External links, as explained in detail at Moz, are one of the single biggest factors determining where your site ranks on a SERP. If you want your dental clinic’s site to be the first thing potential clients see when they use Google or Yahoo to search for dentists in your area, external links are an absolute must.
In case you’re new to SEO, here’s a rundown of what external links are and how they work:
If another site links to yours, this is considered an external link.
Google’s (and the other search engines’) algorithms look at the number of external links to your site as votes, equivalent to those other sites vouching for your site.
If you have a lot of votes – particularly votes from well-known, legitimate, high-traffic sites (because, yes, the search engines do look at the quality of the sites linking to yours!) – you’ll beat more of the competition on the SERPs.
Also, external links provide you with another opportunity to reach potential clients – by attracting them to click on the links themselves and interact with your dental clinic via your dentistry website.
So there are two big ways external links help you:
They help you rank higher on SERPs.
They bring customers to you directly.
But how do you get these external links? In the old, wild-west days of SEO, it was easy (though often unethical): SEO marketers would write simple programs called “bots” that posted spam comments with links to a given site across thousands of blogs and web forums, or unscrupulous site owners would set up dummy sites consisting almost entirely of links to their main site.
However, things have changed now – and while they level the playing field a bit, they also make things harder.
The only links that really count for much nowadays are those from trusted, authoritative sites – and the more popular these sites are, the better. In fact, lots of spammy links from comments on blogs and in forums can actually hurt your site’s standings a great deal, or even get it kicked out of a search engine’s results entirely! That’s why it doesn’t pay to think short-term and carry out this kind of black hat SEO.
So how does a dentist ethically and effectively build a large catalogue of external links? There are a few things you could try:
Directly contact dental blogs, other dentists, and dental industry groups and ask them for links or to write guest posts for their blogs.
Write press releases relating to your dental practice and send them to internet news organizations.
Create an amazing site and hope the links come naturally (though it may take a long, long time).
Or, you could work with a professional SEO marketer who can carry out the first two tasks for you while brushing up on other important areas of your site’s SEO simultaneously.
The first two options, while effective, are highly work-intensive – and in an area that’s very different from dentistry, and may be distracting from the overall business of running a dental clinic. SEO marketers, however, can often be highly effective at carrying them out.
Does your dental SEO have what it takes to survive 2017?
2017 is only about a month away, and that means it’s time for you to take stock of your business for this year and make plans for the next – and that includes a long, hard look at your current SEO, social media, and other online marketing strategies.
SEO is always changing – that’s the one constant in the SEO world. And if you want the truth, not even the best SEO marketers and internet marketing gurus really know what’s around the corner – but we can study trends and let you know what’s likely ahead. Preparation is everything when it comes to selling your dental practice to potential clients.
To get prepared, there are 3 major things you need to do as we enter 2017. The first is to remember your SEO fundamentals. The second is to be aware of the major trends showing what Google and the other big search engines might do in the future. And the third is to be alert about every major change in the search engine world.
1. Remembering your SEO fundamentals.
Despite every major change that’s come from Google and the other search engines throughout their long and storied history, two things have mattered more than anything else: content and authority.
Your content has to be relevant and attractive, and also must naturally but frequently use the keywords you expect potential customers to search for.
Your site has to have external links from other sites with high traffic, relevance, and authority.
If your site doesn’t have these things, it’s not going to rank anywhere good on SERPs. These are your SEO fundamentals, and you have to stick to them if you want any kind of success in the SEO world.
That being said, having good content and good links alone cannot ensure your success. That’s why you have to also look to the future when it comes to SEO.
2. Be aware of the big trends in SEO.
There are always big changes in the SEO world, but there are also always big signs that those changes are coming.
If you stay abreast of changes and trends such as semantic search and new search engine features like it, you can come to understand these changes before they have their biggest impact – meaning you can get ahead of the curve.
3. Know that change is coming – and you can’t always expect it.
Yes, the signs are always there when it comes to big changes in the SEO world, but that doesn’t mean that someone will necessarily read them right every time.
If a new major algorithm update drops – and don’t worry, it will – you need to keep a cool head and see what effect, if any, it’s had on you. The great writers at SearchEngineLand actually just posted an article about this topic.
When the changes come, remember the trends and the fundamentals, do your research, and proceed calmly and confidently. If you keep all these things in mind, your dental online marketing is sure to thrive in 2017.
We’ve got the details you’ll need to use semantic search to your dental practice’s advantage right here, and answers to all of your questions.
What is semantic search, anyway?
Semantic search is comprised of changes to Google’s algorithm that seek to mimic human speech and writing patterns to give search results pages a more human feel. Google first implemented it to help its users find answers to specific questions, but eBay and other online retailers quickly found ways to leverage it as yet another great SEO tool. If local businesses like dental practices are going to compete in 2017, they also need to be aware of semantic search and how to use it.
