If you are a dentist and run a dental practice, then we can assume that you’ll have a number of competitors nearby.
But is your website working hard enough to rank above your competitors on Google?
Or maybe you are stuck and you don’t know how to optimise your website?
That ends now, as this article will help to guide you on how to optimise your dental website.
So, instead of just relying on word of mouth or 3rd party review sites like Yelp, take control of the online space.
1. Provide an Updated List of Dental Services & Prices
It doesn’t matter what the consumer is looking for - a new TV or someone to fix their boiler - they just want to know the price straight away.
None of that “call in for a quote” or “pop in to discuss” nonsense. They want you to provide the list of services and prices that go along with it.
Yes, certain services may depend on various factors, but at the very least, you should show a price range that gives your patients an idea of the possible costs involved.
It will save everyone a lot of headache and time in the long run.
You might argue that I don’t know what I’m talking about, as I’m not a dentist. While that’s true, even doing some keyword research shows that your potential patients searching for dental care are searching for that kind of information:
And speaking of keywords research…
2. Carry Out Keyword Research & Implement on Your Site
It is not your patients’ responsibility to look for you directly; it’s up to you to make it as easy as possible for them to find you and use your services.
That’s right - your responsibility.
Even Google can’t help - if you are not making it easy for Google to find you either. Part of that is to do your keyword research, which will help you to better understand what your audience is searching for.
And this is not just about searching for the generic terms like [dental-related keyword] + [your location], e.g. “private dentist in East London”. Other important keywords like “best teeth whitening kit” should be included in your research.
Later on, you’ll understand why it’s important to create consistent content that targets those keywords.
But, these keywords can also be useful for on-page SEO too.
3. Make Use of On-Page SEO
There are so many different areas where you can add your keywords on the page and improve your on-page SEO (which is literally any aspects of SEO that is on your web page):
- Title tags (or SEO Titles) - these are the titles that you see on Google’s search results and you can adjust that with the help of plugins like Yoast.
- Meta descriptions - these are the short descriptions underneath the titles on the search result page, which you can also use Yoast for.
- URL - avoid using “stop words” like ‘a’, ‘the’ and ‘to’, whilst keeping it short, timeless and keyword-rich e.g. /best-teeth-whitening-kits/ rather than /what-is-the-best-teeth-whitening-kits-in-2019/
- H1 heading - this is the main headline at the top of the page
- Embed media - having just text on your page is boring and not fun to consume. Mix it up with other forms of content like images and videos.
- Optimise your images - don’t make your images too heavy or bloated, as this can slow down your site and reduce the likelihood of appearing on Google Images. I have discussed this in detail at point 8 of this post.
- Internal links - link to relevant pages on your own site, so that your visitors can find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
- Site speed - since mobile search exceeded desktop search back in 2015, it’s important for your site to load quickly on mobile, as your potential customers could be on the move and looking for a place to seek dental work.
Where relevant, make sure you manually include your main keywords for each page, i.e. what do you expect people to search for to find that page on your site.
Even within media, such as images, you can optimise them to your benefit to attract search traffic and use them to make your page more engaging.
Using the Yoast SEO plugin can help you by allowing you to keep track of how to optimise your page.
However, getting the green dot does not guarantee you’ve got it right. In fact, it may actually make it worse:
4. Take Advantage of Local Search
It’s quite obvious that your main target market is that within your area, so there is no doubt that making full use of local SEO is essential for you and your dental practice.
One aspect of that is to make sure your company is on Google My Business, which then allows you to have your practice in Google maps and on the search result page.
It’s not just about filling in the relevant fields and leaving it to Google to do all the work. You have to do your bit too, like adding high quality images of your premise.
Where possible, do not leave out any missing information.
For example, it’s no surprise that the image above are showing those which have dozens of reviews. So that means you need to find a way to encourage (not force them by threatening to remove a tooth with a plier).
You may also want to take advantage of the post features, where you can share updates such as special offers, local events and other useful information.
And did you know that you can use hashtags too? Google has recently allowed users to use hashtags within the reviews, that are searchable and clickable too.
But like on any platform, do not overdo it (Google recommends a maximum of 5) and be specific about it.
If you use #TeethWhitening, #HealthyTeeth and #WhiteTeeth, they make sense.
But if you use #ThrowbackThursday, not only is not relevant but as harsh as it sounds, it’s pointless to your audience.
5. Encourage Reviews & Testimonials
As I mentioned above, encouraging your patients to leave a review on relevant platforms is an important aspect of your marketing, as it can draw more in (provided that you have given excellent service and your patients are happy).
Even though Yelp and Facebook reviews are also very useful, they will have little impact on your organic search performance.
But if you use Google’s own review system via My Business, that will have more of an impact to your ranking performance, not just on the search result, but also on Google Maps too.
There’s no concrete evidence to suggest this but it is strongly believed that businesses who have frequent reviews are most likely to be more visible than those who do not…regardless of what review platform you use.
