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All Americans will need dental care at some point in their lives, and many will rely on an online search to find an office near them. However, if your dental office website isn’t tailored with SEO (search engine optimization) your site will likely feature lower in the results making it harder for local clients to find. SEO is one of the most important facets to consider when it comes to website creation and effective marketing. To learn how dentists can make use of SEO, let’s consider how searches for dental services work and how you can use them to your advantage.

The Nature of Dental Search Inquiries

When clients search for dental services, they most likely enter keywords such as “dentists near me” or “dentists in [X city]”. When entered Google will display three paid ads followed by a map and corresponding local results with additional sites ranking lower according to their significance. Since most searchers only choose businesses that appear on the first page of local results, ensuring you show up is crucial. If your dental office is optimized with local SEO, it’s more likely that you’ll show up in the local pack results, though depending on the size of your city, this can be difficult to do without knowing the tricks of the trade.

1. Selecting Keywords

To understand what keywords will benefit your dental practice, you first need to find the keywords that potential clients input when using a search engine. This can be done using keyword research or trackers that show you the popularity of specific terms allowing you to find the best ones to use on your site. For dental practices, some examples can be:

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  • ‘Dentist’ or ‘Orthodontist’, depending on your specialty.
  • ‘Dentist’ + [location], example: Dentist Chicago.

Once you have keywords in mind, using research tools can help you understand which ones are most popular and which combinations are used most. Research tools are invaluable for ensuring that you get the most out of your keyword selections. Some details they can provide include:

  • The SEO difficulty.
  • The General click-through rate.
  • The Search Volume.
  • The Competition.

This can help you craft the most effective keywords so that you can incorporate them into your website to ensure a higher and more visible ranking. Some of the best places to input keywords are in your page titles, URLs, image alt text and image names, as well as within the first few paragraphs of text. Keywords like this can also be incorporated into marketing campaigns to help garner more organic traffic and further increase engagement rates with clients.

2. Keyword Intent Types

When Google was just starting, gaining ranking meant using keywords as much as possible throughout your website. Today, the overuse of these terms can cause Google to penalize you. This means user intent also has to factor in your keyword research. User intent can be categorized into four different varieties.

  1. Informational
    Informational keywords deal with searches that offer information on specific topics. For instance, since adults comprise 20% of patients that get braces every year, “How to care for braces” or “getting braces as an adult” are informational keywords that searchers use to find information on specific topics.
  2. Navigational
    Navigational keywords are used when searchers are looking for specific online pages. This can be something along the lines of, “[X] login page” or “[X] business name”.
  3. Transactional
    Transactional keywords are entered when a searcher is looking for the best deals on services they can immediately use. Keywords in this category can be, “Dentists in [location]” and “find a dentist”.
  4. Commercial
    Commercial keywords deal with broader searches where the need for service isn’t immediate and the searcher is just looking for the best businesses or deals. For instance, “best dentists in [location]” is an example of this type of keyword.

It’s important to understand these types of keywords because it can offer an insight into what consumers and potential patients are most commonly looking for. Understanding search intent is vital for creating effective webpages and marketing campaigns as they enable you to speak directly to the intent of most searchers.

3. Local SEO

Local SEO is one of the most important things for a dental office to focus on. Gaining views from searchers on the other side of the country isn’t going to translate into gaining a new patient. For this reason, you want to make sure that searchers in your local area can easily find you and access your site to see if you are right for them. To boost your local standing you can do a couple of things.

