2018 Local SEO for Dentists: Your Ranking Guide to the Top

With over 195,000 practicing dentists in the United States, your practice needs to stand out from the rest. In today’s world, most people search for services they need using the Internet, eliminating obsolete technology like the phone book.

While word of mouth certainly plays a big role in recommending dental services, the Internet is going to be one of your best tools. Most of your younger patients will find you through searches on a variety of topics, or simply looking for dentists in your local area.

But with over 78% of the population using the Internet, how do you make sure your dental practice stands out?

This is where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes in. This concept helps your practice get the notice it deserves by coming up more frequently and nearer to the top in search engine results.

If you’re not an Internet whiz, this may seem like a pretty complex process. In reality, it’s rather simple, as long as you follow certain steps.

Read on for some tips and tricks for SEO for dentists to ensure that your practice is attracting the local patients you depend on.

Provide Some Content for Your Site

One way anyone, including dentists, gets traffic for their site is by including content. This can be in the form of news or information about different dental procedures. Either way, you should create a blog or news section to your site immediately to improve search engine rankings.

You can do this either by having an employee create a blog or outsourcing ghostwriters through an SEO company.

You’ll want to create topics that patients would be searching for. This would include things like information about dental implants, teeth whitening, root canals, cosmetic dentistry, teeth straightening and everything your practice covers.

Your content, however, does not need to be limited to the written word. You can also make short videos or include interactive sites for visitors.

The goal is to have those who are searching in your local area for these keywords will then see your site, and will be more likely to patronize your business.

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SEO for Dentists: Make Sure Your Site Has a Clean Design

You may want to hire a website designer to create a site that is not only functional but aesthetically pleasing. If a would-be patient stumbles across your site and it looks like a mess, they’re more likely to see this as a reflection of your dental practice.

If they don’t already know something about you or your reputation, they will probably not be compelled to make an appointment, and will likely, instead, go with someone else.

While hiring a web designer can be a large expense, it is a worthy investment. Your site doesn’t necessarily need to be very fancy with tons of bells and whistles, but it does need to look clean, professional and streamlined. Visitors need to have the information they need available to them immediately, or they will be more likely to click off.

Create a Responsive Website

A responsive website is one that works on a tablet, phone and computer. Some websites, which are non-responsive, were made only for one device. This means that the site looks great on a laptop, for example, but is difficult to navigate on a phone.

95% of Americans have a cell phone of some kind, with the vast majority using a smartphone. Many of them use these phones to search for services they need. If, for example, someone suddenly broke a tooth and they needed to see a local dentist, they might find themselves looking one up on their phone on the spot.

If your site looks terrible on a phone, they will likely click away and find another dentist in the area. Your site needs to be clean and easy to read on any device. It also needs to be clear how to contact you and make an appointment without too much fuss on any device.

List Your Practice on Google My Business

This is a particularly important step for allowing prospective patients to see everything they need to know about your business immediately.

With this feature, new patients don’t even need to go to your website to get the information they need. Instead, it will pop up immediately, and they can even call your office with one click.

In order to get listed on Google My Business, you’ll have to fill out a few categories to ensure that they have all of the information needed. You’ll need to first verify that you own the business, and you aren’t someone maliciously posing as yourself.

You’ll then add categories to your business, which is an important aspect of the listing. Don’t get lazy with this, because it will help you target customers specifically. Don’t just say that you practice dentistry, but be specific.

If you’re an emergency dentist, do cosmetic dentistry, offer teeth whitening, offer low-cost or sliding scale price plans, or anything else, you should list this.

People will likely be searching for these keywords, and if you come up first, they will know your practice does what they need and can contact you right away.

You’ll also need to add your business hours, which is important so that patients know when to contact you. If they need an appointment they’ll know to call before a certain time, or if you’re 24 hours, they’ll know they can call immediately to get seen.

Additionally, you’ll add a photo of your practice. While the address will also be listed in the Google My Business, it can help patients find you after they’ve made the appointment. Photos of what your practice looks like inside can also provide patients with peace of mind that your office looks clean and professional.

You can also include a photo of yourself, as it is your dental practice. Sometimes knowing what you look like helps patients feel a bit more at ease.