Google now considers the way users phrase search queries, as opposed to just the terms they use, in choosing what results to show them. The biggest impact of this we’ve seen so far is that Google often directly answers a customer’s question before giving other, more generic search results.
Businesses should keep in mind that Google also considers synonyms for search terms that its users type into its search bar – meaning that when you’re doing SEO keyword research, you should also think of a few synonyms for every important search term you try to use on your site.
Ways to use semantic search to help your dental practice:
Use it to supplement your SEO keyword knowledge and optimization.
When thinking of search terms potential dental clients in your area might use, also consider questions they might ask (“Where can I get my teeth whitened near me?”) and synonyms for keywords they might use – for example, don’t just use industry terms like “caps” and “veneers,” be aware that everyday Google users (especially those that use voice search) might say something simpler like “where/how can I get a chipped tooth fixed?”
Phrase statements on your site like answers to questions.
Because Google has a new focus on quickly and simply answering questions for its users, you should use statements and headings on your site that could form answers to potential questions.
For example: You can have a chipped tooth repaired at your local dentist.
Using these types of phrases in headings is especially useful.
Try to use natural-sounding language on your site.
The days of keyword-stuffing for success are over. Vary your language naturally and write on your site in the same way that you would speak to a client.
Remember to remain professional while trying to sound natural. Google and potential clients alike are still going to judge you on the quality of your site.
Plenty of dentists running their own practices think they don’t need SEO because almost all of their customers are locals, and many have been coming for years. However, SEO is a huge part of local marketing, too, and is useful both for bringing new customers in and for reminding regular clients who and where you are.
However, how do you create SEO for a local business? It’s a little different than doing the same for a large corporation, but many of the basic processes and resources are the same. To start, you’ll need a solid website and a professional, extensive social media presence, and a well-written and frequently updated blog for your site. If you need advice on how to optimize these and other properties for dentistry SEO, check out the rest of our blog.
There are plenty of more advanced tips detailing how to get the most out of local SEO, including some from a recent Forbes article on the subject. This article details some of the basics beyond creating your site, and has some great advice for dentists and other local businesspeople who are just branching out to include SEO in their local marketing plans.
The first piece of great, actionable SEO advice for dentists in the article tells you to either create or claim (if a customer or someone else has already created one) a business listing on all the major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. This will allow you to show up in their map listings and will let them provide basic information such as your name, address, phone number, and office hours.
Make sure this information is correct and consistent across all accounts – those with the search engines and your own – and then expand further to claim your business on Yelp so that you can share basic information there as well, and respond to reviews if desired. Of course, customers can review you directly on Google and other search engines as well – you’ll have a wide array of reviews across a variety of properties by the time you’re done getting your business set up for SEO.
While posting fake reviews is unethical and against search engine rules (which could get you booted off their page permanently!), there are some ways to encourage customers to give you good reviews. The first is obviously to provide the best dental care and service you can, but here are a few more actionable tips:
Remind customers to give you a review in person at your practice.
Have a button linking to a major review property (Google or Yelp) directly on your website.
Respond to negative reviews directly and publicly – don’t be defensive, but contrite, and most importantly you need to show that you’re fixing the problem.
Last but not least, you need a selection of good, attractive images on your site, because images attract more customers than words. That being said, you don’t want to have too many overly large images on a single page, as this can slow down the loading time of your page – which also impacts your search result ranking.
Like all of SEO, these things are a balancing act. It will take some trial and error or work with a professional SEO marketer for dentists to get everything right, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
1. Connecting multiple social media accounts to each other and your main sites with links can improve your search result rankings and make you generally more accessible to dental clients.
One of the ways Google and other search engines determine a site’s relevance is by the number of links to that site from other legitimate, well-established sites – including social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
That means that having multiple social media profiles, all linked to each other and to your main site, will create a large network of opportunities to boost your search engine listing results.
Links between all of your online profiles and properties also provide customers with an easy way to contact you through different channels for different reasons. For example, a new patient may call you or submit a web form on your main site to set up an appointment or get a cost estimate for a particular operation, but might look at your Facebook or Google Plus profile for general information about your practice (such as location, hours, etc).
Having information and avenues of contact in different places on the web will make your dentistry accessible to a wider variety of customers. If they see your name and information about your business on a number of sites they frequently use, they may be more likely to turn your way when they need dental work done.
2. Messaging services such as Facebook’s are many potential patients’ preferred method of contact.
There are plenty of ways for an individual to contact a dentist, especially one with a large online presence and clearly, professionally present information. However, many of them don’t use business websites or phone calls as much as they might have five or ten years ago. Facebook, however, is used all the time.
As such, simply having a Facebook page that potential and current patients can message may boost your bottom line. Also, responding to messages quickly will boost your page’s ranking on Facebook – meaning its ranking will also be boosted on Google in most circumstances.
