Dentist SEO Strategies Can Help You Get More Patients Online for Years to Come

John SammonAuthor: John Sammon
Updated on 06/10/2024

Are you looking to find what it takes to craft an effective SEO marketing strategy for dental practices?

Our informative guide aims to be a helpful resource for learning about SEO for your industry.

These tips aim to help you get more patients and teach you the fundamentals you need to know to help improve your online presence.

Because at the end of the day, your marketing initiatives should be helping, and not hurting your business, right?

Keep on reading to learn the basics of SEO for dentists from our handy FAQ guide below, if you want someone else to do the work for you, click the button below to contact our experts.

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SEO for Dentists: Guide to Help Your Practice Grow in 2024

Table of Contents

What is dental SEO?

dental seo guide 2023Overall, SEO is the process of making strategic changes both on-site and off-site to try and improve your presence on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other prominent search engines. SEO for dentists is a slightly customized approach to search engine optimization and includes specific tactics that are proven to help you be found more often by prospective patients in your local market.

Unlike other industries, dentistry is one of the most competitive industries when it comes to ranking online and requires skilled SEO experts to brainstorm, evaluate, and implement strategies based on your services, location, and more.

We’ll discuss more about the best approach to take given your target audience and desired patient below.

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Why should dentists invest in SEO?

In a world where individuals depend on and trust search engines to make decisions, SEO holds immense value. Having an effective online marketing approach can be a crucial tool that helps providers connect with potential patients and create more visibility online for their practice.

A well-executed SEO strategy ensures that when a person is searching for relevant keywords in finding a provider near them or services you offer, you’ll be top of search engines and top of mind. Not only are you driving traffic to your site, but you also are building credibility with potential patients.

To build off that, SEO provides the opportunity to be found where people are looking for specific types of services. When we work with dentists, they often want to target people looking for specialized services such as holistic dentistry, crowns, or just general cosmetic care. Ranking these specialized terms is a way to drive more revenue for your organization based on your highest-margin services.

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How can I assess how my SEO is performing right now?

It’s critical to understand how your website and digital marketing initiatives are doing right now. In researching SEO, your current website performance or campaign may be missing the mark in terms of not delivering new patients (whether you are running it internally or working with a third-party agency). Here are a few things to look at to establish a baseline for your online marketing efforts:

  • Google Analytics data – Comparing year-over-year organic data for key pages
  • Leads and calls – Reviewing where they are coming from (lead source tracking/detection)
  • Google Search Console – Assess what search terms are driving traffic to your website
  • Keyword tracking software – Current keyword positions in your region(s) of focus

Some of the items listed above are key indicators of performance in a campaign. In order to properly assess progress, you’ll want to have these things set up and tracking data.

Tips for evaluating your overall marketing strategy

The internet marketing campaign should reflect your overall marketing campaign. In any marketing campaign, it’s key to define your goals, target audience, and targeted geographic location. Once you have these down on paper, your SEO efforts can be put together. Here are the typical parameters for a marketing campaign for a dentist:

Growth in sales via acquiring new patients is typically the goal for most businesses we work with.

Target geographic location
Typically you want to target people who reside within a 1-10 mile radius of the office of focus. If this describes you, please understand that you graduate into doing a specific type of SEO – local SEO. The approach to ranking in local SEO is very different than the approach to ranking nationally for a term or phrase. We’ll describe the steps to take to help with local SEO in the section below.

Target audience
This also can vary greatly depending upon your specialization. For instance, a business that is focused on kids dentistry will have a different strategy than a practice that specializes in dentures, etc.

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How do I improve my ranking in a specific city or area?

Given most dental-related search queries are analyzed by Google as having local intent behind them, thus triggering a local pack result, having your business appear in the local pack can be crucial to growth.

A snap shot of local pack rankings for a dentist. The example uses Athens, Ohio as a regional baseline
As you can see from the graphic above, there are only a limited amount of businesses featured in the local pack or map pack listings. Gaining a presence here can be huge for your business in getting more visibility and exposure.

