Improve Your Search Results with SEO for Dentists

You may have heard the term "dentist SEO" if you've done any marketing research lately. As customers change how they shop for services and connect with businesses, search engine optimization has moved to the forefront for many dental offices. Dentists rely on solid SEO practices to ensure people find them online. Otherwise, they risk missing out on serving more patients and growing their practices.

If you have an established dental office, you might not put too much thought into retaining your current clients. You may feel comfortable where you stand. However, your roster won't remain the same indefinitely. Growth is essential to stay in business.

For dental offices just opening their doors, there's almost nothing more important than attracting new business. You don't have a practice without patients to serve. At the same time, you want to make a good first impression.

Whether you have a new practice or you've been serving your clients for decades, SEO is vital for attracting and retaining new customers.

What Is Dentist SEO?

If you're unfamiliar with SEO for dental practices, it helps to understand it first. SEO is the method of improving your website to make it easy for customers to find you. It ranks your site higher in search engines so that when people search for a dentist, they immediately see your name without a paid search.

You can buy ads, and pay-per-click advertising is part of a rounded dental SEO strategy. However, using dental SEO to make your name pop up on the first page of a search engine is very effective.

Dental SEO Gets Your Site to Rank at the Top

Consider how people used to look up businesses. Before online searches, people turned to phone books. Phone books listed names and companies alphabetically, so some businesses added "AA," "A-1," or something like that to put their name at the top.

SEO works in a similar way. The search engine provides results based on the keywords people look for. Adding these keywords puts your business on the first page so that customers immediately see your name. The more people see your dental website, the more they will click on your site and increase your organic, unpaid traffic.

SEO Has Complexities

SEO for dentists is more complex than simply adding words to your website. Keyword placement, website content, and sound link building are essential to your success. Keyword overuse or "stuffing," purchasing non-reputable links, and publishing duplicate content are practices that negatively affect your SEO efforts.

SEO Requires Maintenance

You can't run an effective dental practice without maintenance. You have to pay attention to things like keeping your tools clean and sharp, upgrading old or outdated equipment, and digitizing patient records. You must also maintain the office through regular cleaning and remodeling for a fresh look. Perhaps most importantly, you keep up with best practices and train your staff.

Maintenance is essential to your dental practice, just as it is to your SEO. Search engine optimization is more than just a one-and-done type of procedure. Search engines change their algorithms regularly, and your SEO has to keep up, or you risk losing ranking on your dental website.

Areas That Need Maintenance

The right dental SEO strategy must focus on several areas to keep your site operating efficiently:

  • Content: Adding content is essential for SEO. Fresh, relevant, informative information tells search engines your site is up to date. Websites that go for months (or longer) without new content become quickly outdated.
  • Link Building: Link building is another vital SEO factor. Links to your site give you authority and improve your reputation. Links on your site to other valuable websites strengthen that reputation. Search engines see that you interact with other trusted sources and reward you with higher rankings.
  • Existing Content Updates: Updating existing content is another maintenance area. You'll need to check for broken links, outdated information, and content that is no longer important. Search engines notice these things, so updating your content ensures your site remains suitable and well-tended.

SEO in a Nutshell

When people use a search engine, they have a goal. They're looking for something — maybe a general query ("dentists near me"), maybe something specific ("west side dentists open Saturday"). If their query concerns your services, you want to ensure they find you. In a nutshell, search engine optimization is what you do to make that happen.

With much to consider regarding SEO, having expert help in your corner is good.

Do Dentists Need SEO?

It is tempting to think that people will eventually find you if you have a website. Your practice might not be at the very top, but customers scroll through search engines to find what they're looking for, right?

That might not be the case. Behavior studies show otherwise. Did you know that when people use a search engine, 75% never scroll past the first page? If your dentist's office doesn't appear there, you only have a 25% chance (or less, depending on where your site ranks) of customers seeing your website.

That's a surprising statistic. However, a deeper dive into the behavior of people using a search engine reveals more. Almost 60% of people click on the first three organic search results. You can work hard to appear on the first page of search engine results. However, if your website isn't in one of the top three spots, the chances are that consumers aren't clicking on your site.

