The Definitive Guide to SEO for Dentists
We are long past the days when the majority of people live in the same town they grew up in for most of their lives, and they could easily get a dentist office recommendation from a family member or friend. Now young professionals out of college are moving to unfamiliar urban areas, and people are increasingly changing cities due to work and cost-of-living issues on a frequent basis.
They need to find a dentist when they move to a new location, and they’re most likely going to do a web search to help them find one. This is good news because it gives you a chance to be more visible than you possibly could have been before the digital age. You just have to put the right strategies in place to increase your chances of being seen, and that includes search engine optimization (SEO).
What is dental marketing SEO?
For dentist offices and other local businesses, SEO is simply a way for people to find you on the web, ultimately be drawn into your website ecosystem, and ideally convert into a paying patient. It goes hand-in-hand with other online marketing tools such as paid ads, email marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, and many more. SEO is one of the most well established of these practices because before social media and broadband video existed there was still internet search.
So how does SEO work in the broadest sense? A user types a term in a search engine or search bar (we’ll just stick with Google in this piece since they control far and away the vasty majority of the search market in the U.S.), and that search engine’s algorithm scans various websites to find what it thinks are the most relevant entries based on the user’s search. SEO is also frequently called organic search, due to the fact that the user is looking for a service without a prompt from an ad or other promotional piece of content.
Now, the ways that search engines work are far too complicated for the scope of this piece, but we’ll just say that the basics of SEO involve organizing your website so that search engines rank it highly when users type in terms that are relevant to your business.
There are several factors that determine how Google’s algorithm evaluates your website and decides whether or not to place it highly in the results list, and we’ll touch on the most important ones shortly. First, let’s talk about why it’s so crucial for local dental practices to have a strong SEO presence today, and how SEO can help you stand out in a crowded digital marketplace.
Why is dental marketing SEO important in today’s competitive landscape?
SEO is one of the oldest digital marketing tools in existence, but many marketers overlook the practice today in favor of newer strategies that have only become possible in the last few years thanks to technological innovations and the introduction of new channels. And while you should test out new marketing opportunities accordingly, that’s no reason to abandon the value provided by a strong SEO campaign. SEO still delivers for your dental practice when utilized correctly, and it is still a crucial channel for engaging with your prospective patients and driving them to convert through your website.
It still works because organic search is still a very popular way for people to find a local business such as a dentist’s office. The process has become second-nature to most of us: if you need a dentist in Tulsa you open up your browser and type in “dentist in Tulsa” and see what options come up for you. It’s the same with specific treatments and services as well.
The real key lies in making sure your web pages get a high placement on the Google results list because, without that, SEO becomes a decidedly less valuable prospect. Research indicates that 90% of hits go to a result on the first page, and that two-thirds of users never even navigate to the second page of the results to begin with. Achieving placement near the very top can be even more fruitful for your practice. Recent statistics have shown that the top Google hit for a search term commands a 34% clickthrough rate for desktop searchers and a 35% clickthrough rate for mobile searches.
So now we understand why it’s so vital for your practice to rank highly for the most coveted search terms related to your dental practice; let’s talk about the fundamental building blocks of an SEO strategy that gets you there.
What are the major activities involved in a dental SEO marketing campaign?
SEO is a complex process but not necessarily a complicated one. In essence, it requires you to understand the keywords that your target patients are searching for, learn how to employ those keywords effectively, design your website so that it offers valuable information to keep viewers engaged, and keep your website operating at peak performance to maximize conversions.
Keyword research and utilization
Keywords are the foundation of an effective SEO strategy, and without understanding what your prospective patients search for and how it relates to your business you’ll never be able to achieve consistent SEO performance. The first step of actually putting your SEO dentistry plan into action involves keyword research, which is an ongoing process that enables you to learn more about the specific keywords that drive conversions in your industry and your local business area, as well as discover how your competitors’ SEO performance stacks up for certain keywords.
Once you understand what keywords you need to target, you can begin to organize your website content around those keywords so that Google’s algorithm is likely to detect the relevance of your site for someone searching for those terms. Many inexperienced marketers have a tendency to keyword stuff or put relevant keywords in their web text as much as possible, but this practice must be avoided. Not only does it render the content unreadable for the user, but it actually harms your SEO performance as well.
For your SEO to deliver consistent results, your website has to be structured in a way that makes sense for the user. No matter which page they land on after finding you through an organic search, the content displayed should be relevant to their search and their goals, and their next steps should be clearly illuminated through calls to action. Make sure your search widgets are functioning properly, and include links to a sitemap to aid navigation.
Content marketing is an effective way to include relevant keywords throughout your website while conveying additional value for users and educating them on topics related to your practice. The most crucial factor in content marketing is making it valuable for the reader, and it should never be used only as a cipher to get extra keywords on certain pages for the sake of visibility.
Website performance optimization
If your goal is to consistently convert patients through SEO, you’re going to have to ask your website to do most of the heavy lifting, and it better be up to the task. That means that you have to spend a considerable amount of time focusing on website optimization because not many things cause a user to navigate away from a page faster than a site with unfriendly visuals, slow load times, and broken links.
Website performance also has a significant impact on your SEO page ranking. The Google algorithm rewards sites with fast loading speeds and robust performance specs, and according to HubSpot page speed optimization is the most effective technical way to improve SEO performance. Don’t forget about your mobile website optimization as well, because an increasing number of prospects will be using the enhanced location services provided by mobile devices to search for dentists and specific services near them on a mobile browser.
How should we measure success with our dental SEO services?
The basics of evaluating ROI for your SEO campaign
In order to eventually see how far your SEO has come, you have to begin by setting goals. You need to have an understanding of what you expect from your campaigns, and then work through to determine the ROI that follows. Finally, it’s important to remember that you will have to tweak every aspect of your SEO strategy, including keyword research, content development, goals, and website optimization.
Utilizing Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free program that enables you to easily monitor a variety of performance metrics related to your website traffic. It’s simple to use and gives you access to high-level data trends and specific points that will help you stay on track of where you are succeeding and what you need to improve on. If you engage in any sort of SEO strategy, then Google Analytics is a must.
Adjusting your SEO plan based on goals
Like with other digital marketing practices, creating and implementing an SEO strategy is not a one and done situation. Try out new keywords on a regular basis. Perform A/B testing on various aspects of your website to ensure they are delivering the best possible results. Check your website for speed performance and verify that your code and structure are facilitating conversions instead of hindering them.
How do we get started on building an effective dental marketing SEO strategy? It’s vital not to let the prospect of formulating and enacting an SEO plan intimidate you, and the best way to do that is to partner with a full-service dental marketing firm that can guide you through the process and help you create and continually refine a powerful SEO strategy. At Connect the Doc, we specialize in working with dental practices to build a comprehensive SEO program around keywords and content that make sense for your business, in addition to much more. Get in touch with one of our representatives today to see how Connect the Doc can help you transform for your digital marketing and connect you with your patients.