3. Social media is truly the cheapest form of advertising money can buy, and can have huge return on investment.
Social media profiles are by their very nature free, even for businesses. While dental practices and other businesses often need to hire an experienced social media and SEO marketer for help creating and maintaining professional, efficient profiles, the initial investment is still very low – and because of the ubiquity and reach of social media platforms, the return on investment is huge in many cases, especially as one part of a larger-scale SEO or SEM strategy.
Everyone knows that social media is a must for any kind of successful business these days, but how exactly does a big presence on social media (from Facebook and Instagram to WordPress and LinkedIn) help your dental practice? Here are three ways something as simple as a Facebook profile can help your business in terms of SEO and customer relations.
1. A social media presence gives your dental practice more opportunities to be found in Google and other search engine listings.
Every business wants to be at the top of Google’s first results page for relevant searches. However, getting a business website up there can be difficult and time consuming. Building a social media presence is a fast, legitimate way to get more web users talking about and interacting with your business. Also, if you’ve already gotten your official website into the top search results, a big social media presence can help you dominate more of the first page – pushing competition and irrelevant results out in favor of more exposure for you.
Facebook, Instagram, and other social media profiles are all searchable by Google’s algorithms – and because of these sites’ huge traffic and well-known legitimacy, their profiles often appear very high in Google listings.
2. A social media profile can give customers a quick but detailed explanation of what sets your dentistry apart.
Social networking sites are so successful because they’re amazing at giving customers what they want and need quickly and simply. That includes when they’re giving everyday users information about local businesses – including yours!
Looking at just the Facebook Timeline and basic profile information of your business can give a potential customer a taste of what sets your dentistry apart from all the others in town – your good reviews, before-and-after pictures of your work, and more.
3. As an added bonus, your social media profiles tell clients when, where, and how to find you – online and in the real world.
Part of the basic information in a Facebook or LinkedIn profile (and information you can easily put into an Instagram profile) is all the basic information about your dentistry – the kinds of work you do, your address and phone number, your website, your business hours, and everything else a potential customer needs to know.
A professional, fully fleshed out social media profile or two will give potential clients an opportunity to see all of this relevant information in one place – making it easier for them to contact you to ask important questions or set up an appointment.
When this basic information is set alongside information and images you or an internet marketing professional have specially chosen to promote your dental practice, the basic factual information also lends the promotional material legitimacy and relevance.
What Does All This Mean for You?
If you want to have a successful dentistry with high SEO rankings, ease of access, and simple and effective promotional material, a firm and professional social media presence is a must for you. It can help your business thrive even among the toughest competition.
How SEO Marketing for Your Dental Practice Works: The Basics
If you’re here, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and know that this unique type of marketing can help bring customers to your practice. Many dentists and other businesspeople, though, are still in the dark as to what SEO really means.
This post will help you understand some of the benefits and nuances of SEO marketing for dentists. Although there isn’t near enough space here for the whole process to be explained, this post will also seek to give you some idea of how dental SEO marketing works.
So, what is SEO, anyway?
SEO is a unique type of marketing for dentists and other doctors and business owners that helps a website (whether it’s your own company site or another type of page, such as a WordPress blog, Facebook profile, or Instagram account) appear closer to the top of the first page of search results provided by a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo!.
Appearing at the top or near the top of the first page for searches like “dentists near me” or “teeth whitening in Anytown, USA” will bring your business new customers. It is a more subtle, less expensive, and in many cases more effective form of marketing than buying space in magazines or broadcasting over TV or radio.
It gets its effectiveness from the fact that so many people use the internet hundreds of times a day. With the vast improvement of smartphones and advent of wearable technologies like smart watches within the past few years, your dental practice’s top-ranked search result could bring in dozens or hundreds of clients!
But how does SEO work?
With a better understanding of what SEO is, many dentists and other business owners start to wonder exactly how it works. It’s not something most people who use Google every day think about, but it’s a huge factor for businesses large and small.
Google and other search engines use complex, secret, and constantly changing algorithms to always keep the most relevant result to a given search higher on the list of results. Although no one outside of the individual companies’ top programmers knows these algorithms exactly, years of careful study and practice have helped SEO professionals figure out what works when it comes to SEO techniques for dentists and other doctors and businesspeople.
A number of factors are at play in those algorithms, such as keywords (the terms search engine users type into the search box), location, images, number of visitors and links, and very technical ones like meta-descriptions. SEO professionals figure out what factors a given website is lacking in and then brush up the website so that it appears as relevant to searches as it actually is—and earns its rightful spot at or near the top of the first page.
Because this work is so different from dentistry, we work in the background, tweaking your web presence and giving you ideas so as to boost your Google ranking while leaving you free to focus on what you do best—dentistry.