Good SEO Helps Your Dental Practice Site Rank Higher

These statistics demonstrate that most people never leave the first page of their search results. Many times, they don't even scroll down.

Making your dental practice website rank at the top of a search result can feel daunting. That's where the science of dental SEO comes in. Search engine optimization creates a high-quality site that answers the questions potential clients are asking.

Higher Ranks Increase Patient Trust

Trust is one of the essential elements of a dentist-patient relationship. Your clients entrust their oral care to you, and you work continually to earn and keep their confidence. Therefore, you want your website to reflect your professionalism. You also want your site to assure potential clients they can rely on you to give them the best care.

Dental SEO helps you convey your trustworthiness through your website. A highly ranked dentist website shows people you belong in the top tier. Therefore, they are likely to find you trustworthy. They are also more apt to click on your website. When they do, your traffic increases.

As your traffic goes up, search engines view your site as trustworthy and rank your site higher. Thus begins the upward spiral that builds customer confidence while improving your search engine rankings. It's definitely a win-win situation for your dental practice.

Quality Attracts and Engages Potential Patients

Search engines look at more than keywords when ranking your dental website. Keywords are crucial — they inform search engines (and people) that your site is relevant and provides answers to dental questions.

However, search engines also rank sites according to quality. Your SEO strategy must include content specific to your target market. It needs to have authority and answer your customers' burning questions.

Originality Counts as Quality

Good SEO for dentists requires your content to be original. It demonstrates to search engine algorithms that you are doing something valuable, and people need to notice.

You won't gain respect and trust by simply rehashing duplicate information that people can find elsewhere. Your original content showcases your expertise and positions you as an authority in the dental industry.

Content Improves the Quality of Your Dental Website

You may be thinking, "Now I know my website needs high-quality content. Great! How do I create it?" It's a valid question. Your content should follow a few instructions to make SEO work for you. Search engines pay a lot of attention to these guidelines, so you should, too.

Your content should match the search intent. Don't trick readers into thinking you have relevant content — you wouldn't put the keywords "types of dental fillings" in an article about tooth whitening. Your content should discuss relevant keywords to avoid misleading people. Search engine algorithms pay attention to search intent.

Make Sure Your Content Is Easily Readable

Readability is essential to high-quality content. Your pages should be free of intimidating blocks of never-ending text. People are more apt to stay and read your page if you break up your information with headings, lists, and short paragraphs. They can easily scan the page for specific details and quickly get the answers they came for.

Use Images and Visual Aids

Images, charts, and other visual elements improve your site's quality and enhance SEO. They make pages easier to digest, attractive to look at, and more likely to earn links from other pages. For example, on your page about different filling types, you could include illustrations or photos of what they look like on the tooth.

Good Dental SEO Services Create a Better User Experience

dental SEO services

Once a dental practice's website has relevant keywords and high-quality content to draw new customers, what's next? The answer is a good user experience.

Good dental SEO helps people find your website. It ranks your site at the top so that potential customers click on it. Your keywords got you that far. Once people arrive at your site, your high-quality information engages them. It also improves your search engine rankings and keeps you at the top of organic searches.

However, even a high-ranking, authoritative site will only keep people engaged if they have a good user experience. They have to be able to navigate your site easily.

Components of Good User Experience

The answer is yes if you are wondering whether search engine algorithms pay attention to user experience. In addition to relevant keywords and good content, search engines rank your site based on user experience.

How does dental SEO improve user experience? It includes factors such as:

  • Fast-loading pages
  • Helpful headings and subheadings.
  • Optimization for mobile devices.
  • Simple navigation

User experience involves the nuts and bolts of your site. You undoubtedly pay attention to patient experience in the office. You ensure clients get appointments quickly and your employees are courteous. You put them at ease when they arrive, explain procedures in detail, and make sure they are comfortable during treatment.

Website user experience is similar. It ensures people think favorably about your practice during and after their visit. It makes them want to return and recommend your practice to others.