It’s important to also note how these are shown differently than the traditional listings. Because these map listings stand out, it’s the most desirable place to show up for potential patients that you are targeting.

To qualify to be in the map pack, you have to have a Google Business Profile created for your business. Most businesses have them, but if you don’t, we highly encourage you to sign up for or claim your GBP.

Once you have your Google Business Profile claimed, here are a few things to focus on as you fill it out and or optimize it.

In today’s landscape when it comes to local search, here are the top factors that contribute to ranking in 2024:

    1. Main category: There are several categories you can choose from to be your main category, and you can select 5 others as secondary categories. Choose wisely as to what fits your practice the best, and also evaluate what your local competitors have chosen. As of February 2024, here are your options:
      • Dentist
      • Pediatric dentist
      • Cosmetic dentist
      • Dental clinic
      • Dental hygienist
      • Dental radiology
      • Teeth whitening service
      • Dental implants provider
      • Dental implants periodontist
      • Emergency dental service
      • Endodontist
      • Periodontist
      • Oral Surgeon
      • Denture care center
  1. Reviews: Online reviews are very important when it comes to local SEO, as Google especially values reviews on your Google Business Profile as a determining factor to trust, and rank, your business. Be sure to include language that kindly asks for honest and truthful reviews after patients leave their appointment via text or email, or even from an insert in their goodie bag.
  2. Proximity: The location of your offices have a direct impact on how you rank in search engines. Say you are located in a suburb that is about 5 miles from the downtown metro area of your city, we are going to use Medford and Boston as examples. Your chances of ranking in city limits of Boston, while your GBP location is in Medford, are extremely slim. Given this, you may need to shift your strategy from targeting Boston but to instead, Medford and other closer surrounding suburbs. For just about any local business, unless you move your location to the downtown area you want to rank in, it is nearly impossible to rank there.

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Should your website content include the city name that you are targeting and/or in?

Ensuring that you have content on your website that specifically targets each of your locations, or cities you desire to gain customers from, is something dentists need to be doing to not only attract customers, but get in line with their competition. With these pages, you are able to target specific terms such as “family dentist in Denver” and alike.

On these pages, it’s also important that you offer niche, localized details that are helpful to users, such as service hours, driving directions, parking options, nearby businesses, unique offerings, and accepted insurance.

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Guidance for multiple office locations and content

You may be in a position where you have multiple office locations serving different cities or suburbs. It also adds a little bit of a curveball in terms of how to approach SEO. Here are a few tips for ranking in multiple areas:

  1. Set up Google Business Profiles for each location
  2. Create unique pages for each office location and link to them in your main navigation on your website
  3. Try to write unique content for each location page and make sure to embed a Google map of the office location on that page.

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What mistakes do dentists often make when it comes to SEO?

We’ve been hands on with a variety of practices who have either trusted in other agencies or freelancers, or tried to SEO themselves. Three major things come to mind when thinking of common issues they face:

  1. Syndicated content: One thing we often run into when we take on new clients, is that they previously worked with a different marketing firm that only works with dentists. And from this, their blog is filled with duplicate content from content syndication. This means that have posts on their website that have also been published on other practice’s websites, which can hurt your rankings in the eyes of search engines as this content is unoriginal, nor unique. To find out if this has happened to your practice, copy and paste some of the work they’ve published into Google using quotation marks (which looks for exact matches of copy) to see if content syndication was a strategy used on your website.
  2. Local profiles: Another missed opportunity we’ve noticed is many practices have not claimed and updated their business listings on Bing Places and Apple Maps. On Bing, you can actually connect to your Google account and easily import your business listings, which will allow you to bypass the verification process via postcard. For Apple, you simply have to answer a phone call with a verification code.
  3. Yelp pages: Lastly, another thing we often see missed is that businesses have not claimed their Yelp page(s). While the topic of the importance of citations will always debated, Yelp still has 80 million monthly visitors, and Google often uses Yelp’s reviews as snippets on GBPs. So when you claim and optimize your Yelp page, it can have a small impact on your local presence.

