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This post is aimed at dentists interested in ranking better in Google, but who are unsure of where to start. This Dentist SEO guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to be successful online and to start generating more leads for your business.
If you’ve got a sharp office assistant, he or she could implement these strategies in their spare time during the work day. All you have to do is follow the steps below!
Dentist SEO Fundamentals
Before we get into the step by step example, here are two fundamental items you need to be sure you have completed:
1 – NAP on website. Your business name, full address, and phone # must appear on the home page of your website, and preferably on every page. It must be in text and not in an image because Googlebot (Google’s spider) cannot read images. Your business name should be your legal business name or dba. If you have a suite number, it should be listed and your phone number should include the area code. Check with your webmaster to make sure your this is correct.
2 – Claim & Optimize your Google business page. Your Google business page is the page that is going to show up in local search results. These are the ones with the push pins next to them as seen in the image.
If you’re not sure if you have a Google business page, visit this page from Google to get started. Make sure your page is completely filled out to 100%. Choose your proper category, upload images, write a fantastic description, and by all means, make sure your name, address, and phone number match EXACTLY what is on your website. List your office hours and make sure your website is accurately listed on your Google business page.
Now that you’ve got your foundation covered, let’s get to work!
Dentist SEO & Online Marketing
Step 1 – Search Google for dentist + your zip code
Begin by acting as if you were a potential patient looking for a dentist in the zip code where your practice is located. Go to Google and enter the search term Dentist + your zip code. (You don’t put the plus sign, just enter dentist 56086, or whatever your zip code is).
This is a very narrow search term and a great place to start getting a feel for what consumers see when they are trying to find you. By analyzing the search results one by one, we’ll create a list of actionable steps you can begin taking immediately to improve your chances of generating new business.
So, get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. For the purposes of this example, we’ll assume your dental practice is located in the 94230 zip code and your city is Sacramento, California. Follow along with our example first, then go back and plug in the search with your own zip code.
Google page 1 search results for dentist 94230 as seen on March 26, 2015
Ok, the first and second results are Angie’s List, so you’ll want to make sure your practice is listed there with a full description. Angie’s List is a popular online directory, so make sure your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) match what is on your website. If your practice is already listed, claim it and completely fill it out.
This is important because many people trust Angie’s List and will continue their search there to find a reputable dentist. Take your time and do a good job.
Next, we see theyellowpages.com. This is also an internet directory, so follow the same steps as with Angie’s List. Claim your business if it’s not already and then fill out everything – descriptions, upload images if allowed and by all means, make sure your NAP is a 100% match.
*NAP consistency is important because Google uses it to validate who you are, what you do, and where you’re located. Always be consistent.
The local listings of Google business pages are next. As you do this search with your zip code, hopefully you are one of them! If not, you will be soon by following the steps in this guide.
Google page 1 search results (cont’d) for dentist 94230 as seen on March 26, 2015
Zipslocal.com is next. This is another internet business directory you can add your business to. Again, fill out your listing completely and make sure the NAP 100% matches what is on your website.
Dentalplans.com is next. Here is another internet directory you can add your practice to. Same rules apply – completely fill out your listing and ensure NAP is a match to your website.
*Each mention of your business online in internet directories is called a citation. Many SEO experts believe accumulating more citations than your competitors is a good way to outrank them.
Troysflorist.com is next. What?! Why does a florist show up? Well, we didn’t know either, but if you visit the page shown in the image, you’ll see that Troysflorist.com lists dentists, doctors, and restaurants for same day flower delivery in 94230. While this isn’t what we’d consider to be a classic “internet business directory,” it is a list of dentists and getting your practice listed on the page would be a citation. We’d recommend taking 5 minutes to contact Troys to see if they’ll list you. (You probably won’t see anything like this with your zip code search, but you never know!)
The next 2 listings are actual dentists. Both cook-perio.com and lagunavillagedental.com are websites of dentists located within the 94230 zip code. You can’t do anything with these, but note that they are your competitors – along with the local Google business page listings above.
Last on page 1 is Yelp. Yelp is one of the most important internet business directories and it usually ranks at the top of page one for most local searches. Make sure you complete your Yelp listing and ensure the name, address, and phone # match what’s on your website.
Recapping our first search, here are your action items. Claim and fully complete your business listings on:
That’s it! You’ve now covered all of the page 1 search results for a common search a consumer might make. Complete 1 directory each day and you will have done everything you can for the zip code search in just 6 business days!