Why Is Dental SEO Important?

SEO ensures that people see your website in an organic search. Although search engines give paid or sponsored results a more prominent place on the page, most people skip past the advertisements to get to the organic search results. Consumers may trust that organic results are more relevant to their search, especially if they're just browsing. On the other hand, ads may come across as enticements to buy a product immediately.

SEO Attracts the Most Traffic

Are you familiar with the terms organic traffic and paid traffic? They define the method by which users get to your website:

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is the group of visitors arriving at your site through an organic search. They did not click on an ad. Instead, these visitors used a search engine to search for phrases that matched your keywords. They saw your website in the unpaid part of the list and clicked on it. SEO puts your site in the organic search.

Organic traffic does not come from:

  • Clicking a link on another website.
  • Typing your URL directly into their browser's search bar.
  • Clicking on a site in their browser's "Favorites" menu.

Organic traffic comes from users typing keywords in a search engine.

Paid Traffic

When someone uses a search engine, the results include ads. These ads look a lot like organic results, generally appearing at the top of the page. However, their ad status is indicated somewhere. Businesses usually pay per click for this type of advertising. The more people click on the ad, the more the company pays. Companies set a maximum monthly budget, and the search engine averages a daily limit.

Paid traffic sources also come from:

  • Banner or display ads.
  • Social media ads
  • Influencer links
  • Affiliate marketing

People respond to ads, but not as many as you may think. Only about 6% of people click on paid search results, leaving 94% who choose organic results. Once you understand people's overwhelming preference for organic search results, you can see how critical it is to attract clients through unpaid search results. SEO helps you achieve that goal.

Understanding How Patients Find Your Dental Practice

When searching for a new dental care provider, people may ask their family, friends, trusted coworkers, or other people they know for recommendations. If you have a thriving practice, you may even assume that's how you will get most of your new patients.

Research shows that when consumers discover new brands, 29% find them through word-of-mouth. That's a decent percentage, indicating that many new clients will find you by asking people whose opinions they trust.

However, a more significant portion of people use online searches. The research reveals that 35% of consumers are using search engines to discover new brands. Statistically, you may gain more new clients through your website than by recommendation. It underlines the vital role SEO plays in building your practice.

Help for New Dental Practices

If you have a new practice, you probably don't have the luxury of a word-of-mouth advertisement yet. You may rely on good local SEO and a well-designed website to start growing your business. After all, you don't have an established practice and a reputation that precedes you — but with a strong SEO strategy, you will have the opportunity to build them.

Overcome Decreases in Dental Visits

Another factor affecting practices is a lower percentage of people visiting dentists in rural areas. Research from the CDC indicates that patients in urban areas are more likely to visit the dentist than those in rural neighborhoods.

Attract Customers in Rural Areas

If you have a practice outside of an urban area, note that your demographics may play a role in attracting patients. This statistic might not surprise you — you may already feel the pinch.

At the same time, you have people in your area who need oral health care. SEO can help you draw new clients and serve your community more effectively. If patients can find you and trust you with their care, it's a win-win situation.

Reach Patients Who Procrastinate

As a dental professional, you are probably well aware that many people put off going to the dentist. One survey shows that more than one-third don't go regularly, and 30% haven't visited since before the pandemic.

People have varied reasons for skipping dental visits. Whatever they may be — anxiety, worry about a procedure, cost, lack of interest, or some other reason — you can use dental SEO to reach out to them. Your website can influence them to prioritize their oral health care. At the same time, you'll be building your business.

Keep Pace With Your Competitors

When it comes to your competitors using dental SEO to attract new business, there are two possibilities:

  1. Other dentist offices in your area already use SEO to optimize their websites and attract new patients.
  2. Your competitors have yet to discover the power of SEO to grow their practices.

If other dentists in your community already implement SEO to strengthen their websites, it's a wake-up call for you. They are ahead of the game, ensuring search engines rank their sites near the top in organic searches. People are likely to see your competitors' sites first — before they have the chance to see yours.

