Dental SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2023
What is SEO for dentists?
Have you ever wondered what it means when someone says, “that’s great for dental SEO”?
Well here’s the simple translation: “That strategy can help push your website up higher in search engine results, drive more traffic to your website, and get more new patients through your door.”
Dental SEO is something a lot of dentists and dental practice owners are confused about. It can feel like an especially frustrating topic for dentists who want to focus on providing great patient care, not becoming a marketing expert.
Here’s the reality —
In 2023, dentists can not afford to ignore SEO. If you want to grow your practice and keep booking more new patients, a dental SEO strategy is a must. Having some background and expertise on this topic will ensure you understand the importance of SEO and are better equipped to do what it takes to rise in the rankings.
That’s exactly why we wrote Dental SEO Made Simple — this guide will help bring clarity and drive success for dentists everywhere.
So let’s start with the basics…
What is dental search engine optimization (SEO)? Dental SEO is the process of making your dental practice appear higher in search engine results. SEO is about getting to the top spot on a search engine result page (SERP) without paying for an ad.
For example, when a potential patient opens up Google (or Bing, Yahoo, or another search engine) and types “dentist near me”, or “implant dentist”, or any other combination of dental search terms, an SEO strategy is what helps your practice appear on the first page and in the top results.
If you want to be found online by patients, you need an SEO dental marketing strategy.
The importance of SEO for dentists
The purpose of SEO is to increase your practice’s searchability and visibility in search results — but why is that critical? Why is SEO important for dentists?
The most compelling argument for an SEO strategy for dentists is that it’s an effective way to draw new patients to your practice. But there’s a lot more to unpack there!
Think of SEO as the backbone of a modern online marketing strategy for dental practices. In 2023, dentists can’t effectively market their practice without SEO.
1. SEO for your dental practice will build trust and credibility with patients
There’s a reason the majority of people click on one of the top 5 suggested results in Google — people believe the dentists that appear in top positions are better. Google thinks so, too!
It’s a vicious cycle — the higher you rank in searches, the more likely potential patients will trust you and click on your website. The more people who click, the more Google trusts you as a trustworthy and credible source and will continue to push you to the top results.
2. Search engine optimization drives more traffic to your website
- The more traffic to your site, the more opportunities you have to convince someone to book an appointment.
- SEO is an inbound marketing tactic — instead of reaching out to patients whether they want to hear from you or not, dental SEO makes it easy for potential patients to find you when they need you. The result is higher-quality leads (the patients you want the most) and better conversion rates.
More reasons to invest in SEO? Research for 2023 shows that the average click-through rate for the top 3 paid search results has slightly decreased compared to last year. From that we can deduce that more people are choosing to skip over search ads and look at the top organic results instead.
- The more traffic to your site, the more opportunities you have to convince someone to book a dental appointment.
- SEO is an inbound marketing tactic — instead of reaching out to patients whether they want to hear from you or not, dental SEO makes it easy for potential patients to find you when they need you. The result is higher-quality leads (the patients you want most) and better conversion rates.
3. The best SEO translates into a better website user experience
The best SEO strategies put a lot of emphasis on website user experience. In fact, Google recently pushed an algorithm update that emphasizes the importance of content, layout, and design that speaks to the user (your patients).
User experience SEO best practices for dentists include things like:
- Fast page load time
- Mobile-friendly design
- Headings and subheadings on pages
- Compelling, helpful content
- Easy site navigation
All these strategies make it easier for potential patients to find what they need on your website (called a good user experience) and Google tells us they will reward websites that provide visitors with this type of satisfying experience.
4. Other dental practices are using SEO
The internet is a crowded, competitive place. With an SEO strategy of your own, you can keep up with your competitors, or even better, rise to the top and stand out as the best choice to patients.
For example, let’s say someone with a missing tooth types “Portland tooth replacement” into Google — she’ll see lots of reviews, dentist directories, and competitor websites. Improving your SEO will not only ensure your practice appears among these results but help you stand out and win her as a patient.
Dentist SEO: How much does it cost?
Three words: free dental advertising.
You might be paying an in-house marketing expert or partnering with a dental SEO company, but otherwise, SEO is not a pay-to-play strategy. You can see long-term results without a paid marketing approach.
What’s the return on investment of SEO for dentists?
Here are the figures to look at:
- Number of patients your SEO strategy generates during a specific period of time
- Average patient value
- Average patient lifespan
- Cost of running your strategy (either through an in-house employee or dental SEO agency)
Here’s an example…
Say you’ve calculated that your average patient value is $653/year, with an average patient lifespan of 10 years.
