As a dentist, there is serious competition when it comes to ranking highest on in a Google search. So how can you set your practice apart and get more visibility for your practice?
The simple answer is to implement a local search engine optimization (local SEO) campaign following a proven step-by-step process. But first, let’s look at why you should be investing in local SEO in the first place…
Reason #1. The Yellow Pages Are Dead
More and more patients are using search engines to find local businesses on their computers and mobile phones. Here are the stats, according to Google:
- 20% of search queries are for local businesses
40% of mobile searches are for local businesses
97% of consumers search for local businesses online
Reason #2. Free Traffic (Every Month)
When you’re ranking at the top of Google, you get free traffic. Who doesn’t love free? Simply put, SEO is one of the best marketing investments you can make for your dental practice.
Reason #3: See Results Fast
For nationwide businesses it can take six months to a year to gain first-page Google rankings, but in local markets, results often come faster. Most dentists aren’t following SEO best practices. And as a result, when you follow the steps in this article, it’s not uncommon to gain first-page local rankings within 60 -90 days.
So how do you build a local SEO campaign that increases your visibility in search engines, attracts great patients and boosts your bottom line? Here are some tips.
Technical SEO for Dentists
Before you proceed with a local SEO campaign for dentists, you need to ensure that the technical SEO behind your website is up to speed.
By technical SEO we mean site navigation, site security and site speed. A website audit can help you determine what technical onsite SEO issues need to be addressed and while fixing some can be a little tricky if coding is not your thing, making the effort to do so is a must.
Keywords are the backbone of good local SEO for dentists. To get started, make a list of the specific services your practice provides. This might include fillings, crowns, teeth cleaning, and orthodontics etc.
Then, making use of a keyword research tool – Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is a good free one – you can determine what keywords and keyphrases people in your market are using to find these services.
Once you have determined the best keywords to make use of in your local SEO for dentists campaign, you will need to review – and almost certainly revise – your website copy to ensure they are included in the right quantity.
Keyword stuffing is a no-no in the eyes of Google and the other search engines, so keyword optimization does have to be executed with care. On your website, the initial focus of local SEO for dentists should be keyword optimizing your “core pages” the homepage and service pages.
This will often involve rewriting, or adding to the existing content while also ensuring that the meta descriptions associated with each page are optimized as well. The meta description, while not visible on the page, is what will be displayed in search engine results, so it is important to get it right.
Your Google My Business Page
It’s great that you have a wonderful website, but in local SEO optimizing your Google My Business page is every bit as important as optimizing your website. However it is a crucial step that many dentist’s marketing plans skip.
Your Google My Business page shows up in the “Map” results for local dentist-related searches. Google search is increasingly localized, so even if a searcher only inputs a very non specific phrase like ‘cosmetic dentists’ they will be served local results most prominently, and the information presented is usually from the business’ Google My Business Page.
How do you optimize this very important piece of Internet ‘real estate’? Here are some tips:
To make any edits to your profile page, you must first claim and verify your page with Google. You can confirm that your profile has been verified by logging into your dashboard and finding a checkmark with the word “Verified” next to your business name.
If you haven’t verified your business, you’ll see a “Verify Now” prompt on your dashboard to start the process. If you see that you have multiple pages for the same location, you’ll want to merge them so only one is displayed.
Name, Address and Phone Number
Use only the official name of your practice, and be sure to include your exact address, because that’s how Google maps your location. When it comes to the phone number, use your local number (not an 800 number) to strengthen your presence as a local business.
It’s critical that you use consistent Name, Address, and Phone number information across your Google My Business page, your website, and other pages and directory listings including your Facebook page, Yellow Pages online listings, and so on.
As per Google’s guidelines for local pages, each category should describe what your practice is, not what it does. For example, you could add a category that states “orthodontics”, but not “teeth straightening.”
You’ll want to include all the relevant categories for your practice. Some examples of available categories for dentists are: Dentist, Cosmetic Dentist, Dental Clinic, Dental Implants Periodontist, Emergency Dental Service, Endodontist and Pediatric Dentist. You’ll should pick the three to five categories that are most relevant to your practice.
