Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 12 Google Search 1

What dentists need to know for constantly changing SEO landscape

Dec. 2, 2016
It’s smart for dentists to bring in an expert who can stay on top of the rapid search engine optimization changes so that their dental practice remains high in Google searches.

It’s smart for dentists to bring in an expert who can stay on top of the rapid search engine optimization changes so that their dental practice remains high in Google searches.

Search engine optimization (SEO) for dentists can be a good, long-term investment in their practice, bringing in 10, 20, or more new patients each month. But thanks to Google, SEO is constantly changing. For many dentists with SEO companies that don’t keep up with the changes, their practices may bounce around in the rankings and not receive the consistent results the dentists were hoping for.

I’ve received hundreds of phone calls from dentists who are beyond frustrated, and I get it. They’re investing in SEO hoping for new patients, and this isn’t happening. Here I hope to help dentists gain a better understanding of how to get maximum results from their SEO.

Is there magic in good SEO? Sort of
Lawlessness in the Wild West frontier of SEO

Forget the ego keywords
I know you’re not going to like hearing this, but every dentist wants to rank well for their main terminology, which is usually their city. The problem with that is depending on your city, every other dentist is going after that term, which makes it the most competitive and hardest to get.

Every dentist loves to proudly announce they are number one in Google for this “ego” or vanity keyword phrase. Am I suggesting you ignore this? Absolutely not! But there’s a better, more effective strategy that will produce more calls to your practice by people who are ready to go.

Go for “buyer intent” keywords
A better SEO strategy for dentists is to create strong content for their website, and then do Google-safe link building for what we call “buyer intent” phrases. People are much smarter with their search queries than they were just a few years ago. They’re typing in longer phrases that are specific to their needs, and they want the best information available online to answer their questions. They’ll feel compelled to schedule an appointment with the dentist they feel provides the best content on his or her dental website.

We have a process that allows us to create hundreds of buyer-intent phrases that we know people are using to search in Google. Imagine the number of new patients your practice would get with hundreds of these specific phrases as opposed to the 15 or so phrases most SEO companies go after, for example Portland veneers, dentist Portland, Portland dental implants.

A “buyer intent” phrase would be something like, “Female dentist Portland Invisalign.” See how specific that is? This is just one example of hundreds you could come up with for your practice.

Optimize for voice search
People are using voice search more. This means that these longer phrases (not keyword phrases) will have more impact for dentists looking to attract patients searching in Google.

Mobile searches are over 50% of all searches, especially for local businesses. This means they aren’t talking in their phone using the generic dental terms like Portland dentist. They’re adding many more qualifying words to their search to get the best results, and to avoid wasting their valuable time.

Content is more important than ever
The Google algorithm has become very sophisticated and it quickly weeds out websites with cookie cutter, canned content. Unfortunately, most dental websites have this type of content. The content was created by companies that said they would provide the content as part of their website design package, but then they gave their other 100 dental clients the exact same content.

When Google crawls your website, it quickly knows if you have duplicate content and it won’t like it or reward you with higher search rankings. If you’re in this group, I strongly recommend rewriting all your content and making sure it’s unique, not copied anywhere on the Internet. There are tools online that can check for duplicate content.

Google wants to know if the content on your website can answer all the questions for the people searching for those specific topics. The dental website that does this will become the authority in its city. Don’t you want to be that authority?

Backlinks still matter
Having a dental SEO company that builds Google-safe, relevant backlinks to your dental website is still the number one ranking factor. There are many unethical SEO companies that use automation software and “blackhat” SEO to try to game Google. That may work for the short term, but Google will catch it every time.

If you once had high rankings that suddenly disappeared, you may have been “slapped” by Google. Until you get those bad links removed (disavowed), you will not get those rankings back.

Relevancy matters
In researching thousands of competitor sites for our dental clients, we come across back linking strategies that are no longer effective. These are links that point back to your website to improve authority and popularity. Unfortunately, the majority of these companies are not receiving relevant backlinks. For example, if you have a page for cosmetic dentistry, then all of the content and backlinks must be closely related.

What Google wants now
We here at The Dental Boost are always testing what makes Google tick, and it seems the company has shifted its weight toward popularity SEO signals, moving away from authority SEO signals.

Social mentions and sharing are a big part of Google's algorithm. Also, we know how to leverage the power of social influencers to ensure Google sees a strong social presence on the web.

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Mike Pedersen is the founder of The Dental Boost, a cutting-edge dental SEO agency that also builds custom, high-converting dental websites for dentists and orthodontists.