You will struggle to keep a steady flow of new patients without a multifaceted plan for visibility. Organic positioning is still invaluable for dental office marketing. That’s why we’ve made this dental SEO strategy guide: to provide a step-by-step approach to dental SEO planning so you can amplify your online visibility.

Note: If you are not familiar with dental SEO or how SEO differs from PPC, check out these links before proceeding:

Dental SEO at Pro Impressions Marketing

How Dental SEO Differs from PPC

Benchmark Current SEO Performance

Where Are You?

Before diving into search engine optimization, it’s crucial to understand your website’s current rankings. This initial assessment forms the backbone of your SEO strategy. There are several tools you can use to accomplish this:

  • Semrush
  • Moz
  • Ahrefs

There are tons of lesser-known ones, too. Decoding keyword rankings can be tricky, but these tools will help you identify the keywords that your website ranks for. Are these keywords relevant to your services? High rankings for pertinent keywords increase the likelihood of attracting potential patients. Tools like Semrush’s Domain Overview can depict your keyword landscape.

Regarding the actual rankings for your most desired keyword phrases, which tool you use doesn’t matter. Your dental SEO strategy shouldn’t hinge on one tool’s ranking number for a specific keyword phrase. None of the tools can provide truly accurate results that reflect universal results everyone will see. This simply doesn’t exist because of Google’s personalized search engine results and the ever-changing nature of Google. You need to check it consistently.

Analyze trends in your rankings and look for correlating trends in website traffic. Google Analytics will help you discover these traffic patterns and tell you (in very broad strokes) how visitors find your website. Are they arriving through organic search, or are other channels more dominant? This analysis helps you understand your current reach and the potential impact of your current SEO efforts.

Pairing Google Search Console with Analytics will give you more information about this.

  1. Sign into Google Search Console (set up and verify your site if necessary)
  2. Click on Performance.
  3. Set your date range (3 months is a good sample range).
  4. Scroll down to Queries.

Check out this video for an intro from Google about Google Search Console.

Depending on your content strategy, you will likely see a mix of branded keywords, long-tail keywords (especially if you have blog posts on your website), and local search keywords. Local search phrases and branded search keywords (ex., Dental Practice Name Smiles, Dr. D. Entist) will convert to more phone calls and emails than long-tail keywords, but to a certain extent, just seeing traffic coming to your website is a good sign. You want to know where you are in organic search before you try to improve things through a dental SEO strategy.

As a final step in establishing benchmark SEO data for your dental office, evaluate your backlink profile. Usually, a suite of tools that includes search ranking data will also analyze the links going to your website. The quality and quantity of backlinks to your site are critical indicators of your website’s authority and provide insights into how other websites view and reference your content. When your site’s SEO changes, such as hiring a dental SEO company or launching a new website, it naturally attracts new links. If it changes without thought to links, you may lose some links, or if the off-site SEO includes link building, you’ll want to know if the links the company facilitates are genuine or if they are paid for and what type of sites are linking to yours. Without a baseline, you won’t know what’s new or old, gained or lost.

The same is true for rankings and traffic. One last note on gathering benchmark data: look for year-over-year trends to, as best you can, identify any trends in your region of the country in terms of demand or ebbs and flows in traffic. A successful dental SEO strategy will likely accentuate these trends, and you want to know what’s a natural increase or decrease in traffic or rankings versus a change brought about by your new SEO strategy.

stay social iconKeyword Ranking: The Heart of SEO

Keywords are the pillars of your online visibility. Identifying and optimizing for the right keywords can dramatically enhance your website’s reach. The rookie dental SEO strategist will falsely assume that more keywords are better and that the goal is to rank for all dental keywords, happy to sort out the traffic later. This is an epic strategic mistake. Your dental SEO strategy has to include the hunt (initial and then ongoing) for relevant keyword opportunities that need to be augmented through SEO.

  • Conduct a current ranking assessment. As part of your benchmark work, use tools like Google Search Console to understand your recent keyword performance. Then, create a list of keywords driving traffic and which ones are lagging. Do you see keywords that are losers for you, such as “free dental care near me”? If so, you must discover why the tool believes you match those keywords. If you don’t, Google may miscategorize your website. Irrelevant organic keyword traffic is evidence of a poor content and SEO strategy.
  • Identify opportunities. Add keywords your Google Search Console and ranking app didn’t automatically identify as relevant. You’ll need to have your website design team add pages to support these keywords, or your SEO strategy will fall flat on its face.

Keywords used to be what you sprinkled into the meta tags of the pages of your website and in other areas of your website’s content and construction. This type of search engine optimization strategy has almost completely lost its efficacy. The only real ways that on-page SEO are still relevant boil down to this:

  1. Think like your patients,
  2. Think like Google,
  3. Then, make sure that Google sees your website’s pages use the same language as your patients.

The words in your content, headers, title tags, etc, should naturally match the needs and expectations of your patients. Don’t say ‘oral artist’ when you should say ‘dentist,’ and don’t leave your website’s home page title tag saying, ‘Home’ when it should include your name and what you do. These are fundamentals that should guide the rest of your dental SEO strategy.

icon of hands shakingBacklink Profile: Building Your Online Authority

People tend to link to websites they think are good. In the case of a dentist’s website, you’re only likely to earn links if you are:

  • Convenient
  • Trustworthy and likable
  • Known as an expert in a particular area of dentistry
  • Known as a local expert and/or celebrity
screenshot of semrush graph

You can also be famous for something else, such as being in the news for killing a beloved African animal, as in the example above, or jumping into the latest TikTok dance craze on social media, as seen below.

screenshot of semrush graph

This can also cause an explosion in links and traffic. This doesn’t always help your dental practice, though. More links don’t mean better results, especially if the search keywords are done for reasons other than seeking you out to be your patient.

