As a dentist competing with others in your area, you can’t get away from marketing your services online, which means taking ownership of your dentist SEO ranking (search engine optimization ranking). Online search engines are where 90% of us turn when making important decisions, such as choosing the perfect dentist.
Before someone commits to any kind of buying decision, they type keywords into Google to find what they need.
The real question is: What do new patients in your area see when they search Google for dentistry? You can do a quick test to find out. Search Google for: “dentist + (your city/state).
You should now be looking at a series of dental practice listings. If your practice fails to rank near the top of the page, you are losing new patients. Ranking on Google is closely tied to your dental practice website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO is a process that takes years to master, and the majority of dentists don’t understand how it works. That’s not a bad thing. It takes time to learn how to appease Google, Yahoo, and Bing while also delivering content through your website that attracts the types of patients you want to see in your practice year after year.
However, a lack of understanding results in many dentists hiring the first marketing company that promises results. If that company fails to deliver, you’ll be right back at square one with a shoddy marketing presence, at best. So take the time to learn some of the basics of dentist SEO to protect and grow your practice.
Step One: Perform An SEO Audit
The first step in improving your dentist SEO is to find out how when your website is performing now.
Don’t just focus on your search rankings. While they are important, they are only one piece of relevant data. If you only focus on where you show up in Google searches, you’ll still have no idea how people found your search engine listing, what keywords they searched for or what activities those visitors engaged in after they clicked-through to your site.
Even more important, you’ll have no idea if your marketing budget is being spent wisely. Google Analytics is the best tool you can use to track the relevant data you need.
Google Analytics gives users tons of data about any website, including:
- Time Spent
- Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Entrance, Bounce & Exit Rates
- Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
- Unique Visitors, Referrals, Search Engine Traffic and Direct Visits
- Overall Visitors
- Average Sales
All of this data can quickly become confusing and it doesn’t take long for dentists to become unsure of what to focus on. The trick is to narrow down this data to find what matters most.
The best way to do this is by assigning goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) within Google Analytics so you can generate monthly reports.
Relevant Goal Types Include
- Destination: Where you hope your visitors will land. It’s recommended to make this part of a goal funnel.
- Visit Duration: How long you hope your visitors will remain on your site.
- Pages/Visit: The number of pages your visitors visit during their stay.
Once you’ve set up your goals, you’ll want to be able to discern whether or not your site is living up to its goals. The following are some example KPIs that you can use to help your practice’s SEO continually improve.
Google has several tools you can use to find the organic keywords your visitors are using to find your site. We like to use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to get a complete picture. Google Search Console will help you understand the keywords users are using to find your site while Google Analytics will tell you what users do once they are there.
You want to know where your traffic is coming from. Using Analytics, we can find out which links people are clicking to find your site. You’ll need to tag your destination URLs with Google’s URL Builder.
Your website exists primarily to receive new dental leads in most cases and many leads today still use the telephone. To ensure your traffic is calling when prompted, place a phone call tracker on your site.
Step Two: Keyword Research
Keyword research is how you can find the actual search terms that people enter into search engines to find your practice. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start.
The knowledge about these actual search terms is one of the most important parts of any online marketing effort, especially as you want to improve your SEO rankings.
- Make a list of relevant topics based on what you know about your dental practice. To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for such as “Baltimore dentist”, “emergency dentist”, etc. Look at the services you know patients find most valuable and start there.
- Expand on those topics, adding specific keywords to each topic. For example, if you want to make sure patients who are searching for emergency dental services find you, use keywords such as “same-day dental”.
- Research related search terms. If you’re struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword.
- See how your competitors rank for keywords. If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those.
However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.
Step Three: Optimize Your Website
Create Title Tags
Each title page of your website should have a “tag” that includes the keyword(s) for that page and geographical (city) information.
Create Meta Descriptions
These short descriptions that display on the search results page should be engaging and created to entice searchers to click through to your site from the search results page.
Add Internal Links
Add links to your website’s content pages that direct potential new patients to more relevant information. For example, include links on your FAQ page to specific service pages (i.e. Invisalign, dentures, sedation, etc.). Use links in a normal sentence structure, not in a forced “click here” call to action.
As a dentist, your online presence is becoming increasingly important. Don’t get left behind as your competitors use these techniques to get ahead. Having a website no one can find just doesn’t work!
Improving your dental practice’s SEO ranking is only one small part of setting your business up to gain traction and get traffic and visitors using Google and any other search engine.
However, it’s a great place to start. Many times a newly optimized webpage will begin showing up better in the search engines in only a few short weeks.
Starting to make small changes that have a big impact, like the ones we’ve outlined in this guide, can greatly improve your SEO rankings over time, which will help even more prospective new patients find you.