Today, the majority of patients search online for dental care. Ensuring that they find your practice is not as simple as having a website. You need to optimize your website for it to perform well on Google and other search engines. This is called "search engine optimization" or "SEO".
Hundreds of SEO vendors pitch dental practices with silver-bullet strategies that promise to get every practice to the very top of search results. However, the reality is that there is no immediate trick to rank at the top of all search results. Any winning SEO strategy takes time.
With that said, there are concrete steps that any dental practice can take to rank very high in Google's search engine result pages (SERPs) and attract a high volume of patients. Below, we share a step-by-step strategy that dental practices can follow to win local SEO.
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The Local Pack
You've almost certainly seen the Local Pack. It's the map and local business information that Google displays at the top of a high percentage of search results.
The Local Pack should be the single most important part of your dental practice's SEO strategy. If your practice is consistently displayed in the Local Pack, your SEO strategy will succeed and you will attract patients online. There are two reasons for this:
- The Local Pack is featured in a high percentage of search results.
- The search terms that trigger the Local Pack have high search intent. A person searching for "dentists near me" is looking to find a dentist and make an appointment.
There are definitely other search terms that matter. For example, "how much does a root canal cost?". However, people searching for terms like these have less search intent.
5 Steps To Win Local SEO For Dentists
Search engine optimization is complicated. No one knows exactly how get the first SERP position 100% of the time.
However, enough is known about how Google's search algorithm works to form a cohesive SEO strategy. Follow these five steps, and we're confident you will see results after a few months.
Step 1: Proper Website Structure
The first step in a winning SEO strategy is website structure. This means you need to have the right pages organized in a logical hierarchy. Here are the pages you need:
- A homepage
- A page for every dentist in your practice
- A page for every service you provide
- A page for each of your practice locations (with Google maps embedded)
- A blog for original content
Having a unique page for each of these items increases the number of pages Google can surface in search results. Check out our list of best dental websites for live examples of practices who have done this well.
Step 2: Optimized On-page Content
Having the right pages on your website is critical. Having the right on-page content is equally important. This means your pages have the right information, and the right HTML markup.
The Right Information
Each of your pages needs to include all the key information that the patient visiting that page would like to see. Fortunately, Google also prefers pages with a more content.
For a dentist page, 2-4 short paragraphs is about the right length. Here's an example:
Keyword optimization is another key element of on-page content. If you focus on the user, your copy will organically contain a high percentage of the most important keywords. However, you would likely benefit from using a tool like SEMrush to do more comprehensive keyword research to optimize your content.
The Right HTML Markup
For those unfamiliar, HTML mark-up is a confusing concept because you don't see it when you view a webpage with a browser.
Important HTML tags include: title tags, H1s, H2s, meta descriptions, canonicals.
Here's two images of the same webpage – one as you see it in the browser, and one of the page's HTML code with the HTML markup.
Explaining how to properly markup a webpage is outside the scope of this post. If you're interested, here's a fantastic guide to on-page SEO from SEMrush that explains it in detail.
Step 3: Accurate Listing Information
The next step to succeeding in local SEO is to have accurate and complete information in the key business listings. The most important listing is Google My Business, which lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps.
In each of these listings, you enter your business information: name, address, place, contact info, & hours. This ensures your business information will show up accurately on as many websites as possible.
Step 4: Generate Patient Reviews
Your practice can show up in the Local Pack, but if you don't have a high number of positive reviews, you are unlikely to attract new patients. The dentist who shows up at the top of the Local Pack below has a 228 reviews with a rating of 4.7.
The best way to get reviews is to consistently contact patients after appointments. You can do this manually, or use a software tool like Podium.
Step 5: Blogging & Backlinks
The final step in winning local SEO is building domain authority through blogging and backlinks. Here's how Hubspot defines domain authority:
The two best ways to build domain authority are through blogging and backlinks. If your blog has many high-quality articles on a topic (25-50+), you will earn Google's trust. Similarly, if other trusted websites link to your website, you will earn Google's trust.
To learn more about content creation, check out this guide to content creation.
How To Get Started
It's one thing to understand how to win local SEO. It's another thing to successfully do it.
As we mentioned above, there is no silver-bullet, immediate path to SEO success. Succeeding at SEO takes a solid strategy, consistent effort and time. It's also very difficult to do alone.
Go with PatientPop
The simplest approach is going with an all-in-one vendor like PatientPop. They provide software and services that manage all five steps. Working with one vendor means you don't have to manage multiple vendors, and reduces the chances that you run into issues with vendor integration. The downside of this approach is that you're fully reliant on PatientPop, and must use the website templates and tools they provide.
Combine software and service vendors
Most practices combine software and service vendors to tackle local SEO. Below are some of the vendors you might consider. With this approach, you retain more control and flexibility, but have to manage multiple vendors and leave more room for error.