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SEO for Dentists: How To Appear #1 On Google Search

By November 11, 2020December 29th, 2021No Comments

Have you ever attended a dental marketing conference where one of the speaking topics was dental SEO? Was it interesting, or did you fall asleep? Did you leave the meeting more confused then when you walked in? You wouldn’t be alone if your still confused about SEO for dentists.

SEO for dentists is a rabbit hole. There are general rules about how to perform the tasks, but a thousand of ways to execute them. In addition to the tasks associated with SEO for dentists, the search engine algorithms change continually. Algorithm changes require dental marketing professionals to be on their A-game, educating themselves to stay on top of the latest updates.

SEO for dentists

Table of Contents

The Plain-English Guide To SEO For Dentists

We’ve been fortunate to work with thousands of dental practices and we hear a few common questions about SEO for dentists:

  • Is SEO for dentists effective at finding new patients?
  • Will SEO for dentists help me find the right kind of patients?
  • Does SEO for dentists even work?
  • What is the importance of SEO for dentists?
  • How do dentists choose a dental SEO company?
  • How long does dental SEO take?
  • Do I need to do dental SEO if my competition is doing it?
  • How much should I pay for dental SEO?

It’s important to understand the basics of SEO for dentists in order to measure it’s effectiveness. A basic understanding will also help you know what to look for in a dental SEO marketing company, if you decide to hire someone.

My hope is that this article will help you understand what SEO for dentists is all about and answer some of those dental SEO questions that may have been nagging at you.

What Is SEO For Dentists?

In order to understand what SEO for dentists is and it’s value to your dental practice growth, you have to understand what search engines are and how they work.

How Search Engines Work

The internet is a massive, almost unimaginable, digital universe with billions of websites. A search engines purpose is to discover and organize the web pages, so that the information someone is searching for can be found.

The most used search engine is Google with more than 90% of all search traffic. Others search engines are Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go, Brave and hundreds of others. 

For a dental website to show up in search results, it must first be crawled and indexed by the search engine. Being found by the search engine is an essential piece of the dental SEO puzzle. If a dental website cannot be crawled and indexed, there is no way that it will show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

The Basics of SEO for Dentists: Crawling, Indexing and Ranking

Have you ever heard the phrase web-crawlers or web-spiders? These are automated computer programs that search (crawl) the web and index the results for the search engine. Hundreds of billions of web pages are indexed each day by search engines, which crawl hundreds of millions of new pages by following links. Links are what help the web crawlers identify new content, which is another reason why linking correctly is so important to SEO for dentists. 

Without the web crawlers finding, copying the information on every website, following every link, indexing new information, sorting, and the search engine algorithms to help people searching find they want, searchers would likely never find what they want. Crawling is the key for creating a searchable index like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

So, if a dental marketer or your webmaster says that your website isn’t indexed, it means that it can’t be found using a search engine.

dental seo web crawling

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How Does The Search Engine Algorithm Work?

The goal of the search engine algorithms are to show a relevant set of high-quality search results as quickly as possible. Results are displayed on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

After a SERP is displayed, the person selects from the list of results and those actions, along with other activities, go into learning that will influence search engine rankings in the future. In more elementary terms, if a search engine provides results and the person searching does not find what they want, the search engine recognizes it and the session is recorded and used to help perfect the algorithm. 

There are hundreds of important website ranking factors, but some of the most important are the following factors:

  1. Website load speed
  2. Mobile optimization
  3. Keyword optimization
  4. Publishing New and Custom Content
  5. Link Structure
  6. Social Signals
  7. Google My Business Optimization

We’ll discuss all of these topics in the article.

Okay, thanks, that is super helpful but why? Why is SEO for dentists even important?

SEO for dentists is a marketing activity that helps a practice compete online for new patients.

Why SEO For Dentists Is Required For Practice Growth

I recently read a dental article that said there were approximately 15-20% of dentists that don’t have a website. I didn’t believe it but after speaking with several long time dental marketing experts, it’s apparent that that percentage is accurate. I can’t believe in 2022 that anyone with a small business would not have a website.

Twenty years ago I searched for a dentist using the yellow pages. If you asked my teenagers what the Yellow Pages are, they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. Today everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is using the internet to find local businesses and more than 90% of all people searching are searching on Google. 

What’s the upshot? Unless your one of those practices that generates enough patients through traditional marketing tactics like, referrals, a great location, billboards, television and radio ads, or print mail campaign, very few new patients will find your practice because the only other way to find patients is online.

