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As a dentist, competition for Google’s first page ranking is fierce. So, how can you set your practice apart from the package and get the most visibility for your practice? The answer is to implement a local search engine optimization (local SEO) campaign following a proven step-by-step process. By following the 5 steps below, you will gain an advantage over your local competitors.

SEO-strategy-growth

But first, let’s see why you should invest in local SEO in the first place…

3 reasons for dentists to invest in local SEO

Reason # 1. Google is the new yellow pages

More and more patients are using search engines to find local businesses on their computers and cell phones. Here are the statistics, according to Google:

  • 20% of search queries are for local businesses
  • 40% of mobile searches are for local businesses
  • 97% of consumers search for local businesses online

Reason # 2. Free traffic

When you’re at the top of the Google ranking, you get free traffic and free patients. SEO is really one of the best marketing investments you can make for your dental practice.

Reason # 3. Fast results

Most people believe that it can take six months to a year to get Google’s ranking on the first page, but in local markets, the results are generally faster. Most dentists are not following the best SEO practices. And as a result, when you follow the five steps in this article, it’s not uncommon to get local ratings on the first page within 30 days.

Here are the 5 keys to building a local SEO campaign that increases your visibility on search engines, attracts perfect patients and adds to your bottom line.

Step 1. Keyword research

6 Unique & Free Keyword Research Tools You Didn't Know You Needed

Start this step by listing the services your practice offers. This list may include fillings, crowns, teeth cleaning and orthodontics. Within the Google AdWords platform, you can enter each of your services in the Keyword Planner Tool to identify the keywords that people are using when they search for dental procedures and services.

(Don’t worry… There is no need to advertise on Google. We are only using Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to identify the best keywords for your local SEO.)

Focus on hiring intent keywords first

There are 2 types of keywords that apply to dental practices:

1) Phrases with intention to hire

2) Phrases with search intent

Your main focus should be on ranking for intentionally hiring keywords,  as they usually signal that the person doing the research intends to perform an action of some kind. For example, a keyword like “teeth whitening dentist” indicates intention to hire. These types of transactional keywords can be used to optimize the home page and its service pages.

Search intent keywords, true to the name, are used primarily to collect information. For example, a search term like “teeth whitening at home” or “diy tooth whitening” is not intended to hire a dentist. Likewise, a person who searches for “dental implant cost” may not be ready to actually visit a dentist yet – they probably just collect information.

But search intent keywords can also be useful. Search intent keywords can play a secondary role in your SEO efforts, as they can serve as great topics for frequently asked questions pages or blog articles. For example, a search intent keyword like “electric toothbrush benefits” or “dental implant cost” can be turned into a blog to get information produced by your practice in front of potential patients while doing research.

As a general rule, you should focus first on optimizing your home page and service pages to hire intent keywords. And then start developing informative pages (blog articles, etc.) about search intention keywords. And that takes us to step 2 …

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Step 2. Keyword optimization

The best keyword optimization techniques for 2019 | Brafton

There are two main types of pages that you want to optimize. Your Google My Business page can provide the fastest improvement. But, of course, you will also want to optimize the main pages of your website.

Your Google My Business page

Your Google My Business page is what appears in the “Map” results for searches related to local dentists. A fully optimized Google My Business page will play a key role in your SEO efforts and provide an attractive introduction to your practice to potential patients. A second benefit of optimizing your Google My Business page is that it is generally faster and easier to get a Google My Business page ranking on Google compared to your website. And Google shows those map pages at the top of the search results.

Here are some tips for doing it right:

Verification

To make edits to your profile page, you must first claim and verify your page with Google. You can confirm that your profile has been verified by logging into your dashboard and finding a checkmark with the word “Verified” next to your company name. If you have not yet verified your business, you will see a “Confirm now” prompt on your dashboard to begin the process. If you find that you have multiple pages for the same location, you may want to merge them so that only one is displayed.

