How To Rank #1 With SEO For Dentists
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. A dentist uses SEO to optimize the dental practices website to rank higher in search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Duck Duck Go. Ranking higher on the search page is beneficial because statistically, people choose results higher on the page.
The internet is a massive, almost unimaginable, digital universe with billions of websites. A search engine’s purpose is to discover and organize web pages so that the information someone is searching for is found quickly and easily.
The most used search engine is Google, with more than 75% of all search traffic. Other search engines are Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go, Brave, and hundreds of others.
I’ve listed the top ten search engines and their market share.
SEO for Dentists Begins with Crawling and Indexing
When you search on Google, you’re not searching the web directly. You’re searching Google’s copy of the web.
The internet, in its raw form, is not organized. It’s just billions of websites all in a big mess. Search engines like Google discover web pages through links and index them. In the indexing process, they analyze the web page and store the information in their search engine. This allows people using the search engine to find information quickly.
Have you ever heard of web crawlers or web spiders? These are automated computer programs created by search engines. Their purpose is to 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 and copying, following every link, indexing new information, and sorting the results, consumers 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.
How Do Search Engines Rank Dental Websites?
The goal of a search engine is to show a relevant set of search results as quickly as possible. The better a search engine does to provide a consumer with what they want, the more likely the consumer will use the search engine again.
SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. After hitting the enter button when searching online a person is delivered a SERP, the search engines result to a query.
Your dental practice can show up a the top of the page in Local Service ads or Google ads. You can show up in the local map results. And, you can also be found in the organic results, which are below the Google map.
Dental SEO strategies improve the rankings on the Google map and the organic results. Optimizing Local Service Ads and Google Ads is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM is a different method of digital marketing not covered in this post.
Your dental website rankings will move up or down in the SERP depending on the factors we’ll discuss in this post.
1) Technical SEO
Technical SEO accounts for approximately 30-40% of your SERP rankings and has to do with improving the aspects of your website that make it faster and easier to crawl by search engines. When your website loads faster, is more understandable by search engine crawlers and spiders, you’ll be rewarded with better rankings.
Google and the other major search engines want to provide consumers with the best possible result for their query. If you’re website doesn’t load fast enough which results in people bouncing off of your site, then your website isn’t the best result.
The characteristics of a technically proficient website are:
- It loads fast
- Crawlable for search engines
- Has a robots.txt file
- No dead links
- No duplicate content
- SSL /HTTPS secure
- Includes structured data
- Has a site map
You’re not expected to know how to do all of this. Matter of fact unless you’re really interested you should have someone else help out. If you’re not sure any of these aspects of your website are up to speed contact your web development team and ask them. Or you can run a technical website audit here.
2) Page Speed
We’re piggy-backing on #1 because this is extremely important. If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of the visitors will abandon the site. When this happens, Google recognizes that the user experience is suffering and your website rankings will be penalized.
If you have not checked your website load speed you can do so with Google’s Page Speed insight or you can run a test with this tool.
Attention is required to keep your website up to date. One of the most recent requests from Google has been to convert all images to the WebP format. The WebP format allows images of much higher quality to be displayed but with a much smaller file size. It’s a better option than using PNG or JEPG files.
3) Mobile Optimization
Most people on Google are using a mobile device. However, Google’s ranking systems still look at the desktop version of a website’s content to evaluate its relevance. This can cause issues when the mobile site has less content than the desktop. In 2018 Google announced a search engine update regarding mobile-first indexing to solve this issue. Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website is what Google uses for indexing and search engine optimization.
Mobile optimization is necessary because it is designed with a mobile-first approach, which allows the site to reformat itself for mobile users. Mobile-optimized sites are made as frictionless as possible when viewed on a small device and are the best SEO strategy.
4) Careful SEO Keyword Selection
One of the first steps in SEO for dentists is to identify the services you want to optimize for. Optimizing for major keywords is one strategy. The top 5 keywords for dentists are:
- Dentist in [your area]
- [Your area] dentists
- Best dentists in [your area]
- Dentists near [your area]
- Emergency dentist [your area]
Another strategy is optimizing for long-tail keywords, which are more specific and usually longer than commonly searched words. Long tail keywords get less traffic, but they are generally easier to optimize for.
An example of long-tail keywords would be:
- dentist that accepts medical insurance
- dental implants for seniors
- best teeth whitening products dentist approved
- all on four dental implants near me
- family dental office near me
If you’re unfamiliar with choosing keywords, you can use this keyword generator from ahrefs. You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. Both are great tools for search engine optimization research.
