15 Dental SEO Techniques You Should Be Using
We get it: You need better dental SEO to market your practice on the internet, but you aren’t quite sure how to do it. You want your dental practice to be more competitive online so that you can attract new patients. Here’s where we come in, providing you with 15 simple SEO strategies that will help you win at all aspects of SEO, from your website, to social media, to content marketing. Keep reading so you can get started with these SEO essentials right away.
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1. Audit Your Website
The first step of optimizing your SEO is simply fixing all the bad SEO in your website and content. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have perfect SEO on your website — very few websites do.
Maybe you hired a dental SEO agency in the past and they didn’t do a great job, or perhaps you’ve made some good SEO attempts in the past but haven’t updated your site in a while. By getting rid of bad, outdated content and other website elements that hurt your search rankings, you can start improving your search rankings right away.
Here are three easy things you can do to fix bad SEO:
- Delete bad content
Get rid of any unoriginal or duplicated website content, “spun” content, etc. If you have content on your site that’s duplicated from somewhere else on the web, you’re better off just deleting it. The same goes for content that uses keyword stuffing or has grammatical errors.
- Update your links and 404 page
Having lots of broken links on your website is bad for SEO. Fix this by checking all your links and updating or deleting any broken links.
Some 404 errors (“Page Not Found” errors) are inevitable, but you can help reduce their negative impact on your dental website’s SEO by improving your current 404 page that displays when visitors click on a broken link. Check out this resource on 404 errors and SEO.
- Audit your site’s structural elements for SEO
Use a program or hire an SEO professional to examine your site’s structural elements (URLs, images, CSS, titles, tags, etc.) from an SEO perspective. This will give you a good idea of what you need to fix.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is an example of a free SEO audit tool that crawls the pages of your site and lets you know which elements are problematic for SEO.
For more information on fixing your bad SEO, check out The 5 Worst Dental SEO Problems and How to Solve Them.
The first step of optimizing your SEO is simply fixing all the bad SEO in your website and content.
2. Getting good backlinks to your site
Generating high-quality links to your dental website will do wonders for your search engine optimization efforts. Indeed, linkbuilding is one of the most essential aspects of dental SEO. But most dentists aren’t doing it right.
For example, a lot of dentists and other well-meaning professionals have participated in these backlinking schemes which can seriously hurt your ability to rank well in the search results;
- Buying or selling links
- Excessive link exchanges
- Forum comments with optimized links in your signature
- Low-quality directory site links
So, how do you generate good backlinks? It’s not something you can do in a day, but the philosophy behind back-linking best practices is simple: create good content that other people will want to link to.
Some tips on creating link-able content:
- Maintain a regular blog with high-quality writing (more on blogging for dentists later)
- Use statistics and numbers in your content to back up your ideas
- Don’t be afraid to write about controversial topics, as controversy = conversation
- Publish both breaking news people are searching for right now and long-term overviews that will be relevant for months/years
3. Timing your social media posts for maximum effectiveness
Most dentists use social media as part of their SEO efforts to reach out to patients and prospects. But if you want to get the most out of your social media marketing, you need to time your posts just right. Otherwise, people won’t see them!
As follows are the optimal posting times with the highest click-through rates (as well as the worst times to post) for the four largest social media platforms.
- Good times to post — Weekdays between 1pm and 4pm
- Not-so-good times to post — Before 8am and after 8pm; weekends
- Sweet spot (absolute best time to post) — Wednesday at 3pm
- Good times to post — Between 1pm and 3pm, Mondays through Thursdays
- Not-so-good times to post — After 8pm most days; after 3pm on Fridays
- Sweet spot — Between 9am and 3pm on Mondays through Thursdays
- Good times to post — Everyday between 9am-10am
- Not-so-good times to post — Early morning and evenings
- Sweet spot — Wednesday at 9am
- Good times to post — During the day on Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
- Not-so-good times to post —From 10pm to 6am daily; Mondays and Fridays
- Sweet spot — At noon as well as between 5pm and 6pm
You should note that it’s OK to post during the “not-so-good” times — for instance, if your dental practice is open weekends, by all means, post on weekends — but try to time the bulk of your posts during the good posting times and especially during the “sweet spot.”
