The Buzz Behind SEO for Dentist Practices
It wasn’t so long ago when dental practices would attract new clients with very little marketing. It was fairly well accepted that people would either use the dentist that their parents used and that they had grown up with or if they moved towns then they would ask new colleagues/friends for a recommendation. That was all that was needed, and as long as you provided a good service then you could expect to benefit from these personal recommendations.
In the current era, those methods are much less of a factor. Even the smallest of services or products is often rigorously researched online before a consumer decision is made – and when it comes to something as important as oral health and possibly surgery, that research is even more important.
So, what does that mean for you as a dental practice? Well, it means that you need to be at the top of the results when someone searches for a dentist, and you need to have a top-tier online presence. This is why there is now such a buzz around SEO for dentists.
Watch this video to learn more about the Digital Authority Partners approach to Medical SEO!
What Is SEO and Why Does It Matter?
When you go to a search engine and search for anything, you get pages and pages of results. The vast majority of searchers will never get past the first page, and a high percentage will only look at the first few results. So as a dentist, for you to get those potential customers you need to be at the top of the results.
SEO is how this is accomplished. It stands for search engine optimization, and it is an all-encompassing term for the various techniques and tools that are used to get your business on the front page of Google (and other search engines).
How Do Search Engines Choose Who Ranks Highest?
There is a range of factors used by the search engines to rank results (according to some sources, Google uses over 200 different factors), but they can essentially be broken down into two key categories: on-page and off-page. Each search engine ‘crawls’ websites – they go through the site and assess against the important factors – before applying the ranking algorithm.
This applies to anything on your web pages, as well as the underlying technicals. On the technical side, your page needs to load very quickly, and be optimized for mobile (Google now crawls mobiles sites before desktop ones). On the user-experience side of the equation, things get a little more in-depth. Everything that you have on your page will be measured in some way; here are some of the top ways to improve.
This should be enriched with high-value keywords, but not to the point that it seems ‘stuffed’. This means that you need to write engaging, informative, and relevant content (home page, about us, blogs, articles, e-books, etc) that meets the expected requirements of the web searcher. So, if you write a piece about veneers, that should be keyword optimized for veneers – not teeth whitening for example, as you only want that piece to show up in relevant searches.
Tags are how the web crawlers understand your site. A well-written title and description tag tell the search engine exactly what your business is about and will be the text that is displayed on the search results page. If a user in Las Vegas searches for ‘dentist near me’ then they expect to see results that answer that exact search – your tags should show that you are a dentist, and your location, at a minimum.
Your web content should be filled with images. Imagine you are the potential customer – you click on a dentist's surgery result and are confronted with a wall of text. You click on the next and you are shown a series of punchy text boxes (quick, clear descriptions of services, etc) and accompanying images.
You are far more likely to engage with the site that is easier to read and more interesting to look at – and search engines know it. Sites and pages with images rank much higher than text-only or text-heavy sites.
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You should also apply tags to your images. This is the way to tell the search engine what the image is, and is a great way to load up on keywords – the typical user will never see these alt tags, so it matters a lot less if you keyword stuff here. Be as descriptive as you can be with your alt tags – the better your images are identified by the search engine, the more appropriate the results page will be.
Link building is important in two ways. The first aspect to bear in mind is internal links (where your home page has a link to a booking page, for example). These allow visitors to easily navigate around your site and find what they are looking for, improving their on-site experience.
The second way link building is important is with regards to links to external companies. These can also help a lot with your ranking by showing your affiliation with other trusted and authoritative organizations. So if you have a link to the American Dental Association, for example, then your site will benefit from the perceived ties.
Off-page SEO is everything to do with your website or pages, that is not actually a part of those pages. So, where for on-site SEO we discussed linking to other sites and internal links, off-page SEO would include other sites that link to you. You can encourage this by having patients mention you on social media, other companies that you partner with or have relationships with link to your site, or submit blogs and articles for publication on other sites.
Partner with an Expert
Of course, one of the best ways to improve the search engine ranking for your dental practice is by using an expert external SEO agency. Digital Authority Partners is an award-winning SEO agency that can help you to design, build, implement, and manage your unique SEO strategy and ensure that you get more visitors to your site and more patients in your office. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.
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