If you’ve spent any time researching how to have a successful web or social media presence, you may have come across the term ‘SEO’. Be warned, ignoring SEO is the quickest way to waste the thousands of dollars you spent creating a high-end website for your dental practice. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and encompasses many facets of from the structure and build of your website, to the quality and relationship of your website to other websites across the internet. In this article, we will share 7 ways in which SEO for dentists can benefit your website’s organic Google ranking, and ultimately drive more customers to your dental practice.
- Take Care of Your Local SEO
As a dental practice, you may already be familiar with your local competitors, but we no longer live in a time where naming your business ‘ABC Dental’ can drive in more foot traffic just because you turn up first alphabetically in the phonebook. Think of SEO for dentists as the phonebook of the modern day. When it comes to standing out from your competitors, SEO is your best opportunity.
Most recent estimates put the number of organic Google searches at over 3 billion per day. Sure, searchers want to find answers to their questions or to learn more about a topic, but a percentage of these daily searches are to find local businesses – to learn about their services, prices, hours, and physical location. For this purpose, the easiest and first way to succeed in SEO as a dentist, is to make sure that Google knows who you are and how to find you! Just like the phonebook of yesterday, you should submit your dental office’s name, address, phone number, hours, and even more to the Google service called Google My Business. This entirely free service lets Google know that both your dental practice and your website are legitimate for the services you provide, and is the first step to achieving great SEO.
Aside from the factual information about your business, you can further optimize your marketing strategy by adding free Posts to your Google My Business page to showcase products, new offerings, and sales. Adding attractive photos – including a 360 degree inside view – can give patients a familiar glimpse into what they can expect from your professional office space. Finally, as with all businesses these days, SEO for dentists can be improved by getting positive Google Reviews from patients directly through your Google My Business page. It’s been proven that seeing the 4-5 Star Rating on a Search Engine Result can increase the clickthrough rate to that page.
Pro Tip: once your Google My Business page is up and running with all relevant information and pictures, ask your happy patients to post their review of the experience to Google. You can incentivize this behavior with a monthly raffle of a prize or discounted service to one of the reviewers, or simply send a follow-up email or text notification to the email address or phone number you have on file. People are used to answering surveys and sharing their opinions, so you may as well capture the digital referral power of your current patients when you can.
- Master Your Focus Keywords
Focus keywords are the second-most important feature for SEO for dentists. Keywords, in Google’s view, directly relate the answer to the questions. If a Google user types in “where can I get my teeth whitened?” and you have a page of your website dedicated exclusively to ‘teeth whitening’, there is a good chance you can rank for this service. To keep things simple, the general rule is to have one focus keyword per page, or to think of it another way, to have one service per page, so that Google can clearly identify which is the right page to show the searcher. If your website isn’t currently set up this way- fear not, all VivioSites website designs can be fine-tuned for SEO for dentists.
How do you find your focus keywords, you may ask? The simplest way is to begin performing Google searches yourself to see if and where your website is appearing. Depending on how far back on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) you are, you will start to get an idea of areas you can improve. Again, it will also be important to track where your competitors are showing up.
For example, if you show up beyond the first or second page of Google’s search results for ‘teeth whitening’ in your area yet that is a main service that your dental office offers, you can safely say that you need to improve your SEO for that keyword.
- Optimize Your Meta Titles for SEO
Even if you have never heard of ‘meta titles’, you have seen them. Meta titles are written into the code of your dental practice’s website, but they also appear as the page title on the browser tab, and most importantly, as the title of the page in the Headline of the search result.
In the above picture, the big blue text is the meta title. You’ll notice that the keywords which match my search query have been bolded in the text beneath the URL, which is called the meta description.
So how do you edit your meta titles to improve SEO? Take a look at your website and make sure the following is true:
- Each webpage has a clear focus – usually a service you provide
- The title of the page is between 50-60 characters and accurately describes the page
- Each meta title uses the focus keyword of that particular page just once
- Optimize Your Meta Descriptions for SEO
The meta description is also written into the code of each page on your website. While Google can pull any text from a page to show as your meta description, it is important to be thoughtful when summarizing the topic of the page for Google search. If your meta description results in more clicks to the page than other meta descriptions Google has shown for you, you know you have written a good one. You will want to keep the length around 160 characters, use keywords that are appropriate for the page topic, and because the organic result can act as a mini advertisement, you may want to include a call to action such as “Schedule your appointment today!” that entices someone to click.