  1. Creating a Google Business Page
    Google business pages are important for ensuring that you can appear in local search results. To create a page, go to the site and fill in all the details needed about your business. Be sure to enter select keywords into your page title to further improve your ranking and chances of appearing higher in results.
  2. Local Listings
    If you already have a business page on Google, taking advantage of other local listings can also benefit you. Sites like Facebook, Yelp, ZocDoc, and Foursquare can further increase your visibility and give you additional exposure to new potential patients. Make sure all location and contact information are consistent across these sites, to ensure there is no confusion. If you have multiple practice locations, make sure this is clearly listed and laid out for viewers.
  3. Reviews
    Reviews are a huge part of gaining new clients. Patients want to know they’re choosing the best dentist in their area and seeing positive reviews from past and current patients is one of the best ways to draw in new faces. Reviews can be hosted on your Google business page and additional sites where you’ve listed your business. Encourage your current patients to leave a review to help boost engagement. You can even choose the best ones to highlight on your website with a link back to the original review. This helps show potential clients that your business is trustworthy and worth investing in.

4. An Optimized Website

While SEO is a large part of website optimization, if your layout is clunky, outdated, or hard to navigate, you can also suffer from lower engagement. To make your website more engaging and user-friendly, you first need to address navigation.

A good rule of thumb for effective navigation is to have pages accessible for viewing in three or fewer clicks. If visitors have to skim through numerous pages just to find the information they’re looking for, they’re more likely to get frustrated and turn elsewhere leading to a higher bounce rate.

Increasing speed is another way to help boost engagement on your site. If pages on your site take five or more seconds to load, the probability of bounce increases by up to 90%. While five seconds may not seem like a long time on paper, in today’s digital world, five seconds can seem like 50 to searchers. Online tools exist to gauge your site speed while offering details about how you can improve load times. Some of the most common include:

  • Removing unnecessary plugins and code.
  • Compressing videos and images to reduce their size.
  • Using a faster host site.
  • Using AMPs (accelerated mobile pages).

Mobile-friendliness is by far becoming one of the most important facets of website design and marketing, with mobile searches making up 60% of all Google searches. Older sites that aren’t optimized for mobile viewing can suffer if not updated to match this trend, making the probability of losing clients even higher. The good news is, Google hosts a mobile-friendly test to help gauge the mobile-friendliness of your site and give you insight on how you can improve your standing.

All of these points are taken into consideration, alongside keyword SEO, when a search engine ranks results. To help boost your ranking and gain visibility to draw in new patients, tweaking your website to ensure optimization is critical.

5. On-Site Content and Inbound Links

Continuing with website design, the creation of engaging content is just as important as navigation and user-friendliness. Without useful content, your website is likely to see less engagement. To create this content, you can either write articles yourself, hire outside freelance services, or work with guest bloggers to highlight your services. That said, content within these articles must be accurate and authoritative. Because inaccurate dental information could be potentially harmful, be sure to proofread articles and vet them before publishing the content on your site.

Another consideration is the length of written content. Broad or in-depth articles are likely to be longer than narrow or specific topics. You should consider length in terms of both how much a reader is willing to read and — if you’re using an outside source — how much you’re willing to pay for content. For instance, while freelancer costs vary, a 2000-3000 word article could cost $20 – $30 assuming you’re paying $0.1 per word. While that may not seem like much, costs do vary, with some freelancers charging — at a minimum — $0.05 per word, making a 2000 word article cost at least $100. That said, well-crafted content can be worth the price, and if the creator is offering SEO services, this content can help boost your ranking and overall engagement.

This can go hand in hand with inbound links that are found on outside sites that link back to your main webpage. When another website hosts a backlink to your site, it works to increase how trustworthy your practice is viewed. If many websites provide this, the Google algorithm will also begin ranking your site as being more relevant leading to greater exposure and a higher probability of new client engagement.

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to build backlinks, and it can also allow you to build relationships with experienced writers who can craft the most engaging and informative content. Services like this can help expand your audience, increase your authority, and give your practice more attention overall. To find guest bloggers you can research popular online health blogs and reach out personally, post a listing on a pertinent writing website, or reach out to a professional service that provides SEO content.

In today’s digital age, it’s important to tailor your online website and content to ensure you can reach your target audience. Taking advantage of local SEO and optimized website creation can help your dental practice gain exposure and draw in new clients. While you shouldn’t completely abandon print marketing, online marketing and optimization is by and large the way of the future and the most important way that current businesses can expand and bring in new customers.

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