If you’re looking to grow your dental implant practice, what’s the best way to attract new patients? As an established dentist, you probably receive most of your new patients from word-of-mouth referrals, which undoubtedly provide a significant base for your new-patient flow. However, the next best source of patients is Google.
Why focus on showing up on Google?
More and more patients are searching online to find dentists. Here are the numbers, according to Google:
- 20% of searches are for local businesses.
- 40% of mobile searches are for local businesses.
- 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.
Is your practice appearing on the first page of search results? If you’re not, then prospective patients won’t be able to find your office, and they’ll make an appointment with a competitor instead.
SEO is always changing, but the fundamentals don’t change
Getting your practice ranking on the first page of Google is known as search engine optimization, or SEO for short. SEO is a complicated recipe with hundreds of ingredients, and the Google algorithm is constantly updating.
That said, certain fundamentals remain true year after year. In this article, we’ll simplify the process, so you can understand the primary keys that consistently drive results for our dental clients. Here are the three most important steps to increasing your local search visibility.
Step 1: Establish your “local SEO” foundation
Because you’re focused on appearing in the local results in your city, the most critical first step is to optimize your local business listings, starting with your Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile
To show up in Google’s local map results, you need to have a well-optimized Google Business Profile (aka “Google My Business” profile). Here are some tips for doing it right:
- Name, address, and phone number (NAP): It’s important to make sure that your business listing uses your official practice name, that your profile name matches your website, and that you use a consistent phone number and address with your website and other business listings.
- Categories: Next, include all relevant categories for your practice. For example, your core category will likely be Dentist, but we also recommend including Dental Implant Specialist or Dental Implant Dentist, if you specialize in dental implants. Including these categories will help you appear in local searches related to dental implants.
- Description: Include a detailed description of your practice, including relevant keywords in the description.
- Products and services: We also recommend filling out the Products and Services sections to list all the procedures that you offer. Google allows up to a 1,000-character description for each service and a programmable “learn more” button to direct the searcher to the page matching their search query.
- Hours: Make sure the hours of operation posted on your local page (and your website) are accurate.
- Images: Include several office photos to make an excellent first impression.
- Reviews: Put a process in place to ask your patients to leave reviews on an ongoing basis.
- Google posts: We also recommend regularly publishing updates to your Google Business Profile via “posts.” We’ll touch on this again later in this article.
Creating and optimizing your Google profile is a necessary step to rank in Google’s search results, but it’s only the first step.
Build more citations
Next, in addition to your Google profile, it’s essential that you get your dental practice listed on other significant business directory websites, such as Yelp, Manta.com, chamberofcommerce.com, and several dozen others.
By getting your practice listed and using consistent NAP information on all your business listings, you provide Google with more confidence that your practice is legitimate and established. Each new mention of your NAP is called a “citation,” and the more citations you have, the more trustworthy and established your practice is in Google’s eyes, and the higher your practice will rank in the map results.
Step 2: A responsive website, optimized for search
Technically, it’s possible to gain local rankings with a Google Business Profile with no website or with a poorly optimized website. However, assuming you want to maximize your visibility, you’ll not only need a website, but a properly optimized website.
Currently, most website visitors are coming from mobile devices, so it’s critical that your website is mobile-responsive. A website is considered responsive if the user interface adapts to the device your patient is using, without the need to pinch and zoom. If your website is not easy to use when visiting on mobile devices and tablets, you should consider a website redesign.
SEO-friendly website structure
Next, if you want your website to rank high in Google searches for relevant phrases, it’s essential to have the correct type of website architecture. Specifically, you’ll need to have separate pages for each procedure. By having separate pages, you give your website a better chance of ranking in Google for a particular service.
Make sure those pages are correctly linked so that users (and Google) can easily find and access the pages. Proper page links help ensure that Google finds and shows the pages in their search results index. For example, we recommend having a navigation menu with drop-down links for the different services you provide.
Once you have your pages in place, it’s vital to “optimize” them for improved rankings. What does this mean in practice? While this can get a bit technical, we will keep this high-level. Even if you decide to outsource your SEO and hire a professional, it’s essential that you understand the core concepts of SEO:
- Title tags: Think of page titles as the chapter headings of a book. Each page should have a brief, unique, descriptive title tag. For example, your Dental Implants page should focus on Dental Implants (along with related phrases, such as the city and state where you practice). The title tag is not visible on your page, but it is what Google typically uses to display the blue underlined link text in search results.
- Meta descriptions: The meta description is a brief, unique description of the page content. Like the title tag, this description is not visible on your page. The meta description appears as the blurb below the blue underlined result in Google’s results.
- H1 headers: The H1 heading is the main visible headline on the page. The H1 should also include your relevant keywords, and each page should have a unique H1 header.
- Website copy: Each priority page that you want to rank in Google should have 500-plus words of unique, descriptive content, and it should answer relevant questions to help Google establish your practice as an authority to answer the questions that searchers are asking.
There are more technical factors involved in website optimization, but these are the most important. If you have unique pages for each of your services, and your title tags, meta descriptions, H1 headers, and website copy are unique and follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to improving your Google rankings.
Once you have that foundation in place, the next step is to enhance and expand your content continually and introduce new pages of content.
Step 3: Ongoing content publishing
To succeed with SEO over the long term, you cannot “set it and forget it.” To improve and maintain your visibility and grow your website traffic over time, you need to make an ongoing investment. The most important investment you can make is in content development and publishing.
Google frequently shows questions and answers at the top of search results, in a section called “People also ask.” By incorporating this type of Q&A content on service pages and in blog posts, you can gain visibility in these prominent search results (figure 1).
Guest articles (guest blogging)
Once you’re blogging, another opportunity for more visibility is to publish content on other websites.
One of our SEO clients, Dr. Scott H. Froum, a periodontist in Manhattan and editorial director of Perio-Implant Advisory, regularly publishes guest articles in various journals, websites, and PerioImplantAdvisory.com. These guest articles provide him with quality backlinks to his site, building his reputation in Google and helping his website rank higher for relevant searches. Publishing thought leadership articles on third-party websites also helps position you as an expert in your niche.
If you have news to share, consider publishing a press release using a service such as PRWeb.com. Make sure to include your practice’s NAP in the byline of your press release. That way, when the press release is published and syndicated on dozens of other websites, you’ll build more instances of “citations” (mentions of your NAP), which can help improve your local map rankings.
Google posts and social media posts
In addition, we recommend continually publishing posts on your Google Business Profile. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use your Google Business Profile and social media profiles (Facebook, for example) as a distribution channel for the content you’re publishing online (i.e., blog posts, guest blog posts, press releases).
It’s never too late to get started
Even if you’re not yet ranking in Google, don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late to get started improving your search engine rankings. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can begin climbing up the ladder of search engine results and attracting more patients in your area.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Perio-Implant Advisory, a chairside resource for dentists and hygienists that focuses on periodontal- and implant-related issues. Read more articles and subscribe to the newsletter.