Search engines play a huge role in your practice’s marketing efforts. Studies have shown that around 93% of all online experiences begin on a search engine, and 90% of people use search engines to discover local businesses.
With all those prospective new patients out there searching for dental care, how do you ensure your practice is showing up prominently in their searches? It all boils down to knowing the right on-page and off-page SEO tactics to get your practice to the top of the search rankings. Give your practice the boost it needs by taking advantage of these local SEO tips.1. Create a Google My Business Page – Almost everything begins and ends with Google today, and having a Google My Business page is one of the best ways to strengthen your local SEO.
If you don’t already have a My Business page, they’re free and simple to set up – you can even search to see if your practice already has a business listing within Google. Even if you already have a page set up, there are many steps you can take towards verifying your authenticity and boosting your local SEO such as:
- Removing duplicate listings
- Making sure all contact information matches up with your website
- Displaying your hours of operation
- Including interior and exterior photos of your practice
- Listing your business under at least 5 relevant categories
- Using focus keywords and your city in the business description field
2. Use the Right Keywords – Keywords are how anyone using a search engine finds the pages they’re looking for. By targeting the keywords that your prospective patients will use in their searches, you ensure that your practice is at the top of their lists.
While there are some common keywords and variations that produce results (i.e. “dentist”, “dentist + “my location”, “dental surgeon near me”), you should still take the time to research them. There are multiple keyword research tools out there that can either validate or eliminate keywords for you. These research tools also provide valuable metrics such as search volume, competition, and cost-per-click.
Once you have the right keywords narrowed down, be sure to work them into your page. You don’t need to overdo it or force them into the copy, but try to include them in these locations:
- Page title
- Within the first few paragraphs on the page
- As an image name
- As image alt text
3. Build Up Your Reviews –Positive patient reviews do much more for your practice than you might imagine. Search engines love positive reviews and weight them heavily in search engine rankings - and almost ¾ of new patients choose their dentists based on online reviews. The best way to ensure good reviews is by running an excellent practice with well-trained staff. You can also generate new online reviews at your practice by:
- Handing out pamphlets or cards to patients that list several review websites where they can leave a review of your practice
- Have links to all relevant review websites on your practice page
- Automate the outreach process via email or text message marketing
Don’t only focus on the big online review platforms (Yelp, Google, etc.) either. There are other platforms (Healthgrades, RateMDs, etc.) that carry just as much weight with search engines. Keep an eye on how your practice is performing, and if necessary, assign a staff member to respond to all new reviews.
4. Provide Valuable Content – Your website should be used for more than just outlining your services and your hours of operation. Without any sort of valuable content on your website, it’s local SEO will fall behind. Valuable content in this case means content that provides the solution that the page visitor is looking for. As a medical website, your practice is held to even higher standards for content. Wrong information about dental treatments or practices can lead to financial or personal harm to searchers. Google has three criteria for what it considers valuable and accurate medical content:
- A high level of Expertise of the author
- A high level of Authoritativeness of the author and website
- A high level of Trustworthiness of the author and website
Once you’ve ensured that your content fulfills the 'E-A-T' requirements, the next thing you should consider is its length. The topic and purpose of the page have a lot to do with how much content is considered “satisfying” for that page. Wide topics with a lot of content rank higher than more narrow topics with the same amount of info. However, don’t just stop at written content. Having a wide range of content formats will go a long way towards engaging your audience and encouraging more page views.
Some more visual-based content formats to consider are:
- Picture-heavy infographics
- Podcasts or radio broadcasts
5. Build Up Your Backlinks – Once you’ve produced a suitable amount of original content on your website, it’s a good idea to start building up your backlink portfolio.
Backlinks are simply links to your website or content that are posted on other authority sites. Search engines consider links from highly-ranked and authoritative websites as a sign of quality and credibility. Your online visibility gets a real shot in the arm from backlinks such as these, they provide a simple and effective boost to your local SEO.
You can get your practice’s name out there and increase the likelihood of receiving relevant backlinks by:
- Writing guest blog content on relevant websites
- Providing an article to a local newspaper to establish authority and knowledge
- Conducting an interview for a podcast or local radio station
- Producing an informative and comprehensive guide on a specific dental topic and market it heavily on social media
- Sponsoring an event in your city
- Encouraging patient surveys and providing the results to other websites in exchange for a backlink
There are thousands of prospective patients out there every day searching for a solution to their dental problems. By leveraging your practice’s local SEO, you can ensure that they’re seeing your name pop up at the top of their search results. Put these practices into effect and get new patients through the door today!
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