The 2021 Ultimate Guide to SEO for Dentists
Learn How SEO For Dentists And Dental Practices Is A Fantastic Opportunity For You To Beat Your Local Competition And Attract More Patients To Your Practice
Hi there, thanks for stopping by. Wondering how you got here? If you came from a search on Google or another search engine – this SEO (search engine optimization) guide will explain exactly how. You may know a lot about SEO for dentists already, if you do, we share some more advanced tactics and resources as well. We will focus on Google because if you optimize for it you’ll rank on Bing, Yahoo, or any other popular search engine.
First, we explain what SEO is, and why SEO is needed for dental practices. Then we’ll go over some popular SEO tools. After that, we’ll go more in-depth about how it works, and finally, we’ll share specific tactics SEO pros use to get on the first page of the search engines.
SEO For Dentists: The Ultimate Guide
- What is SEO Marketing for Dentists?
- Why You Need SEO for a Dental Practice
- Tools of the Trade
- SEO For Dentists 101:Types of SEO
- Research: Keywords, Site Audits, Competitors
What is SEO Marketing for Dentists?
Forgive me if I use a lot of industry jargon. Each term will have a definition and I’ll try my best not to give you jargon monoxide poisoning.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, it's all the modifications you make on your website to help people find your business. You might also hear the term ‘organic SEO’ which means any optimizations that don’t doesn't involve paid advertising.
SEO is simple but many people don’t realize how much work it takes. It’s what we like to call sweat equity. It’s the most cost-effective way to get sustainable traffic to your site. The more eyeballs on your site, the more business you get. If you pop up first on the search engine results pages (SERPs) you are guaranteed to get traffic on your site.
Why You Need SEO for a Dental Practice
SEO: dental marketing online at its best. Every size business should optimize their site for search engines unless they already have more customers than they can handle. If you want to have a strong presence online you need to optimize your site. Traditional marketing like billboards, television, and print is known as outbound marketing tactics, meaning you have to catch people's attention.
SEO is known as inbound marketing because people are already interested in what you are selling. That means the people visiting your site are more likely to buy your services or products if things are done properly.
People want answers to their questions or they're looking for something specific to buy. If you can help them satisfy their needs, you are going to succeed.
According to data published by Brightedge in 2021, “SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media.” When you start getting a lot of traffic per month it makes a big difference. We think SEO is hands down one of the best ways to make money online.
About Paid Ads
Paid Ads are great and they can get results in a short amount of time but they don't create the same kind of sustainability as organic SEO for dentists does. A good amount of people are using ad blockers. Even though you can still reach billions of people who don’t, SEO can help you reach those who avoid ads. Plus when paid ads aren't working that well, SEO can provide vital support while figuring out how to adjust your strategy. Additionally, paid ad SEO will help boost sales from advertising methods like Google's PPC (pay per click).
How Does Google Work?
So how does Google work? The search engines are incredibly complex but you don't need to be a genius to understand how they work and use them for your benefit. SEO for dental practices is all about exposure and visibility. The main idea is for Google to crawl your website.
People throw around the word ‘algorithm’ as if there is one mighty algorithm that controls a search engine. Rather than one, it’s thousands and thousands of different algorithms (software programs) that power search engines like Google.
In order to rank on Google and get on the first few pages, you need to have a good reputation which means that you're providing relevant information and giving people what they want when they land on your site.
How do you make this happen?
- Use keywords and highly targeted terms to your advantage
- Choosing the right topics
- Make sure your site is user-friendly
- Make sure your site is search engine friendly
How does Google Find websites?
Google uses a variety of different factors to determine how trustworthy and useful your site is. The more trustworthy and the more authority you have in your niche, the better off you are. A web crawler (search engine) finds sites by moving from link to link. This is how Google determines the structure of your site as well as how popular it is. Here are some things that crawlers analyze.
- The pages on your website
- Businesses on Google Maps related to your website
- Local listings on the internet like the Yellow Pages
- Dozens of other different sources
Indexing – the process of Google adding pages to its list of sites.
Ranking – your position on the search results pages.
How Can You Rank?
In the past, it used to be a lot easier to get on the first page but now everyone's online, and the competition is stiff. There's more emphasis on things like UX (user experience), mobile optimization, and engagement. Which pretty much means how user-friendly your site is.
This includes things like how fast it loads, how long people stay on your site, how well it works on mobile phones. Speed and load time are more important than ever these days.
You can look at it as a popularity contest. One of the biggest factors is backlinks, which are links pointing to your site. We'll talk more about that in the following sections. Other important factors are the quality of your content and how in-depth it is. Generally speaking, longer, more useful blogs do better but not always. It just depends on your business and your industry.