With that formula, $653 x 10 years = $6,500. So every new patient that comes through your practice will generate around $6,500 in lifetime revenue.
Now, with a search engine optimization strategy in place, let’s pretend your website is delivering a conservative estimate of 5 new patients a month. Using the formula above, those 5 patients are equal to roughly $32,500 in lifetime value. Over the course of a year, at 5 new patients a month, you’ll have added roughly $390,000 in future revenue just from search engine optimization.
Consider that number compared to how much time or money you’re spending per year on your SEO strategy and you’ll have a strong idea of the ROI for your search engine optimization strategy.
One more thing to keep in mind…
Unlike an ad that you run for a certain period of time, SEO is a strategy that will benefit your practice long term. Paid ads are a great option when you need new patients right now. But SEO is the foundation that your practice’s marketing strategy is built on. Optimizing your online presence today will produce consistent results years into the future and for a higher ROI.
How can a dentist rank #1 in search engine results?
Ranking #1 for any given search is never guaranteed, but it is possible (after all, someone has to rank in the top spot). Nevertheless, keep your focus on appearing on the first page. Climbing even just one or two spots can make a big difference!
To understand how you can appear higher in search results, you need to understand how SEO works for dentists.
How do search engines work?
When you search for something on Google or another search engine, it’s viewed as a question.
For example, if you type “professional teeth whitening,” Google might think you’re wondering, “where can I find a good cosmetic dentist near me?” or “who is the best teeth whitening dentist in my area?” The search engine will give you results that it thinks are the most relevant and important answers to that question.
That’s what SEO is all about! Optimizing your online presence to ensure Google believes you are a trusted source and can give the searcher the answer they’re looking for.
How do search engines decide where to rank dental websites?
How exactly does a search engine like Google decide what position you rank?
Search engines want to deliver the best possible results for every search. To do that, they consider on-site and off-site ranking factors.
On-site ranking factors for dentists
On-site ranking factors refer to all the information Google looks at on your website. That’s right, Google and other search engines are constantly “crawling” through every single site, gathering information to paint a picture of who you are, what you provide, the questions you answer, whether or not you’re trustworthy, and more.
On-site SEO ranking factors for dentists include:
- What’s on your website pages
- Presence of keywords in copy and places like headers, URL, meta titles and descriptions, and photo file names
- Length and quality of copy
- The age of your site
- How easily the search engine robots can access, understand, and index your content
- How fast your page loads (as close to 1 second as possible)
- Whether or not your site is designed to be mobile first
- How long people spend on your site
- The layout of your website
- How trustworthy your site is as a whole
And these are just a few!
Off-site ranking factors for dentists
Off-site SEO is all about what others think about your site. Yep, it’s true — the activities you and others do outside of your website can raise your ranking.
The biggest off-site SEO ranking factor for dentists is the number of sites/places on the internet that link to or talk about your website.
The specific off-site link-building ranking factors include:
- How you earned the link (naturally, manually, or self-created)
- The linking site’s popularity
- How related the linking site’s topic is to the site/page being linked to
- How recent the link is
- The trustworthiness and authority of the linking site
- The number of links
- And more
Putting it all together
So back to our original question, how do search engines decide where to rank dental websites?
When a potential patient searches for “Invisalign dentist,” a search engine will consider all the discussed on-site and off-site SEO factors to help determine:
- Which results to show
- What type of results to show (reviews, dental directories, website pages, blog posts, etc.)
- The order of those results
Additionally, the search engine results will vary depending on:
- The keywords someone uses in their search
- Where the person is searching from
- The person’s search history
How to optimize a dental website for SEO
Your entire SEO strategy stems from your website, so you need to start there. Here are some actions to focus on when creating a website.
1. Build your site on WordPress
The best dental websites are built with WordPress. WordPress sites are flexible, scalable, and look and perform just as perfectly on mobile as they do on a desktop. From there, make sure that search engines can not only find your site, but read it. That means no flash, Silverlight, iFrames, or other outdated, media-heavy tactics.
Other very important SEO details on the back-end of your website include:
- Meta titles and descriptions
- Image alt text
- Image and video file sizes
- Page load times
- No broken links
Make sure you address all these things for every single page on your website.
2. Design a beautiful dental website
The design of your website will make all the difference in whether or not potential patients have a good experience on your website. And as we talked about earlier, user experience is an important ranking factor for SEO.
Focus on creating a dental web design that makes a great and fast first impression. The only way to do that is through a modern, custom site designed by a professional who 1) understands the dental industry, and 2) has a background in search engine optimization.
