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SEO for Dentists: An Action Plan and Guide

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By Amanda Brahlek
Jan 17, 2022

Female dentist looking at a patients mouth with the text SEO for dentists in the backgroundAs a dentist or dental practice, your primary goal is to improve your patients’ smiles. However, getting patients through the doors and growing a practice has become a challenge for many dentists. To increase their patient numbers and revenue, many dental practices have turned to SEO for dentists.

Search engine optimization or SEO makes dental practices more easily discoverable by potential patients. In fact, SEO has the highest ROI for any marketing investment. When your dental site optimizes for search engine visibility, prospective patients to locate nearby dentists via their smartphones or desktops.

What Exactly Is Dental SEO?

Dental SEO is a way to make your practice’s site more visible to more prospective patients on search engines. This means, more people looking for a local dentist will find your practice.

Searching engines such as Google use webcrawlers to visit and sort the billions of pages on the world wide web. As they do so, they gather data to improve their search results. As these webcrawlers visit a page they begin categorizing information and storing it in an indexed format. Google then uses this data in their ranking system to decide the order of display search results.

The data a webcrawler gathers includes:

  • What links are contained in a page
  • How fast a page and high priority elements load
  • Information on the topic of a page’s content (including images) and how in-depth it goes
  • When the information on a page was last updated
  • How mobile-friendly a site is

All of these factors tell Google about your dental practice and why your site deserves to be displayed higher in search results.

How Does SEO Help Dental Sites in Google Searches?

page one SERP CTR averages

If your dental website doesn’t appear on the first page of search results, you’re missing out on a large amount of traffic. How much traffic? Only 25% of searchers click beyond the first page of results.

Ranking in the top three results gives you the lion’s share of traffic as shown below.

Example of local results of dentist practices

Making where your website ranks even more important is the fact that local businesses like yours appear in the Google Map Pack. And these top results receive over 50% of the clicks from searchers.

Why Dentists Need Dental SEO

If you’re not using SEO best practices, you’re putting your dental business at a disadvantage. Why? Other dentists are already optimizing their sites to appear higher in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). So, it’s likely your competitors’ URLs appear above yours in search engine results.

Furthermore, perception is reality when it comes to dental practices–people trust top-search results more than lower results. And when it comes to dentists, trust matters.

How to Implement SEO for Dentists

Google uses a lot of algorithms to collect data points on every website. Each of these individual algorithms is an opportunity to optimize your website. Should be easy, right? 

Well, Google keeps most of their proprietary algorithms secret. However, they do give site owners guidelines as to what they’re looking for, and SEO experts have tracked and analyzed the effects of countless website changes. This guide will prioritize the most impactful SEO changes dentists can implement for best results.

Local SEO: A Dentist’s Best Friend for Gaining Patients

Open book with graphic of monitor and the words local seo

The first thing you need to know is that dentists should optimize for local SEO. This is because your dental practice is a brick-and-mortar business that will appear on both Google searches and Google Maps searches.

While most SEO best practices are the same whether a site is strictly an e-commerce site or a local dental office, there are some tactics the work better for local businesses. We’ll cover everything you need to know.

What You Should Do Before Fully Diving into Dental SEO

The best SEO is built on a strong foundation. So, while it may not seem like a big deal to jump right into keyword research, we recommend taking these steps first. 

As you review these steps for dental SEO strategy, use our SEO glossary to help sort out the industry terminology that can trip users up.

  1. Create a Google My Business Profile

GMB Profile sign in page

A Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business (GMB), is a necessity for any local business, especially dentists. With a GMP profile, you will immediately appear in local searches, and you can begin using your profile to manage your business’s reputation.

To create a Google Business Profile, simply walk through the steps on the Business Profile page.

When you arrive at the categories section, you will want to list dental specialties. Be sure to list the specialties you want to be found for most, first. Google will prioritize these on your GMB listing. So, if you want to be found for teeth whitening, put that first. If you run a family dental practice, dental implants, or specialize in cosmetic dentistry, list these categories at the top.

Find & Fix Duplicate Listings and Locations

There are several issues that can crop up if your business has duplicate listings in Google Maps. 

