Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial in the dental industry for attracting new patients and keeping your current ones. You may be familiar with some of the basics of dental SEO, and may understand how important it is to optimize your site in order to rank higher on Google Search. SEO tactics increase search rankings to generate more traffic from search engines.
These 12 tips (six in this article and the rest in part two) are relevant and practical strategies for better rankings in local SEO, now and into 2022. Try them out and watch your practice rank higher than ever before!
1. Focus on local SEO
The majority of potential patients use Google Maps to find a nearby dentist. Optimize your practice’s Google My Business (GMB) account, which is the business listing that shows up on Google Maps. The goal is to optimize your practice GMB account to rank in the Google 3-Pack—the top three listings in Google Maps.
A dental practice can optimize its GMB listing by first claiming and verifying it. The next step is to fill out all the information, including hours of operation, services, accepted insurances, areas served, and a practice description in the admin panel. Be as detailed as possible—the more information you have on your GMB profile, the better.
An additional resource that gives step-by-step instructions on how to optimize your GMB account is this article about SEO for dentists.
2. Post to your Google My Business account
The more information you put on your GMB profile, the more you’ll rank for local keywords. For example, I know a dentist who had only one review on his GMB profile, and he ranked number four in Google Maps for the keyword phrase “dentist near me.” The number four position is not on the first page, and he was getting very few new-patient calls. After claiming and verifying his GMB account, he began posting to the account weekly. Consistent posting bumped his ranking to number two, which placed his practice on the first page. He immediately started receiving phone calls from patients who were finding him on Google Maps.
Posting to your dental practice’s GMB account is a necessary dental SEO tactic that most practices are not doing. You’ll get a jump on your competition if you start now.
3. Acquire new Google reviews
Google reviews are part of the Google Maps ranking algorithm, but these account for less than 10% of the ranking. If you have more reviews than your competitors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll rank higher than them. But don’t worry about your ranking. What matters is that you’re in Google Maps 3-Pack.
Potential patients call dental listings on the first page that have the most positive reviews. So, even though you may not be a top listing, you’ll get more of the new-patient phone calls if you have more reviews than your competitors. Don’t forget about reviews on other platforms, especially on Facebook. It’s absolutely worth it to take the time to ask all your patients if they would be willing to post a review on Facebook and Google.
If you don’t have software that helps you receive reviews through a text link, you’re behind the curve. Get reviews aggregation software and ensure that the review process is not gated. (Gated reviews are when patients initially review your dental practice on a third-party platform. If the review is good, a second request is sent to patients, encouraging them to post the review to Google.) Although this process may sound like a great way to catch negative reviews from showing up on Google, patients rarely do the second step. You will end up with reviews on third-party platforms that no one can find in search results.
4. Custom content is key to dental practice SEO
Whether it’s videos on your website, blog posts, service pages, or patient testimonials, the more fresh and unique content you can produce, the better. Google recognizes new content and rewards those practices with higher rankings. It’s worth the time to post original content that your patients, and Google, will value. Make sure that all your main service pages are original content.
A good way to create custom content is with a blog, which gives you a reason to create content regularly. The biggest problem with blogging is the time required. Writing good copy isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time to organize your thoughts. To get help with blogging, read this social media marketing article and look at our social media managed service.
5. Have a solid internal link-building strategy
To prove to search engines that your practice website and GMB account should rank high for specific keywords, you must send signals to Google that indicate what keywords you want to rank for. One of the most important signals to send is internal website links. These link from one page of your website to another page. Creating an internal linking structure tells Google which keywords are essential. For example, if you want to rank for dental implants, you need a custom dental implant service page and lots of links throughout your site that link to it.
Blogging can be helpful to create internal links. A blog about dental implants can link to your dental implant service page, which tells Google, “We specialize in dental implants, and we should rank high for implants!” Internal linking will help people find and navigate your site, and it gives Google a way to see the connectedness of your website, which is a significant ranking factor.
6. Have a solid external link-building strategy
There are outbound and inbound external links. Outbound links point to another website, and inbound links point to your website. For outbound links, you’ll want to connect with industry-specific sites and local businesses. When you link to the American Dental Association, your state dental board website, or dental manufacturers’ websites, Google recognizes relevance within the dental industry.
When you link outbound to local businesses, Google recognizes the local relevance; it’s good to mention some of your favorite places or companies in your area. A straightforward way is to add location pages to your website. I talk more about dental website location pages in part two of this article.
Inbound links are from other websites and link to your website. Start by listing your practice in all major search engines and directories. If you’re not familiar with your directory listings, here is a free listing report tool. It will show you which directories you are listed in and whether the name, address, phone, and website information are correct.
If you’re getting inbound links that have nothing to do with dentistry, Google often sees this as spam, and you will be penalized with lower rankings. Make sure that the links coming into your site are dental-related or local-related. If you’re not sure how to see which inbound links you have, you can run a website audit and health report here.
An essential inbound and outbound linking tip is to link from your dental website to your Google My Business account and vice versa. Link to your website when you post to your GMB account (number two in this article). When you write a custom blog for your website, be sure to link your post back to your GMB account. This type of link helps Google make an obvious connection between your website and your listing on Google Maps. This will result in better local SEO rankings.
READ: 12 SEO tips for dental offices: Part 2
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend newsletter. To subscribe visit dentaleconomics..com/subscribe.
Adrian Lefler is the vice president of My Social Practice, where he manages the dental marketing team. If you would like to book Lefler to speak at your event, you can do so on the company’s dental marketing expert page.