8 Ways to Increase Visibility with SEO for Dental Practices
When patients are looking for a new dentist, Google is usually one of the first places they will go. However, a simple Google search for “dentist” yields more than 488 million results. How can you increase the chances of a new patient finding your office? Enter SEO for dental practices.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the catch-all term for techniques that make it easier for Google’s algorithm to rank a website higher on the search engine result pages (SERPs). SEO is a good thing for patients because it means that their search results are much more likely to be relevant (e.g., they won’t search “dentist” and find a veterinarian).
Strong SEO is also good for businesses because it means that more traffic will be directed to their website. Here is a look at how you can use dental SEO to your advantage and increase your number of patients.
1) Conduct Keyword Research at the Outset
When evaluating a dental SEO strategy, the most important part is identifying the keywords that you want to rank for. Since 75% of people only read the first page of Google results, your dental practice will want to be as close to the top of the page as possible. Choosing your keywords wisely and incorporating them throughout your site is the first step to success.
Unlike other businesses, like e-commerce retailers, dental practices tend to be hyper-local, which can make keyword research a bit easier.
When conducting keyword research for a dental practice using Google’s Keyword Planner, we like to first narrow down the search area to the area the practice serves. This helps us ensure that the search volume and metrics are relevant to the goals we are trying to accomplish. By getting hyper-local, we can increase our competitiveness and make sure we are targeting the right audience and not wasting any opportunities.
A keyword like “dental practice,” for example, will have a significant amount of competition.
However, “Miami dental practice” will have far fewer search results.
In the example below, the first few listings on Google are exclusively focused in the Miami region and feature dentists that rank for the “Miami dental practice” keyword. So if you are a dentist based in Miami, this might be a good keyword for you to target.
In addition, you can use keywords that indicate that a patient is interested in taking a specific action, like “root canal dentist” or “veneers dentist.” You can make your keyword even stronger by adding the location (e.g., “veneers dentist in Miami”).
These kind of keywords are also a great great way to target long-tail keywords which are longer, but more specific keywords that give you a better opportunity to stand out in a competitive market. Your keywords should make an appearance in your site title, meta description, headings, sub-headings, and URL.
2) Manage Your Local SEO with Google My Business
It can be helpful to think of Google as the new Yellow Pages. And like Yellow Pages, all organizations that rely on local clientele should have a local business listing.
One of the best ways to improve your local SEO visibility is to create a Google My Business account. This free account enables your dental practice to list all of your business information, including name, address, phone number, professional photos, description, and business category, for Google’s search engine to index.
You can also add your hours and a link to your website. Unlike the old-school Yellow Pages, a Google My Business account can also connect to Google Maps so patients can immediately find directions to your practice, or add a click-to-call option for those who are searching on mobile. You can also encourage existing patients to leave a Google review, which will show up on your profile.
In the example below, the South Tampa Dental Office is identified as a “dental clinic” in “Tampa,” with a hyperlink for the phone number and a link to directions from Google Maps.
One of our first steps of onboarding new clients at Pacific54 includes conducting an audit of all online listings for the business, ensuring profiles are fully optimized for users and search engines alike.
3) Develop a Robust Content Strategy
The oft-used phrase “content is king” applies to SEO for dental practices, too. Publishing new content on a regular basis means that Google will re-index your page more often and can improve your ranking on result pages. Your content strategy might incorporate blog posts and/or videos related to your area of expertise.
At Pacific54, we take a multi-faceted approach to developing a content strategy for our clients. Our process involves first understanding specific business goals and objectives and then using those insights to dive into comprehensive keyword research.
By understanding what users are searching for and how competitors are using keywords, we can make informed decisions on the kinds of topics and content that will be most likely to attract users and ultimately convert them into customers.
For example, you may choose to interview dental staff for a video series, or write blog posts promoting good dental hygiene practices based on commonly searched keyword phrases.
In the example below, a Tampa-area dentist has a blog with posts about nighttime dental care, how parents can teach good oral health, and more.