Why You Want to Remove Duplicate Listings
  1. The first is that customers wind up at the wrong place. 
  2. Second, happy customers may be reviewing the wrong listing. 
  3. Third, potential customers may be asking questions on the duplicate listing and not receiving answers.

To find duplicate listings, simply Google your business name. Then repeat with all dentists at your practice.

Remove Incorrect GMB Listing Locations in Google Business Profile

If a location comes up that is not relevant to your business, 

  1. Sign in to your Business Profile
  2. Go to Manage locations
  3. Check any locations that are not your current business
  4. Select “Actions” then Remove Location.

You can also remove locations in Google Maps. Here’s how according to Google:

How to remove duplicates on Google Maps

2. Create Your Google Search Console & Google Analytics Accounts

GSC example

Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA) provide users with the most accurate and up-to-date data. They’re also completely free to use. These tools will be imperative to tracking your website’s organic traffic. In fact, if you decide to sign up for a more detailed analytics tool like Search Atlas, you’ll need to connect your GSC account to the software for the most accurate tracking.

What’s the catch? Neither platform will begin recording your web traffic before you sign up. Learn how to get the most out of Google Seach Console and connect it to your Google Analytics account.

3. Set Your SEO Goals

Target with arrows and SEO Goals in text

When you’re first getting started with SEO, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what your goals should be. But goals fuel progress, so begin getting used to looking at your GSC metrics.

GSC Metrics and Terms to Know:
  • Total Clicks: The number of times your page(s) were clicked on in search results
  • Total Impressions: The number of times your page(s) appeared in front of a searcher
  • Average CTR: The average number of times all of your pages are clicked on from search results pages divided by the number of impressions
  • Average Position: The average ranking position your pages in all search results you appear for
  • Queries: The search terms searchers enter into Google for which your pages appear

After about a week of collecting data and exploring your GSC reports, you will have a clearer idea of what your current organic traffic looks like.

SEO Goals for Dentists

Here are some goals you may want to modify for your dental practice:

Appear in Google’s Local 3 Pack: This is by far the most effective way to gain clicks as a dental practice.

Rank for more keywords: Be found for more searches

Increase organic traffic by X: More traffic means more business. A well-rounded SEO strategy will increase your overall ranking and total keywords, which will increase overall organic traffic.

Increase average ranking: As your average ranking increases, more searchers will find your website.

Establishing Your SEO Strategy & Campaign 

Once you’ve set your goals and become familiar with SEO metrics and terminology, it’s time to start implementing SEO best practices for business optimization.

As you work your way through this action plan, consider which tasks you want to complete yourself and which would be better to outsource. If you’re a tech-savvy marketing professional at a dental practice, you can do many of these on your own. You will have to be familiar with your practice’s Content Management System or work closely with your web development team.

1. Check your website’s security protocols

SSL Security banner

Google wants its users to e protected from malicious online attacks and data breaches. In order to safeguard searchers, Google uses security practices as a quality signal for PageRank. 

One of the important (and easiest) safety practices to protect your patients and boost your site’s security level is an SSL certificate. (Here’s a free SSL service). SSL encrypts your visitor’s data as it transfers from their browser to your site’s server. This makes stealing patients’ credit card numbers, insurance information, and other information nearly impossible.

example of insecure server screen

Without this certificate, your site visitors will be confronted with a warning message. 

With an SSL certificate, your website can actually speed up with the use of HTTP/2, which has a wide array of improved performance features.

2. Improve Your Site Speed for Mobile and Desktop

example of page speed insights

Google wants to reward websites that provide the best user experience. Part of the user experience is how fast your website loads after a visitor land on it from the SERPs. This is why Google’s algorithm 

To test your page’s page using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or with a Site Auditor tool. All you have to do is enter your URL into the text field.

Core Web Vitals report from SearchAtals

After identifying what elements are slowing your website down, take the time to fix them. Focusing on Google’s Core Web Vitals is a great start to optimizing your website for speed. 

Since most searches for dental services are performed on mobile devices, be sure to view your mobile speed in addition to desktop speed.

