Dental SEO services can improve your website’s search engine ranking, increase traffic, and bring more new patients through your doors. A dental SEO strategy is the best approach to growing your practice by ensuring a steady flow of new dental patients.
What is dental search engine optimization (SEO)?
Dental SEO is the process of making a dental practice’s website appear higher in search engine result pages without having to pay for ads to achieve this.
According to recent research, 53%* of traffic to any website comes from organic search. For your specific location, it might be even more.
The more visitors to your site, the greater the chances you have of convincing someone to book an appointment.
As a result, it is essential to ensure people know where to find you when looking for dental services. The result is higher quality leads (the patients you’re interested in most) and a better conversion rate.
Why should dentists invest in dental SEO services?
Most people looking for a dentist are looking for the best dentist in their area, meaning the words they use to search for you have what is termed “local intent.” A localized online presence is vital because it attracts potential patients in your local area to your dental practice.
Most people who search for a dentist use either “dentist near me” or “(location) dentist.” This is referred to as explicit local keywords since the searcher includes the local intent as part of the search.
But let’s say someone just types in the word “dentist” into Google. Given the type of keyword, Google will most likely assume you are looking for a dentist in your area. This is known as an implicit local keyword.
Potential patients searching online for a dentist will rarely click past the top local search results. Overall, 25% of people click on the first Google search result. By comparison, the tenth result is an average of 2.5%.**
Connecting with Local Patients
Success means connecting your practice location to those searching for a dentist first.
Many dental practices are under the mistaken belief that they must target a larger geographic area before moving on to smaller areas. In theory, it sounds good – by targeting the larger community first, you’ll have more leads. However, it would be best if you did the opposite. That’s because you could end up expending resources getting in front of people who live or work too far from your practice to consider a visit.
With local SEO, your goal is to reach out to the people who live and work closest to you. If you can connect with them first, they won’t have a reason to look elsewhere.
There’s a reason most people click on one of Google’s top five suggested results. Right or wrong, they believe the dentists who show up at the top of the list are better than those who don’t.
Google thinks so, too.
The higher you rank in searches for your services, the more likely potential patients will trust you enough to click through to your website. The more people who visit your site, the more Google counts your site as trustworthy and credible and will, therefore, continue to push your site to the top results.
Success breeds success.
How Dental Practices Rank in Local Searches
To improve your website’s local SEO, you need to fine-tune your online presence by creating an accurate, complete, and verifiable Google Business Profile. Include a detailed description of each treatment and service offered, including your dental practice name and address.
You can select your primary business category and up to 5 secondary categories. Content relevant to your practice categories should be represented throughout your website. If your dental practices are in different locations, create a separate page for each one. Include relevant geo-targeted keywords in your list of keywords.
What’s a keyword, you ask? Answering this question will also demonstrate how successful practices using dental SEO services dominate the local search results and become even more successful in the process.
Start with Relevant Keywords
Keyword research is one of the most effective ways to improve your website’s ability to attract patients.
Dentists must be familiar with the terms prospective patients use when searching for dental services online. By researching the specific words patients are typing into Google, you can get an idea of what dental treatments and procedures they are searching for.
Finding new and relevant dental-related keywords can be done in various ways. Below are some of the most helpful keyword research methods.
When you start typing into a Google search bar, Google’s Autocomplete feature automatically completes the query for you. Google’s algorithm actually predicts your next search, which can help steer your search to connect you with the most relevant results.
Google’s Search Console measures your website’s search performance. It shows how many pages your site has, how well they’re ranked, and how often people click through to view them. You can integrate Google Search Console (GSC) with SEMRush, KeyWordTool.io, or Ahrefs to get all the stats in one spot and better understand and learn from your competitors’ performance.
Google Trends is a tool that helps researchers study the popularity of searches and topics over time. For dental practices, the tool is used to stay up to date with current dental-related keywords.
Some of the most popular trending searches include: dentists open on Saturdays, 24-hour service, dentists who accept Medicaid, dentists for children, teeth whitening procedures, and even DIY dental products.
With your newly acquired keyword list, dental SEO should be easy, right?