Keywords are extremely important. These are the terms people search for. A keyword that may have led you to this page is ‘SEO for dental practice.’ Another one might be ‘local SEO for dentists.’
How Long Does it Take to Rank?
It takes forever! Not really, it just depends. We’ve seen people rise to the top of page one in three days. That usually doesn't happen unless you are already established and have some rankings you can bump up.
Generally, it takes around six months to a year to get any real traction. But once the traffic starts rolling in it's like having a license to print money.
One-time search engine optimization is helpful for e-commerce sites or other businesses with tons of pages already. For most of us, SEO is an ongoing process. If you suddenly stop the competition is going to overtake your spot because things always change and content gets stale. That's why you see lots of articles that reference the year. A lot of top 10 lists use this formula, ‘10 Best places to eat in In Baltimore in [insert year here].
Tools of the Trade
There are dozens of different tools that are worth checking out. These are the power tools of SEO. Without SEO tools you'll be throwing darts in the dark. With them, you'll be able to grow your ranking over time and figure strategies and tactics that work. You can also find out what's working for other people (proof of concept).
Here is a shortlist of tools that we use to get the job done. The game is always changing as we mention and the right tools will give you a snapshot of the big picture. They all are crawlers as well and the data varies from tool to tool but each one is insightful in its own way.
Most SEO tools use the freemium payment model where you pay to get more services through a monthly or yearly subscription. Many of the following SEO tools do the same thing but some are better at certain things than others.
Google is a good place to start. The autocomplete function and the search engine bar alone can give you an idea of the different keywords available in your industry. Type in ‘SEO dental’ and see what pops up.
Other than the Google search bar, Google has a variety of different tools to help you find topics, questions, and keywords. Including Google Trends, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Console. We’ll briefly go over some of Google’s SEO tools and show you how you can use them for SEO in the next sections.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner for SEO
Google AdWords is Google paid advertising platform. But you don't need to pay for ads to find keywords or topics with it. You can just start an account and start using it. This is a fast way to find topic keywords related to your industry. It only takes a few seconds.
Yoast SEO Planner
WordPress is one of the best platforms to build sites and manage SEO for dental websites. Yoast SEO is a tried and true plugin that keeps you on track and makes management easy.
Ahrefs is a popular tool with accurate data. You can use it to analyze your competitors, find the trustworthiness of a site, perform keyword research, conduct site audits, and more.
SEMrush is another favorite. Similar to Ahrefs, you can do just about everything you need to. Explore the SEMrush keyword overview tool for insight. ‘SEO dental,’ ‘SEO marketing for dentists,’ or any other keyword will give a ton of ideas.
You're competing for the same resources so it's good to scope out your rivals. SpyFu allows you to do keyword research and other stuff like that but mainly it's used to spy on your competitors and figure out where you stand. They have some great tools to help you go head-to-head with your rivals.
Screaming Frog has been around a while and it's also a favorite for SEO research. Other than having one of the most memorable names in the business, this web crawler does many things. It's great for site audits and technical SEO. It’s a complete tool though with lots of other features.
Moz is also another old favorite that has some particularly useful features to help you conquer local SEO for dentists. Moz’s link explorer is a powerful way to help locals find your business. It also does everything you’d expect from a top of the food chain SEO tool.
SEO for Dentists 101: Types of SEO
We are just getting warmed up! Below are some explanations followed by methods you can use to get started on your SEO dental journey. Four major things to pay attention to are:
- The content on the pages of your site (any media)
- Monthly traffic and engagement
- Social media SEO for dental websites
On-page SEO marketing for dentists is huge. If there's one thing you need to understand it's how to optimize the pages on your site. This is the foundation of SEO. Without this, you will be wasting your time. On-page SEO is the most important way to get traffic.
Even if your technical SEO isn't that great or you don't even have backlinks, on-page SEO will still get you a considerable amount of traffic. But you need to publish relevant text, videos, images, or anything else that people find useful.
Content Creation and Quality
The goal is to build a better mousetrap by making content that stands out. To do that you need to understand a few things that we explain in the next sections. Types of content include blogs, infographics, videos, images, newsletters, e-books, and other media.
Blog articles or pages that funnel people toward a sale are known as landing pages. There are many ways to direct traffic to a landing page. Maybe a special offer that someone clicks from an email or a social media post with a link.
If you're an e-commerce business that sells men's shaving products you probably want to show up first if someone searches for ‘best men's shaving products.’ To make this happen you need to make great, targeted, relevant web pages.
