Dental SEO: how to get your dentist office to rank higher on Google
How can dental SEO enhance your clinic business?
By John Clamp.
Dentists are a key part of the medical establishment in the U.S. They’re in a highly competitive environment. Dentists and their clinics have to get out there and pull in new clients. Dental clinics who take advantage of SEO (search engine optimization) use a range of techniques which can help dentists win new business – and keep it. Dental SEO is an extra tool for your instrument tray, right next to the drills and contra-angled probes.
So how does SEO work in dentistry?
Most business operators still see search engine optimization as the efforts made by SEO
operators to help your business (or dental clinic) rank higher in search engines such as Google. The idea is simple, though the under-the-hood work and analytics that create these results are anything but. That ‘Google PageRank’ truth still holds, but in recent years SEO providers have broadened their remit. They now include such services as social media marketing, reputation management, and providing target ‘pay-per-click’ campaigns on Google and other engines.
Modern SEO operators (the good ones) use ‘white hat’ processes that will help your business web page to rank higher in search results. ‘White hat’, by the way, means ‘legal’ methodologies that don’t get penalized by the bots and algorithms that search engines use to rank their results. In the past, keyword ‘stuffing’ (inserting loads of known search terms into page content to create extra ‘hits’), and all the other ‘black hat’ methods are heavily penalized. Pages created using these outlaw procedures are downranked or even removed from results altogether.
Good dental SEO is informed by a number of basic concepts:
- Potential clients DO go online to find dental services
- They don’t usually look past the first (or possibly second) page of results
- They’ll compare a selection of sites, and not just for pricing structures. They’ll also make comparisons between sites’ design, clarity/ease of use, load speeds, and content
- They won’t just use their laptops or desktop computers to run a search. If you’ve suffering from toothache and can’t stand it anymore, you’ll use whatever tool you’ve got to hand at that moment to run a search (smartphones and tablets being the most obvious examples)
- Increasingly, potential dental clients make decisions based not just on internet websites, but also via social media (recommendations, reviews, ‘likes’, notifications, etc.)
Strategies for dental SEO
So we’ve just looked at a few of the modalities that your potential clients might use to find YOU. What about your efforts to draw in new clients? Dentists and dental clinics are ever more aware of the importance of online marketing to attract new business. Here are some of those methods:
- Good website design (or redesign) that showcases your clinic in the best possible way
- Informative, useful, and relevant (up-to-date) content that potential clients will want to absorb or assimilate
- Regular updates to content on all platforms to avoid your online presence becoming ‘stale’
- Newsletters and notifications (the latter on social media) that create regular and ongoing client engagement
- Blogging that provides entertaining and informative comment not found elsewhere
- Posts featuring sector-relevant ‘gee-whizz’ items that inform and amuse
- Creative online and social media marketing strategies that create ‘buzz’
Why use SEO then?
You’re wondering what dental SEO is actually for when all the above strategies are regularly used by run-of-the-mill marketing consultants. It’s a good question, and it has a number of very good answers.
First up, a good search engine optimization campaign, provided by a reputable operator, will do all of the above. These days, SEO companies can provide all of the elements that together make up a well-though-out online marketing campaign. But let’s not lose sight of the ultimate objective. As dental practitioners, what you’re looking for in any marketing campaign is actual paying clients. Via the internet and social media, these clients are known as ‘conversions’.
When we talk about ‘conversions’ we don’t mean anything religious. What we mean is that you’re converting ‘site visitors’ or ‘Facebook friends’ or ‘Tweet followers’ to real-life customers who come to you for dental care. It matters not if you’ve a million followers on Twitter because you’re ‘crazy dental facts’ string is the funniest thing since the third series of Silicon Valley. What matters is that your followers and website visitors actually make the decision to come to you for dental care. Even more important is that they keep coming. Customer retention is as important to businesses as customer, or ‘lead’ generation.
So what can SEO bring to the party?
Good dental SEO does much more than get you hits (if your provider is sharp and on-the-ball).
Firstly, and you may not know this, your online presence, including your website, may actually be demoting you in search engine rankings. Professional SEO companies will conduct a highly detailed audit of all the material you have online, from your website to your Twitter feed to your Facebook business page.