Blogs have become more critical than ever as an SEO for dentists’ strategy. When the blog content on your site is valuable and engaging, your potential patients view your practice as a trusted source. Google recognizes this, and it’s an indication that you’re creating useful content. Your blog posts will improve in the search engine results pages. The best dental SEO services 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 in a few minutes. The next step is to create custom and original content as often as possible. Make sure that your dental blog posts are lengthy. I recommend that they’re at least 650 words long.
Patients looking for a dentist online will use geo-locators and services in their search phrases. When you optimize your website for keywords, you’ll want to use those geo-locators, giving Google an easy way to connect your website and the search phrase of the patient.
If you don’t include city, state, and service information in your dental copywriting, your SEO will be lacking. Make sure that your dental SEO strategy includes keyword planning.
6) Original Copywriting
You want to have original content through your whole site. It’s recommended that you build your website on a simple design solution like WordPress and use the Yoast or Rank Math plugins. Both 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 give suggestions on length of content, linking structure, keyword density, metadata and other important factors that will improve your the SEO for your dental practice.
If you’re the type of dentist or marketing manager that doesn’t have time to write new dental practice content, then you’ll want to hire a dental SEO company to help you out with your copywriting and SEO.
7) External Links
An external link or ‘inbound link’ is a link to your website from another website. An excellent 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 SEO marketing.
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 straightforward way for Google to measure the quality and relevance of your dental practice. A company with an excellent reputation that locals enjoy will have more people talking and linking to them online.
The value of an inbound link is measured by the quality of the website that it is coming from. Suppose the website is established, reputable, has lots of traffic, and also has lots of links itself. In that case, 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 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, it is a weak link. Weak links can be spam and damage your rankings. It would be best if you were 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 search engine optimization SEO 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.
8) Internal Links
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.
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.
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.
9) Social Media Improves SEO For Dentists?
Did you know that the activity on your dental practice’s social media platforms are 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.
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.
Lame Social Media 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. The one on the left is the post. In the middle is how much engagement it received, big goose egg. 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 Social Media Posts = Lots Of Social Media Signals
Search engines will take into account the engagement as a measurement of the quality of content from the social media channel.
Now take a look at the image above. It’s a great example of a post that received a ton of engagement. Notice the 75 social media comments, the 29 engagements, and 1 share.
What you don’t see in the stats in that image is the total number of impressions, which is how many times the image was seen. It was seen over 2,000 times!
10) 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, studies have shown that patients are choosing a dentist right from the map, without even looking at the practice website.
BONUS: Dental SEO Training Webinar
Your Google My Business account shows up in the Google map dependent on where the person is searching from. This is called a local search result. It’s what happens when you search for a local business from your cell phone. The GPS connection in your mobile is recognized by Google which produces results that are close to your location.
For example, when a potential patients searches ‘dentist near me’ and they’re standing just outside your practice, you’ll probably show up at the top of the Google map in their result.
In this short dental SEO video recording Adrian gives a great example of how and why your practice may not be showing up for people searching for a dentist.
Improve Your Dental SEO Strategy With These Tips
Most dentists, and frankly many dental marketing companies, are not familiar with the fact that you can optimize your Google My Business listing which will help it rank higher on the Google map.
In the video recording below you’ll see how to begin optimizing your Google My Business account and three dental SEO case studies.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed With SEO, We Can Help!
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.
A Recent Dental SEO 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.
Lean On Us For Dental SEO Training
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do dentists need SEO?
If a dentist’s goal is to increase new patients, dental SEO should be seriously considered in dental practice marketing efforts.
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 assets. The reason a dentist would want to implement an SEO strategy is to help to increase the number of people that find his/her dental practice online through a search phrase.
In dental marketing SEO case studies it has been found that phone calls will increase significantly when a local dental SEO strategy is implemented.
What’s the ROI of dental SEO?
ROI is an acronym that stands for Return On Investment. ROI allows dentists to measure the quality of their marketing investments. A dentist can acquire ROI by tracking patients generated from the dental marketing initiative.
To get an actual ROI number, dentists need to have their marketing costs and new patients linked to their PMS.
