Table of Contents
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is an amazing and free tool that can be leveraged by businesses. This is especially true for local businesses. While a lot of local SEO tactics are similar to the standard SEO practices, GMB can be a huge way to win traffic for local businesses, such as a dental office.
The thing is, a lot of people still don’t use it, or don’t spend time properly setting up and optimizing their profile. Let me show you how to.
If you haven’t already set up a profile, you will need to do that first. Google is pretty old school and still sends you a verification postcard in the mail. This has allowed them to cut down on the number of spam accounts that can be created for fake locations, etc.
So jump on over to google.com/business and enter your business information. Google will require you to sign into your account in order to do this. Best practice is to have an email address (@gmail.com) for your dental practice. That way multiple people can access or manage the account. Otherwise, it will be tied to your personal account.
Once you get there you can click to add your business.
Next, it will require you to enter your business address. Make sure to enter the exact address here (you will see why in the next step). Also, make sure to NOT check “I deliver goods and services to my customers. This is for businesses that don’t have a physical location. You do.
Then you will be required to enter the category that best fits your business. The good news is Google has a “dentist” category. Select that.
Now, you will need to verify your contact information including phone number and website.
Google will now allow you to verify your business. If you business has already been entered on Google, it will ask you if this is the same business. From time to time, I see this happen with dental practices. They will have an employee set up their GMB profile and forget about it. That employee will leave and then no one will have access to the account.
However, Google will allow you to request access to this profile if it finds that your business is an exact match. I didn’t show that step because I already have my profile configured.
Now that you have verified your account, you can go through some necessary steps to optimize your profile. Again, a lot of dental practices don’t do this, so this will be a good leg up for you over the competition.
As you can see from the image above, any of these fields with the pencil can, and should, be edited. Make sure to verify that everything is correct.
I’ve seen a lot of dentists that don’t pay much attention and may put in the wrong hours. If you do that and someone tries to come see you or call you and you aren’t actually closed, Google will notify them and say “they are currently closed”. We don’t want that to happen.
So let's walk through this process, step-by-step.
- Business name - Make sure this is the exact same business name that you legally use, and also the same name that you use across the website. In other words, if my practice is called XYZ Dental, and I create the GMB and name the business XYZ Dental For You, Google, and other websites will get confused. We want to make sure that we use the exact same information across the entire web. This is referred to as “NAP” (more on that later).
- Category - Pretty simple here, we want to select dentist.
- Address - Again, make sure this is the same address that people can find on your website and across the web. If you have a suite number, reference it the same way everywhere. Suite 240 and #240 are viewed as two different things for Google (again, NAP consistency).
- Hours/Special Hours - Pretty straightforward - put the correct hours here.
- Phone - Keep it consistent, (704)-555-5555 or 704-555-555. Pick one and stick with it across all of your web properties.
- Website - Enter the exact URL, and again, consistency is important. Google views www.grantkantsios.com and grantkantsios.com as two separate URLs. Pick the one that is actually used on your website, and stick with it.
- Appointment URL - Link directly to your make an appointment URL. For my clients, we set up a specific URL for this form because we want to track these separate from the standard contact form.
- Services - This is a newer addition to GMB and something that a lot of people still haven’t set up. If you click on this, you can add each service, such as root canal, teeth whitening, etc, and place a price to go with it. If someone were to search for that specific service in your local area, Google may deliver the service and price you add directly to the patient without ever sending them to your website.
- Attributes - You can check this section to see if anything applies for you.
- Business description - Come up with a short, 250 word description for your business that sounds interesting. Every dentist says “We’ve been in business for 20 years and love helping you…”. If you can, come up with something a little bit more interesting. You want to stand out in the crowd, not fit in.
- Opening date - Simple and straightforward.
- Add photos - If you click on this it will take you to a separate section. Here, you can add your logo and pictures of your business - inside and out. People love visuals (like instagram), so make sure to get some professional pictures taken. It won’t cost you too much.
Now that your GMB profile is set up and optimized, it’s time to generate some reviews. So now we go get those reviews….crickets, right?
This is a challenging task for any business. I’ve found it especially true for dental practices. The good news is, I can help you with that!
