Understanding the SEO Process and the Most Common Problems

*Originally published May 8, 2017, Updated September 18, 2020

Let's face it, if you want to grow your dental practice, you need a strong online presence that’s aided by internet marketing for dentists. Think of your website as the online front door to your dental offices.

To get more people to come through the doors, you need to improve your rankings in the search results, and use a number other dental search optimization techniques to improve your visibility on the internet.

The SEO for dentists process is ongoing and requires a certain level of exppertise. Before signing a contract with a dental marketing agency, you'll want to make sure that you’ve found the best company for dental SEO marketing.

One way to make an informed decision is to learn more about the services that you’re looking for.

So lets explore the world of dentist SEO marketing. We'll find out what goes into quality local SEO services for dentists and what to expect. By the end of this post, you’ll be better equipped to meet with an SEO agency and discuss your needs.

What is SEO? 

how seo can help your dental practice

First, it will help if you understand what the SEO process can do for you.

So, what is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to techniques that are used to optimize your web pages so that they will eventually appear higher in search rankings.

Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other major search engines have criteria for determining which web pages are most relevant when a user performs a search query. This includes searches for local dental services.

While you could use paid advertising to help attract more attention, SEO relies on strategies for naturally improving your organic web traffic – the traffic that you get from individual search queries.

But, not only do you want to increase the quantity of web traffic, you want to improve the quality of this traffic.

You want high-quality leads that are more likely to result in new patients for your dental practice. This is where an experienced SEO company will be helpful.

On-site and Off-site Search Engine Optimization

The SEO process can be divided into two main categories – on-site and off-site SEO.

On-site SEO

The on-site SEO includes methods that are taken care of directly on your website. Keyword optimization, proper tags, and a quality internal linking structure are all forms of on-site SEO.

Another form of on-site SEO is content creation. This covers everything from blog posts to the creation of helpful videos.

On-site SEO

Off-site SEO mostly revolves around increasing your reputation on other places besides your website; think obtaining a 'backlink'. These are inbound links coming from other websites. When discussing this part of the SEO process, make sure that there is a focus on quality over quantity.

Quality backlinks will do more for your SEO than focusing on a large quantity of low-quality links. You want your links to come from reputable sites that have a high PageRank.

Backlink generation is handled using a variety of different strategies. Some of this will require content creation – perhaps press releases and guest blog posts.

That’s a very high level overview of SEO. Next, we’ll delve into the details and see how each of these steps are essential to the SEO dental process.

The SEO Audit Determines Your Current Situation

an seo audit will help you judge where your current seo stands

An SEO expert should begin their service with a complete SEO audit.

The SEO team working on your site needs to determine if your site has any technical issues, SEO mistakes, or missed opportunities. This is achieved through the audit.

As part of this audit, they’ll make a list of all broken links on your site. These are links that point to web pages that are no longer up and running, which can hurt your overall search rankings.

The audit will also include a list of all pages with SEO issues, such as duplicate titles, missing titles, and missing meta tags. Other details include the amount of web traffic you get, your existing backlinks, and your existing SEO efforts.

When you consult with dentist marketing companies and discuss the SEO process, make sure that they bring up the audit. This is a necessary step in determining your needs. This is a necessary step in determining your needs. If they skip this step, then you should take this as a sign that they don’t know what they’re doing.

That is just one example of things to look out for when choosing a dental SEO company. By learning more about the SEO process, you’ll know what else to look out for.

Keyword Research is Performed for Your Local Market

To properly target your key audience and help increase your search rankings, SEO companies need to perform keyword research.

Your dental practice is a local business, which means that an incredible portion of your web traffic will come from local searches.

For this reason, keyword research should include a selection of keywords and phrases relevant to your local area. This can include city or state names attached to your primary keywords.

It can also help when you work with an SEO company that has experience working with dentists. They’ll already have a solid understanding of the types of keywords and phrases that work best with your target audience.

Keyword research is mostly about finding keywords that people search for regularly and that don’t have too much competition – which brings us to the next stage of the SEO process.

Competitive Analysis Helps Form Your SEO Strategy

Keyword research is often accomplished in conjunction with competitive analysis. This analysis includes a detailed look at your competition – such as where they’re ranked with their web pages and the main keywords that they’re targeting.

Looking at your competition offers two main advantages. It allows you to determine which areas or keywords will result in the best improvements to your web traffic. It also helps determine which areas are too saturated.

Competitive analysis can also help uncover backlink opportunities.

When researching keywords and competition, your SEO team may come across websites that rank highly for your targeted keywords, yet aren’t direct competitors. This includes informational sites related to dental services or blogs dedicated to the dental practice - and not other dental practices.

Finding these opportunities can be a huge help in getting high-quality backlinks.

Optimizing Your Local Online Presence

Along with conducting keyword research to help improve local search results, SEO companies will take steps to improve your local online presence. This goes beyond updating your website or starting a paid ad campaign.

To make the most of the local searches, you need to manage profiles for Google Places, Yelp, and other online directories.

The first part of optimizing your local presence is making sure that these profiles are up-to-date. They should have your correct web address, street address, phone number, and other contact information.

These local profiles are also often used by the public to research local businesses. Yelp is for more than restaurants. After going to the dentist, if someone has a great or horrible experience, they might leave a review on Yelp or other online directories.

Negative reviews can hurt your chances of attracting new patients. But, it’s possible to bury these bad reviews with positive ones. Through a combination of quality service and proper SEO, you can improve your chances of getting 5-star reviews.

Content is the Best Solution for Increasing Your Rankings

The best SEO strategies will include content marketing. You’re not going to improve your search rankings without content.

