The primary marketing goal of every dental practice is to bring in new patients and keep existing patients coming back in. It’s what will keep your practice running. But what will grow your dental practice is being able to attract patients through digital marketing channels. Search engine optimization (SEO) is starting to be more and more used as an Inbound marketing channel by dental practices across North America. Put in a geographic search for dentists into Google and you’ll see a local 6-pack result show up of all dental practices in that area. You’ll see well-optimized websites also show up in the first organic results.
It’s clear that more and more dental practices are leveraging the power of the Internet to attract more patients -
While SEO is just one channel under the Inbound Marketing umbrella, it's an effective one and deserves a micro-examination of how it alone can grow your dental practice.
We've seen it ourselves that this works for dental practices so let's go into what every dentist ought to do with respect to SEO.
First, let's start things off by defining what exactly SEO is. SEO is the practice of improving a specific website or web page so that it receives more visitors via search engines. The goal is to ensure that the website/page in question ranks and ranks well for keywords profitable for a given business. Research shows that 75% of searchers don't move past the first page.
Not surprisingly, people tend to click on the first few organic results on a search engine results page (SERP) the most.
Effective SEO can help your dental practice increase qualified traffic to your website and satisfy the end goal of attracting new patients.
You may be wondering how to get started with SEO. It's not rocket science but it does take a LOT of time and effort! But as I mentioned, the results can be great (if done correctly). It's often difficult for busy professionals to find the time to learn and/or make search engine optimization work for them.
Good SEO comes down some specific things:
Google has over 200 different ranking factors that have been tested and are essentially the norm. So there certainly is much more to SEO than the above but in the context of doing SEO well and for a dental practice, this is a good starting point.
So we come to the part about how all that we've talked about can be applied to your dental practice. YES, it can be done and I’ve seen the results. They are crystal clear - SEO works for dental practices. How? Here are 7 practical steps to take:
Don’t Forget: Optimizing for mobile. Mobile usership has rapidly increased over the last year. Make sure your website is mobile-optimized so that it can viewed effectively on a mobile device or tablet. We call this responsive design. You can test whether your own site is responsive by taking the bottom right corner of your browser window and dragging it inward and upward. If the navigation and images shrink and stay in line as you make the window narrower, then it’s a responsive website. If nothing happens with the body of the site as you shrink the window, then it’s not responsively-designed.
Even the very term, SEO, has been bastardized by inferior, sketchy firms, mostly located overseas. These ‘SEO companies’ employ what we call ‘black-hat tactics’ - things that worked 5-10 years ago in search engines but are subject to penalties from Google if done now.
So for the sake of your dental practice, DO NOT fall for outlandish claims by these guys who say they can get you to the top of Google search results pages for an extremely low price. When it comes to SEO and overall digital marketing, there is a direct correlation between what you invest and the results you will likely get. If your primary goal is to improve your dental practice’s web presence for pennies on the dime, you’d be better off not doing anything.
I’ve seen businesses fall for these overseas schemes because they were attracted by low prices and lofty promises and ended up getting penalized by Google. To recover from a manual penalty from Google takes a lot of time and effort - but also a lot of money out of your pocket. That’s not the kind of experience, service, and result you want out of professionals you hire. Go the safe route and dentists, if you want your dental practice to do well online, invest your money into a qualified, certified, creative, and resourceful agency who will get the job done properly.
With everything I’ve explained, listed and suggested here, doing it all will take some time but success will come if it’s done right.
But remember that SEO is just one Inbound Marketing channel. There’s so much more you can do to improve your web presence beyond what I’ve mentioned here in this post. A comprehensive digital strategy for your dental practice should incorporate other digital marketing channels like blogging, social media, paid search and video, so long as it makes sense for your practice and your marketing budget.
If you’ve got questions, please ask via the comments section below