First off, it can be a challenge to tell people to leave you a review on Google. You can tell them to type in your business on Google, and then when it comes up look off to the right, and then when you see my business, and only my business, click on “review”...yeah, I’m lost. Are you?
Here is an easier way. Go over to Grade.us and use their Google Review Link Generator. Once you go there you will need to enter your business name and postal code.
I’ve used a local storage business because it can’t find the profile for my business because I don’t add my physical address. The good news is, you do.
If that’s the correct business, which it should be, click “Continue”.
It will give you a few link options. I recommend using the first. When you click on “try it”, this is what will happen:
It will take your patients directly to the dialog box where they can write a review for your business. Simple and easy, isn’t it?
Now how do you actually get your patients to leave you a review? There are a number of ways to do it, including manually sending off emails to your patients asking them for a review. This is frowned upon across a lot of review platforms, but let’s face it, this is the way it works. If people aren’t pushed to do something, they won’t.
With that being said, you should be providing an amazing dental experience for your patients and they may want to leave a review anyway.
Instead of manually sending off emails, I recommend using software that will allow you to automate this. Large providers, such as LightHouse, have built-in functionality to request a review after a patient has visited. The good news is, this is hands-off and it really works.
Another option is to use a system like Reppy. This system was built by a good friend of mine who specializes in the dental industry. He has put together a great piece of software and combines it with some staff training to help generate more reviews.
Not only that, but his system does a great job of filtering the reviews so that if someone were to leave a bad review, it would send it directly to you as feedback. This helps you to improve your practice. It’s win/win. I could write an entire post on generating reviews, but for now, I will leave it at that.
Responding to reviews
This is something that I would say 95% of businesses miss out on and it’s something really simple to do. Respond to your patient's reviews.
It really stands out if someone is reading your reviews to see that the practice, or dentist, actually takes time to respond to each review that people leave. This isn’t something that has to be overly complicated either.
Set a time one a week, or once per month, where you or one of your employees goes through and writes a quick note under the reviews.
“Thank you so much for choosing XYZ dental. We can’t wait to see you again!”
I’m not the best writer in the world, but that took me less than 10 seconds. You can copy and paste the same reply to each review if you want, but I recommend taking the time to respond to each one individually. That way people can see that you care.
Online dental aggregators
Local search has continually grown more challenging over the past couple of years. Things that worked just two years ago, no longer work. It takes a considerable amount of work to rank high in the search engines, especially in the dental industry.
Let’s analyze a search for a local dentist.
From this image you will see a few options:
- Green = paid search
- Red = local search (Google My Business)
- Yellow = organic
Specially, let’s look at the organic rankings.
From what we can see with the top 4 ranking organic search results, 2 of them are what we call aggregators. They are websites, such as Open Care or Yelp, that list businesses and their profiles. They aren’t the actual business websites.
Most searches you perform for “dentist near me” or “dentist in city name” will return a few business website and local aggregators. This is good and bad.
It’s bad because it’s much more difficult to outrank these websites because they have a lot of authority with Google.
Domain Authority - Each domain has what we consider domain authority. This is basically a number, 0-100, on how authoritative your website is. Websites such as CNN and ESPN are in the 90’s. Most local websites are in the teens or 20’s. These dental aggregators have more authority with Google, therefore it is challenging for you alone to outrank them.
So, why not leverage that opportunity?
First thing, Yelp is completely free and is one of the most popular “citations” you can get for your dental practice. For those of you who don’t have a Yelp account for your practice yet, go here. I’m not going to show you the step by step process for creating your Yelp account, because quite frankly, I don’t care for Yelp. But here I am still recommending for you to sign up. That should say a lot!
I will say that you don’t, and I repeat DON’T need to pay for advertising with Yelp. They will call you 24/7 to try to get you to sign up for paid ads. Don’t do it. I have not seen much success with it.
Open Care is a relatively new player, but I see them across the board ranking for a number of dental searches. The good news is, it’s free to sign up and create a profile on the website. They take a % of each patient you receive through their platform, but that’s a win/win. If they don’t send anyone to you, you don’t have to pay. If they do, you get a new patient and you pay. The lifetime value of that patient will pay off far more over time.