Beginning Your SEO For Dentists Campaign

The good news, effective SEO for dentists is a process with simple guidelines to follow. So, let’s discuss how to improve your dental SEO rankings with your most important digital asset, your website.

Website Performance Is A BIG Freaking Deal!

Website performance has to do with user experience. When someone lands on your website, are they able to find what they want?

Google is constantly measuring user experience on your website and using those sessions to improve their SERP’s. For example, if lots of people are landing on your website for root canals but you don’t offer root canals and they’re clicking off of your site and going somewhere else; Google will eventually remove your website from the SERP’s for root canal related words.

Performance has much more to do with the user experience and the technical aspects of your website, than whether or not your website is aesthetically pleasing. If you’re looking to be found online by new patients with an SEO for dentists campaign, you’ll want to make sure the technical aspects of your website are dialed in and your site is getting an A+ grade from Google.

If your website were in school, would it get an A+?

Grade your website and check for errors, 404’s, dead pages, and simple fixes that will get it to the top of the class.

What's My Website Grade?

Website Load Speeds: Why It’s Important For Dental SEO

Why is a fast loading website so essential? If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of the visitors will abandon abandon a site. When this happens, Google recognizes that the user experience is suffering and your website rankings will be penalized.

It’s important to remember that Google is on the side of the consumer, not the business owner. Google is doing everything they can to improve the consumer user experience. They know that if people can find what they want on Google, they’ll keep using Google, and Google can sell more advertising.

To check your website load speed run a test with this tool to assess the site’s grade and speed. If your dental website fails this check, you should consider investing in a new dental website or updating the one you have.

If you find that your dental practice’s website grade is good, you may rest assured that it is considered professional, trustworthy, and efficient.

The up-shot is that website visitors are looking to get answers fast. If they’re frustrated after landing on your website, they’ll abandon your site by simply clicking the back button. Few things frustrate online users more than websites that load slow.

Patients equate their experience of your website with the quality of your dental care.

SEO for dentist

Mobile Optimization: Why It’s Required For Effective Dental SEO

In 2018, Google announced a mobile-first indexing update to their search engine algorithm. Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website is what Google uses for indexing and ranking.

It has not always been this way. In the past, Google has used the desktop version of a website in its indexing. However, in 2019 63% of the US search traffic was on a mobile device.

Google intends to make searching on their platform as simple as possible, and since most people are using mobile phones now, they’ve made this transition.

"Most people are searching on Google using a mobile device, but Google's ranking systems still look at the desktop version of a page's content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop. Moving forward, mobile optimization is a must."

What the above statement means is that unless a website is mobile optimized, Google and other search engines won’t be able to read the content of the websites mobile version. If this is the case then the websites’ online rankings will be negatively affected.

Keyword Optimization: How It Effects Your Rankings

One of the first steps of any SEO for dentists campaign, is to find out, ‘Which keywords are the ones to optimize for?’

In regards to the dental industry, nearly 80% of all patient searches are related to the following keywords. You’ll want to make sure you add these keywords to your own list:

  • Dentist in [your area]
  • [Your area] dentists
  • Best dentists in [your area]
  • Dentists near [your area]
  • Emergency dentist [your area]

Including frequently used searched keywords on your website and in your blog posts will boost your dental SEO. Google recognizes the keywords in your website with the phrasing that people are using in your community.

If you’re not familiar with how to choose keywords, you can use this keyword generator from ahrefs.

You can also use Googles Keyword Planner Tool. Both are great tools.

Once you’ve put together a list of your priority keywords, you’ll want to begin writing copy that optimizes for those keywords. When it comes to optimizing I recommend that you build your website on WordPress and use the Yoast or Rank Math plugins to help with optimization.

Yoast and RankMath are WordPress plugins that evaluate each page on your website and give you direction on how to optimize the page for a specific keyword. They’ll give suggestions on length of content, linking structure, keyword density, metadata and other importnat factors that will improve your SEO for dentists campaign.

Optimizing a page for keywords takes quite a bit of time. If you’re the type of dentist or marketing manager that doesn’t have time to write and optimize the content, then you’ll want to hire a dental SEO company to help you  out with your SEO.

When it comes to patients looking for a dentist online, they use geo-locators and services in their search phrases. When you optimize your website for keywords, all that you’re doing is giving Google an easy way to make a connection between your website and the search phrase of the potential patient.

