27 SEO Tips Your Dental Practice Needs to Implement
by Tyson Downs
*Originally published August 21, 2017, Updated September 18, 2020
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a constantly-changing field. That’s because the search engines, (primarily Google & Bing) are continually updating their search algorithms to reflect new information and standards.
With that in mind, we’ve a list of 27 SEO for dentists tips and tricks to help you optimize your site, improve your rankings in the search engines, allowing you to get more visitors to your dental website, more leads, and ultimately, more new patients.
On-Site SEO Tips for Dental Practices
Good SEO starts with your website. Here are tips to help you improve it.
1. Choose Long-Tail Keywords for Each Page
Long-tail keywords are more specific (and thus, less competitive) than short keywords, which are also known as head keywords.
In other words, you might not be able to rank for a general keyword like “dentist,” but you might be able to achieve a top rank for a more specific keyword like “emergency dental services Wake Forest.” The more specific you are, the less competition you’ll have to worry about, and typically, the more qualified those leads are.
2. Use LSI to Help Google Index Your Site
Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI, is a core component of effective SEO. It might sound scary, but it’s easy to implement if you know how.
LSI helps Google’s bots add context to your site. Even a simple keyword like “tooth whitening” could relate to a variety of sites and services, including:
- A dental practice
- A toothpaste manufacturer
- An organic home remedy website
To find a quick reference list of LSI, try typing one of your keywords into Google and scrolling to the bottom of the page. You’ll see a list that looks like this:
It may take a bit of trial and error, but you can use these lists to incorporate LSI into your content.
3. Make Your Content Easy to Read
When you’re writing about a technical or scientific topic like dentistry, you’ve got to be careful not to use too much jargon. You want your content to be easy to read even for people who don’t know much about the topic.
One of the best ways to do that is to use the Flesch Readability Test. Aim for a score between 70 and 80, which means that the average 13-year-old should be able to understand your content.
4. Use Keywords in Your Headlines and Subheadings
It’s not enough to choose keywords and put them somewhere on your page. The keyword placement is just as important as the keyword density.
It's important that you are targeting the correct keywords, so before you go any further, read our recent post:
Use your main keyword in the headline of your page or blog post, and then make sure to use it in at least one subheading as well (using the H1 or H2 tag.) This will ensure that Google recognizes the importance of your keywords.
5. Use Keywords in Your URL
Another key to optimizing the site for your dental practice is creating memorable and keyword-rich URLs that are easy for people to remember. If you can, try to include keywords – including local keywords – in your URL. For example, a URL that includes a keyword and your city is better than one that doesn’t, as long as it’s not more than 70 characters.
6. Post New Content Regularly
One aspect of Google’s algorithms that’s easy to overlook is the importance they place on fresh content. Keeping your site updated regularly – by sticking to a blogging schedule, for example – forces Google to re-index your page and may result in an improved page rank.
7. Write a Compelling Title
The title you choose for a blog post can make a big difference in how it performs. Readers tend to gravitate toward titles that include numbers, questions, and superlatives, so try using them if you want to make your content irresistible.
8. Name Your Images
The images that appear on your website play an important role in SEO. Instead of just putting them there without any thought, give them keyword-rich names. Google is not yet able to determine the content of images without a descriptive name.
9. Use Alt Tags for Images
Any time you post an image on your dental practice’s website, you have an opportunity to use keywords in the alt tag. The alt tag is a description of the photo that serves as alternate text if the image doesn’t download or if the user is vision-impaired. Use keywords and descriptive language for the best results.
10. Decrease Lag Time to Make Your Site Accessible
Research shows that people today have the attention span of a goldfish, so your site must load quickly if you don’t want people to hit the dreaded “Back” button on their browser. By compressing files and choosing a reliable host with speedy servers, you decrease the chances that you’ll lose visitors because your site is slow to load.
11. Use Schema Code in Your Site Heading
Schema code is semantic language that feeds nuggets of information about your site to Google for display. If you insert schema code in your heading that includes your company name, location, and other vita data, it will display whenever any page from your site shows up on Google.
12. Include Internal Links on Your Site
You may already know that backlinks are important for SEO, but internal links on your site are a must. In blog posts, link to other blog posts and service pages using keyword-rich anchor text. This practice builds your site’s architecture and makes it easier for Google to index.
13. Make Your Site Easy to Navigate
In addition to using internal links, make sure that new visitors to your site can easily find what they’re looking for. That means having menus located either at the top of the page or on the left-hand side, a search box that’s in the upper right-hand corner of the screen on each page, and an easy way to navigate back to the home page. (One useful technique is to make your practice’s logo a clickable link.)
14. Link Out to Authority Sites
In your content, you should try to link out regularly to authority sites. Avoid linking to sites with questionable connections and stick to sites whose authenticity you’re sure of, such as respected news outlets, industry publications, and dental journals.