If I actually go through the process of trying to locate a dentist on Open Care (which is quite a process), it will show results, like these:
The moral of the story, if you don’t list your business, you won’t show up. Give Open Care a try and sign up to see if it works for you. You can sign up and learn more here.
The good news is that currently there are only about 2 “players” in the dental aggregator game. Other industries have much more competition and make it extremely difficult to rank. If the aggregators take up 2/10 of the organic positions, that’s not too bad at all!
There’s plenty of room for us to rank your website, so let’s keep on learning!
Keyword Research for Dentists
Keyword research is a step that is commonly missed by my clients or their past providers. We want to know what people are searching for when they are looking for our business. This way we can “map” the content on our website to the searchers intent (these searches are your patients).
Sounds complicated? It’s not that complicated.
First, pop on over to the old trustworthy Google and search for what you think people would search for. For instance, “dentist city name”. I will use “dentist charlotte nc” since that is my location.
Ta-da! Just what we wanted to see. A website ranking #1 for a very common search term, and one that we want to rank for too!
We will grab that URL and reverse engineer what they rank for. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?
Once you search for the website on Serp Stat, you will get returned a wealth of information, including the keywords that they currently rank for. For this specific website, that’s over 2,400 keywords. Wow!
From these results, we can see where they rank and what they rank for. Looky there!
If you click on “Organic Keywords” or “Show all” we will be able to see their top 10 keywords since we aren’t currently paying for this tool. However, this is a great place to start.
You can also jump back to the SERP (search engine result page) and grab some additional websites. Serp Stat will let you do a few free searches.
Jot down some of the common keyword phrases that you see, NOT including the other practices name. We don’t want to rank for their name because this person is obviously looking for them. And our goal is to appease the searcher, not piss them off.
I’ve worked with a number of dentists and I’ve boiled down some of the most common search phrases, and keywords that you can include on your website and you will want to rank for:
- Dentist “city name”
- “City name” dentist
- Dentist in “city name”
- Best cosmetic dentist in “city name”
- Teeth whitening “city name”
- “City name” teeth whitening
- Invisalign “city name”
- “City name” Invisalign
- Cosmetic dentist in “city name”
- Teeth pain “city name”
You get the idea. You want to focus on the most popular and common search phrases. Most patients don’t know what some of the more complex dental treatments are because they may not know they need it.
Instead, we want to focus on more general issues - teeth whitening, teeth pain, teeth cleaning, etc. From there, you can work with them to create a treatment plan once you get them into your office.
Map keywords to pages
So you’ve grabbed some keywords from your competitors, but now you aren’t sure what to do. Let me show you how we can utilize these keywords that we found.
We will take each of those keywords that are relevant to our practice and “map” them to pages that should be, or are already, on our website.
For instance, if we have a cosmetic dentistry page on our website, we want to use the phrase “best cosmetic dentist in city name” on that page somewhere.
The easiest way to assign all of the keywords to pages is to grab a spreadsheet. I like to use Google Sheets. From there, we can easily set up each page to be properly mapped to a keyword or phrase.
Below is an example:
As you can see, we’ve taken the information we gathered from our research to be sure that we can use it on our own website. There are a few specific places on each page that we need to use these keywords and phrases:
- Page title
- Meta description
- Heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.)
- Within the copy
- Image alt tags
- Image names
The page title is extremely important for a number of reasons. First, it is the first thing people will see on Google.
Secondly, we want to make sure that we focus on the most important keywords at the beginning of the page title. It carries more “weight” if you can include the most important keywords at the beginning of the page title. We also want to make sure that it makes sense for a reader, so this is an example I would use for cosmetic dentistry:
Best Cosmetic Dentist Charlotte | XYZ Dental
It is pretty common to include the practice name at the end of the title, divided by either a “|” or “-”. Either one works. You could also write the title without the “Best” and include best in the meta description.
The meta description can be used to catch people's attention and get them to click through to your website. Generally, we want to use the keyword somehow within the description but also make it intriguing so someone would want to click through.
For example, we could use a meta description like this:
“Are you looking for the BEST cosmetic dentist in Charlotte? Look no further! Contact us today for a FREE consultation.”