- Making it easy for crawlers to find your site
- Increase the quality of your site
- Create highly relevant and unique content using keywords and terms
- Use a variety of formats (text, images, videos, audio)
- Optimize images, videos, mobile versions of your site, text, etc.
- Frequently update your web pages and refresh old content at least once a year
- Build healthy backlinks
Isn’t Blogging Dead Though?
Blogs are effective because people need answers to their questions and they need certain things. Every day billions of people are looking for answers on Google. You have the chance to help them. If you can do that you can win more traffic.
Blogging is the bread and butter of on-site SEO. Often marketing teams with limited resources will start with a blog and get great results. Now a certain type of blogging isn't popular anymore. Personal blogs used to be huge in the SEO game a decade or more ago. But social media has replaced them. Unless you're a journalist or you have an audience, a journal-type blog won’t do much.
Regular blog posts designed to satisfy people’s needs are powerful. Google puts a large emphasis on the volume of posts. You don't need to blog every day. If you do that would be good as long as the content is good. But maybe a large guide twice a month or even smaller articles once a week is a good way to get started.
Off Page SEO
Off page SEO is just like it sounds. It’s everything you do online or in real life away from your website to show up in the search engine results pages.
Here are a few basic things you need to need to do if you have a physical location and you want locals to find you:
- Put your business on Google Maps with Google My Business (GMB)
- Get reviews on your Google Maps profile so you show up locally
- Have someone ask questions on your Google Maps profile
- Add your business to local directories there are hundreds of these and they're usually focused on specific industries. There are directories you can use as part of local SEO for dentists, construction, plumbing, dentists, doctors, pretty much everything that’s not illegal.
- Build backlinks from local vendors, partners, etc.
- Keep your information up to date and fix errors
- Target people near you with Google Search Console
Another important part of off site SEO is social media optimization. This means things you do on social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. There are technical tools available to optimize images and metadata. Use keywords in your posts as well. If you are popular on social media you can leverage your reputation to get more traffic.
Backlinks can be good or bad. They are links on other websites that link back to your site. Basically, this is the same thing as being cool by association. Say you're new in town but you have some popular friends that people trust. This gives you credibility.
If you are new in town and you are friends with somebody that nobody trusts or has a shady reputation it can hurt your rank and credibility. The holy grail of backlinks would be a trustworthy site that gets millions of visitors a month.
Link Building Example
So this means you want to eliminate bad links and find good ones. If there's a spammy site that has a very low rating with Google, you can use Google’s Disavow Tool to eliminate your association with a site. This needs to be done regularly. Link building examples:
- Create pages for specific products or services on your site, also known as landing pages
- Use inbound links to drive traffic back to those pages
- Find trustworthy sites to guest post on to build backlinks
- Use an SEO tool to check out the link profiles of your competitors
Removing Bad Backlinks
Harmful backlinks can kill your SEO campaign. The good news is that it’s easy to get rid of them. Here are a few ways you can do it:
- Check your link profile with Google Search Console
- Remove link references to untrustworthy or spammy websites
- Use the Google Disavow tool to remove it
- Remove dead or broken links from your site
- Block search engines from crawling pages that you don’t want to be ranked
Technical SEO is about the structure and data of a website. Many businesses that don't consider SEO are doing things that make it harder for crawlers to figure out what's actually on your site. We’ll briefly go over this topic.
Technical SEO takes place in the code of your website. Mobile optimization, the efficiency of the code, whether or not your website is easy to navigate, and dozens of other factors are involved.
Here are some best practices:
- The meta title can be different from your actual title – maybe your real title is “The Best SEO for Dentists 2021: Everything You Need to Know.” The meta title could be Best Dentists 2021
- Keep it from 30-60 characters
- Meta description: 120-160 characters. Write an engaging explanation of the page content.
- Keyword stuffing used to matter but not anymore.
Social Media Metadata Tools
- Google’s Structured Data Tool
- Facebook Open Graph
- Twitter Card Validator
Research: Keywords, Site Audits, Competitors
Every project starts with research and discovery. This is the process of figuring out where your opportunities are, where they aren't, and the best plan of attack. Some phrases or terms that people search for are going to be incredibly hard for you to rank for because bigger sites with thousands or millions of visitors each month already get all the traffic. Naturally, you'll want to find some phrases that are easy wins for and maybe work for harder keywords that you can score after months or years of effort.
