Dental SEO – How to Grow Your Practice Through Search

Your prospective patients have a lot of options when it comes to choosing their dentist. According to a study conducted by the ADA Health Policy Institute, there were 60.7 dentists per 100,000 people in 2020, and it’s projected to increase to 67.0 in 2040. With more dentists practicing, it means that your practice has to stand out if you want your practice to grow. One way to do that is through your dental marketing efforts. There are many strategies and channels you can invest in, but in this post, we’ll focus on dental search engine optimization (SEO) – a building block for getting your practice website noticed on the search engines to attract more patients.

SEO is a set of strategies and tactics to improve your dental practice’s online visibility in search engines. It can include a combination of on-page and off-page activities. On-page SEO relates to activities you implement on your practice site to capture the right traffic to convert. Off-page SEO is the set of tactics you use outside your website. When executed correctly, it can help you stand out in your community, drive more traffic to your website, and increase conversions.  

In this post, we’ll do an overview of the main sections you see on a search page, some on-page and off-page tactics and strategies, and how long it takes to see results. Keep in mind that there are many dental SEO tips you can implement, but these are foundational elements all practices should have and fine tune.

1. Anatomy of a search page – what do the main sections mean

What you do for SEO determines where you’ll fall in Google. Google takes keywords that it knows about a business and industry and serves up a series of pages for people to view.  

When you type a query like ‘dentists near me’ into Google, you’ll get a mix of paid ads and organic results.

The first set is Google ads. They’re shown based on specific keywords a business bids on and what people are searching for.  

The next section is known as a local pack. It shows businesses in your vicinity based on your search criteria. It can be a combination of ads and organic results.  

The third section is the commonly asked questions people enter into Google. This content can be pulled from various sites depending on if you have the right content that answers these questions. Appearing in this section can raise awareness about your practice and reinforce your reputation as a trusted dental expert.

The final section is the organic results. Google ranks these results based on how relevant your site content is to the user’s search query. Other factors that help determine site ranking include but aren’t limited to domain authority, website structure, user experience, and more.  

You might see some practices focus all their efforts on driving organic traffic, so they won’t appear in the ads section. Or you might see other practices doing a combination of paid and unpaid activities to improve their website ranking. You can decide what works best for your practice based on your practice goals and budget.  

2. On-page dental SEO strategies  

Your potential patients won’t schedule an appointment without visiting your site. It’s one of the many places they explore before they make an appointment. This is why on-page dental SEO matters.

Here are some high-level dental SEO tactics that should already be on your website.

  • Use meta descriptions – This is the information Google scans behind the pages to get information on what the page is about. The descriptions you see under each organic search result are meta descriptions. Descriptions should be clear, concise, and accurately summarize what the page is about to entice future patients to click on your site. Don’t reuse the same description and stick within the character length, which Google has been known to change occasionally.  
  • Maintain a content hierarchy – This relates to how your content is organized on your practice site. Your web pages should be listed in a logical and clear way to make it easy for the search engines to index your site. For example, if your practice offers cosmetic services, then it might make sense to list services like veneers and teeth whitening underneath it.  
  • Think about URL structure – Page titles and URLs should be descriptive and reflect what content is on the page. Avoid using special characters and numbers in your URL. Focus on keeping it concise, include the relevant keywords, and use hyphens to help with readability.  
  • Maintain website security – Make sure your site has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate and is hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) to ensure information is encrypted and secure.  
  • Fix broken pages – Sometimes your site might have some broken pages which can be frustrating for prospective patients looking for information on your site. If someone alerts you about a broken page, make time to update it or work with the company responsible for your website. It doesn’t hurt to do a site audit every few months or once a quarter to check for broken pages, among other things.  
  • Make your site easy to crawl – Put a site map on your site to give Google instructions on how to crawl it. Without it, it can prevent your site from getting indexed and make it harder for people to find your practice online.

RevenueWell has a dedicated SEO team who partners with dental practices to create a comprehensive strategy that includes your practice website, content, directory listings, and more to attract the right prospective patients to your practice. Learn more here.  

3. Prioritize the user experience  

You’ve probably seen some horribly designed, hard to navigate websites. And chances are, when you landed on those websites, you either left immediately or struggled to find what you were looking for. It can be a frustrating experience and cause you to wonder if it’s worth doing business with that company. You don’t want your dental website to drive potential patients away. Here are some must-have elements to keep people on your website.  

  • Fast load time – You and your patients are used to speed and convenience in all areas of your lives. If your website doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, then it’s too slow. Make sure your website has a fast load time. There are free site speed tests you can use to check out your speed.  
  • Mobile-friendly – How many times do you use your phone to look up something? If a site isn’t adaptable to smartphones, then you’re missing out on patients finding your practice and scheduling that appointment. Ideally, your site should be adaptable across devices.  
  • Invest in accessibility – Your website should meet web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), data privacy standards, and HIPAA compliant guidelines. By not meeting these standards, you can put your practice in a negative light.  
  • Use Visuals – Visuals and video capture people’s attention and should be used on your website to supplement your website copy and showcase your practice in the best light possible. They can also help with indexing your website pages and improving your online visibility. Use them wisely and make sure they don’t slow down your site.  
  • Include Call-to-actions (CTAs) – The main purpose of your website is to get more patients to your practice. And one effective way to do that is by having relevant CTAs in prominent places, like your homepage, contact us, and more. CTAs should be succinct, and action orientated.  