A few web design tactics this type of professional will take include:
- Making sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Ensuring fast page load time
- Making sure your site uses ADA & HIPAA compliant practices
- Making the site simple to understand and navigate
3. Develop compelling, keyword-optimized content
Great design must be supported by unique, compelling, and keyword-optimized content.
- Original — Copy-and-paste content will be penalized. Always write in your own words using your unique voice and tone.
- Compelling — Google wants the copy on your site to be helpful, reliable, and people first. Make sure that your content is focused on your patients (not you), answers common questions, addresses their problems, and outlines how to solve those problems.
- Keyword-optimized — Most important of all for SEO is to ensure your content is keyword-optimized. That involves conducting keyword research for every single page on your website and ensuring those keywords are included in headings, meta info, and copy.
We recommend reviewing Google’s Helpful Content System and using those guidelines to plan, write, and evaluate your content.
4. Create a brand that reflects your core values
An engaging brand communicates what makes your practice unique to your target patients. It also communicates the experience patients will have at your office and the services that they’ll find there.
What makes up a brand? To start with, your practice’s logo, the colors you use in your website and marketing materials, and the typography you use on the web and in your physical office location. It also is the personality you present to the world in everything you do.
A good brand will keep patients engaged, helping your SEO efforts and building trust with potential new patients visiting your site.
Bonus: Keyword research tips for dentists
Keyword research is how you learn what your potential patients are typing into search engines when they look for the dental services you provide. As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly important part of improving your online visibility and growing the amount of traffic to your website.
We could write an entire guide for dentists on how to do keyword research, but for now, here are the 4 tips for selecting your initial keywords:
1. Use a keyword planning tool — some good ones include:
2. Look at what keywords your competitors are focusing on by using one of the tools above
3. Compile a list of the services you offer
4. Use suggested search (auto-complete) in search engines
How to optimize your practice for off-site ranking factors
1. Add your practice to Google Maps
Here’s what to do:
- Claim your Google Maps business listing
- Add as much information about your practice as possible
- Use a local phone number or even better, a call tracking number
- Add photos of your practice
2. List your practice on local citation sites and directories
A local citation is any mention of your practice on the web. These citations don’t necessarily need to link to your website, but they must include your name, address, and phone number. Three of the most popular local citation sites for dentists include:
3. Build patient reviews
Showing Google that you are a trusted dentist is very important for SEO. One highly-underutilized tactic for building SEO trust is patient reviews — whether on Google (the gold standard!), Facebook, Yelp, or elsewhere. Make sure you have a strategy for asking patients for reviews and following up on that ask. Plus, be sure to feature lots of these great reviews on your website!
A note on backlinks
If another website is linking to yours, you must make sure that those links aren’t broken. A broken link is one that leads to a page with a 404 message.
Use a broken link checker to investigate. If the report identifies any broken links, work with your developer or designer to fix them. If the broken links are coming from another site, reach out and ask them to fix the links.
How dentists can know if SEO is working
Measuring the results of your marketing efforts is an essential part of an effective dental practice SEO strategy.
Here are the most important data points to review:
- Conversions — The desired action you want a potential patient to take. For dentists, we recommend calls, form submissions, online bookings, chatbot conversations, and driving directions
- Website traffic — Look at the column, quality, and source of your website visitors
- Keyword rankings — What position and page your site ranks for with each of your keywords and how that ranking changes over time
- Reviews — Ensure this number is growing and remember to respond to your patient reviews
Bonus: A simple trick for finding out where your site ranks
- Open a new incognito or private browser window
- Type in the keyword or search phrase you want to rank for
- Browse the results until you find your site
On page 5 and still haven’t found your site? You would definitely benefit from search engine optimization services!
Get more patients through dental SEO services
We hope you have a better understanding of why SEO is so important for dental practices and what all is involved in this strategy. But while understanding the basics of search engine optimization is one thing, actually implementing a strategy is something many dentists struggle with.
We get it. Optimizing your online presence takes a comprehensive, detail-oriented approach that requires a lot of time and someone who knows what they’re doing.
You shouldn’t have to worry about this on your own. Your primary focus should be on what you do best — providing excellent patient care. We’re here to handle all the SEO stuff.
At :Delmain, our team of dental SEO experts use our years of experience to keep your practice ahead of the competition and ensure new patients can easily find you online. We work with dentists throughout the US and know the specific SEO tactics that work best for the dental industry.
If you want to learn more, book an intro call. We’d love to hear from you.
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