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Can I add more categories to my GBP?

Businesses can add up to nine pre-defined categories to their profile, and select only one as their main category. And as we listed some popular ones for dentists above, it’s still quite limited! Thankfully, there are other ways to get more niche offerings on your profile for users to see and that you can show up for if people are looking for them. On your dashboard page, there will be an icon for “Services” as seen below:

GBP services

Here you are able to add as many of your service offerings as you please! After you add them in, they have the possibility of showing aside “Provides” on local profiles on Google Maps and in the local 3-pack like below. These special snippets are called justifications.

dental justification

And recently in January 2024, some members of the local SEO community even are reporting that by adding custom services to your profile, you can see a boost in ranking!

A few examples of custom services we’d suggest adding would be terms such as:

  • Routine dental check-ups
  • Root canal therapy
  • Veneers consultations
  • Dental cleaning in [city]

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How is SEO different from traditional marketing?

Tactics such as billboards, radio, mailers, and other non-digital methods not only are costly, but they also lack important features of digital marketing such as the ability to track data and more. Plus, there are 8.5 billion searches every single day, wouldn’t you want your business to show up in them? Especially since 77% of other dentists are using their website for marketing.

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How do I know people will find my business online?

Let’s take a look at some statistics that can help you get a better idea of how your potential customers use the internet:

dental seo statistics

  • 73% of consumers use search engines to look for treatment information
  • Searches containing “near me” are used 350 times more than 10 years ago, and have doubled since 2015
  • 71% of patients say they checked online reviews while looking for a new doctor
  • And 52% of users only want to go to a business if it has had new reviews in the past 2-4 weeks
  • Along with that, 61% of users are likely to only contact a business if their website is mobile-friendly and responsive
  • Around 1 billion people are searching for healthcare-related queries every single day
  • Patients conduct nearly three times as many health-related searches, which equates to 16% of all Google searches
  • And 43% of patients would be willing to go out of network if a provider has good reviews

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How long does SEO take to show results?

Life is a marathon, and so is SEO! But various tactics you implement can show results quicker than others. For example, after uploading new content to your website, we typically see a spike in keyword positions. Also, after removing some spammy competitor listings on Google Maps you can expect your positions to move up. But overall, SEO is part of the long game, and reward of the work we do will stay with your website for years to come.

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What are Google Business Profiles and how do they tie into SEO?

GBP is a free tool that helps businesses manage their online presence and appear on Google Maps and in the local pack. This is definitely important when it comes to SEO and is typically something we address for our local clients. It enhances local search visibility, displays important information, and encourages patient reviews.

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What are keywords and why are they important?

Keywords are a huge part of SEO! Keywords are essential search queries that users are typing into the search engines and ultimately, what you want to show up for. For your niche, we research and identify relevant keywords to help your website pop up such as “kids dentists near me” or “orthodontist providers” for example.

Other related keywords that rank highly in search engines include:

  • Dentist near me
  • Affordable dental implants
  • Orthodontist
  • Emergency dentist near me
  • Pediatric dentist near me
  • Tooth bleaching
  • Orthodontist near me
  • Dental office near me
  • Pediatric dentist

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Are there different types of SEO that I should know about?

There are four different areas of SEO that you should know about and learn what different tactics are typically included in each:

On-Page SEO

  • Keywords
  • Headers
  • Word count
  • Metadata
  • Inner links
  • Readability
  • CRO

Off-Page SEO

Local SEO

  • GBP optimization
  • Location pages
  • Spam submissions
  • Local backlinks
  • Directory listings
  • Localized schema
  • Review collecting

Technical SEO

  • SSL certificates
  • Website speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • 301 redirects
  • Canonicals
  • Alt/title tags
  • Image resizing

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Will SEO help find me the right kind of patients?

