It's 2022 and you know you need to get more patients. You know SEO is an option but is local SEO for dental providers really worth the money? The answer to that question is a resounding YES.
If you want to be found, you\'ll need to play nice with Google. So investing in Local SEO for dentists is worth every penny. Think about it, no one ever goes to the Yellow pages anymore. (I\'m not even sure if they print those things these days!) Everyone just jumps on their phone or computer and Googles what they want to find. If you don\'t pop up in the top spots, the chances that you\'re going to get that call or appointment are slim.
Why is SEO Important? (a.k.a. Why Dentists Really Need to Invest in Local SEO)
Every year more and more patients turn to their phones and computers and are using search engines to find local businesses. According to Google:
- 20% of search queries are for local businesses
- 40% of mobile searches are for local businesses
- 97% of consumers search for local businesses online
And if you do score one of the top spots, guess what you win... FREE TRAFFIC!
As a savvy dental practice owner, you know that competition for first-page rankings in Google is fierce - especially if you are in a local area that has a lot of practices. So how can you make your practice stand out from the pack and get more visibility? By implementing a local search engine optimization (local SEO) campaign of course! These types of campaigns will get you that edge over your local competitors.
Rather try it yourself? You'll need to ask: "How Do I Play Nice With Google?"
#1 Keyword Research
You do want to be found for more than just your practice name right? Sit down and make a list of services that your practice provides. Now start plugging them into Google's free keyword tool to identify the best keywords for your Local SEO. If you decide to hire some SEO help, a good SEO expert will sit down with you and explain that there are basically two types of keywords that apply to dental practices. They will help you take those services and come up with keyword phrases to target that has either Hiring Intent or Research Intent.
Hiring Intent means phrases that people are typing in when they want to take action. For example: "emergency crown replacement dentist" or "orthodontist near me"
Research Intent means keyword phrases that people type when trying to learn more about a topic. These can be helpful as well. They play a secondary role in your dental SEO plan since they can make great topics to focus on in blog posts. For example: "Invisalign vs braces" or "throbbing pain after dental implants". You can start developing informational pages (blog articles, etc) about research intent keywords. These articles will drive traffic to your site and when you show your knowledge, you earn trust, which in turn leads to more potential patients.
#2 Google My Business
Your Google My Business page is what shows up in the Map results for local dental practice related searches. (For example, you can find our Google My Business profile in Google by searching our company name: BCP Digital Marketing Jacksonville).A robust Google My Business page is a huge part of any local SEO efforts. It tells your patients not only where you are, but what services you provide, your hours, how to contact you and most importantly, your reviews, what others have to say about you. Google My Business pages also allow you to upload exterior and interior pictures, pictures of your staff and any other images that build trust with potential patients (but don't violate HIPPAA laws). Best part of all is that Google shows these map pages at the top of the search results. Win!
In keeping with our Google My Business theme, you might ask, do those reviews really matter? Yes, reviews matter! Even negative ones if they are addressed and handled properly. Google is only one place. There are mountains of places you can get reviews, including medical sites like HealthGrades.com.
Review management is an opportunity to let new patients trust you when they see others raving about your services. It's important to ask your current patients to leave reviews and handle anything negative that comes through right away. A good dental review management program can make this easy for you and take away the stress of figuring out how to do this on your own.
#4 Optimize That Website
Let's assume that you already know the importance of keeping your website up to date, well maintained and generally not looking homemade. Going back to "How Do I Play Nice With Google?" is the main ingredient... Optimizing your Website!
This is an important part of your local dental SEO efforts. Make sure the home page has it's title tags and meta descriptions optimized for your main keywords. You'll want the description to be well written. Since this is what shows up under your Title in Google, this is your opportunity to entice people to check out your practice. Make it about them. What do they get or how do they feel if they use your services? (This is also super important when writing the text on your website as well)
Your inner pages should be optimized for your services. Usually on page per service works well. Also, do some research on what people are searching for. If they are search "cost of Invisalign" you could create a page on your website explaining those costs, what they cover and how you are a great deal.
#5 Links and Citations
According to Moz.com, a Local Citation is "any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy."
You need to get links and citations from good quality sources. Avoid the spammy ones at all costs! Find National and Local directories as well as Industry specific ones and get your information put into their directories. You'll find that some industry-specific directories are free, while others require a fee. Obviously, we recommend focusing on free directories first. Some ideas; Are you a member of an association? Try to get your information into that directory. Or you're a philanthropist at heart and you’re sponsoring a soccer team. That might gain you a link as part of your sponsorship. With a little research and a tool like SEM Rush, you can be sneaky and find what websites are linking to your competitors. Use your imagination, there are many other strategies for gaining links. Make sure that your Name, Address, and Phone number information are 100% the same on all of them.
#6 Keep up with Google Algorithm Updates
If you're doing the above, most likely you'll be ok. But sometimes Google throws in a curveball. According to SearchEngineLand.com, from 2012 to 2019 there were over 20 major updates that changed SEO significantly:
- Google BERT Natural Language Processing Update
- September 2019 Core Update
- June 2019 Core Update
- March 2019 Core Update
- August 2018 Core Update aka Medic Update
- April 2018 Core Update
- March 2018 Core Update
- December 2017 Core Update
- Google Local August 2017 Hawk Update
- Google Fred Update – unconfirmed March 2017 update
- Google Local September 2016 Possum Update
- Google RankBrain Algorithm
- Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm
- January 2018 Core Update
- Google Hummingbird
- Google Mobile-Friendly Update
- Google Panda Update
- Google Penguin Update
- Google Pigeon Update
- Google Payday Update
- Google Pirate Update
- Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update
- Google Top Heavy Update
To do all that yourself and run your practice at the same time is a daunting task.
So coming full circle, let's ask again... "Is SEO worth the money for dentists?
Damn sure it is!
Organic Google searches still dominate all traffic sources and it shows no sign of stopping. When people need your products or services, they’re going to search for relevant keywords in Google (or ask their voice assistants).
Investing in SEO will get you long-term, reliable traffic, leading to more sales and loyal patients. And that makes it such a great investment.
For additional information on finding great SEO services in Jacksonville, Florida, please visit our Search Engine Optimization section or better yet, give us a call or get on our calendar for a quick chat!
If You Have A Growth Mindset, Let's Talk.