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SEO for Dentists: How to Reach Local Patients

by Trenton Reed   |   Dec 12, 2019

What’s the best way to schedule dental appointments?

This is the million-dollar question for dental marketers. For many, the first step is providing local website traffic with relevant information—so they feel enticed to reach out. Local SEO can help establish a foundation for lead generation. When nurtured, you can convert leads from prospects to new patients.

But you have to attract them in the first place.

A few weeks ago, we discussed how mobile devices have become a primary vehicle for locating information and that 20 percent of mobile searches are using voice search technology. But how are patients using these devices to locate medical information? By and large, search engines are becoming the dominant tool. In fact, one survey found that nearly 80 percent of American adults use search engines to search for medical information.

Local patients want find medical information at their convenience and on their preferred device. As this suggests, local SEO has never been more important. It’s essential that accurate information appears in search engine results (SERPs)—and that you offer opportunities to engage with your brand. Ultimately, prospects can be exposed to your practice in a number of ways:

  • Google My Business listings
  • Patient reviews
  • Social media profiles

Let’s review how to optimize your online profiles and listings—and what they mean to your local SEO efforts.

Google My Business Listings

As we’ve reviewed, your Google My Business (GMB) listings serve as a virtual Yellow Pages. Not only do they possess important real estate in the SERPs, they provide up-to-date information about your practice. They also improve your search rankings,which helps you stay competitive in your own backyard.

In fact, Moz considers GMB signals as the number one signal for local SEO. And positive ranking signals helps increase your authority across the search engines.

Setting up a GMB listing is free and as simple as claiming your listing (we’ll leave that to Google to explain) and adding your name, address, and phone number (NAP). Be sure to include specialties (such as Endodontist or Periodontist) as categories, not your title. If you have more than one location or doctor, it’s essential you create a separate listing as well—but a dentist should never create additional listings for additional specialties. Ultimately, if your practice has three doctors and two locations, you should create a total of five listings.

Fully optimizing your listing includes adding high-quality photos and headshots and sharing useful content directly through Google My Business Posts, which can help boost your local SEO performance.

Patient Reviews

Did you know that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local business? Not only do reviews get read by potential patients, trustworthy sites like Yelp and Foursquare rank well in search queries, meaning that local traffic is likely to see them when searching for your practice. Plus, review signals—including quantity, velocity, and diversity—account for just about 15 percent of all local pack ranking factors.

This means that earning links and mentions from high-quality, relevant sources can help your website amass authority.

Search engine algorithms use spiders to look for customer reviews and testimonials to evaluate websites—and user-generated content can help boost your organic rankings. Much like new blog content, reviews provide search engines with fresh, relevant content for them to enjoy. The more authoritative the source of the review, the better. And having positive sentiment across a variety of third-party review aggregators can be a huge competitive advantage four your practice.

Social Media Profiles

More than half of healthcare marketers in the U.S. used social media marketing to reach consumers in 2017. Social media enables practices to share valuable content with prospects and directly communicate with patients. While it’s unlikely that social media does not contribute to search rankings, it does have other SEO benefits for dental practices. The primary reason is by creating link building opportunities through content promotion. The more that users engage with your content, the better.

Like your GMB profile, claiming popular social media platforms is free. However, social media also has a paid component that can help boast your local marketing efforts. Paid social enables dental practices to boost brand awareness by reaching a targeted, engaged audience. Rather than talk to audiences using broad terms, paid allows practices to reach them using specified categories. But it does come at a price—and partnering with a digital agency can help ensure you’re making the most out of your budget.

Ultimately, combining organic and paid social media can help you get the most mileage from your accounts. And optimizing your local SEO efforts increases your chances of being discovered by more prospects.

portrait of Trenton Reed

Trenton Reed

Trenton joined the Workshop Digital team in January 2019. After earning his B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, he moved to Denver, where he explored the Rocky Mountains and built a writing career that spanned the digital marketing, advertising, and journalism realms. Since relocating back to Richmond in late 2017, Trenton has freelanced with local agencies and national nonprofits. As our in-house writer, he’s in charge of maintaining our brand voice across all channels.