SEO for Dental Practices

SEO has become a common, sometimes overused term in digital marketing, however many business owners aren’t sure of its definition, purpose or benefit. The following is a Dental Practice SEO Question and Answer session with our Director of Digital Marketing, Brian Bateman. Brian works directly with many of our Dental Practice clients to provide a variety of services including website development, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook Marketing, etc). He brings over 20 years of knowledge and experience in digital marketing to The Stevens Group.

What Exactly is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the “process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or unpaid (‘organic’) search results.” The right SEO strategy, supported by the right website, will help a practice attract and convert more prospective patients. Google and Bing are among the most used search engines. Working directly with these search engines, we analyze key words, phrases and locations that provide the best search results for our dental clients’ target audience. We make adjustments and submissions on behalf of our clients, thereby optimizing and continually improving their search positions. SEO is not a “Set it and Forget it” strategy.

Why Does SEO Matter for My Dental Practice?

With 77% of people seeking online dental care information using search engines, where your practice shows up on search engine results is the main determiner of how much traffic to your website and how many new patient calls are generated from your website.

Consumers searching online almost always click on the first several listings they see — 87% of all clicks from organic search engine traffic goes to the first five search positions. In 2020, there was one dental practice in the US for every 1,743 people. That means in a suburb of 20,000 people you are competing against 10 other dentists for top 5 search rankings.

To capture the attention — and clicks — of prospective patients, a practice’s website must secure these top positions in relevant searches.

How is SEO for Dental Services Unique?

Unlike e-commerce or entertainment websites, location is the biggest factor in targeting the correct prospective dental patient. The average person drives 5-10 miles to their dentist. While search engines work to find local businesses to match with local search queries, the correct SEO is essential to make this connection. Configuring your website’s SEO to maximize location-based searches or geo-targeting is essential. Additional care to target the right geographic patients is required for dental practices with multiple locations or in densely populated area where people travel shorter distances for dental care.

Can SEO be Used to Promote High Margin Services such as Invisalign and Dental Implants?

SEO generates qualified leads from people that looking for specific dental services. Key words and phrases can be optimized specifically for services such as Invisalign, dental implants, crowns, and other cosmetic-based dental procedures. Dentists focusing on these areas are likely to earn twice as much as general dentistry.

For practices focusing on growing higher margin services, an SEO strategy target to these services allows them to efficiently allocate marketing dollars for better results with less competition from a wider geographic area.

What are the 5 most common shortfalls you see from SEO Providers related to Dental Practices?

  1. Thin content or duplicate content – Unique, relevant content is key to improving search results. SEO helps make the connection between search engines and your website, but the website itself must be updated and relevant to your target patients.
  2. Buying blog posts from a “Dental Marketing” Company – Just don’t do it! You are not saving money since these posts will hurt your search results. Copy a line or a paragraph and search it on Google to see how many other dentists are using the exact same text.
  3. Page load time of greater than 1 second on mobile devices and layouts not optimized for mobile devices – More than half of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and they should see a site that works great on their device, so websites need several device specific layouts.
  4. Too much reliance on Google Ads with misconfigured ad campaigns – These bring irrelevant traffic and clicks that cost you money but doesn’t generate many new patients.
  5. Not optimizing Google Business & Bing Places- This is your largest source of organic SEO traffic.

What’s a good SEO budget?

There are two traps I have seen clients fall into when it comes to plans and budgets for SEO; 1) they don’t have a plan, 2) they don’t have a budget. When it comes to SEO, failure means lost time, money, and opportunity. Before any planning begins, there are two important facts to understand about SEO.

  1. SEO is a long term strategy. How long does it take for SEO to work? While circumstances differ, a good rule of thumb is 4 to 6 months for minimal results, and 6 to 12 months for more complete results.

  2. Your SEO Budget should be determined by the size of your Practice and results you wish to achieve. The larger the practice and results desired, the larger