If you don’t include city, state, and service information on your site, you’ll be missing out on new patient prospects. Make sure that your SEO fr dentists campaign includes keyword planning and optimization tactics.

New Content: Why It’s A Vital Part Of SEO For Dentists

Creating new content for your website is most easily done with blogging.

Blogs have become more important than ever as an SEO for dentists strategy. When the blog content on your site is useful and interesting, your potential patients view your practice as a trusted source. Google recognizes this and it’s an indication that you’re creating valuable content and your blog posts will improve in the SERP’s. The best SEO for dentists strategies almost always leverage blog posts.

The first thing you need to do is add a blog to your website. Adding a blog is simple and anyone in dental website design can do it a few minutes.  I spoke with a dentist the other day who was charged $400 to add a blog tab. That is ridiculous! It’s takes approximately 127 seconds to add a blog tab. If your website company is charging to add a blog tab, call us. We do it free for our clients.

The next step in leveraging your blog as an SEO for dentists strategy is to create custom and original content as often as possible. Make sure that your dental blog posts are lengthy. My recommendation is that they’re at least 650 words long.

You Gotta Have Structured Links!

The importance of a SEO for dentists link strategy cannot be overstated. We’ll be discussing two types of links; inbound links (backlinks) and internal links.

Dental SEO Inbound Linking (Backlinks)

An inbound link is a link to your website from another website. A good example of this would be a link from a local business directory, or an article about oral health in an online periodical that links to your website.

According to dental SEO experts, inbound links are the most powerful source of ranking power for your dental website.

Think about it. How does Google know that your dental practice is a better option than another dental practice? They don’t have someone on the ground in your community evaluating dental practices. Inbound links are a very simple way for Google to measure the quality and relevance of your dental practice. A company with a great local reputation that locals enjoy will have more people talking and linking to them online.

Google measures the value of the inbound link by the quality of the website that is linking to your website. If the website is established, reputable, has lots of traffic and also has lots of links itself, then Google will see this as a reputable link. A great way to think about inbound links is that they’re similar to votes of confidence. Google is assessing the trustworthiness of your website through the types of inbound links that you have.

On the other hand if the website linking to you has only been online for a few days and doesn’t have any traffic or links, then it would be regarded as a weak link. Weak links can be considered spam and actually damage your rankings. You need to be careful in which links you acquire.

Building Inbound Links With Citations

You’ve probably been approached by your dental SEO company or another dental marketing organization with this comment, ‘You need to create more dental citations’. Well, what in the world is a dental citation?

The most useful SEO for dentists strategies should always include citation creation and clean-up, (AKA directory creation and clean-up). Citations create inbound links to your dental website and help it be be viewed as a reliable source.

So, what’s the difference between a citation, directory listing, and a local listing? All directory listings and local listings are citations but not all citations are directory and local listings. So when someone says you need more citations, one way to get more is to submit your practice information to directories.

For example, Healthgrades is a great listing to have, but it’s not a local listing. Healthgrades would be considered a national directory listing. On the other hand the, ‘Miami-Dade County Business Directory’ or ‘The Nephi Utah Onion Festival Directory’, (yes that’s a real thing) would be local listings.

Citations can be corrupted with bad information. There are a lot of reasons that a citation would be incorrect but we’re not going to get into that in this article. What you do want to do is check your current citations and make sure they have the correct name, address, and phone information. This is also known as your NAP information.

Are Your Citations Correct? They’d Better Be, Check Now!

Run a quick complimentary report to find out which of your dental practice citations are correct, incorrect, and the ones you don’t have.

Check My Citations

Internal Linking: It’s Necessary For Indexing

Internal links are links from your website to another page on your website. A good example would be a blog post that talks about dental implants and links to your dental implant service page.

Why are internal links so important? In order for the search engine spiders to find all of the pages on a website, they require access to a crawlable link structure, which is a method that allows spiders to tour a website’s architecture. Once a new page is discovered via a link the page can be indexed.

Many websites make the deadly mistake of burying or masking their primary link navigation in a manner that search engines can’t see. This reduces their chances of being discovered in search engine indices.

Also, just because you have a website it doesn’t mean that Google knows the type of patients you’re wanting to attract. Internal links help to solve the problem by structuring your links to show Google what services are most important to your practice.

In the image below the Google spider comes to your website and it sees a link from A to B and A to E. But the spider doesn’t see any links to pages D and C. In this situation the D and C pages will not be indexed.