Another way to track ROI is to attribute an average conversion for the following attributes; inbound calls, appointments scheduled off of inbound calls, and average dollar amount per patient. The ROI number with this method will not be exact. Still, with attention to detail, a dentist can get a close idea of their ROI on any marketing effort.
A dentist can calculate their ROI by subtracting the marketing cost from the total income generated from the dental marketing investment, also called the net return.
Once you have the net return, divide this number by the cost of the investment and multiply it by 100. You’ll receive a return on the investment number.
A great 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 account. In an article by ahrefs it was found that it takes small businesses between 61 and 182 days in order for a dental marketing initiative to help a dental practice rank in the top ten listings in Google.
Keep in mind though that when you talk about rankings you need to make sure that you know in which section of the SERP’s you’re trying to rank higher in. The organic listings are below the Google map and are tied very closely to your dental website SEO. The listings in the Google map are local SEO results and are tied closely to your Google My Business account and your website.
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.
Is my dental SEO campaign 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 new patient phone calls.
A dental marketing company that performs SEO for dentists will set proper expectations, provide their dental client with reporting, statistics, and suggestions on how to improve the SEO campaign.
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.
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
How long does dental SEO take?
Depending on the goals and expectations of a dental SEO campaign, timing will vary from a few months to possibly years.
SEO for dental practices should be a consistent and long term initiative. Dentists who begin SEO when they need new patients immediately, will inevitably be disappointed with results. The best course of action is to allocate some of a dentists marketing budget towards and SEO campaign that will always be running.
The idea we’re suggesting here is not to discourage a dentist from starting an SEO campaign, it’s simply the reality of how dental digital marketing works now-a-days. The ROI benefits of dental SEO are so high that forward thinking dentists have shifted their marketing budgets from traditional advertising towards SEO.
Does SEO for dentists help a practice grow?
There has been a massive shift in marketing initiatives. Business owners and marketing experts have been moving advertising dollars away from traditional and digital marketing in nearly every industry. Why is SEO such a big part of a digital marketing campaign?
- Patients are spending vast amounts of time on digital platforms.
- It’s far more effective at targeting and reaching a local patients.
- Practices see a much higher ROI with digital marketing.
- Tracking is much more specific and measurable.
- Conversion towards scheduled appointments happens much quicker.
- Dentists receive the benefit of two-way communication versus one-way communication.
Your patients and potential patients are consuming information digitally.
One last important reason to leverage SEO is because your competitors are doing it.
How does a dental practice attract more patients with dental SEO?
Once you integrated a dental SEO strategy into your marketing campaign, you’ll see the following benefits:
- Patients will find your practice more often online, increasing your website visitors.
- Website visitors will have a better experience with your brand.
- Your practice will have higher credibility and trustworthiness through more significant social proof.
- There will be higher conversion rates of website visitors to scheduled appointments.
- You’ll be able to attract the right kinds of patients.
- You’ll see an improvement in all your online marketing initiatives through transference.
Does website user experience matter in dental SEO?
Google tracks how people interact with your website and then uses that information to improve search engine results page (SERP). For example, if a website visitor is on their mobile phone when visiting your website but your website isn’t mobile optimized, then they’ll probably have a frustrating experience.
Everyone has clicked a non-mobile optimized site. How difficult is it to find what you want when the images are too small to recognize or the text expands beyond the screen of your phone? You need to make sure that your website is mobile optimized.
For this reason user experience has an impact on how well your website ranks. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the website visitor find what they are looking for quickly?
- Is the usability of the website effortless?
- Is the information correctly arranged throughout the site?
Does this mean that the search engines check how aesthetically pleasing your website is? Not necessarily. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing don’t care what your website looks like, but aesthetics play a part in user experience. A dental SEO specialist must consider technical and user experience aspects when developing a dental website.
Does good dental SEO include technical SEO?
The performance of your website has much more to do with the user experience and the technical aspects, than whether or not your website is aesthetically pleasing. Google, Yahoo, and Bing don’t really care what your site looks like. Obviously, aesthetics play a big part for dental practices because of what’s called transference. Transference is when a person attributes the feeling that they have for one thing to a non-related other thing.
The up-shot is this, if your website is ugly then people will transfer that feeling towards their thoughts of your dental quality. For this reason it is important for a dental website to look great, but it has very little to do with ranking.
If you’re looking to be found online with search engine optimization and an SEO for dentists campaign, you’ll want to make sure the technical aspects of your website are dialed in and your dental website is getting an A+ grade from Google.
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.