By doing a few common sense searches like these, you’ll be putting yourself in the shoes of your future patients and laying the groundwork for getting found in Google.
Step 2 – Repeat step 1 for dentist + your city
To get a thorough list of the top internet business directories you need to be included in, repeat step 1 for the common search Dentist + your city
When we perform this exercise for dentist Sacramento, we see the following list of business directories on page 1 of Google search results which we did not see on the zip code search (as of March 26, 2015):
If you’ve been in business at least a few years, you’re probably already listed in these directories. Find your business by searching, then claim/verify it as the business owner and make sure your listing is accurate and completely filled out.
Step 3 – Repeat step 1 for dentists
This is the simplest of all searches and must be done from your computer or smartphone located in your city.
You’ll be surprised how different the Google search results look.
When we do this for dentists with our location set to Sacramento, we see completely different local Google business listings and we also see a new directory pop up:
At this point, we’ve got a total of 9 of the best internet business directories we want to be a part of. Most allow for free submission, so sign up for every one of them.
Step 4 – Get Reviews On Yelp and Google Business Page
In doing steps 1-3, you probably noticed some dentists have reviews and some don’t. To us, the dentists who have more reviews stand out and appear to be more reputable – especially if the reviews are good.
We recommend our dental clients focus on getting at least 10 or more reviews on both Yelp and their Google business page. These are usually going to be the 2 most influential places in the mind of a consumer.
To get more reviews, you’re going to need to be proactive. Do some or all of the following to get more reviews:
- Put links to your Yelp and Google business page on your website
- Print post cards or flyers with your Yelp and Google business page URLs and give them to patients. Be sure to have your office staff say, “Please take a minute to review us – it really helps with our Google marketing!”
- Use email marketing to remind your patients how important a review is to your business
If you really want to be aggressive and get fast results, dedicate a laptop in your office as the “Review Us Computer.” Have your office staff ask your patients, “How was your visit today?”
Assuming they say, “Good!” ask them to write you a review right now on the laptop.
Whatever method(s) you choose, stick to it and put a system in place. Before long, you’ll have plenty of reviews and probably begin to attract a few organically, as well.
Not only do reviews make you look good, they’re also believed to me a factor Google considers in its rankings of local businesses.
Step 5 – Blog Often
The more you write quality blog posts, the more traffic you’ll get. Period.
To come up with topics, have your office staff and dental hygienists keep a running list of questions your patients ask them. Then ask and answer each question on your blog.
Try to make each post at least 300 words and aim for 1,000 or more if possible because longer content usually ranks better. Use pictures to tell your story and be thorough. Case studies also make excellent blog posts, as do research and recent findings.
As the dentist, you might consider commenting on important dental issues in the news such as fluoride in the water or whatever is being talked about in your local market. To find trending news stories, simply go to Google, click “news” and search for dentists or dental news. There are any number of stories you can either comment on or that might spur an interesting idea to blog about.
Step 6 – Use Email Marketing
A program like Constant Contact costs about $35/month for up to 1,500 contacts and their customer support is outstanding.
Send your contacts a friendly newsletter once every other month and provide them with useful information. You might consider directing them to your website where they can read your recent blog posts. You can ask for a review. You could ask for referrals, or you could just offer a simple tip or piece of advice that keeps you top of mind.
Not everyone goes to the dentist every 6 months. By keeping in touch with patients, you’ll be sure they’re reminded of your service!
Step 7 – Share Your Blog Posts On Your Google Business Page
While it doesn’t seem to be too important to rankings today, we have a feeling this is going to be a very important ranking factor in the future. It’s simple, each time you post on your website, share it on your Google business page.
The last time we spoke with Google, they encouraged us to “have as much relevant information as possible…on your local My Business page…. This could improve where you show up on Google search.”
Step 8 – Continue To Build Citations
By completing steps 1-7 above, you will be doing everything a reputable SEO company would be doing for you. The final step is to continue to build citations and you can do this by searching deeper into Google to find more business directories or you can hire a service like Whitespark.ca to handle it for you. You could also sign up for a service like Yext, who currently offers a package of 60+ directories for an annual fee.
As you can probably see by now, marketing your dental practice through the use of Dentist SEO is a lot of work, but it’s not rocket science. All of the steps we’ve described here are considered to be “white-hat” by Google. You won’t have to worry about being penalized and if you stick to it, you’ll soon be ranking better, generating more traffic and expanding your office to handle all of the new business coming your way!