Yes, SEO can help find you the right kind of patient because you are creating content and optimizing your web page to target a specific kind of audience. For example, if you’re looking to increase patients who need routine cleaning, here is how SEO would help:

  • Write helpful content about regular dental cleaning at your practice
  • Track keywords such as “dental cleaning near me”
  • Adding dental cleaning as a service to your Google business profile
  • Update meta titles and descriptions to include “routine dental cleaning”
  • And lots more!

All of these factors help play a role and targeting a specific audience and creating a better online presence for that specific service.

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How can I improve my online reviews?

Online reviews are highly important for a dentist’s office because potential customers look at reviews as a source of trustworthiness and credibility. If you’re online reviews aren’t the best, there are ways to bring in more positive reviews.

  • Make it easy for customers to leave a review by asking for one after an appointment in person or through an e-mail here. If you’re asking in person, you can leave a QR code for patients to easily scan. You can also offer incentives for those who leave a review for your business such as being entered to win a prize.
  • A great tool to use to help obtain and manage reviews is GatherUp. Especially for practices that rely on customer reviews to help their business, GatherUp achieves more reviews by automating requests that allow customers to easily engage with the business and can bring in more reviews consistently for your business.

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How can I tell if my site is loading slowly for users, and how can I fix this?

A lot of businesses are not aware of their site’s load time and how it’s affecting the user experience on their website. Two tools you can use to assess your website’s load time are Pingdom Website Speed Test or PageSpeed Insights. These tools allow you to easily pop in your website’s URL or specific pages and you’ll receive more information on its load time and how your website is performing overall.

Fixing any type of loading issue is highly important because a website with a higher load time has a higher bounce rate, so here are some common ways you can improve the load time:

  • Optimize or resize images
  • Add a caching plugin
  • Remove unused code
  • Switch hosting companies
  • Check and fix redirects

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What is the difference between organic rankings and the local pack?

Organic rankings and rankings in the local 3-pack are two separate areas that require two separate strategies. Let’s first take a look at how these rankings will look different on a typical Google search.

If someone is searching for an office in Cincinnati, OH, here is what their Google search results page would look like:

dental office cincinnati screenshot

You can see on the results page that there are dentist offices included in the local pack which are the results shown next to the map. And beneath the local pack are the organic results. Local Pack rankings depend on various factors such as:

  • Proximity – The exact location of your business
  • Relevancy – How relevant your business and services are to the searcher
  • Timeliness – Business hours and the time the search was made

Since dentist offices will have a local target audience, ranking higher in the 3-pack would be beneficial because it gives users an easier way to find local businesses.

Organic results focus more on the relevance of the search query, but not so much on the exact location. Organic results are for a broader audience, so practices may not focus on ranking highly in organic searches but instead, focus on working towards ranking higher in the local pack.

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Setting up an organized navigation on your website is important for the user experience and also helps search engines understand what pages are most important on your site. Here is an example of how to set up your homepage’s navigation:

  • About Us
    • Meet the Staff
    • Our Story
    • Tour the Office
    • Testimonials
  • Services
    • General Cleaning
    • Veneers
    • Teeth Whitening
  • Your First Visit
    • What You Need to Know
    • Downloadable Forms
  • Our Locations
    • Downtown Buffalo
    • East Aurora
    • Amherst
  • Blog
  • Contact Us
    • Directions

This neatly separates each topic on the website and allows users to be able to access the information they’re looking for easily.

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What is schema and what types should I have?

Schema is a type of structured data you can add to the code of your website that assists search engines to better understand the information on your web page, which can lead to better enhanced search result listings.

You can add different kinds of schema markup on pages depending on what you’re specifically talking about. As a dentist, schemas you should learn more about include:

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Do images on Google Business Profiles impact rankings?

Possibly! Very recently, there have been reports that using a cover image with a custom graphic that includes keywords relevant to your business will help you rank higher in the local pack.

Chris Long discussed on LinkedIn that Google is displaying businesses that include relevant images on their Google Business Profiles higher in ranking. This is interesting to note when you optimize your Google Business Profile and are searching for more ways to improve rankings.