Yes and No.
Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when employing your keyword strategy:
- Don’t use the same keywords everywhere, from the title and alt tag to the webpage text, the meta description, and the URL address.
- Don’t use too many different keywords on one page. Three should be the maximum.
- To improve your site’s search engine rankings, develop content that uses semantically-related keywords.
- Balance is important. It is best to choose a broad enough keyword or phrase to deliver a healthy search traffic volume, but sufficiently narrow to capture traffic that’s relevant to you.
Claim Your Local ‘Google Business Profile’ Listing
The first step to dominating search engine results is to claim your Google Business Profile. In many cases, dental practices get more traffic to their GBP listing than to their actual website!
The Google Business Profile is a free online tool from Google that helps you increase your business’ visibility on local searches. Your GBP listing appears on Google Search and Google maps.
It’s easy to set up your listing.
First, complete your business profile. Google will use everything you share to help you rank in search results. The more you complete, the better your chances at ranking in more results.
Optimize Your Website for Local Searches
First impressions count. You can’t just create a generic website for a large dental marketing company by copying the site from hundreds of others. Dentists often overlook that websites are meant to be engaging, interactive, and valuable. The actual content of your website is crucial to converting website visits into conversions (phone calls and web form completions). Conversions are the step preceding a new dental patient appointment.
Again, your website’s primary purpose is to drive prospective patients to your practice via phone call, web form completion, or online appointment.
Dental SEO helps your dental practice rank in the Google Local Pack, Google Finder, and Google Maps. The above shows an example of the Google Local Pack, which is the most desired position for driving local traffic to your business.
Your website is your full-time salesperson at work 24 hours a day for your practice. Set it for success by investing the appropriate time and resources into your new website.
You can create a website yourself for only a few hundred dollars. However, it probably won’t attract much attention and convert better than one that is professionally designed, built, and managed.
A professionally designed dental website created by an agency that understands the dental industry and SEO will provide you with the best results. A well-designed dental website can be a great marketing tool for dentists, provided the website has these features:
- Clean, mobile-friendly web designs
- Simple, clear to understand navigation
- An informative blog with content about your services
- A team page with photos of the dentists, hygienists, and office staff.
- Prominent contact info and location page (including an embedded map)
- Reviews and testimonials
- A video or photo tour of your offices
- Fast load time (see below)
- Technical SEO (see below)
You should expect to earn back any upfront costs you incur in building an optimized website in relatively short order. As noted, your website is ‘open for business’ at any time of the day or night, helping you attract new patients even when the practice is closed. As long as you’re marketing your website effectively, you should be able to recoup the cost.
Consider developing a website where patients can schedule appointments online. Ensure your contact information (including email address) is readily available, and be sure to provide multiple ways for prospective patients to get in touch with you.
Technical Dental SEO
Just as important as the content of your website is what happens behind the scenes. Technical SEO for dental sites looks at a website’s technical aspects to ensure everything is working correctly. This aspect of search optimization is often misunderstood or not fully understood by people who don’t work in online marketing. Left unattended, you risk placing your dental website at a distinct disadvantage vis a vis your competitors.
One of the most important parts of dental SEO effectiveness is website speed. As of June 2021, Google now considers the website’s speed essential when ranking sites, especially its mobile version.
Your website must also be mobile-friendly. More than half your web traffic probably comes from mobile devices. Your website must function equally well on mobile devices as it would on desktop computers.
Good technical dental SEO services ensure your website loads correctly and function well on a mobile device. Nowadays, search engines penalize websites that don’t have an excellent mobile version.
Create content that is informative and interesting.
Content is a primary ranking factor used by Google, helping your dental practice rise above the competition. Content includes blogs, social media, news, reports, guides, newsletters, webcasts, podcasts, and more.
Your content must communicate your dental practice personality effectively, and reinforce the critical attributes of Expertise, Authority, and Trust (EAT). Engaging content, backed up by effective keywords, will help increase your website traffic. It will also help extend the time visitors stay on your site, known as dwell time SEO.
