Many of you are familiar with the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ And even though you’re taught not to take things at face value, first impressions matter. Whether it’s doing a phone screen for a job, swiping on someone via a dating app, or searching for a new healthcare provider—the first impression makes a difference in whether you decide to pursue it or not.
Many factors go into shaping the initial feeling, but chances are, you put more weight on certain criteria over others.
Let’s take your dental practice website. It can be beautifully designed, which matters to some prospective patients, but what about the other elements that not only catch their eye, but pique their interest enough where they browse your site, and eventually, decide to schedule an appointment?
Consider these questions:
It all adds up to form a perception that determines whether patients will choose your practice or not. Additionally, these help your practice get found. Without them, patients won’t have an easy way to know about you, which means your practice won’t grow, and that's crucial if patient acquisition is a priority.
So, what can you do to ensure you make a strong impression that convinces your potential patients to book that appointment?
SEO is necessary to ensure your patients can find you. But, what exactly is it? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques and processes to help increase your online presence and improve your website quality and traffic. Over half the US population currently uses internet search engines to find local businesses. And with over 200,000 dentists throughout the US, ensuring your dental practice stands out online is crucial in attracting new patients to grow your dental practice. By implementing a SEO strategy, you can attract more patients to your website and ultimately increase your patient base.
There are plenty of online resources like Hubspot, SEMRush, Moz where you can learn more about the SEO basics. You don’t have to be an expert in SEO on top of everything you already do to manage the practice, but having a general understanding is a good place to start when you’re ready to tackle it. Whether you decide to do your SEO in-house or work with a third-party, you’ll be able to have a deeper conversation with some background knowledge.
One element of SEO is incorporating relevant, high-intent keywords on your website. These are keywords your patients use when searching for a new practice in Google or another search engine. If you think about it, those keywords can tell you a lot about what your prospective patients care about. The right keywords help bring more traffic to your website.
How do you begin conducting your own keyword research? Here are a few places to start your search.
Google Autocomplete is a feature within Google Search that automatically completes search queries when you start to type. As you enter words into the search box, Google will predict your search which can help steer you towards finding new variations. This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to see what search terms patients input and gives you a better picture of what keywords would be beneficial on your website.
Google Search Console (GSC) measures your website’s search traffic and performance. It shows how many times your site shows up for specific keywords, keyword ranking, and how often people click through to view the site. Integrate GSC with SEMRush, Keywordtool.io, Grepwords, or Ahrefs, for example, and you’ll be able to see all the stats in one place and gain better insights into what’s driving your competitors’ traffic.
Google Trends is a tool used for researching the popularity of searches and search topics over time. Using it will give you a sense of what keywords your patients are typing, where to narrow your focus, and what’s the search volume.
Going back to the idea of having a foundational understanding of SEO, here are some tips to keep in mind when incorporating keywords onto your website content:
Keyword research is a time-consuming task, but using these methods is a good place to start if you want to begin with the basics.
Looking to dive further into keyword research and getting your practice on the first page? Schedule a consultation with our SEO team to learn more.
Your website content can separate you from surrounding practices, particularly if it’s content that answers the questions or phrases your patients type into Google. It can influence your website traffic, improve your rankings, and build trust with your patients.
Content can include blog posts, guides, FAQs, newsletters, videos, social media posts, and more.
This list might look overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all at once. The key is to start small and build.
You can get started by following these three steps:
Need ideas on what to write about? Consider asking your patients when you solicit them for feedback or a review.
Content is a meaningful way to build trust and get yourself seen on the search engines.
Your prospective patients need to be able to find a healthcare provider close enough where they can come in person if a virtual visit isn’t an option. That’s where local SEO can come in handy. Local SEO helps your website appear in search engines when it’s location related.
If you haven’t already, list your practice on local citation pages, online directories, and dental associations. Some directories include ZocDoc, Yelp, and Yellow Pages. These are some places patients turn to when searching for a healthcare provider in their vicinity.
And if you’re already listed, verify the information is correct on all the directory pages. You can set a reminder every couple of months or once a quarter to confirm all your practice information is correct on the various local pages.
Patients value convenience in terms of location or you might miss out on patients in your vicinity. But, if you have a strong presence both online and in your community, then sometimes patients will travel for you. You don’t miss out on the ones nearby though.
When’s the last time you updated your Google Business Profile? Google Business Profile is an effective way to draw more attention to your practice when patients are searching. Keeping it current with essential information like office hours, including holiday hours, reviews and your responses to them, photos of your practice, useful links like a scheduling link are a handful ways to keep your profile active. Plus, it demonstrates a practice that cares about providing patients with the information they need to choose their healthcare provider.
Even though a defined keyword strategy matters, SEO doesn’t revolve solely around keywords. Usability can influence your rankings on the search engines. A fast-loading, easy to navigate, and web accessible site will attract more patients to your site because you’re making it inclusive for everyone by removing barriers.
Here are some thoughts when evaluating your current website state:
All these factors can impact your rankings in the search engines. Make sure you or the third-party that you work with regularly checks your website to ensure everything is working correctly.
79% of consumers say they trust online reviews. Chances are you’ve relied on them before buying a service or product too. If your practice already has a method to collect feedback, you’ve already done half the work!
Make sure those reviews appear on your site, Google Business profile, Yelp, and social media channels for increased exposure. Your patients are checking out all these places for recommendations so it’s best to keep them up to date. And if you don’t have a way to gather reviews, carve out 30 minutes to an hour and come up with a plan to handle patient reviews.
Reviews are a powerful indicator to potential patients that your practice delivers excellent services and will take care of them, no matter the issue.
SEO helps you get found more easily and shapes a stronger, more memorable impression when patients are looking for a dentist. A well-designed site combined with a SEO strategy will increase your visibility, foster patient trust, and bring more patients to your practice. When patients can easily find you and then can intuitively navigate your site, you’re more likely to see interactions and conversions.
Remember, SEO is a long game like building long-lasting patient relationships. And if you’re in a growth stage, it’s crucial to building your patient base so your practice is set up for sustainability and profitability in the long run. Without a solid and engaged patient base, your practice will lose out to the practices in your vicinity.
Interested in optimizing your practice site for SEO? Get started with a complimentary website evaluation and find out from our team how you can improve your online visibility.