SEO for Dentists: Best Practices
If you want to grow your practice, search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical marketing strategy. Personal referrals by word of mouth are always effective, but most new patients will have found you with the same tool they use for locating a nearby handyman, restaurant, or preschool: search engines, Google especially.
Tweak Your Website to Search Engine Algorithms
To make your website more visible to Google, you’ll need quality keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, and fresh, quality content. If your pages do not have these elements in place, your google ranking will be low, i.e., you won’t appear in the search results until past the 3rd page of results.
A good place to start is to conduct an in-house audit by conducting a Google search for “dentist” + “(your city).” If your practice doesn’t appear in the first three pages of results, you could be attracting more new patients with improved search engine compatibility.
Keywords – Pages should be designed to highlight the services you want to promote. For example, Invisalign, dentist, root canal, dentist, dental implants, wisdom teeth, and affordable dentures are some of the most searched dental terms on Google. By having your keywords appear an optimum number of times per page, attaching links to your keywords, and putting keywords into your titles and page URLs, you increase the odds your page will be a hit when a patient nearby searches that keyword.
Meta Descriptions – These are the short descriptions you see on a page of Google results. Each page of your website should have one, and they work best when they contain the keyword and give a pleasant, easy to understand intro to your page.
Title Tags – These show up in Google results, as the page title, and should ideally include your keyword and geographical information.
Quality Content – Google loves websites with lots of original content that updates frequently. Take advantage of this by making sure your web pages don’t recycle material from outside sources, and that you regularly add to your website. A blog is a great way to do this.
Keep Your Website Patient Friendly
Once you rank well on a google search, your website needs to be informative and easy to navigate. Most prospective patients will have a few specific things they are looking for and want to find out quickly whether you fit the bill. If they can’t find the answers quickly, they will move on to the next dentist.
Think about the following sample questions a patient might have. Does your website provide material that answers these questions within two clicks of the landing page?
- Is this dentist good with young children?
- Does this practice provide sedation?
- Are they accepting new patients?
- Where are they located? What are the office hours?
- How long have they been in practice?
- What cosmetic procedures are offered?
- Are patients satisfied with their results?
- How can I find out if they take my insurance?
These are just a few of the topics potential patients may be searching for. The important thing is to represent yourself as accurately and fully as possible. Your approach to the patient-provider dynamic should run through your pages’ content with every turn of phrase and every image. The searcher will be trying to “get a sense” of you, and with a bare-bones site you will remain a mystery.
Here are a few website mechanics best practices to guide you:
- A good menu bar will be comprehensive and well organized.
- Remember the two clicks rule: information should be easy to locate within two navigation steps.
- Feature your contact information prominently on every page.
- Use subheadings and bullet points to make content easy to scan and skim.
- List your services with a potential patient in mind.
- Social media buttons can lead to further browsing on your Facebook or Yelp profiles.
Visit our website services page to learn more about designing a website that wins over casual browsers.
Don’t Neglect Search Engine Reviews
Even if you have an excellent system of patient feedback set up, and even if you have glowing reviews on Yelp—search engine reviews should also be considered. A search on Google will automatically pull up your user review score (1-5 stars) in the Google Maps feature, and list dentists with better aggregate scores at the top. To learn more about managing your reputation and user reviews, contact us or visit our page on online reputation marketing.
Connect Your Site to Google Analytics
Once you have a handle on basic SEO, connect your website to Google Analytics for more specific information on the way your website has been visited by searchers. This tool allows you to monitor search engine traffic, referral traffic, average time spent on your website, overall visitors, click-through rate, and other factors. It may be overwhelming at first if you aren’t sure what to focus on, but once you have some established long-term SEO goals planned, this tool can help you see your efforts translate into results.