If your website has these elements, then you’re already ahead of some practices. Make sure to regularly audit these items because your website shouldn’t be stagnant. It should evolve as your practice does.  

4. Invest in helpful content that matters to patients.

Content is a driving force for having a high-converting website. And SEO plays an integral role in helping content appear high in the search engines. Here are a few tips for website content.  

  • Use the right keywords. Your website needs to have relevant keywords sprinkled throughout your pages. This is one of the ways to help Google serve up your content in the search results based on search queries. There are plenty of keyword research tools and keyword planning tools you can use to figure out what dental patients type into Google. It will help you keep tabs on what your patients look for when searching for dentists. You can include keywords in your website tags, headers, URLS to name some. Use keywords that are relevant to your practice and understand the intent behind patient queries.
  • Use alt text in your images. Adding text to your images will help to ensure your images get found in Google as well as your content. Additionally, the alt-text contributes to making your website accessible. Alt text should describe the image correctly.  
  • Use the People Who Ask section for content ideas. This section is a goldmine for sourcing content ideas and helps you understand the intent behind what people type in search. Consider creating a FAQ page on your site to answer these frequently asked questions for added credibility to your practice.  

Most importantly, create content that’s beneficial and useful to your patients. What you might think is valuable may not be to your patients. After all, what’s the point in creating content if it isn’t helpful to your patients?  

Don’t forget to regularly refresh your website page content. If you manage your website in house, set a reminder every few months or once a quarter to do a content audit so information stays current.  

Looking for more content ideas and other ways to bring more patients to your practice? Download our ebook Your Dental Marketing Guide: Using Funnels, Channels, and Analytics to Get More Patients today.  

5. Off-page dental SEO  

Taking both an on and off-page SEO strategy can increase your rankings. Here are three off-page SEO activities to elevate your online presence.  

Maximize your Google My Business Profile. An active Google My Business profile can give your future patients a strong view of your practice if you’ve taken the time to fill it out. It’s another way to add credibility to your practice and increase your chances of appearing in the local pack. The more complete and descriptive it is, the more likely you’re helping patients to choose their dentist. Here are a handful of tips to maintain your Google My Business Profile.  

  • Include current photos of your practice.
  • List out the services you offer.
  • Fill out the categories.  
  • Ensure your practice contact information is accurate.  
  • Avoid address inconsistencies (like St vs. Street)
  • Collect patient reviews.

Remember that anyone can potentially make edits to your Google My Business Profile. Even more reason to make sure your practice owns your profile and keeps it active and up to date.  

Focus on local SEO. With local SEO tactics, you can tie your practice to your location. This can help you show up in the local pack. A few effective tactics include:  

  • Claim your local citations in online directories like Zocdoc, Yelp, and more. Many patients turn to these sites to find their next dentist and learn more about them. An unclaimed, incomplete, or outdated profile can be a potential red flag to patients. This can be a tedious task, but always set aside time to update these profiles when your practice makes noteworthy changes like introducing a new service, location change, new contact info – anything that can impact the patient experience.  
  • List your practice in the state dental association. Being associated with a state dental association adds another layer of credibility and authority to your brand.  

Be diligent with your patient reviews.

Another way to increase your practice exposure and boost your search rankings is with Google reviews. This is possible when you have many reviews, including mostly positive ones, and having an automated process to gather them. It’s worth nothing that even if you have some negative ones, that shouldn’t cause you to shy away from responding to them. As long as you adhere to HIPAA guidelines, it’s in your practice’s best interest to reply to patient reviews.  Also, take the time to implement feedback that’s actionable. It shows a willingness to accept constructive feedback and make a change to improve your practice.  

RevenueWell’s Marketing Platform has a Reputation Management feature which enables practices to generate more patient reviews. You can potentially double your reviews with an automated process while managing and monitoring your reviews from one place.  

6. Results take time.  

The results of your dental SEO efforts will depend on a few factors.  

  • Competition – If you’re in a location oversaturated with dentists, then it will take longer to see the results due to the amount of competition. It’s possible those practices are more established, or they’ve been investing in SEO strategy longer. If you’re in a smaller town with fewer dentists, you’re likely to see faster results.  
  • Content – Like we mentioned earlier, content impacts SEO ranking. Don’t create content for the sake of creating it. Strive for quality over quantity and being helpful. It needs to be content that your patients will benefit from and draw them to convert on your site.  
  • Site speed and UX –Google values sites that have a fast load time and intuitive user experiences that make it easy to navigate your site and consume information.  

Remember SEO takes commitment and dedicated time to see the results.  

You don’t have to manage your dental SEO alone.

There are countless ways to incorporate SEO into your practice marketing strategy, but these are the essential items you need to start. You’d be surprised how many practices don’t have these in place or don’t consistently keep up with them. Understandably, it’s a significant time commitment and is a full-time job in other industries. But SEO can give your practice an edge in an increasingly competitive dental market. Whether you decide to do it in-house or partner with an agency, it’s beneficial to understand the SEO basics for your own knowledge. Plus, if you decide to work with an outside partner, you’ll be able to ask the right question and have a 2-way conversation to help you make the best decision for your practice.  

RevenueWell offers a variety of digital marketing services including SEO specifically for dental. Our SEO team will come up with a holistic strategy based on your practice goals to help you rank higher in the search engines and bring more patients to your website. Schedule a consultation with our team today.