What is SEO and how does it relate to dental practices? SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the process of making your website Google friendly (or Bing friendly or optimized for any other search engine). You can spend a lot of time making a nice looking, totally functional website for you practice, but if search engines like Google can’t understand and index your website, it won’t show up in Google Search results.
Recently, Google has been placing more emphasis on providing search results that are based on the location of the searcher, and the impact of this is huge for local businesses. To see this in action, try searching for “dentist” in Google. I’m willing to bet you will see business listings for practices that are close to your location. The bottom line is that when people are searching for dental services you provide in your area, you want your website to be present. Certainly paid search advertising is an option to get your website to rank well for searches, but my advice is to make sure you are taking the right steps to make sure your website ranks well “organically.” Here are five things to get started with your organic SEO strategy.
1. Do some simple analysis
Do some Google searches for dentists, dentists in (Name of your City), dental offices near me. Make a list of phrases you think might be relevant to somebody searching for services you provide and search for those also. Are you seeing your website on the first page of any of these searches? Do you provide emergency dental care but can’t find your website when you search for this? Keep track of all of the searches you want to be part of as these will become opportunities for improvement. Of course there are SEO tools out there you can use (i.e., keyword planner tool from Google) that can help you figure out the search volume of keywords, related keywords etc., but my advice is to stick with the basics first and make sure your website clearly outlines the services you provide and your location.
2. Make sure you have the resources you need
Getting an SEO strategy to work consistently will require ongoing management. If you look at your marketing budget on a yearly basis, see if you can find room for at least a part-time resource that you can assign basic digital marketing responsibilities including web content management, social media channels, SEO, email marketing, online advertising and web analytics (Google Analytics). Remember when you wrote down all those searches you want to rank for (#1 above)? Your digital marketer should be able to take this list and start crafting content for your website to incorporate all of these keywords and phrases.
3. Claim and optimize your Google Business Listing
Make sure you claim your business listing with Google, get verified and make sure all your basic business info is submitted (name of practice, address, phone number, business hours etc.). http://www.google.com/business/. Why? The answer is that Google is placing more emphasis on “local search”; in other words returning results to you based on your location. If I search for “dentist,” the top results (besides ads) are all dental offices that are near me. If you don’t claim your listing and optimize your page, your local listing doesn’t have a chance to appear when people search in your area. Even worse than that, the information Google has might be wrong, which could mean that potential patients are calling the wrong phone number or driving to the wrong address.
4. Using Google Analytics
Understanding how people get to your website and what they do there is made easy with Google Analytics. This is the tool that will help you see if your SEO efforts are working. If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website already, it’s worth asking your web developer to add it to your site.
5. Ask for customer reviews
Get your customers to share their positive experiences online and if customers have a negative experience, ask what you can do to be better. If your customers are raving about your practice, you want them to share this online. Remember when you read about how you need to claim and verify your business via Google? The next step is to get your satisfied customers talking about your practice, and your Google+ page is the perfect place to do this.
These tips should help you get started with your SEO strategy. If you have other tips or tools that you’ve found to be useful for SEO, share in the comments below!