website with instructions for submitting a review.
4. Build a website designed for patients and search engines
Patients and search engines alike appreciate well-structured, informative websites with clean design.
Pay attention to site architecture and keep URLs clean and short. The best practice is to use a three-tier structure for your site.
5. Improve on-site location signals
On-site and on-page location signals reaffirm your local presence and also help you rank for geotagged key terms such as [santa monica dental cleaning].
Best practices for improving on-site location signals:
- Use schema.org markup on your contact information.
- Include your phone number and address on every page of your site (perhaps in the website’s header or footer).
- Embed a Google map with your business marker into your contact page.
Dental SEO: localized organic results vs local search results
Now that your dental practice is on its way to ranking in Google local results — perhaps even in the coveted top three spots, known as the local stack — let’s examine what it takes to rank in localized organic results.
What does “localized organic results” mean?
Google’s algorithms are becoming more advanced and can identify search intent with great accuracy. When a local patient types in the query [dentist], Google knows that person is most likely searching for a dentist in the area. And since Google wants to thoroughly satisfy user intent, the results page for such a query will include not only the local stack but also localized organic results.
There are also desirable geotagged key terms that do not prompt any local search results but instead generate a full page of organic results.
How to rank in Google results
We have now entered the territory of traditional SEO, which is more complex than local SEO, with many more ranking factors to consider. The good news is that geotagged search terms and search terms with local intent are far less competitive than generic search terms. Your dental website will only have to outrank the dental websites of existing competitors in your town.
How do you outrank the other dentists in your area? The above tips for local SEO will help general SEO efforts. For an additional push, try these dental website SEO best practices.
1. Build links to your site
Do-follow links from industry sites and other businesses in your community are important for boosting your domain authority. A healthy backlink profile will help improve rankings across your entire website.
2. Ensure your site is well-designed and well-structured
As mentioned earlier, stick to the three-tier structure whenever possible. Also create an easy-to-navigate site with clean design and robust, informative core pages.
3. Optimize location information across your dental website
- Make sure your address is on each page (perhaps in the website’s footer or header).
- Embed a Google map on your contact page.
- Implement proper schema markup.
4. Include geotags in headers and meta titles
Geotags are location names tagged onto key terms. Including geotags on meta titles and on-site — especially in headers — will help your site rank for these terms.
When to hire a dentist SEO company
Although outsourcing dental SEO efforts is not always necessary, hiring a dental SEO company might be a wise investment depending on the competition in your area. If you do decide to contract with a dental marketing company, be sure to find one that specializes in dental SEO or healthcare SEO.
For more on the topic of dental SEO, check out the blog post “SEO dos and don’ts for healthcare practices.”