Let’s begin with a question: What’s the biggest challenge that comes with running a dental practice? If you’ve been in the field for long, you’ll relate when we say getting consistent new patient inquries is top of the list and of course, better search engine rankings for your dental website is yet another thing to worry about.
So what’s the point?
Well, as a dental professional, it’s your responsibility to take care of your patient’s needs and at the same time handle your business’s SEO activities. But that’s not all — you still have to rinse and repeat, and do just about everything it takes to spread word about your practice online. At this point, it’s in your best interest to figure out exactly how search engine optimization can drive great results for your practice and keep working with the right techniques until your goals are actualized.
Here’s the thing;
If you’re looking to grow a successful dental practice online, you’ll need to focus more on local SEO. For the most part, it’s great to have a solid presence on local listing directories including Yellow Pages, Angielist, Yelp, and Foursquare. You might not know this but a good number potential patients visit these sites when searching for dental services, so of course, you won’t be wrong to take full of advantage of them.
So here are five important tips that you can use for your improving your local dental SEO. Each of these five steps will help you build your local SEO presence on Google and other search engines and in turn, generate new patient inquiries.
1. Optimize Your Business Listings — Focus on Consistency and Accuracy
For starters, it’s crucial to work towards optimizing your listings — this is precisely where NAP (name, address, phone number) come into play. For those who might not know, NAP represents just about every aspect of your practice that will increase your chances of getting new patients. Speaking of aspects, you should be looking at the name of your practice, the physical location of your office, an active phone number and of course, your practice’s site. As you probably guessed, these are the most important factors that could influence your online lead generation efforts.
At this point, it’s your responsibility update your online listings if you change key information like your clinics location or phone number. Now, this might seem like common sense but a 2013 study from ConstantContact’s SinglePlatform division pointed out that approximately 50 percent of businesses fail to update their online listings when they change. That said, it’s super important to always check your listings online and of course, correct the discrepancies accordingly. Failure to make necessary changes will only cause customers to ignore your practice and look elsewhere.
But that’s not all — besides losing potential patients, inaccurate information can also affect your business’s ranking in Google search results. And as we know, nothing could be much worse than losing page rank especially if most of your customers first check you out online before visiting in real life.
The Key Takeaway: both accuracy and consistency in NAP are crucial to the success of your local dental practice. That said, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your practice’s information is exactly the same as what you have online. And most importantly, be sure that the information is consistent across platforms — from Foursquare to Yelp to even what’s displayed on your local business blog. Don’t think you can keep up? Well, just hire someone who can work with you to ensure that your local SEO is consistent across all sources — it’s totally worth it!
2. Look Beyond NAP
Now that you’re set to try out these local directory services, you should be aware that you need to provide more than your name, address, phone number, and website. In essence, you won’t be wrong to dive deeper and take full advantage of all they have to offer.
First off, it’s great to have an in-depth description of your business on directory listings — this is a great way to boost page ranking. What’s more, you should provide unique attributes that can simplify the search process and ensure that potential patients have enough information about your dental practice.
So what kind of information are we talking about? Well, besides your physical location, potential patients are likely to search for hours of operation, patient testimonials, breakdown of dental procedures, accepted forms of payment and more. Essentially, these points of information provide relevant answers to customer queries and that, of course, is a great way to capture new patients.
As a matter of fact, many studies indicate that customers have a tendency to search for more deep-dive information when searching for a business. For a dental practice, these can include your hours of operation, your dental website, a breakdown of specialized dental procedures, patient testimonials, and forms of payment that patients can use to pay their bill. Each of these points of information answers a valuable customer question that will help you, net new patients.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Customer’s Social News Feed — Always Engage
Here’s the thing; you can still take your dental practice to the next level even without a dedicated website or blog. In fact, according to a 2013 survey by Moz, the company’s dedicated site generated approximately 18.8 percent of the potential SEO performance. What’s more, there was a 6.3 percent valuation on social signals including Facebook likes and Twitter followers, and an impressive 14.4 percent come from anchor text and linking domains. Moving forward, 16 percent was generated from citations like Yelp and other local directories. And finally, 19.6 percent comes from local search via keyword.
So what’s the point?
Well, judging by the stats, you can tell that you need more than a dedicated dental website to maximize your online presence. In essence, you’ll want to ensure that your practice has a solid and active presence in other places including directory listings and social media. Speaking of which, social media is sure to work great here; why? It’s pretty simple — a large percentage of users rely on Facebook when it comes to learning more about your business and its offerings. So of course, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your social media pages are up to the task.
All in all, try as much as possible to provide relevant information about your office on social media pages and directories; office hours, reviews and pictures (outside of your practice) are sure to work great.
4. Reviews and Testimonials are Key
Perhaps one of the best things about local search is that almost everything is under your control. In essence, you’re in charge of building local listings, promoting your practice’s Facebook account to patients and optimizing your practice on Google My Business.
It’s however important to note that there’s one aspect that’s partially out of your control — patient reviews or testimonials. For the most part, Google never fails to recognize reviews that are posted on directories like Yelp or Foursquare. That said, it’s in your best interest to work towards getting good reviews and ratings on these directories — doing this will motivate potential patients to try you out without a second thought.
Now, the big question is, “how are can you get your clients to leave reviews on these sites?” Well, just do a great job and of course, encourage them to write something good.
It’s also good to know that there are quite a few things you can do to have customers post reviews on directory listings. For instance, you can provide them with free checkups, teeth cleanings, and the likes. Just do whatever it takes to get customers to share their positive experience on the local directories or social media.
The bottom line; reviews and testimonials are incredibly important to localized SEO. That said, you won’t be wrong to ask or even tastefully beg your patients for reviews on sites that are relevant to your dental practice. In addition to netting new clients, businesses with more reviews are likely to have a higher ranking in Google search.
5. Take Advantage of Hyperlocal SEO
How about optimizing your SEO efforts to lead customers to your practice door? Just enter hyperlocal SEO and start targeting neighborhoods, streets, towns that are located near popular landmarks. Essentially, hyperlocal SEO simplifies the search journey and increase your chances of competing with other practices for more niche hyper-local search terms.
At this point, it’s good to learn more about Google’s local search algorithm. For the most part, this technology allows for a seamless connection between web search and map search, and eventually deliver relevant results for searches that use both colloquial and formal terminologies.
As a dental practice, you should be aware that local areas may be difficult to search in Google but the good thing is, you can actually use it to your advantage. In essence, you can make yourself different from your competitors by using the colloquial name of your local neighborhood.
Doing this will Increase your chances of generating quality leads based on searches that are refined down to a particular neighborhood and that’s super.
Handy Tip: Be sure to add your colloquial neighborhood name to every one of your NAP citations. And if you find that Google Maps doesn’t have a colloquial name of your neighborhood, be sure to submit an update — that should sort things out.
So there you have it! These are just a few local SEO tips/ practices that can help refine your lead generation efforts and set you up for success. We know for sure that it’s not an easy process but the good thing is, you’re likely to see great results if you put your mind to it. Good luck!