If you notice a pattern, for example in the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) or First Meaningful Paint, you will want to compress your images and videos above your page folds.

3. Keyword Research for Dentists

When you’re first starting your SEO strategy, you will want to target keywords that you’re already ranking for, but not as well as you could. Then you want to begin increasing the number of keywords your dental practice website ranks for.

If you’re a new dentist, you will want to skip to the second step and begin building a robust keyword profile with keyword optimization techniques.

How to identify keywords you could increase your ranking for

As we’ve pointed out, dentists want to rank in the top three local search results. So, targeting keywords that are close to  SERP position 3 is a great strategy. Additionally, pushing any pages from the second SERP page to the first should also increase your overall organic traffic.

To, identify these pages, you will want to sort your Top Keywords by Position and SEO Potential in the GSC Insights tool.

SEO Potential and ranking positionHow to Optimize Your Existing Pages

To optimize your existing content for improved visibility in the SERPs, you will want to enter the URL into the SEO Content Assistant.

Upload a content page from a URL

Then, use the SEO Content Assistant’s recommend Focus Terms, length, citations, and readability to improve the content’s topical depth and quality.

How to Perform Keyword Research for New Dentists & New Content

The SearchAtlas SEO software suite makes finding new keywords easy. Within the tool, you can perform competitor research, discover potential keywords, create a content calendar task list, and explore content ideas.

To begin, enter potential keywords into the Keyword Researcher tool. Then modify the search location to reflect your target audience’s location.

keyword explorer in searchtalas

After the Keyword Research retrieves the analytics, you can begin creating clusters of keywords that you want to target with the Suggested keyword report or Competitor keyword mosaic.

To determine if the keywords are worth targeting, you will want to aim for Easy keyword difficulty with high search volume. 

Keyword research example from SearchAtlas

You will also want to look at the SERP overview to assess if your website has the potential to rank. If your domain rating (DR) is on par with these pages, there’s a good chance you can rank for the keyword.

competitor research example

4. Begin Tracking Your Organic Traffic

Use Google Search Console or another keyword tracking software to traffic and analyze your SEO efforts. Upward trends are a sign that your efforts are working. 

SEO tracking tool with graph

To make tracking specific SEO efforts easy, create site events in GSC Insight. These will appear along the x-axis of your pages’ historical trends mapping alongside major Google algorithm update events.

marking site events for seo tracking

5. Meta Tag & Image Tag Optimization

Meta tags example from search engine results

Every web page has HTML tags. The URL, meta title, and meta description appear in your SERP listing and provide searchers with information about the page. This information can encourage more clicks since it appears in Google’s search results. 

There are also image alt tags, which improve your site’s accessibility and heading tags. Each of these “tags” is an opportunity for better site optimization since Google’s algorithms use this information to better understand your site.

So, how do you optimize your dentist website’s meta tags?

Title Tag: Keep your title between 40 and 60 characters & include your Target Keyword. If it makes sense for the page, include your city and state in the title. 

Meta Descriptions: Keep these between 120 and 160 characters and include your Target Keywords towards the beginning of the description. Your services pages need to include your city. Additionally, try to differentiate your listing from your competitors. Always provide an accurate description.

Image Alt Tags: Image alt tags appear if an image doesn’t load. They are also read aloud by screen readers for those with visual impairments. They’re also used by Google’s bots to help determine the subject of your content. To optimize these, give an accurate description and include any Focus Terms related to your Target Keyword. You will also want your image filename to reflect the image.

Alt text example with image beside html code

Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc): Your age should only have one H1 heading that includes your Target Keyword. Other headings should be used in descending order, logically.

heading tag in HTML

6. Use Schema Markup

Schema markup may seem like a foreign language to someone that specializes in dentistry. However, schema is not as complicated as it sounds. It’s one of the easiest ways for Google’s algorithm better understand how to categorize your business.

validate schema from searchatlas

Using, Schema for Dentists, be sure to include the following schema on your homepage and webpages, including your services page:

  • Your address/location on every page
  • Phone number on every page
  • Breadcrumbs on every page
  • Specialties
  • Logo
  • GeoCooridinates
  • An on-page map with ‘hasMap’
  • About page
  • Photos
  • Awards
  • Events
  • Reviews
  • Employees

7. Creating High-Quality Content

After you’ve performed your keyword research (Step 3) for your dental practice website, you will want to compile a list of keywords you want to target. After you have a list of keywords, you will want to categorize them by how they relate to your primary services or a primary topic.

