Quietly ignore the need for a highly visible online presence, and your dental practice may struggle to maintain viable patient streams.

Like the majority of your competitors in the dental field, there’s a large disconnect between what you and your practice’s staff were trained to do and the knowledge and skills required for successful SEO. Depending on how you deal with this skill gap, it will either become a bottomless well of lost potential or an extremely helpful ally.

Quietly ignore the need for a highly visible online presence, and your dental practice may struggle to maintain viable patient streams. Prioritize SEO, however, and what seems like a deficit at first can become an avenue for sustainable, even explosive growth.

Let’s back up for just a moment for clarification purposes. What is SEO, anyway?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it refers to a set of practices aimed at a common goal: getting your website to appear on Google’s search engine result pages. We’ll get more into the “how” in just a moment, but know for now that SEO is the practice that businesses use to get their websites to that coveted first page of results.

At more than five and a half billion searches a day, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of showing up on Google result pages. What’s more, 71% of new patients browse a new healthcare provider’s online reviews before deciding to make an appointment. Without question, the landscape is beyond fertile for small and large dental practices alike.

Though few would question the massive growth potential awarded from a page one ranking, many practice owners are held back by one or a combination of several factors, like:

  1. Not knowing where to start or who to talk to about SEO
  2. Relying on half-measures (a social media post here, a new blog post there)
  3. Assuming SEO is only for large companies
  4. Skepticism towards SEO professionals

These are just a few of the most common roadblocks people put in front of themselves when it comes to SEO, though they aren’t completely unjustified. For example, it’s healthy to be skeptical. No industry is immune to rip-off artists. This begs the question, “How can I tell the difference?” By knowing what to look for.

SEO Strategies Explained

In order to gauge whether or not an SEO professional knows what they’re talking about, and to better maintain your own results in the future, it’s highly recommended you can at least recognize basic SEO strategies on a surface level.
It may sound intimidating at first, but as long as you have a basic understanding of what Google wants and how it ranks content, logic will guide you through it.

Google wants their millions of searchers to have quick access to high-quality, relevant results. This means that every aspect of the user’s experience, from how fast the site loads to how relevant the content is to their search query, matters very much to Google.

Since there are thousands upon thousands of dental sites out there for Google to browse and rank according to hundreds of factors, Google has to use a large checklist to make up its mind. There are around 200 items on this checklist, so we won’t list them all, but every SEO should be concerned about the following:

High-Quality Content – Even if your dental practice managed to rank in spite of sub-par site content, visitors will be less likely to engage with you. Google is starting to emphasize “natural content” more and more, which is to say that your site shouldn’t have keywords shoved in awkwardly, but should instead be concise, inviting, and informative.

  • Social Proof, Traffic, and Backlinks – Prove to your audience that your dental practice is the right choice by featuring reviews on your site. To prove it to Google, you’ll also want regular traffic and other sites to link to your site (these are called backlinks).
  • Responsiveness – Can site visitors access your content on a mobile phone or tablet without weird formatting issues? This is very high on Google’s checklist.
  • Load Times – This one’s very straightforward. How fast (or slow) do your webpages load? Both Google and your visitors will take notice.
  • Speaking Robot – If you have no idea what “alt text” or “sitemaps” are, it’s okay. Just know that your SEO should have a plan for this, because Google’s army of robots it sends to scan and rank your pages care about these things.
Hopefully, this clarifies your understanding of what Google prioritizes and what you and your SEO should be concerned with as it pertains to your dental practice’s site.

As mentioned, there is much, much more to the equation than the above factors, but they’re some of the most important points to address.

This Is Your Practice on SEO

Let’s put the technical stuff aside and focus instead on how a successful SEO campaign will improve your dental practice.

Successful SEO will deliver a massive boost to visibility, generating referral after referral to fill that schedule and maximize profit. If you’re looking to expand your practice at all, this is virtually a requirement.

Less easy to quantify than site visitors and new patients, but infinitely more valuable is the reputation boost that a high page ranking will bestow on your business – this is the qualitative side.

What’s more impressive, directing your potential patients to a remote corner of the Internet, or simply saying, “Google us and we’ll be at the top”?

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