Name, address and phone number

Use only the official name of your practice and include your exact address, because this is how Google maps your location. And when it comes to the phone number, use your local number (not an 800 number) to strengthen your presence as a local business. It is essential that you use consistent name, address and phone number information on your Google My Business page, your website and other pages and directory listings (including your Facebook page, the Yellow Pages online listings and so on) against).

CALL US

According to Google’s guidelines for local pages, each category should describe its practice and not what it does. For example, you can add a category that says “orthodontics”, but not “teeth that straighten”. You will want to include all categories relevant to your practice. Some examples of categories available for dentists are:  Dentist, Cosmetic Dentist, Dental Clinic, Dental Implant Periodontist, Emergency Dental Service, Endodontist  and  Pediatric Dentist  . You will want to choose the 3-5 categories that are most relevant to you.

description

In this step, you will introduce your company to potential patients, so make sure your description is well written and has been spell checked to eliminate any errors. Your practice description should be written conversationally, and you will want to incorporate all of your keywords into your dental / specialty services.

An example format for your Google My Business description would be:  {Name of Practice} offers {list dental services} {{dental}} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your practice history or why patients choose you.} Call {Phone Number} today to schedule your appointment!

Aim for about 100-200 words in length.

Hours

Make sure the hours of operation posted on your local page (and your website) are always accurate. This is especially important if you have seasonal schedules or are experimenting with being open early in the morning, late at night or on weekends.

Images

Google allows external and internal images, in addition to your practice logo. Magnifying images

engagement, can help patients find their location and help tell the story of your business. Make sure your images have a sharp focus, are 10 KB and 5 MB, have a minimum resolution of 720 px x 720 px and are well lit. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business image with a brand image.

Optimizing your website

On your website, the initial focus will be on editing your “main pages” (home page and service pages) to make them compatible with the keywords that potential patients search for. In particular, you should focus on  hiring intent  keywords first   .

Home page

The most important part to optimize on the home page is its title tag (also called the page title). The title tag is not visible on the page, but it is what appears at the top of the web browser (and it is also the text in the link underlined in blue in Google’s search results).

You can think of title tags on web pages like the chapter titles of a book. And the title of your home page is the most important (it’s like the title of your book). So you want to optimize it for your primary keyword.

What is your primary keyword? Think about what the most obvious keyword that people would search for when looking for a dentist in your area. An example of the primary keyword would be “Dentist in {your city}”. You should brainstorm a keyword list and then double-check using Google’s Keyword Planner to make sure you’re choosing keywords that prospective patients are searching for.

How do you write your title tag? An example title tag format is:  Dentist in {Your City} | {Name of your practice}  . So, for example, if you are a dentist in New York and your practice is Manhattan Dental Associates, your title tag could be:  Dentist in NYC | Manhattan Dental Associates  . You want to be 50 to 65 characters in length.

You also want to write a unique meta description for your home page that highlights your various services. The meta description is not visible on the page, but it is the text that Google shows below the link underlined in blue in the search results. An example format for the meta description would be:  {Name of Practice} offers quality {list dental services} {{Your City}}. Call {Phone Number} today to schedule your appointment!  For example,  Manhattan Dental Associates offers general quality and cosmetic dentistry in New York City. Call 212-XXX-XXXX to schedule your appointment! The meta description must be 100-150 characters in length.

You will also want to make sure that the visible title of the page (known as H1) incorporates a relevant keyword. Your title should be descriptive, but also concise and legible. For example, {Type of Dentistry} in {City, State}. For example:  General & Cosmetic Dentistry in New York.

In addition, you should also make sure you have a sufficient copy of the website on your homepage. You will want a minimum of 200 words of copy and ideally 500-1000 words. The copy of the website on your home page should provide basic information about your practice and describe its various services. And be sure to include your target keyword at least once in your body copy. Above all, make sure your copy is natural, attractive and encourage your prospective patients to contact you.

While there are a few more tweaks you can make to the site’s content for SEO purposes, these are the main ones.

Service pages

A common mistake here is to have a single “Services” page that just lists all of your services / specialties with a brief description of each one. Instead, it is very important that you have separate pages for each of your dental services. By creating a detailed and separate page for each of your services, you are more likely to rank on Google when people are searching for that service.