I would recommend saying “Best” in either the page title OR the description - not both. We don’t want to overdo it and over optimize our page. We can also use LSI keywords which are essentially words that may mean the same thing without actually being the exact same. A good example is teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. A lot of people use these interchangeably so that we don’t over optimize our page.
Heading tags are used on the page to separate sections within the website copy. The most important tag to use for your main keyword search term or phrase is the h1 tag.
As you can see from my blog post, the top heading is the most important and it’s an h1 tag. The second one, we utilized an h2 tag, which is the second most important heading tag on the page. Google understands the importance of the heading based on the number you assign it (h1 - h6).
A good example of the heading tag on your cosmetic dentistry page may be:
“Cosmetic Dentistry in Charlotte, NC”
Here is a complete page setup for cosmetic dentistry:
Page title - Cosmetic Dentist Charlotte | XYZ Dental
Meta description - Are you looking for the BEST cosmetic dentist in Charlotte? Look no further! Contact us today for a FREE consultation.
H1 - Cosmetic Dentistry in Charlotte, NC
Image alt tag - Cosmetic dentistry results XYZ Dental
Image file name - cosmetic-dentist-results-xyzdental.jpg
The structure of your website is important for search engines and for users and can oftentimes be overlooked. We don’t want to overcomplicate it, but we do want it to make logical sense.
Above is an example of the website structure that we could use for our website. So the actual URL would look something like this:
We are telling Google and the user that we have a “service” page, that is a parent page, and each page “below” services is an actual service. That way patients can get to any page on the website within 3 clicks (that is always our goal!).
There are a lot of dental offices that have multiple locations and we don’t want to forget about them! The structure of a website with multiple locations can be a bit of a challenge, but here we go:
Again, the URL structure would be as follows:
With this setup we are able to maximize the structure of our website so that users and search engines can understand the flow and structure of the website. Each location would have its own subpage of “services” and then each service page would be “below” that.
One thing I will mention here is the fact that each of these service pages should be slightly different. If the Charlotte teeth whitening page includes some information about Charlotte and some testimonials from Charlotte patients, that would be enough to make it different than the Asheville page. We don’t want to use the exact same content/text on both pages because that is duplicate content and it will negatively affect your website. More on that in the next section.
If you search Google about content and SEO you will see a lot of the saying “content is king”. While this is true, we need to make sure that we are creating content that will actually help our audience. In this case, potential dental patients.
It is important for your website to show all of the services that your office offers for patients. The problem with most dental websites is that they fall short in providing sufficient content to rank internal service pages in Google.
For best practices, we want to aim for at least 500 words of high-quality content on each service page. If you aren’t a good writer or don’t have time to write the content, hire a professional copywriter. In fact, we usually recommend for dentists to hire a professional to write their copy because they know how to produce easy to read content that will resonate with the search engines.
Here is a quick outline for a service page that will make it much easier to produce 500 words of high-quality content:
- What is the service/about the service
- Who needs the service
- Who doesn’t need the service
- Frequently asked questions about the service
It might surprise you that we want to include the section about “who doesn’t need the service”. This is an important section to include because we want people to trust that we know what we are talking about and that we aren’t going to try to “sell” everything to everyone.
Blogging still remains one of the most important ways to rank your website, especially in local searches. This is your opportunity to show off what you know and to voice your opinion on specific topics.
A lot of people get stuck here because they think:
“I don’t know what to write about”
“I am not a writer”
“Who would want to listen to me?”
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered!
What to write about
This is always a lot easier than it sounds. Think of the most common questions you get from your patients and ask your front office staff to take notes on the questions they get over and over again.
Start there. There will be endless topics for you to write about if you think about all of the questions you get from your patients. If they are asking these questions, other people are too!
Not a writer…
Typically I like to recommend for someone within the office to write the blog posts because it’s important for the blog to be the “voice” of your office. If someone else is writing it, it may not “sound” like your office. However, it can be helpful to hire a professional to help you format the blog and also optimize it for search engines.
These blogs shouldn’t be a certain length, but we want to make sure that the post can answer the question in great detail. The longer and the more detailed the article, the better. The post should be quality content though, not filler content.