The other benefit of having reviews is that you can repurpose them and use them on your site, and for social media too.
Of course, if you have unique reviews that are only for your website, that can work as well. Just make sure you are honest and they are genuine reviews. You can add more credibility by showing some headshots, if your patients are comfortable with that.
Don’t just have the text with a name underneath it. For all we know, they might not be genuine testimonials.
And whatever you do, don’t even think about fooling Google and your audience with fake reviews.
6. Provide High-Quality Photos & Videos of Your Dental Practice
It’s very easy and tempting to use stock photos for your website. There are tons of photos that show a dentist working, the dentist chair, a person with white teeth smiling… we are not short of them.
Even though you have access to high-quality photography, you have to ask yourself whether you are comfortable with using the same available images as any other dentist? And maybe the same as your competitors too?
Wouldn’t you rather stand out from the crowd and show your personality, your proud staff and your inviting dental practice by having your own bespoke photos?
Think about your own experience when you go to a restaurant, for example. You’ll want to see how the interior looks, is it warm and inviting, does the food look delicious, etc.
Yes, getting a professional photograph is expensive, but it’s another way to stand out instead of being a copycat of other dental websites, or even your competitor.
And with the bespoke images on your website, you can use them on your Google My Business profile also, so that it is immediately obvious when people are searching for you via Google that it’s you.
7. Always Optimise Your Images
Once you do have your images sorted (or if you happen to use stock photos), optimising your images is an essential part of SEO.
One crucial aspect of this is to make use of the alternative text or alt text after you have uploaded your image.
For example, if the image consists of “Dr Joe Blogg & Dr Jane Doe at the reception of Blogg & Doe’s Dental Practice in Townville”, then make that your alt text.
Not “dentists” or “reception”. 🙄
And before you upload your image, optimise your file name by separating the keywords with dashes e.g. dr-joe-blogg-jane-reception-blogg-doe-dental-practice-reception.jpg.
Not as IMG0087654.jpg 😣
As well as the content around the image, these can also help Google to better understand what is in your image and play an overall part in ranking that page and your site.
Another thing you need to do is to make sure your images are not so large and bloated that they slow down your site.
A slow website will definitely mean impatient patients (no pun intended), so having a fast website is crucial.
Make sure you check out the link below to learn more about optimising your images.
8. Provide an Easy-to-Use Online Appointment Booking System
To this day, I don’t understand why all dentists aren’t making it easy for you to book online. It’s very rare for me to be at a dentist waiting room without seeing the receptionist constantly answering the phone.
But having an online booking system for your patients can make a big difference to your website running efficiently in the background.
Not only you will make it easy for your patient to book at their own leisure, but it will also free up your staff’s time from constantly booking appointments online to do something else.
Now I’m not saying you get rid of the phone. Nor am I saying get rid of the contact form.
But providing the option of using an easy-to-use and effective online booking system can go a long way to make your patients’ experience a smooth and painless one.
Just make sure that it’s obvious for them to find it on your website.
9. Make Your NAP Prominent and Easy to Find
NAP stands for name, address and phone number; 3 crucial aspects of local SEO (did you really think that it’s just about using Google My Business and that’s it?).
This might sound like an obvious one, but you'd be surprised how many dentists don't make it easy for people to find them.
Or just as bad… when the opening times or contact details are incorrect too. 😲
Make sure it’s correct and up-to-date everywhere; from your site to Google My Business, from Yelp to all the other 3rd party platforms out there.
Whether it's by having a dedicated contact page, or you include this information within the footer of all pages (or both!), just make it easy for them to find you and contact you.
On top of that, it will give a further local SEO signal to Google and they will be able to understand more about the location of your business.
10. Implement Structured Data Using Services Schema Markup
I’ve noticed that this is something I don’t see any dentists use, after a quick Google search. It could be because it’s too technical or because they may not think that it’s for them.
It’s definitely technical and you may require the help of a developer and technical SEO consultant who understands this very well (as not all of them understand how to best implement structured data).
Schema markup, found on Schema.org, is a form of semantic markup which provides an enhanced description (aka rich snippets) on search results such as reviews and prices.
These markups also help search engines (that’s right, there’s more than one) to understand your website better.
For example, if you search for “vegetable noodle stir fry”, you will see, not just the link to the site, but also more details below it, such as review rating, time to cook and calories.
Or if you search for “sony a3000 digital camera”, you will not just see a rating but also a few specifications too:
Your website may not have the option of using structured data….or does it?
You see, even having certain data tagged like your brand name and NAP can help make a difference, as Google can link all the data you provided together.
Or, perhaps you have a small eCommerce store selling home-based dental equipment, where each product can benefit from having structured data implemented, such as its name, review/ratings and price.
If you are using a well-designed theme, it’s possible that you are using structured data. But it’s best to contact a specialist that can help you (and if that’s something that you need, feel free to contact me).
11. Engage with Patients on Social Media
We are lucky that we can engage and communicate directly with our customers. Yet, I still see many dental practices not bothering to reply to social media posts from their customers.
