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Ultimate Guide: Local SEO for Dentists

Published:  November 26, 2023
Ultimate Guide: Local SEO for Dentists

Whether a person is looking to find a dentist, read reviews about dentists in their area, or just find answers to common dental questions, many if not all of these searches have some type of local intent. And when a Google search involves local intent, a practices local SEO efforts come into play. Don't forget to scroll to the very bottom of this article to see a fantastic tip for local business pages.

As I talked about in a previous post about local SEO for dentists, there are a handful of key tasks we need to focus on when thinking about local search.

Curious how your practice stacks up against the competition? Grab a free local seo audit:

The Local SEO for Dentists Checklist

  1. Google My Business (Google Business Profile) verification, validation, optimization, and posting.
  2. Reviews
  3. On-Page Details (local signals)
  4. Links: Citation building and directory listings
  5. Content marketing
  6. Measurement and tracking.

Critical Point: You Must Own Your Own Profile

While you can share access to your Google Business Profile with third-parties and vendors, make sure that only YOU are the profile owner. There is no reason for anyone else to have ownership, as if someone else owns (or co-owns) the profile, they can remove you from it and effectively take your profile away from you.

Why Local SEO is Critical for Dentists

It goes without saying that dentists provide a local service, and as such local SEO and being found in local search is of the utmost importance for the dental field (as it is for physicians, attorneys, and other local service businesses).

Consider:

  1. The most important ranking factor for local search is proximity. You can't move your location. And while you can try to rank locally for multiple cities or zip codes, it's incredibly difficult because doing so is the opposite of what Google wants - to provide local searchers with the "most local" search. As a dentist myself, I know that a practice can serve multiple smaller areas across a geographic region, and that ranking for only your zip code can be limiting. But for now Google doesn't understand that a practice in "zip code A" can easily treat patients from "zip code B" because zip code B is only 0.5 miles away. This is a limitation we need to live with for now.
  2. Many people will click on a Google Map Pack listing without first visiting your dental website in that browsing session. They may, for example, have done previous research (see below) and recognized your name, and clicked the phone number. An important addition to your Google Business Profile is a dedicated tracking number (which won't interfere with your citations, as Google knows which number is which).

3. Reviews over rankings. Consider that the number of reviews that your dental office has might take more precedence for people than your position in the map pack. Think about it - would you rather see the dentist listed first who has 10 reviews, or the dentist listed third who has 300 reviews?

How to Take Advantage of Local Dental Searches with Content

We've discussed the marketing funnel previously, but for now recall that not everyone who does a Google search is looking for a dentist at that exact moment (minus the "emergency" searches). Thus, while you want to rank for "dentist near me" and similar terms, it also makes sense to have service pages for when people ask general dental questions before they decide to get started with treatment.

For example, people will want to know about whitening before they invest:

Thus, having supporting pages that provide information about your services, and that answer common questions about these services can drive local searchers to your website. In the example above, the user will likely click on this search result (a local dental website) and while they are getting their whitening question answered, might be happy with the breadth and quality of the answer, and call the practice to make an appointment. If nothing else, the user will have brand exposure to this practice and may keep the office in the back of their mind for the future.

One of the crossover concepts between local SEO and traditional SEO is that if you want to rank for a particular service, you must have a dedicated page for that service.

Using Video

Video can be a boon for local seo because it's one of the marketing avenues that many other dentists aren't taking advantage of. If you use video for your local listing, you might stand out more than your competitors.

The Basics of Local Dental SEO

There are three types of results people will see when it comes to local searches. There's the local pack (map pack or "three pack"):

LSA (or Local Service Ads for Dentists):

and organic listings (not shown). Organic listings positions are a combination of local SEO efforts and traditional SEO efforts, but suffice it to say that when it comes to a local search, organic listings may shift to take this factor into account.

When it comes to the ranking factors we consider for Local SEO, check out our video on the local ranking factors for dentists.

Your Google Business Profile Listing

If the sun is the center of our solar system (which is was the last time I checked), then your Google Business Profile is the center of your local SEO efforts. Results simply cannot be achieved without an optimized GBP listing. When it comes to optimizing the listing, there are a few key items to consider (we consider these when we provide local seo services for our dental clients).

  1. Use only the official name of your practice for the name of the listing. If your practice is "David Wank, DMD, PA" then use that name. Do NOT add a location such as, "David Wank, DMD, PA - Westfield Dentist". That is classic GMB spam and you can be flagged for it, and have your profile suspended. It's tempting to add your location -- but do NOT do it.
  2. Category. You get two categories -- a primary and secondary. Ideally you'll look at the keywords you want to rank for and match what the top ranking practice is using. For example, if you want to rank for "dentist near me" and the top ranking practice uses "cosmetic dentist", then consider using "cosmetic dentist" as your primary category as well.
  3. Photos and Videos are one of those things that are great to have and a pain to do. It can take time to find a good photo or video, but the time is well spent. The next time you are in your office, make a video tour on your smartphone and upload it to your profile. Take pictures of the inside and outside of the office and (with their permission) take pictures of the team. Remember, do NOT post any pictures of patients on your profile (unless you have a proper consent form).
  4. Products and Services. You can add products and services to your listing as well. We've seen Google vary how much prominence it gives to showing products and services in listings, but it still can't hurt to add them.

What if I want to rank for multiple towns?

Ranking for multiple towns is a key challenge for any local business. Google looks at your zip code when it comes to proximity (which it should) so it can be challenging to rank for a listing outside your zip code -- because there are other dentists who have practices in these zip codes. So even if you can throw a baseball to the next zip code over, it may be hard to rank for that town or city because Google doesn't really understand yet that patients can come from all over your local area. Consider it - you wouldn't want dentists in other zip codes ranking above you in your own zip code- so much of the ranking in these situations has to do with proximity and competition (if you are in a geographically large zip code there's less to worry about).

Final Thoughts

If your dental practice isn't making local SEO efforts, then you need to start now. All of the items that I listed above are tasks you can do completely on your own and without the need of paying a vendor. However, if you'd like the experts to handle it, as many of our clients do, please get in touch so we can talk about how a local SEO campaign can immediately benefit your practice.

Bonus Tip for Local Pages

If you'd like a quick and easy tip to help you with your local rankings, check out this blog post about a tweak for helping to rank local business pages.

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