To learn more about social media timing for dentists, you can refer to A Dentist’s Guide to Social Media Timing.
4. Making your website faster
To retain your visitors and improve your bounce rate — the percentage of visitors who leave your site quickly after landing there — dentists need to analyze their site speed and take action to fix problems that could be causing slow loading times.
A good place where you can get started today is Google’s PageSpeed tools. Simply enter the URL of your site and Google will measure your site’s speed and tell you what you’re doing right, as well as the specific things you need to fix in order to make your site faster across multiple devices. It even tells you how to make these fixes and lets you know which fixes are critical and which ones are optional.
For example, this dental website needs to leverage browser caching for a faster mobile experience.
Remember that your site needs to load fast not only on desktops, but also on mobile devices. A website with responsive design will be fast on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
For more info on ways you can make your dental website better, read 5 Ways to Make Your Website More Visible.
5. Using Google + for dentists
If you’re a dentist, you need to be on Google +. This burgeoning social media platform is growing fastest in the 45-54 year old demographic, which is a key demographic for many dentists and oral surgeons.
Here are some easy ways you can start using Google + to benefit your practice:
- Put Google “+1” buttons on your website content
Sites with more +1s rank better in search engines.
- Post your content on Google +
Google + is better for generating backlinks than Facebook or Twitter.
- Add people to your circles
If you establish a strong Google + following now, when Google + becomes even more popular (as it is expected to) you’ll have an edge on your competition.
- Use “Circles” to segment different people into different groups
This allows you to share targeted content aimed at specific groups.
- Use “Google Hangouts” to video chat with associates and customers
Hangouts offer a convenient forum for question and answer sessions, new product demonstrations, general discussions, and more.
Read Google + for Dentists. What’s In It for You? to find out more about why you should build your dental practice’s Google + presence.
6. Getting smart with HTML
SEO for dentists requires the use of various website components that help you rank better with search engines. These components include HTML (hypertext markup language) code that communicates specific information to Google and other engines, allowing them to categorize your site better so more of the right people see it.
While HTML might sound complicated, it’s really not. Here are the HTML components you need to optimize to ensure that your site is listed at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).
- Alt tags
Alt tags are text blocks displayed when a visitor mouses-over them. Alt tags provide descriptions of the graphics on your website to search engines. These tags are written in HTML because search engines cannot “read” graphics or the text they contain. Learn how to write SEO-friendly alt tags for your graphics.
- Anchor text
Anchor text describes what visitors see after clicking a link. Also written in HTML, anchor text is usually blue and underlined, and turns purple after it is clicked. Anchor text is important because it allows search engines to determine destination pages. Learn more about writing HTML-friendly anchor text for your links.
- Meta tags
Meta tags are another type of HTML component that help search engines categorize your site pages. While not visible to visitors, this critical SEO tool communicates specific information about your dental practice to search engines. Learn more about how to write good meta tags in HTML.
To learn more about these and other dental SEO tools, check out our Advanced Guide to SEO for Dentists.
7. Keyword targeting techniques for dental SEO
Finding the the right keywords to target for dental SEO can be somewhat tricky, but if you follow this simple keyword strategy, you will be headed in the right direction.
Here it is: Don’t enter the most competitive keywords, but the ones that will bring you the targeted local traffic you want.
For example, you want to target “best SLC dentist” rather than “best dentist.” If there are already a bunch of dentists targeting “best SLC dentist,” get even more specific and target a “long-tail” keyword like “most gentle SLC dental surgeon.”
A good keyword to target for dental SEO is both hyper-targeted and high-converting — it is aimed at searchers in your specific area looking for a specific service you provide.
