Maybe your dental practice already has a great website, or you have taken some of my recent advice and decided to work on bumping yours up to the next level. That in itself is great news, but now you have to focus on driving prospective patients to it, so the site can work its wonders. Of course you’ll want to include the URL in all of your marketing, advertising and regular correspondence, and can even ask patients to help you spread the word through social media. But how do you get found by somebody who is looking for a dental practice in your geographic market that has never heard of you before?
The answer is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. If somebody in need of a dentist hasn’t looked at local advertising or talked to their friends for a referral, the chances are very high that the first thing they are going to do is perform an online search. They might google “dentist in Frisco TX” for example, and are likely to get a very long list of responses. The thing is, over 70% of the traffic from those searches will only go to the top three listings. If your dental practice doesn’t show up at the top of the list, the chances are that these prospective patients are never going to find your great website on their own.
So what can you do to propel your practice to the top? You have got to get noticed by the search engines’ “spiders.” These are algorithms which “crawl” the internet and analyze websites according to specific factors. If they determine that a particular website meets a specific query it will show up in the search results. The more matches, the better. You can make changes to your online marketing strategy to increase your odds of being noticed. There are two kinds of SEO tactics you can utilize to bump up your search recognition factor – regular SEO and local SEO.
Regular SEO Isn’t So Regular
First, go back through your website from an SEO perspective. Make sure it includes the top keywords prospective patients might use in their searches. Now look at all of your page titles and meta descriptions – do they include “dentist in Frisco TX” to help alert patients to your practice? Use H2 headlines with keywords to garner further attention. All images need to have a description which includes your keywords to further bump up your matching factors. Here are some other steps you can take to improve your regular SEO:
Domain Name: Your domain name must make it obvious as to what you do. Don’t just list DrJohnDoe.com, but list it as DentistDrJohnDoe.com. If your URL doesn’t contain dentist, dentistry or dental practice, you might want to look into changing it. It’s even better if you can fit in your city.
Include Your Services: Some patients might search by factors such as “dentists in Frisco TX who offer Invisalign braces.” There will be no match with your practice if that word is not on your website. Have a services listing page which includes everything your practice offers. Try to think about using terms like pediatric dentist, family dentist, or others that set your practice apart.
Add a Site Map: This is a listing of all the pages on your website. It makes it easier for the search engines and also for site visitors to find something specific.
Blog, Blog, Blog: Your website cannot be static and unchanging. It must offer something new to attract attention and engage visitors. Blogs are a great way of achieving both of these goals. Write and post a blog on a regular basis about topics of interest to your patient population. Write about topics in dental health, new team members, or the latest in dental equipment. Include links to specific areas of your own website, as well as outside sites that can help support your statements. Invite guest posters to contribute information, and ask other sites to include your posts where appropriate. Invite readers to comment and add their ideas. Also make sure you always update your social media with news of your latest blog posting.
Local SEO Gets Local Attention
The other way prospective patients search for local dentists is through local search and local review sites. You’ll want to be included in these sites as well to make sure you have all of your marketing bases covered. Here are a few steps you can take to increase your local SEO:
Local Search: Since most patients want a dentist that is convenient to their home or work location they are more likely to search using geographic keywords. This is why it is necessary to have your complete practice address and telephone number on every website page. Your content should also mention geographic keywords and have a Google map with your location to aid in generating these results.
Business Sites: Make sure your practice information is listed and up-to-date on business sites such as Google’s My Business, ChooseYourDentist.com, and local business listings such as the Chamber of Commerce or local online Yellow Pages.
Generate Reviews: New patients will also be interested in reviews from current patients. You should put some of the best on your website, but also ask patients to rate your service on your Google Business Page as well as review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List.
Link Sharing: There is nothing like local awareness to build support. Ask local businesses that are complementary to yours to recommend your practice on their website and offer to do the same for them. Any endeavor that promises to shop local or buy local should include your information.
Effective online marketing for dental practices involves a concerted, long-term approach. Once you have an engaging, hard-working website in place, use solid SEO practices to help make it easy to find on the web.