Blogs, emails, downloadable guides, videos, and press releases - this is what drives search rankings.

The benefits of content marketing are twofold. You’re creating content specifically for your target audience while enjoying the SEO boost that this content brings.

One of the factors that go into search rankings is the quality and quantity of content on your site. High-quality content is content that people link to or visit frequently.

As you start attracting more people to your site, you’ll naturally begin to see an increase in search rankings.

Depending on the services that you request, your SEO team may also offer online marketing, including social media marketing. This is like content marketing, as the best social media marketing strategies involve consistent social media posts containing helpful content.

The content that you post through social media draws people to your social media accounts, resulting in more followers and more visits to your website.

Content marketing and social media marketing aren’t always part of the package. But, if you want to make the most of the entire SEO process, then you should consider adding these solutions to your SEO contract.

Improving Your Search Rankings Does Not Happen Overnight

The SEO process is ongoing. After the keyword research is completed, strategies are developed, and campaigns are started, your SEO team is going to need to continue taking steps to help increase your search rankings.

As part of this ongoing process, the SEO company will implement various SEO techniques and strategies.  This might include time spent building backlinks, paid ad campaigns with landing pages, or the creation of sales funnels.

Improving your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) takes time.

The search engines need to crawl your site and update their database with your newly optimized pages. And, your SEO experts will need to continue to work so that you can maintain any growth that you experience while climbing the search rankings.

In addition to this ongoing work, SEO companies should provide you with regular updates.

Monitoring results will allow you to keep track of the work that you’re paying for. Find out how the SEO team plans on keeping you updated.

They should send monthly or quarterly updates that include details about the work that they’ve performed and the progress that they’ve made. This includes analytics related to your web traffic and search rankings.

Multiple Factors Impact the Effectiveness of Your SEO

many factors can determine the results of your dental seo efforts

How long will it take for you to get results? This is what most business owners want to know before hiring a dental marketing company – and it’s hard to put a number on this.

Results will vary. You might get a boost to your web traffic by the end of the first month, or it could take several months to notice a gradual increase.

There are numerous factors that determine the amount of work needed to drive more visitors to your dental website. This includes:

  • The size of your local market
  • The level of competition
  • Your current online presence
  • The steps that you’re willing to take
  • The experience of your SEO team

One of the first factors that will have an impact on the SEO process is the size of your local market.

Do you live in a major city? Or, do you live in a small rural area?

The population of your region will determine the number of people that need dental services – along with the number of relevant search queries related to dentists in your area.

There are pros and cons to both small and large markets. With a smaller market, there will be less traffic. But, depending on the level of competition, it might be easier to obtain higher rankings in local search results.

Larger markets can be more difficult to break into. You might have more difficulty climbing the search rankings. At the same time, there’s also a greater potential for more traffic – if you get assistance from an SEO company for dentists.

You also need to consider your online presence. Have you already taken steps to get more online attention? Is your website relatively new?

Determining your current standings and online presence is part of the auditing process. As mentioned, this is one of the first steps in coming up with an effective SEO strategy for dentists.

Other factors include the actual strategies that you’ll be using and the amount of work being performed by the SEO firm that you choose. The amount of work could depend on whether the SEO company has a dedicated team.

The main point here is that SEO is ongoing. Most businesses continue to work with their SEO firm for years.

This ongoing relationship also helps the SEO team gain a thorough understanding of where you’re at with your search rankings, which steps need to be completed, and how best to meet your needs – all of which is easier with a dedicated team.

Having a dedicated team ensures that your SEO process gets the time and attention that it deserves.

You get the same people working on your SEO each day, instead of a revolving group of SEO experts that have little knowledge about your specific dental practice.

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms for determining search rankings. New web pages are being posted every day. All this activity requires you to keep improving your SEO.

It takes time for search engines to update the data on your web pages. They need to update your new links and the use of keywords on your site. As this process continues, so does your need for dependable SEO services.

The final factor is the experience of the SEO experts that you work with. Making the right choice could be the difference that helps you attract new dental patients.

The SEO Process Requires Skill and Experience

As you can tell, the SEO process is straightforward, but there are plenty of variables that impact your results and a lot of work to be completed. That is why it’s crucial to find the right SEO company for dentists.

From the SEO audit to the implementation of specific strategies, you’ll want to work with a team that understands what it takes to get you ahead of your competition.


To summarize these key steps, the SEO process should begin with a thorough audit. From there, they’ll begin performing keyword research and competitive analysis.

All this research is used to create an effective content strategy. Regular blog posts, press releases, and guest blog posts are all examples of commonly used content strategies.

But, each of these strategies requires a specific focus, which is the purpose of the previous research.

With the content strategies chosen, the next step is implementation. You should get a timeframe for completion of specific tasks, but don’t expect an estimate for when you’ll start to see results.

An SEO company that promises you’ll get to the top of the search rankings within the next 30 days is pulling your leg. They simply want your money.

A trustworthy SEO firm will give you honest and realistic timeframes so that you can set reasonable expectations.

Remember the details of the SEO process. This information will be incredibly helpful in narrowing down your selection and finding a qualified SEO specialist or team.

If you’re ready to learn more about the SEO process and what digital marketing for dentists can do for your practice, then contact a reputable SEO company today.

Search engine optimization is one of the best solutions available for organically attracting more patients. With the right help, you’ll receive more inquiries from prospective patients.

Good luck with your search for quality SEO services. If you’ve got any comments, questions, or input that you’d like to share about dental marketing, please feel free to leave a comment below!

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