Get Ahead While You Can

On the other hand, maybe your competitors haven't caught on to the importance of dental SEO. If that's the case, you have an excellent opportunity. You can get ahead of other practices by optimizing your site. When potential clients search for dentist offices, yours will rank higher and have a better chance of getting clicks.

Whether competing dental offices are already taking advantage of SEO or not, now is the time for you to develop an SEO strategy.

How Much Does Dental SEO Cost?

You've heard the adage about no such thing as a free lunch. The idea behind the saying is that if you want something, you have to pay for it. The adage also implies that anything of value comes with a price tag.

The DIY Approach

When you apply the saying to SEO, it is generally true. You will need to pay for dental SEO services.

If you do it yourself, you don't have to write a check to someone. However, you pay for SEO with your time and effort. Creating good SEO takes hours of work. You need to learn the basics and then delve into the complexities.

Learning and Applying Dental SEO

Once you understand SEO, you'll need to integrate it throughout your website. Some tasks to complete include:

  • Keyword research: What keywords are relevant to your dental practice? What about variations and long-tail keywords?
  • Content: What topics do patients want to know about? What search intents will users have? How often will you add to your blog?
  • User experience: How can you improve screen load times? What can you do to improve mobile website optimization? 
  • Maintenance: Since SEO is ongoing, how often can you set aside time to update your site? Will you perform maintenance weekly or monthly?

Search engine optimization tasks may sound scary. While it's true that SEO requires effort and time, it's not impossible. You or a staff member may be able to tackle it.

Hiring an Expert in Dental Search Engine Optimization

Another option is hiring someone who specializes in dental SEO. You may find this the best choice if you have an established practice with a large patient load. You may also prefer this approach if you are busy building a new practice. Perhaps SEO isn't your thing, and you'd rather outsource the task — after all, you're in the dental industry, not SEO.

Getting an expert to handle your SEO may leave you wondering if you can afford it. The good news is that SEO offers a high return on your investment. While you have upfront costs when hiring an SEO company, your dental SEO strategy continues to work for you for a long time.

Understanding SEO Is a Marathon

SEO takes time to be effective. It may be several months before search engines index your site. Even minor changes can take a while. Keep going even if your results aren’t instantaneous. The upside is that once you begin to see results, you're gaining unpaid clicks to your website.

You can add pay-per-click ads to your marketing strategy as part of a well-rounded campaign. However, organic clicks don't cost you — and they are typically much more abundant than paid clicks.

Once search engines index your site, your rankings improve, people find you on the first page and keep returning, and you build momentum. It becomes more difficult for competitors to knock you from your spot. Between the free clicks and tight hold on your ranking, your initial dentist SEO investment pays excellent dividends.

Crunching the Numbers

Investing in SEO services can range between $1,000-$10,000 per month. Initially, it seems like a hefty investment. However, cheaper monthly services may be less effective. A worst-case scenario is paying very little for dental SEO and later discovering you were scammed.

You can get an idea of what you stand to gain financially by estimating the number of new patients your SEO will add to your practice. Start with a conservative estimate. Then, determine the annual value a patient adds and multiply it by the average patient lifespan (how long they continue to visit your office).

Once you've done the math, you can see the big picture and decide whether hiring a dental search engine optimization expert pays off.

Shopping Around

Before you settle on a company, get some quotes. Make sure you understand what services the company offers. Will they give you references or have customer reviews available? You can learn a lot from their clients. You may even be able to compare businesses similar to yours in size or industry. This step can help you compare apples to apples and see how dental SEO made a difference in their growth.

How Can You Find Dental SEO Expertise?

dental SEO expertise

Dental SEO is many things at once. It's complex, compelling, growth-minded, beneficial for your dental practice, and worth your time. It's also a significant investment — an investment in your business, your future, and your growth potential.

After learning about SEO, you've decided you want assistance. That's understandable. After all, you must focus on your patients' well-being, keeping your office running smoothly, and staying current with the best dental practices.

SEO shouldn't be something you have to handle alone. Connect with elk today to learn more about adding or improving SEO for your website. We have SEO pros ready to help you grow your dental practice and position your business for the future.