To get started with keyword analysis, use keyword research tools (including free ones like Google Webmaster, Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster). These tools will help you find the most relevant keywords to target for your area and also let you know how much competition there is for each keyword.
You'll find more dental SEO strategies in our blog post How to Develop a Bulletproof Dental SEO Strategy for Your Practice.
8. Optimizing your local SEO game
Local SEO for dentists involves a number of strategies aimed at increasing your practice’s local visibility. Optimizing your local SEO is a surefire way to start getting targeted traffic to your dental website.
Utilize these tips to ramp up your local SEO efforts:
- Set up a free Google My Business account for your practice.
- Get started with on-page optimization.
- Prominently feature your address and phone number on every page of your site.
- Promote your content with rich snippets.
- Add a review button to your website.
- Email customers directly to ask for feedback which will be posted to your reviews.
Some of these tips are easier to implement right away than others, but you can get started with some of them today — for example, you can probably set up a Google My Business page and add your location address to your website footer in an afternoon.
9. Dental implant marketing strategies
Dental implants are a lucrative dental service, and if your practice provides them, you need to be marketing this service online using SEO and other online marketing tools.
There are two key things you need to take to start marketing your dental implant services.
- Research your dental implant demographics
Use patient records to generate reports showing the demographics of your dental implant patients. You will want to know things like their average age and the radius around your practice patients travel to receive implant services at your office.
- Develop a social media strategy for your target demographic
Create search engine-optimized social media posts and blog posts that appeal to your target demographic and target the keywords your demographic is searching for. Encourage interaction and readership by creating posts based on the feedback you receive.
A successful dental implant online marketing strategy takes time to build, but if you lay down the groundwork by doing your initial research on patient demographics and determining what sort of posts potential implant patients respond to, you will build a solid foundation on which to market your services.
Learn more about how to get more dental implant patients by reading our blog post 4 Highly Effective Ways to Attract More Dental Implant Patients.
10. Blogging for dental SEO
Your onsite blog is your most integral content marketing tool for dental SEO.
Blogs can be great for SEO, but they are so much more than a vehicle for keyword-rich content. They also establish you as an authority in your field and help you connect with your target demographic in a meaningful way.
Use these easy strategies, outlined in The 5 Worst Dental SEO Problems and How to Solve Them, to optimize your blog for dental SEO:
- Give each blog post a short and to-the-point URL that includes relevant keywords.
- Include attractive images, photographs, graphics, diagrams, etc.
- Include outbound links to related resources on the web.
- Include the keyword you are targeting in the first 100 words of the blog.
- Put blog post titles in headline (h1) tags.
- Include social sharing buttons so people can easily share your posts to social media.
- Provide actionable tips in your blog — i.e., valuable advice people can actually use.
- Use case studies, quotes from experts, and real-life examples to back up your points.
- Write in a conversational tone.
- Use a reader-friendly list format when appropriate.
- Repurpose your other valuable content (such as presentations, podcasts, etc.), turning them into blog posts.
11. Figuring out what’s missing from your site
You’ve been working at SEO for a while, but your website isn’t bringing you as many new patients as you’d like. So how can you figure out what you’re doing wrong?
In addition to testing your site speed and analyzing your site statistics on Google Analytics, there are some other simple things you can do to evaluate your website. One super-easy task you can do right now is verifying that your site has these dental website essentials:
- Before and after photos of procedures
- Patient testimonials
- Easy-to-read copy describing your services
- Easy-to-find contact information
- Credentials for you and your staff
- Mobile-friendly web design
- Onsite blog
These dental website essentials help establish the trust needed for patients to feel confident about booking a first-time appointment.
You can read more about why you need these elements in 7 Reasons Your Dental Website Isn’t Bringing You New Patients, and also see examples of good and bad dental websites in our dental website study.
12. Google My Business strategies for dentists
Google My Business, formerly Google Maps, offers dentists the ability to form a comprehensive web presence across Google +, Google Maps, and the search engine itself. Thus, it’s a necessary component of your overall SEO strategy. If you haven’t optimized your Google My Business page, you’re missing out on a free and easy way to market your dental practice.