Instead, they share (or spam) constant sales message about their teeth whitening special offer, which is guaranteed not to make things any better.
The key to social media is to be social, yet it’s being overrun by marketers forcing sales messages to the audience instead of engaging with people and sharing useful content.
And yet, I constantly see medical practitioners who have their own accounts and gained influence in their field, in their own ways.
If you think that you have nothing to say on social media, think again. Part of your overall social media strategy is to share high-quality, consistent, engaging and useful content.
And that’s where the next section comes into play.
12. Create Unique, High-Quality & Engaging Content Consistently
This is something that I know not many dentists will do. But I know that if you do it well, you can dominate the online space ahead of your competitors.
First of all, you will need a blog, and to update that blog frequently.
Most people would update their blog with company news, who you are, your dentistry qualifications, special offers… anything that makes it about them.
But, a blog can be used as a sales tool if you shift that focus to what your audience needs and provide high-quality content on a consistent basis.
Sounds tough? Damn right it is, and that’s why I have yet to see a dental website that does this.
If you struggle to think of new content ideas, there are various ways you can do this. One way is to use a free tool like Answer the Public.
Another way is to keep track of all the questions that your customers are frequently asking you and create a blog post about it.
You can use Google to help you find relevant content ideas that your audience are searching for, which also has the potential to attract traffic from Google:
Or you can use a Q&A platform, like Quora, to find and answer questions that people are desperately looking for answers on.
Whatever the method used, I have yet to see a dental website that does this well (if at all).
If you do this well, however, you can push the competition aside online and reap the dividends in the long run, because you are the one that is providing solutions upfront, showing your credibility and stamping your authority.
13. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
You may assume that most people will not search on-the-go for a dentist near them.
I say “never assume anything”.
Since Google has announced that the number of people searching via mobile has exceeded those of desktop way back in 2015, imagine how many searches are on mobile now.
And to keep up with that trend, Google also announced that they would be focusing on mobile-first indexing. This is where they focus on the mobile performance of your site and rank your site based on that instead of the previous desktop performance.
Make use of Google’s free mobile-friendly test to see if you are in the safe zone and get the help of a designer, or look at other WordPress themes which are more suitable for you.
14. Use Reputable WordPress Themes
If your site is on WordPress, you may have noticed that there are tens of thousands of themes out there to choose from.
Technically, you will find dentist-focused themes that you can buy and download, though I have yet to see the SEO benefits of using that over a generic WordPress theme.
15. Keep Your Website Secure for Everyone
Anyone who has a website must take website security seriously.
Most website owners are very casual about how secure their website is, which is a dangerous attitude to have, as it’s not the case of if but when you get an attempted attack by hackers.
And if you depend on your website to keep your business afloat, all the more reason to take the issue of website security very seriously.
On top of that, make sure you comply with GDPR requirements as you will most likely have contact forms and (hopefully) an online booking system that will store your customers’ details.
Because one of the worst things that can happen for your dental practice is to have your patients’ personal details stolen and abused, because of poorly implemented website security.
And while you’re at it, make sure your entire site is secure i.e. starts with HTTPS. Too many times have I seen local medical practitioners who have a contact page on their website but the page is not secure.
And they insist that they follow “industry-standard policy…our patients’ data is our utmost priority…” blah, blah, blah.
You can do better than that.
16. Implement Google Analytics and Learn More About Your Audience & Website’s Performance
If you are not tracking your website’s performance, how will you ever know what’s working and what’s not working?
And no, your gut feeling is a waste of time at this point.
This is especially important if you are going to be using content frequently (have I convinced you yet?) as you will want to understand:
- what your audience likes/doesn’t like,
- what attracts traffic/doesn’t attract traffic, and
- what is your conversion rate from those who arrive at your site and onto the online booking form.
Tracking conversion might be a bit more tricky as your patients can still arrive at your practice in person or to call directly, as they already have your phone number handy.
But it’s still crucial to track your online performance.
There are different types of conversion you can track, like tracking the number of bookings made online and the number of people who have used the contact form.
Or perhaps you have a created a beautifully-designed brochure about your cosmetic services which people can download and you can track that too.
Whatever you do, don’t be like the other dentists; where they either focus all of their energy on 3rd party platforms or launch their website and then leave it as it is.
While I am a believer of using the likes of social media and Yelp to help your site, the worst thing you can do is to focus only on them. Your website should be the hub of all online activities, whilst everything else should be supporting them.
But, if you are mainly using Facebook to help you with your dental practice, don’t forget that you are in their back yard. They control everything and they own everything. They can tweak and they can delete your page (accidentally or not) very easily.
Unlike all those platforms, your website is in your control, so make use of it.
One thing I am certain of is that most people who read this will not do anything about it.
But you can do better and start implementing the tips that are in this. Because then, if you do that, you will either catch up or stay ahead of your competitors.
Which begs the question; if you are a dentist and run a website, why do you not bother making the most out of your website when it can do so much for your practice?