On the other hand, a robust profile of relevant backlinks can significantly boost your search engine rankings. If your dental SEO strategy includes link building, here are some things to consider:

  • Prioritize link quality over quantity. It’s not just about the number of backlinks—it’s about the quality and authenticity of the links you earn. Evaluate the credibility of websites linking to you. Are they reputable and relevant to the dental industry? If not, your SEO company probably just paid for a bunch of links, and Google dislikes this, citing it as a breach of their terms of service.
  • Backlink improvement is possible. This effort needs to be conducted as a type of public relations effort. Google wants to show its users results that feature dentists who are:
    • Experts in their dentistry skills
    • Experienced dental care providers
    • Authorities in dentistry
    • Trustworthy as demonstrated by the opinions of others.

Google calls this list EEAT. This makes “building backlinks” something much harder to do. Webmasters and SEO are used to build links at scale via robots and backroom dealings on the internet. You could pay someone, and overnight, you could have hundreds of websites linking to you. It should not be surprising that Google cracked down on link manipulation and that this link-building type is almost extinct. People still buy links, but they are much more expensive, and the links are created as secretly as possible to avoid angering the Google god. We don’t do either of these things at Pro Impressions Marketing, and you shouldn’t if you’re trying to improve your link profile as part of your dental SEO strategy.

Instead, improve your backlink profile with tactics that feel natural. Leverage your relationships and your knowledge. You should think of link-building like you would when developing a referral relationship or improving your reputation. Seek out opportunities to educate and connect with people. Don’t do this with the link as your sole goal in outreach. Find people who would naturally benefit from knowing you and what you know.

We recently interviewed a dentist about cultivating referral relationships. You can also read about these ideas in Transform Dental Sleep by Jason Tierney. In a referral relationship, you’re looking to build a respectful, symbiotic relationship that is a two-way street. In a link relationship, you rarely want to link back and forth to each other’s websites, but if you can speak to a local dental study club or medical organization or write an article for a local publication, you can lend your expertise to them. In exchange, ask if they wouldn’t mind including your name and website link on their website and social media when they upload the video or article. These are the most natural and easiest ways to build your EEAT.

You can also create link-worthy content on your website via videos and photos, but be careful not to confuse Google about what you are: you’re a dental office. Suppose you stray too much into the territory of an “influencer.” In that case, Google may miscategorize your website as a dental influencer rather than a brick-and-mortar dental office that would like to see patients!

Learn from your Competitors

Understanding what your competitors are doing can provide valuable insights you can leverage while building your dental SEO strategy. Conduct a competitive analysis by:

  • Identifying your competitors. List dentists in your area performing as well or better than you. Be careful not to base too much of your strategy on what dentists in other markets are doing, as this could lead you down the wrong path.
  • Analyzing your competitors’ SEO strategies. Use tools like Semrush and Moz to explore their website structure, content strategy, backlinks, and keyword performance. What are they doing well? Where are they falling short? This information is gold in strategizing your approach.

icon of a letter and penExecuting an SEO Strategy for Dental Practices

Your dental practice needs an SEO strategy that resonates with your specific audience and services.

  • Include a page of content for the keywords you want to target. An excellent dental SEO strategy begins with a good dental practice website content strategy. You can only rank for keyword search phrases if you have relevant content about the topic on your website. Be choosy. Refrain from flooding your website with content better suited to a dental article website or WebMD. Instead, select the priority services you want to be known for and have the best pages of content on those topics, making them personal to your office so that you stand out in your city.
  • On-page, local SEO for patient acquisition: Make sure that, where it’s natural, you use the name of your city on your website. Do this with a light touch—don’t go overboard and turn your website into a keyword-stuffed, crappy website. Still, you don’t want people to have to hunt for your office’s location, and including your location will help clarify to Google that, “Yes, I’m an informative, trustworthy authority on these dental areas, but even more than that, I’m an experienced expert who helps solve the dental problems of real people in Xton, Statename!” Focus on local SEO from a usability and clarity perspective rather than a numbers game of keyword cramming. You’re more likely to appear prominently in local search results. 
  • Optimize your Google Business Profile listing. Use the same keywords in your on-site strategy to manage your off-website online presence. Encourage local reviews from patients you treat for your focus services. Properly select categories for your profile, and add content to your Google Business Profile to make it the most active, helpful, user-friendly local dentist profile in your area. This will go a long way toward building your EEAT (see above). Share positive reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp on your social media to enhance your local SEO and build trust with prospective patients who check you out on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Be Thorough and Launch

Your dental practice can achieve greater online visibility and reach by comprehensively analyzing and enhancing your SEO strategy. The key lies in continuously adapting to SEO trends, analyzing performance, and staying ahead of the curve. These tailored strategies will boost your online presence and translate into tangible business growth. We understand that most dental offices only have time to do some of this themselves. Our thought in providing this strategy guide is to practice what we preach: build content that supports what you want to be known for. Our Pro Member dentists enjoy professional dental SEO with minimal effort, and they know how much their strategy will cost them because of our all-inclusive membership pricing. If you’d like to learn more about done-for-you dental SEO, schedule a consultation with a team member now and get started on your new dental SEO strategy!