- Optimize Images for SEO
Take a look at the current images on your website. Are they stock photos or personal photos? Are they high quality? Do they accurately convey your services, products, and professionalism? While the answers to these questions may vary, they all affect the user experience more than SEO. The first piece of advice to improve SEO for dentists is to ensure that the images are compressed so they don’t slow down the page load speed. The second is to ensure each image has alternative text. What is alternative text? Alternative (alt) text is written into the code of an image to tell search engine crawlers, as well as assistive devices for the visually impaired, what is being depicted in an image. Because your website’s images can also show up on a Google image search, you can write your alt text with patients in mind. Alt text is another opportunity to incorporate focus keywords into the content of your page. For example, on the ‘Teeth Whitening’ page, you might have an image or two related to teeth whitening. The alt text for an image of a patient in the chair having his teeth whitened by the dentist might be “patient-getting-teeth-whitened”.
Read this guide to learn more about alt text if you have the technical prowess.
- Backlinks to Improve your SEO
Most likely, you’ve never heard of Backlinks, but whether you are aware of them or not, your website most certainly has them! Backlinks are other websites across the internet that link to your website, and can affect your website positively or negatively depending on the quality of the website. An ideal backlink to improve SEO for dentists would be from a reputable and local website, such as a chamber of commerce or business that your dental practice partners with. Another option for Backlinks is to write an article or blog post related to dentistry for another website and having them link to your website within the context of the article. Think of it as a letter of recommendation to say “this website is an authority on the topics discussed on our webpage”. Especially if you’ve won any local business awards, having your website featured on another highly visible website can increase your traffic to the linked page, which will also attract more patients to your dental practice. All of these facets contribute to improving you SEO.
Pro tip: Use any existing business partnerships or networking connections you may have to create a natural backlink on another website or even through social media.
- Social Media for Improving SEO
Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. While you don’t have to have the best run social media in the industry, dentists can improve their SEO by having a healthy social media presence. If you search for your business name on Google right now (go ahead, try it), what do you see? If you have followed some of the earlier advice in this article, you should find the following at the very least:
- Your Google My Business page
- The Homepage of your website
- Other pages of your website
- Reputable websites that mention your site and provide Backlinks
And finally, you should have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn presence. Depending on your current marketing strategy, you may not already have these. Think of Facebook or LinkedIn as another way for patients to find you, and better yet, interact with you. Your Facebook page does not have to go above and beyond to influence your SEO, but it should have your business information listed, link back to your website and have at least a little engagement with your customers.
Similarly, LinkedIn is a way to legitimize the location of your dental practice and drive people to your website, as well as showing as a search result. When it comes to creating either a Facebook or LinkedIn business page for the first time, there are some golden rules to follow:
- Less is more. It is better to post less frequently if your posts are polished and relevant to your audience.
- Incentivize interaction. An easy way to increase followers is to hold a contest for a desired product – let’s use the teeth whitening example again – and have followers tag friends in order to enter. The more people that interact with and are tagged in your post, the more people will see the post.
- Always respond to questions and comments. When followers ask questions on social media, it is important that you respond in a prompt and professional manner.
- Share your website’s blog posts and service pages. Ultimately, social media is free advertising. If you’re going to take the time to optimize your website for search engines, you better be sharing those optimized pages on your social media.
Anytime you can get your business name or website to show up in search results good for SEO for dentists, and is the best use of free exposure online.
In conclusion, SEO has many factors that can be achieved if you have the time to put into research and execution. Like most things worth doing, SEO for dentists is a long-game that requires some ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Google changes its algorithm all the time, so if you’re already working on your search engine optimization, you will be ahead of the pack. Ready to get started with SEO specific to the dental industry? VivioSites has got you covered – we offer full service SEO packages to help drive traffic to your website, and get new patients in the door.