For example, if you provide cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry, you may want to have separate pages for them. And then you should also have sub-pages for the specific types of cosmetic dentistry you offer (for example, teeth whitening, dental implants, etc.). That way, you will have specific and targeted pages for each of your services.

And, of course, you’ll want to optimize each of these pages for relevant keywords, following the same steps we discussed on your homepage.

  • Title tag
  • Goal Description
  • Header (H1)
  • Body copy

Important: each page of your website must have a unique title tag and meta description and a unique copy of the body. If your pages have duplicate titles or meta descriptions or duplicate content, this can prevent your website from being ranked higher on Google.

Content pages

After optimizing all of your “main pages” (home page and service pages), it’s time to move on to creating content pages (which we refer to as “content assets”).

The first step is to conduct a keyword search (using the Google Keyword Planner Tool) to identify the types of relevant topics that people conduct searches on. For example, if you provide dental implants, you may find that people are researching the “cost of dental implants”. So, you can create a page on your website explaining the cost of dental implants.

Where should you host these pages on your website?

One of the best ways to start using content pages is to develop a FAQ section of your website. Brainstorm all the questions you frequently hear from prospective and current dental patients. Chances are good that if patients ask these questions, they’re also searching for those questions on Google. Then, create a page for each question and answer, linked to your main FAQ page. As a general guideline, each question and answer can be anywhere from 100 words to 1000 words (as much content as you need to answer the question).

Another good way to post content on your website is with a blog. For blog posts, we generally recommend a little more in-depth, with a word count of 300 words to thousands of words per post (for very detailed articles, like the one you’re reading!)

For content pages, follow the same optimization steps and follow the same guidelines that you did to optimize the home page and service pages. Make up a unique title tag and meta description (based on keywords) and make sure the body copy is well written when incorporating relevant keywords.

Optimizing your website and Google My Business page are the initial steps necessary to start ranking on Google. But to compete in a crowded field, you will need to do more. Building quotes and links is the next big step in separating yourself from other dentists in your area.

Quotations

Citations are mentions of the name, address and telephone number of your practice (known as “NAP”). First you will want to include a quote for your practice on your own website, on your contact page and, ideally, also at the bottom of your website.

Next, you will want to create citations on the web, listing them in relevant directories. The most important directory list is your Google My Business page, which we’ve already covered. But there are dozens of other business directories that you can list, which, in turn, will create more quotes – and help you rank higher on Google.

There are 3 main categories of directories that you want to submit to:

1. General, national business directories

A good starting point is to get listed in the main national business directories. For example, in the USA, some of the top directories include Yelp.com, yellowpages.com and citysearch.com. We also recommend creating a Facebook page for your practice.

2. Industry Specific Directories

You will also want to submit to specific dental and medical directories, such as everydentist.com and implantdirectory.com. Some industry-specific directories will be free, while others will require a fee. We recommend focusing on free directories first. If you choose to be listed on paid directories, check to see if you’re generating any referral traffic from those directories (which you can track using Google Analytics).

3. Local Directories

Finally, you will also want to search for local business directories in your area. An example of a local directory would be your local Chamber of Commerce website.

Important: You will need to ensure that your company name, address, and phone number information remains 100% consistent across all directories.

Links

By “links”, we mean hyperlinks pointing from another website to your website. These are also known as “inbound links”. Google places a lot of emphasis on the types of websites that are linked to you. The links act as a vote in favor of the authority and relevance of your website. As a general rule, as many links as you have 
So how can you create links to your website?

Directories

As mentioned above, we recommend sending to general, dental and local directories. Directories are especially useful for local SEO because they are a source of obtaining quotes and links. Most directory lists will provide a link to your website, as well as a reference to your clinic’s name, address and phone number.

Offline Relationships

Take an inventory of the offline relationships you have created and see if you can get links from those relationships. For example, you may already have a referral relationship with other medical professionals and can link to each other as resources recommended on their websites. Or maybe you are a member of an association and can get a link in that directory listing. You either sponsor a local event or a small league team and you can get a link as part of your sponsorship.