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Can I implement SEO practices on my own, or should I hire a professional?

While you definitely can start implementing basic SEO practices, but hiring a professional will ensure that you are on the right track and abide by Google’s standards. An agency with experience in dental SEO, such as ourselves, has the tools and expertise to deliver results, allowing you to focus solely on your business.

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What should I expect from working with a new SEO agency?

When you decide to start working with a new firm for SEO services, you should expect them to emphasize the importance of realistic expectations for your campaign. As we mentioned earlier, SEO is a long-term strategy and results can take several months. You’ll want to ensure they can tell you what factors may influence the timeline of results, like your current website’s health, local competition, and much more. Asking for cast studies, a list of current or past clients, and going through a proper, customized strategy session are all great ways to help determine if an agency is a good fit for you.

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“The team at Sixth City is second to none!! Starting with the owner John and all his teammates I’ve worked with I have nothing but glowing things to say! I felt that they cared about MY business growth as their #1 priority even if it wasn’t always best for their bottom line. They are passionate about and great at what they do. If you’re looking for a team to help with your business, don’t look any further. This is the team that will feel like an extension of your own business!” – Dr. Paul Mikhli, Beachwood Dental

10 Things Dentists Can Do Right Now for Their SEO

Before starting an ongoing SEO campaign for your practice, take some time to get a head start by crossing these easy-to-do items off the list:

  1. Claim your Google Business Profile and ensure all data is correct, and all your services are added. Even if Google doesn’t have everything you offer, such as “cavity filling” as a main service category, you can add it in as a custom service.
  2. Create and optimize location pages with relevant keywords like “[city] orthodontist” if you have several offices or want to attract people outside of the area your physical office is at.
  3. Reply to any reviews you have online to show potential customers you are involved and professional, and find creative ways to ask patients to leave reviews, such as a text after their appointment or a flyer in their goodie bag.
  4. Make sure you are interlinking to top service and location pages throughout your site to help users find deeper content from your site, and give more specific pages more link equity.
  5. Check out your competitors’ website content, backlinks, and user experience to see what else you can do to outrank them. See they’ve joined some established dental groups? See how you can apply. The more relevant the link is to your business, the more value it will have towards your marketing.
  6. Ensure all your pages include your phone number and a contact form to steer users to become patients, otherwise, if it is at all confusing for a user to figure out how to get in touch with your office, the more likely they’ll decide to go with a different dentist.
  7. Do a site speed test to see what improvements can be made to get your page to load faster, as the longer it takes for the site to load, the likelihood that they will leave.
  8. Purchase and activate an SSL certificate if your site isn’t already HTTPS, this not only lets users know that any information they add to patient forms is safe, but Google too.
  9. Do a scan across the web to see if your information is correct across various citation sites, especially if you have moved locations.
  10. Check your presence on social media and ensure your customers can reach your website from your profiles and show off any periodontal or cosmetic work.

The Bottom Line on Why You Should Invest in SEO

One of our prior clients said it best, “Not doing search engine optimization is like having a phone number for your business and not sharing it anywhere.” SEO can help your business get better coverage online, not only in search engines, but across the web entirely.

Our Custom Approach to Local SEO

A complete marketing campaign is what you need to be successful, and a key part of this is dental SEO. Your  services are important, so you need more than just a pre-packaged marketing approach – you need services tailored to your business and your goals, whether it be you are a family dentist in Indianapolis or are an orthodontist in Chicago, we can help.

When we work with your office, we will examine various aspects of your current optimization for search engines and assess the best course of action to improve your online rankings.

How We Measure SEO Success

As experts, we combine a variety of factors so that we are able to gauge the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. We help show results in SEO for dentists by closely keeping an eye on and tracking:

  • Organic traffic from search engines to your site
  • Form submissions, purchases, phone calls, and live chats
  • Overall traffic increases to your website
  • Positive movement in keyword positions

We evaluate these metrics with the help of platforms such as Moz, Google Analytics, HubSpot, SEMRush, and more!