SEO for dentists

In the graphic below notice the linking is hierarchal. Creating a link structure is a way to show search engine crawlers all of your pages. It will also send a signal that the pages at the top of the hierarchy are most important.

SEO for dentists_good link structure

Some dental SEO experts call the above example a pyramid linking structure. There are different linking structures and some experts favor one over another. The most important part of this is making sure that all pages on your website are linking to and from and that there is a structure that helps Google see which pages are most valuable.

Social Media Signals Improve SEO for Dentists

Did you know? Your dental practice’s social media platforms and the activity on those accounts is included in the ranking algorithm. That’s right, dental practice SEO and dental social media marketing work in tandem. Staying active on your social media accounts presents yet another opportunity to improve your Google rankings.

What Is A Dental Social Media Signal?

When you post on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, or any of the other social media platforms, your followers can comment, share, and like the posts. We call this social media engagement. Engagement is easily recognized by search engines and helps to identify authorities in an industry.

social media for dental practices

Improve your SEO with Social Signals.

Get some help from the social media marketing pros at My Social Practice. Whether you want simple training or someone to manage it for you, we have consultants ready and waiting.

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Lame Posts = No Social Media Signals

Think about it this way. Below is a super lame dental post. I blurred the practice information for fear of embarrassing them. One the left is the post. In the middle is how much engagement it received, big goose egg, and on the right is how many more people saw the post because of the engagement on it. Another big goose egg.

This is a great example of a completely ineffective social media marketing post, and it provided zero in SEO for dentists benefit.

Awesome Post = Lots Of Social Media Signals

Now take a look at this post, which is a great example of a post that received a ton of engagement.

Search engines will take into account the engagement as a measurement of the quality of content from the social media channel.

Not Sure How To Create Super Awesome Social Media Content?

Download a complimentary set of our dental social media signs. They make great social content that builds followers, improves engagement, and increase social signals.

Learn more

Optimize Your Google My Business Account

Most of you have used Google and you’ve seen Google My Business listings, but you may not have known what they were.

Google My Business is an online profile for your dental practice that lives right on Google’s map platform. Your Google listing is searchable and contains your practice (NAP) name, address, phone number and other pertinent information. Think of it as a mini dental website hosted by Google itself.

The huge benefit to ranking well in Google maps is that studies have shown most patients searching online use the Google map to find local businesses. The Google map is used so often that patients are choosing a dentist from the map, without even looking at the practice website.

SEO for dentists, Local SEO, Google My Business

Most dentists, and frankly many dental marketing companies, are not familiar with the fact that you can optimize your Google My Business listing so that it ranks higher on the Google map.

Your first step is to check your current Google maps rankings. Once you know how well your ranking, you’ll know where improvement can be made.

How are you ranking on the Google map?

Run a complimentary SEO ranking report to see how high you rank on the Google map in a 3-4 mile radius around your practice.

Get Your Complimentary Ranking Report

SEO For Dentists Don’t Be Overwhelmed

If dentist SEO sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, you are not alone. Most dental professionals have a lot of questions about the best dentist SEO tactics.

My Social Practice has served dentists and orthodontists for over twelve years. Our team of experts has helped hundreds of dentists boost their search engine ranking through effective SEO for dentists strategies.

SEO For Dentists Case Study

Dr. Bana Ball and her team at Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry were trying to grow their pediatric dental practice online. She knew that most of her new patients found her practice on the Google map. She was intrigued with My Social Practice’s Google Maps SEO service, which focuses on helping a dental practice to rank on the Google map rather than in the organic results below the map, and wanted to give it a try.

Below is an example of Shady Grove Pediatric’s Google Maps rankings for the keyword ‘pediatric dentist’. On the left is where she was ranking when we started. On the right is 90 days after we began the Google Maps SEO service.

Need Help? We Can Help With SEO For Dentists

When you combine great promotion, online advertising, building and establishing a great local brand, social media, fantastic website development, digital marketing, together with SEO for dentists; you’ll see your practice grow like never before.

If you are ready to take the next step to attract new dental patients but don’t know where to begin or simply don’t have the time to get going, My Social Practice is here to help. Fill out a form to get a personalized no-obligation dental SEO summary and quote. An SEO and marketing strategy can be one of the best investments you’ll make for your dental practice. We can’t wait to get you started.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dentists need SEO?

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a dental digital marketing strategy that focuses on the search rankings of your dental practice’s website, Google My Business account, social media accounts, and other online assetsThe reason that dental practices need SEO is that it helps to increase the number of people that find your dental practice online and potentially become new patients. If one of your dental practice goals is to attract more new patients than dental SEO should be a primary strategy in your dental marketing efforts.