Once you claim your listing, here are some things you can do to get the best results from Google My Business:
- Add keywords in moderation and change up your content frequently to reflect the latest trends and to stay on top of desired searches.
- Follow the Google My Business guidelines (Create one listing per business and not one for every location, add appropriate descriptors, etc.)
- Set up a review funnel to get reviews for your GMB page.
- Post frequent updates with pictures, videos, giveaways, discount offers, etc.
Read 7 Problems Dentists Face with Google My Business to make sure you’re getting the most from your GMB listing.
13. Increasing your availability to patients
Statistics show that dental patients want a dentist who will respond to them and see them quickly, including on weekends.
While your availability to patients is mostly an “offline” task, you want to be able to advertise your convenience and high availability with keywords like “emergency dental services.” But in order to make such claims, you need to do what you can to make it easier for patients to reach you and be seen by you.
As mentioned previously, you should have your contact information on every page of your website to make it easy for patients to contact you. Here are some more things you can do (most of which are pretty easy) to become a more convenient dentist:
- Take appointments from your website or even your Facebook page.
- Accommodate patients within 48 hours of first point of contact.
- Offer at least limited weekend hours.
- Leave 30 to 40 minutes on either side of your lunch break to fit in new or emergency patients.
- For new patients, offer a free office tour or a pro-rated 10-minute exam. (You want to get them into the office and in your system so you can keep them as clients.)
Make it easy for patients to reach you by phone, email, or social media.
Learn more things you can do to become a more convenient dentist by reading How Convenient of a Dentist Are You?
14. Getting targeted leads to your dental website
Getting a lot of traffic to your website is great — but you don’t want just any traffic. If it attracts irrelevant traffic, your site’s bounce rate will increase, and Google does not like this. No, you want targeted leads, that is, visitors who are interested in your services.
So what’s the best way to get targeted leads to your dental website? The answer is content marketing.
Here are the most important ways to leverage content marketing to attract targeted leads:
- Make pages people will link to — This includes informative blogs and landing pages that are tailored for your audience and optimized with appropriate keywords.
- Keep bounce rate low with good, fresh content — Old content leaves you with higher bounce rates, indicating a low-converting page.
- Write well — Use proper grammar and keep things simple, clean, clear, and concise.
- Put keywords where they matter — Make sure they are in the title as well as in the first and last sentences and in the H1, H2, and H3 tags.
15. Hiring an SEO company
Not only is SEO for dentists a lot of work, but it has to be done right, and often. The person or people in charge of your SEO have got to be on their A-game and have specific expertise in this field. For most dentists, this means hiring an SEO agency — preferably one with dental/healthcare marketing experience.
Hiring a dental SEO company to do the work for you is not only easy but also makes it so you can rest easy, knowing that professionals are handling all of your critical SEO tasks — and not just the simple ones outlined in this blog post.
If you’re on the fence about whether to hire an outside marketing company, keep in mind the following truths about hiring a dental SEO company, from the blog post Should You Hire a Dental SEO Company?:
- It gives you more time to focus on your business.
- You get much better results from your SEO (compared to having an SEO novice do this work).
- It’s an investment in your future that eventually pays for itself, and then some.
If you’re not sure how much you should be paying for SEO, check out our article How Much Does SEO Cost for a Dentist?
The key to successful dental SEO is not just a single rule or even set of rules; rather, it is a holistic package of strategies that work together and evolve over time to reflect changes in online use and search engine policies.
Even if you don’t want to invest in a dental SEO agency just yet, you can still implement some of the easy SEO strategies discussed in this list so that you can begin improving your web presence for patients and prospects. Indeed, the future of your dental practice depends on it.
Want more online marketing tips for dental SEO? Get our book, The Right Way: The Step-By-Step Guide to Successfully Marketing Your Business Online.
To learn more about social media timing for dentists, you can refer to A Dentist’s Guide to Social Media Timing.