What they find often shocks the most tech-savvy dentists. Often, for example, they have to ‘undo’ previous technical marketing efforts due to ‘downranking’ issues with websites. This takes a lot of painstaking work and involves such techniques as removing bad-quality backlinks, auditing site content for repetitious content, and many other processes. Poorly created web content can also be an issue that needs resolving. Grammatical errors, irrelevancies, and redundancies abound in low-quality websites. Deploying search engine optimization techniques in your dentistry practice can gain you quick results in search engine rankings by resolving these technical and linguistic problems.
Dental SEO is in the business of finding new clients for your clinic, and keeping them. That isn’t something that happens overnight. One of the biggest jobs of professional SEO is creating strategies that work in the medium and long term. One way dental SEO does this is by detailed analysis of the behavioral patterns generated by your potential customers. So optimizing the online presence of your dental business is by no means a one-time-only fix. It is (or should be, if it’s done properly) an ongoing process. SEO professionals will look for ‘what works’ across all your platforms, whether they’re internet or social media sites. They’ll come up with strategies to enhance these ‘conversion generating’ processes. Then they’ll make recommendations as to how to improve your online marketing campaigns.
These days, there are a huge variety of ways to get your message out, but good dental SEO can identify what works in your specific case. These are client-specific strategies whose efficacy can be directly measured in the one way that matters most: new clients who come to you for dental care.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
It may be that so-called ‘pay-per-click’ advertising (on Google for example) happens to be a good way to generate conversions in your case. You have to remember though, that it may not be a good method for another dental clinic, even one in the same county as yours. Why? Because, well, people are funny, and they don’t always behave in the way you expect them to. That’s why consistent monitoring and tweaking should always be part of your SEO toolkit (and should definitely be part of an SEO provider’s toolkit). Good SEO strategists will find ways to enhance the power of this strategy to ensure that it’s providing you with the best-possible value for money.
What kind of operation are you running?
Another example relates to the type of dental clinic you’re operating. For example, is your clinic a standalone provider or part of a national network? What kind of physical environment are you operating in? Are you located in a tiny village or a city-center office block? Don’t forget, too, that if your clinic specializes in particular dental interventions, you’ll want to let potential customers know how good you are at, say, dealing with pediatric dental caries.
How your SEO provider develops your conversion-generating potential will depend partly on the answers to these questions. So-called ‘local SEO’ is a whole subsector of optimization which has burgeoned in recent years. That’s because Google, and other search engines, have come to recognize the importance of providing locally relevant search results. Let’s say you’re desperate to see a dentist because the pain in one of your root canals is making you want to step in front of a bus. You live in Washington D.C. and you need a dentist, like, right NOW. How irritated are you going to be if the top five results in the search engine you’ve just used are the websites of clinics in Seattle (Washington state).
To avoid this kind of issue, Google updated their algorithm to ‘localize’ searches for services that are likely to be needed locally (and if you’re a dentist, that definitely means you). Search engine companies have even built server farms around the country dedicated to this customer need for localized results.
Good dental SEO will evaluate how ‘localized’ your profile needs to be, and ensure that your presence in places such as Google Maps and other ‘pin-dropping’ platforms is calibrated correctly. They’ll maximize your local ‘visibility’, in other words.
The crowning achievements of high-quality dental SEO
Let’s do a bit of summing up. Professional search engine optimization will do a number of things that will help you generate ‘conversion’ and retain customers.
- First, they’ll ensure your online presence, including your website, is technically ship-shape. This can take a lot of work and often involves ‘undoing’ previous efforts which may be harming, rather than helping, your marketing operation
- Second, they’ll check to see if your ‘visibility’ is maximized in local search, as well as in all the professional directories and online listings that dentists are able to join
- Third, they’ll advise on how to create content, notifications, and posts that will generate not just interest and ‘clicks’, but actual ‘conversions’
- And finally, they’ll create an analytical feedback loop that gives you a detailed understanding of which optimization strategy works and which doesn’t, and they’ll improve those that aren’t working as they should, while at the same time enhancing those that are getting you those all-important ‘conversions’
Good dental SEO is about making your dental clinic stand out from the crowd. It’s not just about setting a marketing strategy, allocating a budget, and praying things work out okay. It’s about creating stand-out content in the first place, then deploying under-the-hood analysis, tweaking and adjustment to maximize the returns on your investment.
We’ll be writing more about Dental SEO and other techniques for getting customers to your dentist office very soon. Enter your email address and first name below so you never miss an article. We’ll let you know every time we post something new.