As new algorithms are released on a frequent basis and best practices change, local search engine optimization is ever-evolving. Dentists have to be on the lookout to stay competitive for the top spots in local search results for both mobile and desktop devices.
What You Can Do to Improve Local SEO
Local SEO can get pretty complicated and be very task-oriented, but there are some simple things you can do, with fairly minimal tech skills that will have a GIANT impact on how high your dental practice website ranks in local search engine results.
1. Your Google My Business Listing—Claim and Optimize
Google loves itself and likes to keep users on all things Google. It favors its own current and accurate business listings when giving local search results to its users. That means your Google My Business listing is very important to you and Google! Also, if you want any chance of showing up in the coveted Google Maps 3-Pack, which prominently displays what Google thinks is the top three most relevant results for local search, you need to make sure your Google My Business listing is verified and optimized (and has lots and lots of five-star reviews).
2. Patient Review System—Have One That Generates and Posts Your 5-Star Reviews
Patient reviews are a powerhouse in generating new patients and optimizing your website for local search. On-page, they give you user-generated content that’s fresh and local for your web pages. Off-page review sites like Healthgrades, Facebook and Vitals often rank on the first page for local search results, showing the star rating of your dental practice.
By putting customer reviews front and center in the Google Maps three-pack and showing snippets of your reviews on search engine results pages, Google has put a much larger emphasis on their ranking power. Getting those golden stars to show up in search engine results will help your practice stand out from your competition and increase the click-through rates to your website or other review sites.
To have an advantage over your competitors, knowing how to get more and better patient reviews on the right sites is critical. You should be putting a concerted effort into doing whatever you can to get reviewed and keep those reviews and 5 stars coming. It is important to not only have many reviews but also have recent reviews.
3. Practice Listings and NAP Citations—Create, Make Accurate and Monitor
Your practice listings make your business visible online. The more listings you create, make accurate and keep on top of, the better chance you have of new patients finding you. Your business listings and local citations are important to search engines like Google. It’s what helps them figure out who you are, what you do and where you are.
Listings and citations are factors in the ranking algorithms used to create search engine results. If all other factors are equal, a dental practice with more citations will outrank a dental practice with fewer listings and citations.
Accuracy and consistency are of critical importance! If you were to hire someone for one activity on this list of tips, listing and citation management would be the one. It is time-consuming and requires continual follow-up.
4. Your Website—Have a Dedicated Page for Each Location
For dental practices with more than one location, it is hard to local optimize your website. Instead of stuffing your pages with half a dozen city/area keywords and tags, give each practice location its own hyper-local page.
Each location page should be linked to a high-level navigation menu on your home page. Make your phone numbers very visible and clickable on mobile devices.
Also, when you have specialized services that people search for, like sedation or dental implants or orthodontics, create pages specific to those services as well, with internal links to your location pages.
5. Title Tags, Videos, and Images—Hyper-Localize
Title tags are the actual words of the anchor text in search results that links to your website. Metadata are the words that show up below your title tag in search results. Image tags are the words that show up when you hover over pictures. They tell the search engines what a picture is about.
Be sure these tags make sense to both search engines and local customers. Use your keywords and location in a logical way that matches how customers would pick your business as relevant from a list of results:
GOOD TAG: “South Philadelphia Dentist”
BAD TAG: “dentist PA”
6. Your Competitors—Don’t Let Them Top You in Search
There is no time like the present to optimize your website for future dental patients who are using their mobile devices and desktop computers to find the best and closest dentist with whom to spend their money. Use local SEO to make sure potential patients are finding your dental practice at the top of search results.