Competitor research

Another step is to see which sites are linking to your competitors’ sites and then see if you can get similar links as well. You can search which sites are linked to your competitors by looking for your competitors in a tool like Moz Open Site Explorer. And in that way, you can find other directory opportunities or find other ideas on how to attract links to your website.

There are several other strategies for gaining links, but these tips will give you a good start.

Step 4. Reviews

Trusted Online Reviews - ReviewMe.com

Ratings are another factor that can offer an advantage over local competitors and offer higher ratings on Google SERPs.

Focus on Google My Business Reviews

There are many places where you can get reviews, including on Yelp.com and on medical sites like HealthGrades.com. But we recommend that you focus your attention on getting positive comments on your Google My Business page.

Getting reviews on your Google My Business page will help your Google My Business page to be higher, so that you can have more exposure to potential patients. In addition, when potential patients see all of your positive reviews, they are more likely to contact you.

Getting comments

What is the secret to receiving evaluations from your patients? Well, first of all, you need to provide excellent services. But in addition, you need to ask patients to review it, and you need to make it easier for them.

One of the best ways to ask and make things easier is to send a “review request” by email, with a link to leave a review on your Google My Business page.

How do you find your Google My Business page? Search Google for the name of your practice and Google My Business, and your Google My Business page will be the first result. For example, you can find our Google My Business profile on Google by searching for your business name and Google+:  Main Street’s Google Street ROI  . Then, copy that page and include it in the sample email template below.

Then send an email saying something like,  “If you have a moment, I’d love to hear from you about our services. As you may know, many of our patients find us on Google. Please take a minute to post a comment on Google? {Link to Google My Business profile}. Thanks in advance! 

We recommend sending review emails to all patients who have not yet left a comment for you. Make this part of your business process, so that you receive a continuous flow of reviews on an ongoing basis.

Step 5. Follow-up

How to Write a Follow up Email (Backed by Research)

Crawling is absolutely critical to the success of your SEO efforts. To quote the business genius, Peter Drucker, “What is measured, improves“.

Here are the top three metrics you want to track and how to track them.

A) Rankings

The first metric you want to track is your keyword ranking. Ratings are generally a metric that you’ll want to check once or twice a month.

One way to verify is to use Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools). Your webmaster can install this for you, and you can see which keywords are ranking on Google, as well as how many impressions and clicks each keyword is delivering.

Or you can use a paid tool like RankRanger.com. This tool will automatically update the ranking reports for you on multiple keywords. The advantage of RankRanger is that it can also track your Google My Business rankings, as well as your website’s rankings. (This is the tool we use when tracking rankings for our customers).

B) Traffic

Rankings are not everything. You will also want to track how much “traffic” you are receiving. By traffic, we mean website visitors.

The best way to track traffic is with Google Analytics. First, you need to install Google Analytics on every page of your website. So when you sign in to Google Analytics, you can see how much overall traffic you’re getting, how much traffic you’re getting from Google and which pages are getting the most traffic.

We recommend that you review your traffic statistics monthly and analyze long-term trends to see how your SEO traffic is growing over time.

C) Conversions

In addition to rankings and traffic, you’ll also want to track how many “conversions” you receive from your SEO efforts. A “conversion” is a specific action that you want your website visitor to take. For example, you can have an online form on your website for patients to “make an appointment”. Conversion tracking is essential for determining how many new patients you receive from your marketing efforts.

With Google Analytics, you can set up Goal Tracking for that web form so you can track how many people are doing this. In addition, you want to track how many conversions you receive per month and how many are coming from SEO.

Conclusion

How to write an excellent thesis conclusion - Paperpile

When managed properly, a local SEO campaign can be one of the best marketing investments you can make for your dental practice. For best results, you need to approach SEO step by step.

To recap, here are the top 5 steps you should follow:

  1. Keyword search
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Quotes and Links
  4. To review
  5. Tracking

Follow these steps to rank better, generate more traffic and attract more patients!

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