Discovery and Site Audit
It all starts with the site audit which is basically a snapshot of where you are compared to your competitors and how the search engines see you. SEO pros will immerse themselves in your business to get a feel for what you need. The first thing to do is figure out what you need to do. You can use any of the tools we mentioned to perform a site audit.
The way your SEO is managed depends heavily on your overall marketing plan. Stuff like who you want to visit your site, what your goals are, and what area you want to focus on geographically (state, city, town, country, neighborhood).
After a full audit, you can start looking into keyword opportunities and figure out what topics to focus on, known as topic clusters or content pillars. It's kind of like managing a grocery store.
Companies pay for different spots on the shelf to put their products in a position where their target customers will see them. The candy at the checkout is a tough spot to get. That is kind of like the first page of google. People are already ready to buy, if you catch them at the right time you’ll make a sale. This has everything to do with keywords and traffic.
Keywords are at the heart of how search engines work. Keyword research is the process of searching for words to use in your content. These terms are the backbone of a successful content strategy. With the right tools, you can figure out which keywords you should go after and how valuable they are.
As we mentioned some just aren't worth it because you're never going to rank with them. You need to balance between words or phrases you can win now and the ones you can rank for in the future. Every few months you should revisit your keyword strategy.
Good Old Fashioned Keyword Research With Google Search
Use the search engine autocomplete function to find some things people are searching for in your area. Below is an example of an easy way to find out what people are looking for (search intent).
Some keywords related to dental practices include:
- dentists near me
- dentist in [geographical area]
- dentists office
- dentist that takes [insurance plan]
- dentists that accept medical
Also, Google has two other great keyword and topic research tools you can check out:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
Using Google Keyword Planner
To find some relevant keywords with Google Keyword Planner in a few seconds sign in to your Google Adwords account and choose the keyword planner. You don’t have to use paid ads, just start a campaign and click on the keyword planner icon.
Next, enter a keyword, below I entered “dentist near me.” A list will pop up of keywords and with information on things like the number of monthly searches, how valuable it is, and more. You can export the results into a spreadsheet and use filters to get a better idea of which keywords are worth using.
Long Tail Keywords vs Short Tail Keywords
Short tail keywords are single words or they could be just a few words like ‘dentist’ or or “dentist office near me.” A longtail keyword could be a phrase like, ‘how to find the most affordable dentist in Colorado.’
Create Long Tail Keywords
Long Tail keywords are typically more valuable for SEO.
- ‘local dentist’ vs ‘who is the best dentist in my area’
- Use highly targeted keywords that are specific to your business and location
- Local SEO for dentists is probably the best way to reach mobile users. People are more likely to visit your site if you are located near them
- Try https://www.wordtracker.com/ and https://www.semrush.com/ for this
Competitor Research With SpyFu
Naturally, you want to stalk your competitors and spy on them to see what they're up to. Not really stalk just find out what their strategy is, where you can beat them and where you can't. Sometimes you can find other people who specialize in SEO for dental websites to partner with.
This is also part of target marketing. You’ll see sites on your level, ones that are out of your league, and sites that are below you. This way you'll know where your opportunities are and how to focus your efforts.
Below is a quick example. We are not affiliated with SpyFu but it’s helpful for noobs because you can take it for a free test drive. Just about every SEO tool lets you try it for free or sign up for premium services for free for a limited time.
Just type in the name of your site to see similar sites in your niche.
Try Kombat mode to see where you stand. You can add specific sites to compare against.
Why is SEO for Dentists a Smart Investment?
There's no question about it; SEO is something you need for your business. It's part of building your brand, making sales, finding customers, keeping your current customers happy, and more.
Just because you have a great website, a great product or a great service doesn't mean that people are going to show up. The more traffic you can get the better. It's not just about more visitors though. Many people can get a lot of traffic but if it's not the right traffic from the right people at the right time it's going to be a waste of time.
And SEO is not a one-time thing, it’s like flossing your teeth. It's an ongoing part of managing your business and online presence. As we mentioned, a one-off SEO project is still very helpful.
Get the Most Out of Your Online Presence With SEO for Dentists
SEO saves you a lot of work but it takes patience. One of the most cost-effective ways to gain, maintain, and increase online visibility online is through SEO. Once you get ranked on Google and once you’ve figured out a good strategy, consistency and dedication can keep you visible.
Organic SEO especially. You won't find any small, medium, or large business that depends on its web presence for business that isn't effectively optimizing their site for organic results.
Your Business is unique and you need a unique strategy. There's no one-size-fits-all for SEO but when you find the right path it’s just a matter of maintenance and insight. I want you to be excited about the possibilities that good SEO can bring to your practice. Get out there and make it happen!