In-Depth Look at Our Approach to Organic Search

Learn a little more about some of the things we normally implement for our dental clients:

  • Optimizing landing pages – From your homepage to your location and services pages, there are many key pages that potential clients will come to when searching for your services on the web. We will ensure they are optimized for users’ search intent, speed, conversions, and more.
  • Backlink building – In order to help your website gain authority, especially over your competition, we work hard to acquire new links to your domain. These will help your site gain strength in the eyes of search engines.
  • Competitor research – This is a key part of our SEO strategies, as it helps us gain a better look into who ranks above you, why, and what we can do to improve your rank against them. We examine a variety of criteria, including keywords, links, reviews, speed, and more.
  • Technical improvements – The back end of your website is just as important as the front end that users see and interact with. Behind-the-scenes issues such as 404s, slow-loading pages, and more can be what is holding your site back from success.
  • Strategic experimenting – One of the most interesting aspects of SEO is that the smallest changes can help give your site the boost it needs! We are always looking at data and staying up to date on trends in the industry and applying them to our clients.
  • Conversion design – While this isn’t entirely an SEO tactic, it plays a large role in getting results from the SEO work we do. We can make changes to your site’s layout that will help influence users to contact your office or schedule a cleaning, all to improve conversion rates.
“Great company, Great owner, Great People! Can’t go wrong here!!!” – Troy Walton, Murray Hill Dental

But Wait, We Can Help with More Than Just SEO for Dentists

At Sixth City, we can also supplement our search engine optimization efforts with our other digital marketing services, which include:

  • Pay-Per-Click Marketing – Our in-house staff can deliver custom landing pages, quality ads, and precise keywords to ensure you are reaching the right customers.
  • Social Media Management – As a complement to SEO, social media is an ideal way for your target audience to get more information about your services and their advantages. Our SEO agency will write posts, schedule them, and monitor your channels.
  • Website Design and Development – Once you do the work of drawing potential customers to your site, you will want them to find a clean and functional website. Our team has significant experience in crafting websites, and we make them both easy to navigate and designed for conversion.
  • Email Marketing – To aid your SEO efforts, we can create a template to match your brand and produce monthly newsletters for current and prospective patients. We work with MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot and more.
  • CRM Marketing – At Sixth City, we love HubSpot and have used it for over 5 years! This means that we can provide consulting and marketing for HubSpot, Pipedrive, Salesforce and other CRMs. These services will help you to manage your lead flow for better inbound marketing.
  • Consulting and Auditing – If you want to just get some advice or get your marketing back on track, we have the ability to work with you on a consulting agreement. With this service, we can give your site an audit, suggest ideas on how to improve web appearance, offer ways to improve from a technical standpoint or consult on Google Analytics tracking and measurement.

In addition to our variety of services, by choosing Sixth City Marketing for your marketing needs, you’ll reap benefits such as:

  • A unique strategy curated to match your campaign priorities. No cookie-cutter approaches.
  • An in-house staff of writers, designers, and strategists with over 25+ years of collective search engine marketing experience.
  • Help with both local and national SEO for business-to-business or business-to-consumer brands
  • Assistance with your content management system and we have proficient experience in WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, BigCommerce, Drupal, and more!

Read from Our Success Stories

Sixth City Marketing is very proud to have shown results for a variety of businesses over the years. Centered around PPC, website design, and SEO, be sure to take a look at some of our case studies. Then you can see what the business came to us with, our approach and the success that we created. Here is a sneak peak at some of the results we’ve been able to produce over the years:

  • An increase in monthly organic traffic by 632%
  • A boost to overall website traffic by 402%
  • Conversion rates rising by 3.06%
  • An improvement of conversions by 543%

Connect with Our Dental SEO Agency Today!

When it comes to local SEO services, no one will do it better than Sixth City Marketing. We have a deep understanding of the industry and how to reach target customers, all so your business can soar.

Reach out to us today to get started!

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