15. Fix Broken Links
Every few months, do an audit of the external links on your site and fix any that are broken. Broken links are frustrating to users and they do nothing to boost your standing with Google. You can either find a replacement link for the broken one, or simply remove the link altogether if you can’t.
16. Keep Your Page Title Short and Sweet
Every page on your site should have a title tag, since that’s what displays on Google when somebody searches one of your keywords. Google displays up to 70 characters including spaces, so make sure to keep your title short and to the point. You don’t want users to have to guess what your page is about.
17. Write a Compelling Meta Description
The meta description is the brief description of your page that shows up underneath the title on Google. Google will display up to 160 characters (including spaces) so put your keywords at the front and try not to cut off in the middle of a sentence.
18. Enable Breadcrumbs on Your Site
Breadcrumbs are snippets of information that show users where they are on your site. For example, on your blog page they might see a trail of breadcrumbs like this:
Your Site > Blog > Flossing Tips for Kids
Each breadcrumb should be a clickable link so they can easily navigate away from the page if they need to.
Off-site SEO tips for Dental Practices
SEO starts on your website, but it doesn’t end there. Here are some tips to help you improve your off-site SEO.
19. Standardize Your NAP Listings
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number, and NAP listings are a crucial component of local SEO. Inconsistent listings (perhaps an outdated address on one site, and your updated address on a new site) dilute your online presence, so find your NAP listings and correct any that aren’t right.
We use Bright Local to find citation opportunities, and to detect incorrect citations.
20. Try Guest Blogging to Build Connections (and Links)
Guest blogging is an effective way to build an authority backlink to your site – but don’t do it just for the link. Instead, seek out authority blogs in the dental or healthcare niches and build a relationship with the owner.
Make sure to choose a topic that’s relevant both to your readers and theirs, and then include a link to your site using keyword-rich anchor text (the text that links back to your site.)
21. Claim Your Page on Review Sites
Marketing expert Moz says that up to 8.4% of your search rank comes from off-site reviews on places like Yelp and Google My Business. To make the most of reviews, claim your listings on all review sites, and then respond to all reviews, positive and negative.
22. Encourage Patients to Leave Reviews
On a related note, you can encourage patients to leave reviews of your practice to boost your off-site SEO. You may want to try emailing new patients after their first appointment to ask them to leave a review. You can also link to your Yelp page or mail postcards asking for reviews.
23. Maintain a Social Media Presence
The jury is still out on how much influence social media has on your Google search rank. Google says it doesn’t use social signals to determine a page’s rank. However, being active on social media can certainly help you build brand awareness and increase your visibility online. Some big brands with a lot of followers have social pages that show up on the first page of Google’s SERP, so keep that in mind as you build your following.
24. Avoid Buying Backlinks
Backlinks are a key component of off-site SEO, but you can’t afford to run afoul of Google when building them. In other words, stick to building organic links by creating quality content that people will want to link to, and by connecting with influential sites in the dental industry.
Buying backlinks can hurt your SEO, even resulting in penalties from Google. That’s not a risk you want to take, so stick with building your links the old-fashioned way.
25. Optimize Your Google My Business and Yelp Listings
Soliciting reviews is essential, but just as important is doing everything you can to optimize your dental practice’s listings on Google My Business and Yelp, as well as Bing and other review sites. To optimize your listing, fill out your profile completely, and make sure to include:
- Your site’s URL
- Your full business name, address, and phone number
- Your business hours
- Pricing information
- Photos of your practice, inside and out
It doesn’t take long to optimize these listings, but it’s a great way to maximize your off-site SEO.
26. Set Up a YouTube Channel
YouTube is owned by Google, and that means you can reap some significant SEO benefits for your dental practice by creating a YouTube Channel and posting content to it. When you post, make sure that you use keywords in the description and tags on your video, upload a full transcript if possible, link to your website, and include your name/address/phone information in each video.
Here's a good example of what to add you can add to your video description in this short promotional video from Alpine Recovery Lodge.
27. Be Active on Forums and Authority Blogs
Off-site SEO is all about building an authoritative web presence, and one of the best ways to do that is to find methods of associating your name with authority names in the dental industry. Follow influential medical and dental blogs and sign up for forums where people talk about dental care, and then leave thoughtful and informative comments on them.
In most cases, you’ll be able to comment with a URL that leads back to your site. Even if the forum’s administrator uses “do not follow” links, you’ll still be building authority with each comment you leave.
SEO is a complex topic, but dental practices need to do whatever they can to increase their visibility online and build authority. The 27 SEO tips in this article can help you make big improvements to your on-site and off-site SEO, and to attract new patients and grow your practice.
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.