When dentists build a website for their practice, they are faced with the question of whether or not they should use stock photography. They wonder if they should instead invest in a photoshoot to try to create some nice photos of their own. That adds strain to the already stretched marketing budget (if there is one).

Then, some marketing-savvy dentists wonder, ‘What if stock photography will hurt results?’ Being stuck in this conundrum and worrying about money and results is stressful and counter-productive. You just need a plan.

Stock photography is not inherently bad for dental SEO. There are effective ways to use stock photos on dental websites.

Good Dental SEO Balances User Experience and Visibility

Yoast, the maker of the WordPress SEO plugin, says, “It’s always better to use original images – photos you have taken yourself – than stock photos.” If you can shoot photos that look like they were taken by a pro (or actually were), that’s awesome, but custom photography can hurt a dental website, too. It all comes down to the photos and how you use them. You can get great visibility for your dental office website with proper SEO techniques whether you use custom photography or stock photos.

As long as the photos check these boxes, you’ll be fine. Images on your dental website must be:

  1. Optimized for file size: not needlessly large and with proper file compression.
  2. Balanced with text content and not so numerous as to slow page load speed.
  3. Relevant for the page and beneficial to the user experience.

Do not use photos that are:

The recommendations above apply to custom photography as much as stock photography.

Good Dental SEO Optimizes Stock Photos for a Ranking Boost

If photos used on a page are relevant to the text, then on-page search engine optimization can use coding on image files to help Google understand the image. These image tags also help vision-impaired people who use screen readers to be able to understand what is in the image.

A relevant image, when optimized, will naturally contain keywords that help Google understand that your page is a good match for people who are looking for your dental service.

For example, if you have a dental implant page, you probably should have an image of a happy, grey-haired couple. This could be a photo of a patient or a stock photo. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s attractive, not scary, and is well-optimized for file size.

A photo of a senior person is relevant because it fits the typical demographic. A happy person shows the benefit of living with a complete smile.

happy senior couple with dental implants enjoying the beautiful outdoors while the woman points something out to her husband

The dental SEO for such an image would read something like, ‘happy person with dental implants’.

User Experience Is Key for Stock Photos

If your website feels cheap to a user, it’s probably because they’re not getting a sense of who you are and what your office stands for.

You can use dental stock photography without hurting your SEO, but you should always include a custom photo of the dentist(s) in the office, too. This is easy when it comes to these dentist and office photos. These can be optimized with keywords that improve your dental rankings (ex. Cityname dentist, Dr. Johanna Smith).

You should have pictures on your website that show what it’s like in your dental office but—avoid the temptation to lead with these. The most successful dental offices have a warm, inviting decor with beauty that extends into the operatories and hallways.

Foremost, your prospective patient wants to see photos showing that you have solved problems like theirs before. They want to see happy people who have a pain-free, beautiful life. Then, they want to see you and your office so they can gauge what it will be like when coming to see you.

This part of the process is called the ‘user experience’. A good user experience is key for dental SEO success. You will struggle with rankings if people go to your website and immediately leave because they don’t like what they see.

Get Expert Dental SEO and Design Advice

If you’re worried about your website’s performance and how its dental SEO and photos are working together to achieve good visibility in your market, contact us today for a free website audit. We can look things over and give you a plan for how you can improve your results. Call (970) 672-1212 or email Pro Impressions Marketing today!