Consider how what you have to say, or your areas of expertise, is related to what your present and potential patients are looking for based on current search patterns. This focus will allow you to create tailored posts for the patients you target. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Carefully consider what you want your message to be, and the platforms where you want to deliver your messages. Infographics are effective at grabbing people’s attention. They’re also helpful in informing people about your business.
Blogging is one way of sharing your dental practice’s messages. A successful blog aims to answer patient questions. Doing this consistently will establish your website’s authority as a reliable source of dental and oral health-related information. Adding colorful visuals to your posts is an effective way to improve their quality and engagement. A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your practice and what you can expect from particular dental treatments can be a great way to enhance your patient relationships.
Get More Reviews from Existing Patients
Reviews are essential for SEO because Google’s algorithm relies on them to rank websites.
More importantly, a review provides social proof, which people often use when unsure about a course of action or a decision. Personal recommendations are important when choosing dentists and dental treatment. According to a recent survey, 79 percent of consumers say they trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends or family.***
Getting positive reviews for your dental office is easy when you include an online review request feature. Several services exist that provide this function to simplify dental review management. The system invites patients by texting or emailing them to leave a review. You can also encourage reviews by posting a QR code at the front desk, adding a review request at the bottom of your monthly (electronic) newsletter, including a short survey with a link to your review site, etc.
It’s not enough to simply ask patients to post a review. You must make it simple and convenient for them to do so, especially when they are predisposed to doing so (like when they just saw their beautiful new smile in your mirror). Happy patients are only too glad to share their positive experiences with your practice.
Once your Google Business Profile is accepted, it will automatically appear in a GBP listing whenever someone searches for “dentist” or “local dentist,” displaying important information, along with patient review scores.
It’s also a good idea to have a Yelp profile to help increase traffic to the site. Facebook reviews are helpful as well. Patients need to go to the review tab and write their recommendations.
Finally, include a few hand-picked patient reviews on your website or create a page dedicated to patient reviews.
Off-Page Dental SEO Services
Off-page dental SEO involves things that don’t appear on your website. An example is backlinks – links from other websites to your website.
The more websites that include links to your site, the more authoritative your site appears to search engines. As a result, you begin to rank better than your competitors.
But backlinking is not strictly about numbers. A reasonable number of high-quality backlinks is preferable to a high quantity of low low-quality ones. You want to be associated with other high-quality websites. While your competitors are unlikely to link back to you, local business organizations, health care association/membership websites, and blogs are often good places to find them. If you write a blog post or get featured in a news story, you can usually link to your site from the publication’s online version.
Most likely, you will get most of your links from websites ending with.com. However, it’s worth the extra effort to identify websites that end with .org, .edu, or .gov. These websites are generally regarded as more authoritative and will, therefore, help your site rank higher than relying on .com website backlinks alone.
Building backlinks is an ongoing process, so begin by building a nice, healthy list by linking to your dental practice over time. Caveat: never “buy” links or artificially create backlinks. Google levies harsh penalties for websites that employ such so-called “black hat” techniques.
What’s the return on investment from dental SEO services?
To calculate the ROI of an SEO strategy, you simply complete the following formula:
ROI = Return – Investment
Return is calculated by multiplying the number of new patients acquired times the average patient lifetime value (APLV). The Investment is simply the cost of deploying your SEO tactic.
Let’s say you’ve calculated your APLV as being $7500.
Now that we’ve established an SEO strategy, your site is delivering five new patients per month. We can calculate those five patients as representing $37,500. At a rate of 5 new patients a month for a year, you’ll add approximately $450,000 in additional revenue just from SEO. If your annual budget for SEO is, say, $12,000, using the above formula, your ROI is 3650%.
SEO is a Key Strategy to Growing Your Dental Practice
Ranking prominently in local searches is key to operating a successful dental practice. Whether you do it yourself, or hire a dental marketing agency to assist, a strategy leveraging dental SEO services can help your dental practice increase organic traffic and attract more patients online.
By pushing your dental practice’s listing higher in search engine results, you drive more traffic to your site which in turn means more new patients through the door.
* BrightEdge Channel Report, 2019
** Sistrix Study, 2020
*** Local Consumer Review Survey 2022