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Encourage Patients to Review Your Practice

Whether you’re on Facebook or Google My Business, you should always encourage patients to review your practice. Often times, people don’t review things unless they’ve had a bad experience, which could drag down your business’ online reputation.

Realistically, as a dentist, you will have a conflict or two with a patient who has had a bad experience, but don’t let this become your practice’s calling card.

Instead, encourage patients to leave reviews on your social media or Google My Business. This allows prospective clients to have a bigger picture of your practice.

For example, if one patient had a bad experience, but every other patient who reviewed you says you’re a fabulous dentist, that one review will be drowned out and it may not matter as much to people.

You can encourage patients to review your practice online by giving them a link to do so in their dentist goodies bag or encouraging staff to tell patients they can review their experience online.

You can also incentivize the reviews by giving your patients free dental supplies or a discount on treatments if they give your business a review.

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Research Keywords

Keyword research is an integral part of making a website that is SEO optimized. There are several tools at hand, such as Keyword Discovery and Google Keyword Planner that can help you find the best keywords for your business.

The keywords you use should be pertinent to your practice, the services you offer and your location. You will then use these keywords in the content your procure or produce yourself.

You can also use keyword planning to find local keywords others in your area are using. This is to ensure that if you have information on, for example, dental implants, that it doesn’t simply pop up in search engines for people living in Russia.

While it’s nice to get the exposure, someone living thousands of miles away from you and accessing your site does not make it more likely that they will become a future patient.

Always List Your Contact Details and Be Consistent

Have your contact details somewhere very obvious on all of your websites. This means they should be included on your social media, Google My Business and on your website itself. Even if you have more than one location, everything should be very consistent, so that prospective patients know where to go.

If you list several different phone numbers, people will ultimately become confused and may give up and search for another dentist. Instead, list one central line number.

If your number or main address changes due to a move, you should update this across your sites as soon as possible. You should also let patients know this is happening so that they aren’t confused when they show up for their appointment and you’re suddenly at a new location.

Focus on the Areas Relevant to Your Practice

Say you have a dental practice in Beverly Hills. You’d probably like to attract clients from all over the Los Angeles metro area, and maybe even clients from across the state. While this is definitely a possibility, with SEO, you don’t need to cast your net too wide.

For your Beverly Hills practice, instead, focus on the communities nearest to your business. You should also focus on the demographics of the customers you want to attract by focusing on specific communities.

As a Beverly Hills practice, you may want to focus on patients with larger budgets. If this is the case, you can use local keywords to do so. This means you’ll use Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords for the communities closest to you.

Don’t go overboard and start attempting to target clients in places like San Diego or San Francisco, as this is likely not as helpful. Zeroing in on where your clients live and tailoring your local SEO to them is a very good practice.

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Be Wary of Paying Tons of Money for SEO Keyword and Pay-Per-Click Services

Some websites, like Google, offer pay-per-click services. With these services, your site appears on the top of the search engine with certain keywords as long as you’re paying hefty monthly fees. As soon as your budget no longer allows for this, your top rankings will also disappear.

You should only use pay-per-click advertising sparingly. Don’t use a huge budget for it, but use it for specials and other things you may want to advertise. Instead, focus on getting your site to be in the top Google rankings organically, and not because you paid tons of money to have it put there.

Use Social Media

Social media is huge for people under 40, and having a presence on social media is paramount in this day and age. It can also boost your ranking on SEO search engines. If people search for something like “Cosmetic Dentist Las Vegas,” your Facebook or Instagram page could come up in the results.

Maintaining a social media presence allows you to connect with your potential client base, and also keep current clients informed about the goings-on of your office. Ensure that when you do set up a social media, it looks professional, streamlined and you update it often.

If prospective patients see you have social media, but that no one has touched it in 5 months, this may also lead them to believe your practice is closed or no longer serving patients.

Use your social media to discuss new research in dentistry, post your blog posts or videos and let your patients know about special deals or events.

Is SEO for Dentists a Science?

Like most things in regards to the Internet and running a business, there is an element of trial and error when creating SEO for dentists. This means that while there isn’t an exact formula, there are many things you can do that will most definitely boost your rankings and improve your foot traffic.

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For more information on all things marketing and good SEO practices, visit our website.

After completing this article, be sure to continue to our next Dental Practice SEO Guide for your success.