In this step you’ll be introducing your business to potential patients, so make sure that your description is well-written and free of spelling or grammatical errors. The description of your practice should be written in a conversational tone, but you should incorporate your SEO keywords for your dental services/specialties.
Make sure the hours of operation posted on your local page (and your website) are always accurate. This is especially important if you have seasonal hours or are experimenting with being open earlier in the morning, later at night or on weekends.
Google allows exterior and interior practice pictures, as well as the logo for your practice. Images increase engagement, can help patients find your location and help to tell the story of your business.
The images you use should be of the highest quality possible. This means they should have have a sharp focus, be sized between 10KB and 5MB, have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px and be well-lit. Replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image is also an excellent marketing for dentists best practice.
Citations and Links
Optimizing your website and Google My Business page are the initial steps you need to take to begin to rank better in Google. But to compete in a crowded field, you must do more. Building citations and links is the next major step to separate yourself from the other dentists in your area.
Citations are mentions of your practice in the form of Name, Address and Phone number (known as “NAP”). You should begin by ensuring that you include a citation for your practice on your own website, on your contact page and ideally also in the footer of your website.
You should then begin building these NAP citations offsite by getting listed in relevant directories. Your Google My Business page, which we’ve already covered, is very important, but there are dozens of other business directories you can list your practice in to build more citations, and therefore help you rank higher in Google.
By “links,” we mean hyperlinks pointing from another website to your website. These are also known as “inbound links.” Google places a lot of emphasis on what types of websites are linking to you.
Links act as a vote in favor of your website’s authority and relevance. As a general rule, the more high quality links that you have, the greater your website’s authority in Google and the higher your website can rank for competitive terms.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking lots of low quality links will trump fewer high quality ones. That is not the way search works anymore. Good SEO for dentists call for a concentrated link building campaign that focuses on gaining the best links possible. And never buy links. That’s one of the fastest ways to sink an SEO campaign – and maybe even your website – and should be avoided at all costs.
Get Into Content Creation
If your website does not have a blog, you need one ASAP. If you have a blog, but only add to it once or twice a year, that needs to change too. Content creation is another vital component of SEO for dentists, as not only is it a great tool for link building but great, informative content will enhance your E.A.T rating – expertise, authority and trust – which is increasingly important to Google.
Great content is also an excellent way to engage patients. Dentistry is something that lends itself to a huge number of topics that can be covered and if you don’t have the staff available to blog regularly for you hiring an experienced content writer is an excellent investment to make.
Reviews are another factor that can give you an edge over local competitors and give you higher rankings on Google’s SERPs. There are lots of places you can get reviews, including on Yelp.com and on medical sites like HealthGrades.com. But we recommend focusing your attention on gaining positive reviews on your Google My Business page.
Getting reviews on your Google My Business page will help it rank higher, so you get more exposure to prospective patients. Plus, when prospective patients see all of your positive reviews, they’ll be more likely to contact you.
How to Get Reviews
What’s the secret to getting reviews from your patients? You need to provide excellent service. But aside from that, you need to ask patients to review you, and you need to make it easy for them.
One of the best ways to ask, and make it easy, is to send an “review request” via email, with a link to leave you a review on your Google My Business page.
If you are familiar with Yelp! you might know that they prefer you don’t ask for reviews. Google do not take the same stance. They encourage you to seek reviews and even provide a special link you can give to patients to make it easier for them to do so.
We recommend sending out review emails to all patients who haven’t yet left you a review and ensuring you include that special link. Make this part of your business process, so you receive a steady stream of reviews on an ongoing basis.
These SEO efforts do need to be tracked. Google Analytics is an excellent way to do this and is relatively simple to add to any website. As for your Google My Business page that has a built in analytics dashboard of its own that should be monitored as well.
Why bother with all this tracking? There is no such thing as a standard SEO plan for dentists and a successful local SEO campaign requires tweaking and testing in order to get things right. By carefully tracking your efforts you will be able to see what is working and what isn’t and then make adjustments accordingly.
When managed properly, a local SEO campaign can be one of the best marketing investments you can make for your dental practice. At Pearl Lemon, we specialize in local SEO for dentists. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.