Who would want to listen to me…
People trust your opinion and your knowledge. You are a doctor! Write these blog post to actually help your patients and allow them to understand more about what you do and why you do it.
This will go a long way. Again, if one person is asking these questions, other people are too!
Citations are mentions of your business across the web. Most commonly in regards to SEO, citations are listings of your business in online directories. There are hundreds and thousands of citations across the web, but we don’t want to be listed in ALL of them.
Below are some examples of citations, and the most common ones for dentists:
- Google My Business
BrightLocal put together a great case study on the best local citations for dentists. You can hire a service, such as BrightLocal, to create these for you, or you can hire an SEO professional to do it for you. I don’t recommend doing it yourself, because the work is very tedious.
If you decide to do it yourself, make sure that all of the information you use is consistent. We want to make sure our “NAP” information (name, address & phone number) are entered in the same way, every time.
For our clients, I create a spreadsheet that is used for citations and NAP information so that we can ensure that we use the same info, every time.
Above is an example of all of the information we list for our dental clients. As you can see, consistency is extremely important. We don’t want to confuse Google and other search engines.
Paid vs. Free
There are a lot of free citation listings, and then there are some paid listings. We recommend for people to create the free directories first and then they can analyze the situation and see if it makes sense to pay for some of the other citations. Sometimes it can be worth it but we handle this on a case by case basis.
This topic is getting a bit technical, but I would be remiss not to mention it. Schema markup is essentially a language that can be added to the code of your website to provide more informative search results for users. Here is the best example for a dental office.
Every dental website should include the hours that the office is open, correct?
Well listing these hours for users, or potential patients is easy to understand. They can look at the website and see the hours clearly listed beside each day of the week. For search engines, however, this can be a bit of a challenge.
What we do is implement schema markup in order to tell Google and other search engines that this specific information is the hours of the office. Not only that, but we can also tell Google that “XYZ Dental” is a local business. Below is an example:
Here is what the users see on the front end:
Here is what the search engines see:
As you can see, we’ve added the proper code, schema, to tell Google exactly what each item is. That way Google can return this information to its users.
Another example of schema markup is to use it for reviews on your website. If you’ve received reviews from your patients, you can mark it up so that Google sees these as actual reviews for your services.
If coded correctly, your result in the SERP, or search result page, will show up and stand out in the crowd!
Perfect homepage set up
I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of websites in the dental space. There are a lot of websites that are put together logically, and a lot that aren’t. We’ve put together a mockup to show you how to put together the perfect home page for your dental office.
The reason we want to focus on the homepage is because this is the most popular page on every website and will probably be the first page that potential patients visit.
As you can see from the image above, we’ve highlighted a few items on the home page:
- At the top we have the address, phone and email because we want that to be easy to access
- In the main menu we have the “Schedule” button highlighted so that potential patients can find it easily
- We have a main call to action in the header above the fold to get people to take action
- Right below the main CTA (call to action) we have reviews for social proof which are ideally pulled in from Google or other 3rd party services
- We highlight a bit about our office
- We highlight our main services/money makers
- We link to our blog
- Contact info to finish out the page (with schema markup included)
We came to this conclusion by analyzing hundreds of websites to find out which websites made the most sense. In order to do that we had to think in the mind of our potential patients.
What do they want to see?
From there, we are able to create a homepage that resonates and works for our patients.
Google Analytics/Search Console
We have now put a considerable amount of work into our website, including creating a solid SEO campaign. In order to track what has been done, we need to make sure our website is connected to two free tools - Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
What we want to do with these tools is to measure the impact that this work has had on our website. Google Analytics is an amazing tool and will even allow us to create a custom dashboard that gives us a quick snapshot of the website performance.
Online Media Masters has some great dashboard for Google Analytics. I recommend the first 2 for you to use.
Create custom events
Another great thing we can do with Google Analytics is create custom events that are triggered when something occurs. We set this up on all of our client's websites so that when any button is clicked on the website we can track it.
For instance, the phone number at the top of the screen in our mock-up. We would tie an event to that so that when someone on mobile clicks to call, we can track that.