What’s the return on investment of SEO for dentists?

  • ROI is an acronym that stands for Return On Investment. ROI allows dentists to measure the quality of their marketing investments. A dentist can calculate their ROI by subtracting the marketing cost from the total income generated from the dental marketing investment, which is also called the net return.
  • Once you have the net return you divide this number by the cost of the investment, and multiply by 100. This gives you the return on the investment. An article in DentistryIQ explains how to calculate an ROI on dental technology investments.

How can a dentist rank #1 in search engine results?

  • A dentist can improve their search engine rankings by performing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on their website and other online assets, like their Google My Business accountIn an article by ahrefs it was found that it takes small businesses between 61 and 182 days in order for a dental marketing expert to help a dental practice rank in the top ten listings in Google.
  • The tactics involved to help with dentist SEO are inbound and internal link building, copywriting, and fixing website errors. Be wary of dental marketers who promise number 1 rankings within a specific time period. Promises like this are usually strong handed sales tactics. Something that seems too good to be true, is often, to good to be true.

How can dentists know if SEO is working?

  • There are several key indicators and dental SEO performance metrics that a dentist or dental practice manager must track; website and social media impressions, organic rankings, local SEO rankings, backlinks, how well service pages and blog articles rank, domain and dental page authority, clicks, conversions, and phone calls. 
  • A dental marketing company that performs SEO for dentists will set proper expectations, provide you with reporting and explain what it means.

Is SEO for dentists necessary?

  • The short answer to this question is ‘Yes’, especially if you’re wanting your dental practice to be found online by potential patients. Dental SEO helps practices rank higher in search engines and it doesn’t depend on what type of dentist you are. Any dental practice can benefit, whether you’re a general dentist and orthodontist or a specialty practice.
  • The primary way that potential patients find dentists is in local SEO, which is the Google map. Nearly ¾ of all potential patients trust the results and use the Google map. SEO for dentists is one way to help your Google map rankings and attract more new patients.

Does SEO for dentists build trust and credibility?

Studies have shown that consumers trust businesses that show up on the first SERP. More than 90% of all actions taken on a SERP happen on the first page, indicating trust.

Dentists who appear on the first page of search results in the organic section of rankings as well as in the Google maps 3-pack receive much higher engagement from people searching. There’s a reason why the majority of people click on one of the top suggested results, and it’s perceived trust.

High dental SEO rankings create a positive cycle in regards to credibility. The higher you rank in search results, the more potential patients are likely to trust you and click on your website. The more people who click on your website, the more Google trusts you as a reliable and credible source, which will continue to push you towards the top results.

Does SEO for dentists drive more traffic to my website?

SEO for dentists is a digital dental marketing strategy that optimizes your online assets so that you’re more likely to be found by potential patients searching online. Whether the consumer is searching directly for your dental practice using a discovery search, SEO for dentists will help your practice be found.

How do search engines decide where to rank dental websites?

The ranking algorithm for search engines are constantly receiving updates and changes as the search engines attempt to create the best experience for the user.

The first step in being found online is to make sure that your website has been indexed by the search engines.

The second step is to optimize your website. The optimization process is lengthy but there are a few key things to make sure are optimized.

  • The meta data of your web pages
  • The content on each page
  • Whether the content is original or copied
  • The length of the copy
  • The history of your domain and the strength of past SEO efforts
  • How fast your website pages load
  • Whether your website is mobile-friendly
  • How long people spend on your website
  • The internal link structure
  • You inbound link strength
  • Your bounce rate
  • The structure and layout of your website
  • E.A.T principle

Will SEO for dentists help me find the right kind of patients?

As long as you know which patients you are attempting to attract, SEO for dentists campaigns can be altered and tweaked to focus on attracting those patients. If a dentist wants to attract dental implant patients the campaign can focus on helping the practice rank as high as possible for keywords related to dental implants. Or, if there is a geographical area that you want attract patients from, an SEO for dentists campaign can focus on optimizing for a specific geographical area.


About the Author: Adrian Lefler is a dental marketing expert and a key member of the dental marketing team at My Social Practice. My Social Practice is a dental marketing company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Adrian is passionate about helping practices grow through SEO for dentists. If you’d like to book one of the members of My Social Practice’s speaking team, you can do that HERE. Interested in learning more about the benefits of dental SEO or our dental website service, please give us a call.