4) Have a Strong Social Media Presence
Similar to having a strong content strategy, being active on social media builds your credibility in the minds of potential patients. While the Google algorithm may not directly affect the search engine ranking of your website, your social media pages can also show up on Google search results and build awareness of your practice. Some good platforms to explore include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Social media is an excellent place to share industry news, dental hygiene tips, and business announcements like welcoming a new member of staff. In the example below, Miami Dental uses Facebook to share studies, news, and other information that further establishes them as a thought leader in dentistry.
You’ll want to be sure your page is optimized with all of your business location information, your practice's story, a great cover photo or video, and information about the services you specialize in.
Below is an example of a cover photo we designed for one of our clients, we wanted to include copy around the dental boutique's value propositions and highlight their recognition while maintaining a clean and simple design.
Aside from optimizing your profiles and sharing valuable content organically, paid social ads are another great way to drive awareness to your practice, get more leads, and grow your clientele. Paid social media also gives dental practices the opportunity to get specific and target the right audience to your display ads to.
If you’re considering video content, you may also choose to start a YouTube channel, since YouTube is owned by Google and can be optimized for SEO. As with all medical marketing, make sure you adhere to all patient confidentiality laws when using social media. Also, keep in mind you should never give a medical diagnosis over the internet.
5) Optimize Your Website to Reduce Lag Time
How many times have you exited a website because it took too long to load? Don’t let this happen to you. Google penalizes sites with a slow lag time by putting them lower on search results, which means potential patients are more likely to go to your competitor instead.
How do you find out the page load time for your users?
In Google Analytics, you can navigate to Behavior > Site Speed > Overview to get a snapshot of your site’s average page load speed. You can even drill down by page or browser to pinpoint areas for improvement.
To optimize your website and ensure a quick loading time, try compressing image files (without compromising quality. You should also choose a website host with fast, reliable servers.
6) Design Your Site for Mobile Responsiveness
Some patients will look at your website on a laptop. Others will use an iPhone, Android, or tablet. All of these have screens with different dimensions, which means your website will need to be able to adapt to these sizes. Your website should be designed with mobile responsiveness in mind, which can mean having fewer elements on the page or having fonts that can easily scale up and down depending on the size of the screen.
For the mobile-optimized site for Soho Smiles Dentistry in Orlando, the major call to action buttons (“Book an Appointment” and “Meet Our Team”) are above the fold and prominently displayed. At one glance, the patient can also find a click-to-call link, a map, a link to pricing, and the ability to change an appointment.
If you’re looking for a simple way to test the mobile responsiveness of your website, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a great option. If you run into issues getting your site to run just right on all devices, we recommend working with a web developer or marketing agency like Pacific54 to help your practice with mobile responsiveness.
7) Optimize Your Images for SEO
Effective websites incorporate a combination of text and images. But the most effective websites for dental SEO also use the appropriate SEO image optimization fields. On the backend of your website, fill out all relevant title tags for your images. These fields will typically include a title, caption, alt-text, and description.
The images on your website should have descriptive names that incorporate your keywords. Since some devices may have issues loading your images, you want to make sure to use keyword-rich alt tags, which will appear if the image isn’t able to load.
8) Set Up Structured Data
Structured data, also known as schema, communicates the content of your website to search engines. This isn’t something that patients will see, but can help Google categorize your practice correctly and improve search engine ranking.
Like Google My Business, structured data information may include operating hours, location, city, and phone number.
However, structured data is written in HTML markup and can be set up by a web developer or marketing agency. There are several plugins that can simplify the process of adding structured data to your dental website.
For WordPress sites, Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP is a great, easy to use option that features over 30 schema types including blog posting, local business listings, and video objects. WP SEO Structured Data Schema is another top-rated plugin that allows for page-by-page schema set up.
Not sure if your website has configured its structured data correctly? Use Google’s structured data testing tool to test it out.
Looking to improve your SEO strategy or increase traffic to your website? Contact Pacific54 today to speak with a representative.