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Local SEO for Dentists: 6 Ways to Outdo the Competition

By: DoctorLogic Employee

Search engines are one of the top tools that patients use when searching for dental services. In fact, 97% of people learn more about a local company online than they do anywhere else. That’s why local SEO for dentists deserves to be an integral part of your practice’s marketing campaign.

Local SEO for Dentists: 6 Ways to Outdo the Competition

Search engines are one of the top tools that patients use when searching for dental services. In fact, 97% of people learn more about a local company online than they do anywhere else. That’s why local SEO for dentists deserves to be an integral part of your practice’s marketing campaign.

Potential patients usually begin the search with general phrases such as “teeth whitening near me.” If your practice appears on top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in response to this query, the potential patient will likely visit your website.

A well-designed local SEO campaign for dentists puts your practice on the Google Map Pack (also called Local Pack or 3-Pack). This pack is a set of three local results that Google believes to be highly relevant to the search. Appearing on the 3-pack is key to local visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at local SEO campaigns for dentists.

What’s the difference between SEO and Local SEO for Dentists?

Traditional SEO strategies improve your website’s visibility on a global scale while local SEO aims to attract local visitors. If you achieve excellent results with both, your practice will take up a significant amount of real estate on the SERPs, making it highly visible to potential patients.

Today, 46% of Google users search for local information. After conducting a local search, 72% of searchers visit a business within five miles of their location.

With a substantial variety of dental clinics in any area, patients aren’t likely to drive too far to visit a doctor. Many practices rely on local SEO tactics to attract more patients to their websites and physical locations.

Since local competition for search terms isn’t as fierce as for global terms, the right approach to local dental SEO makes it easier to put your website on top of the SERPs.

What are the main ranking signals for local SEO?

While Google uses over 200 ranking factors to figure out where your website belongs on the SERPs, the main parameters for local SEO are:

Proximity

Google evaluates how close your practice is to the searcher’s location. The closer you are, the more likely your office is to appear on the first SERP and in the 3-pack.

Accordingly, if the hypothetical patient is searching for “teeth whitening near me,” the closest practice has a chance to rank higher than other dental offices in the area.

Prominence

Prominence shows how well your practice stands out from the crowd. Google checks numerous parameters to evaluate prominence, including backlinks, directories, reviews, and mentions. The more credible and trustworthy the website is, the more likely it is to appear high on the SERPs.

If you already have a strong SEO strategy, your website will likely have prominence. To boost local prominence, you’d have to work on local directories, reviews, and citations.

Relevance

Your website needs to be highly relevant to the user’s search. Accordingly, if a potential patient is searching for “teeth whitening near me,” Google will look for dental websites that offer “teeth whitening” as a service.

To demonstrate the relevance of your practice, you need to make sure that you are using the right local long-tail keywords (e.g., teeth whitening Seattle) in your website content, title tags, and meta descriptions.

6 Local SEO Strategies for Dentists

These six strategies can help you improve prominence and relevance while highlighting your location for proximity ranking.

1. Claim a Google Business Profile

The number one ranking factor for ranking in the 3-pack is your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).

Google Business Profile (GBP) is your company’s virtual business card. It allows you to share your practice’s location on Google Maps, 3-pack, and local search results.

To optimize your practices GBP profile for local search, you need to add:

  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone) and business hours – use accurate information.
  • Categories - select relevant categories for your listing.
  • Description – create a concise description with local keywords.
  • Photos – add as many high-quality photos as you can.
  • Q&A section – while this section is designed to offer searchers an opportunity to get answers to their questions, you can ask your own questions and answer them to create a robust FAQ section.

The key to maintaining a stellar GBP profile is updating it regularly, answering questions in the Q&A section, and replying to reviews.

2. Keyword Research for Local SEO

Keyword research for local SEO is different from traditional SEO tactics since it usually includes location-specific keyword extensions. Local SEO targets keywords based on the searcher’s intent (why someone conducts a search).

For example, if a New York-based searcher is looking for “dental implants near me,” your keyword should be “dental implants New York.”

With a local keyword search you need to focus on:

  • Procedure keywordsdental implants, teeth whitening.
  • Specialty keywords – cosmetic dentist, pediatric dentist.
  • Location keywords – New York, Seattle.

If you aren’t using professional SEO services for dentists, you can take advantage of free keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, or paid software with free trials such as SEMrush or AHREFS.

3. Optimize Your Website for Local Search

To look appealing to Google’s local rankings effort, you need to monitor:

  • NAP consistency – company details on your website must be consistent with your GBP profile and other resources that patients may check when looking for a nearby practice. Otherwise, you risk confusing and frustrating both the searcher and Google.
  • Map Intents to Pages - instead of using exact keywords on your web pages, focus on the searcher’s intent. For example, you need to have a page dedicated specifically to procedure + location and specialty +location keywords (e.g., dental implants New York, pediatric dentist Seattle).
  • On-Page SEO – to help Google understand the relevance and trustworthiness of your website, you have to add local keywords to metadata (title tags, headers, descriptions). You should also use specific details (street names, landmarks) in your content.
  • Schema mark-up - this map of your website should include important information such as addresses, reviews, business hours, and service area geo-shapes. Optimizing schema gives you more control over what Google crawlers see on your page.

You should also use “local business” structured data to give search engine crawlers a clear understanding of your website.

4. Build and Manage Citations

A citation is a mention of your practice’s NAP online. Building citations involves finding opportunities (directories, social media profiles) to place your citation. Managing them involves ensuring accuracy and consistency across all resources.

Consider these citation opportunities:

  • Data aggregators – Yellow Pages, Factual
  • Consumer directories – Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List.
  • Industry directories - ADA, USA Top Dentists
  • Local directories – local dentist societies, local Better Business Bureau.

The more high-quality citations you can build, the more credible your website will appear in Google’s “eyes.” One high-quality citation works better than a hundred low-quality mentions.

5. Attract Links with Content Marketing

A backlink is a link from an external website to one of your web pages. The number one result on SERPs has almost four times more backlinks than results two through ten.

To attract organic backlinks, you need to work on a solid content marketing strategy. It involves creating high-quality content that doesn’t just contain relevant keywords but also provides value to the reader and backs the authoritativeness of your business.

Keep in mind that a practice that runs a blog attracts 97% more backlinks to its website.

6. Encourage Google Reviews

Google reviews are part of your website’s prominence and relevance ranking factors. Meanwhile, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust feedback from friends and family.

The search giant pays attention to the quantity, frequency, quality, and recency of the reviews. If your practice has numerous recent 5-star reviews, it’s likely to rank high.

You can encourage Google reviews through:

  • Email marketing
  • SMS texts
  • On-site office signs

You can also use review aggregation platforms to collect Google reviews and post them on relevant web pages.

The Future of Local SEO for Dentists

By taking advantage of the above strategies, you can gain a strong competitive edge over local dental clinics. However, these strategies aren’t always enough to beat competing practices that use top-notch professional SEO services for dentists.

That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in.

While regular SEO agencies target a handful of relevant dental keywords, patient acquisition platforms that use AI can simultaneously target thousands of relevant, local keywords.

Multiple practices from California to Washington, D.C. have found success with AI-driven SEO, including:

  • Emigh Dental
  • The Texas Center for Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Washington Dental

Implementing local SEO into your marketing strategy is imperative for staying ahead of the competition. However, local marketing for dentists is no longer just a handful of effective and time-tried tactics. It’s a combination of creativity, experience, and technology.