From there, you can create a content calendar that prioritizes the most important keywords in your list or those that have the greatest SEO potential.

How to Create the Dental Search Engine Optimization Content

SearchAtlas content editor for better seo

  1. In the SEO Content Assistant text editor, enter your primary keyword into the Target Keyword text field. Add additional keywords from the suggestion list if you want to target multiple keywords.
  2. Review content ideas and dentists’ websites that are currently ranking for your target keyword.
  3. Begin writing, naturally incorporating Focus Terms into your piece and formatting headings.Consider adding the common citations or reviewing what type of citations top-ranking content and linking to a similar type of content.
  4. Add rich media and upload your piece to your Content Management System (CMS).

8. Increase Your Directory Listings

Many prospective patients use directories to find dental professionals. If you’re not listed in these directories, you could be missing out. Listing in these directories also provides you with backlinks and the perfect opportunity to verify your address and phone number elsewhere on the web.

Here are the most common directories practice listings:

9. Think Creatively about Backlink Opportunities

Backlinks help your site build domain authority, which indicates how likely your company website is to rank at the top of Google results. Of course, building backlinks takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. So, as your practice’s site begins to build content, it’s a good strategy to become a trusted leader in your niche and community. This is a natural and effective way to build backlinks.

To build your brand as well as backlink profile:

  • Sponsor local events or attend as a vendor
  • Write expert guest articles for sites with higher domain authority scores than your own
  • Post in niche forums for dentists and orthodontists, such as DentalXP

You can also find backlink opportunities using SearchAtlas’s Backlink Analyzer tool’s Suggested Outreach report.

suggested outreach opportunities for dentists example

If you want to build backlinks more quickly or in a more time-efficient manner, consider using an SEO company that specializes in backlinks.

10. Stay Active on Your Google Business Profile

As a local company, your Google Business Profile is key to increasing your organic traffic. Your Google Business Profile is even considered more important than your website’s home page by many strategists. 

What Google Business Profile tasks should be performed weekly?

  • Respond to reviews
  • Reply to Questions

What other GBP tasks should you keep up with?

  • Update photos
  • Add new doctors as they come on-board
  • Change address location if you relocate
  • Add any new services you offer
  • Update holiday hours

In addition to keeping your GBP updated, you also want to ask happy patients to review your business. Prospective dental patients put a lot of emphasis on how others’ services went with a business.

11. Consider a Pay-Per-Click Campaign

PPC ads of dentists offices

Pay-per-click (PPC) dental SEO campaigns are a great way to increase traffic to your website when your practice’s site is still getting established. PPC campaigns include Google Ads. These PPC campaigns run your practice’s site at the top of Google results, so searchers see them first.

When to Hire a Dental SEO Expert

SEO takes time. However, the results also stand the test of time in ROI and your brand reputation. If you do not have the time to implement every aspect of SEO for dentists, using an SEO strategist from a dental SEO company can be a cost-effective investment.

Dental SEO services can be tailored to your practice’s site as well as your budget. Your SEO company can help you identify where to spend your budget for the biggest impact. They can also perform more tedious SEO dentist-related tasks such as finding and eliminating duplicate content.

SEO for Dentist: A Reason to Smile

For the best chances of being a snippet on the top of Google’s results, you need to be proactive with your approach to SEO. Begin with signing up for Google Search Console, getting acquainted with your metrics, then moving on to creating a Google Business Profile and beginning your keyword research. 

The next steps will take time but will result in a better experience for your patients from the time they first find you to when they schedule their follow-up appointments. So, get started on the right path with SearchAtlas’s suite of SEO software tools that are easy to use or contact our team for SEO dentists can count on.

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