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SEO help for dentists from a dentist

April 26, 2023
Don't be fooled by SEO companies that offer one-size-fits-all. Find one that understands your needs and your practice, then watch your practice grow.

Does search engine optimization sound like a foreign language to you? If so, you’re not alone. Most dentists have heard of it, but they have no idea how it works.

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?

SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results. There are several things that can be done to better your website rankings, but this is ever evolving and must be constantly updated. Without constant attention and upkeep, your website will slowly fall in the rankings.

SEO can be optimized through on-page changes to your website and off-page additions. On-page elements can be optimized through the website content, structure, and other elements such as titles, metatags, and anchor texts. Off-page SEO is also important and includes link building and social media engagement.

Different companies use different SEO strategies. There are proper and ethical ways to provide SEO (white hat SEO), and SEO guidelines can be violated through deceptions to the internet algorithm (black hat SEO). In the dental profession, we rely heavily on trusting others to provide us with services.

This could be reps supplying instruments and products, colleagues with their suggestions on dental practice management, or companies providing digital marketing. With SEO, you absolutely want a company that provides white hat SEO tactics so your website won’t be penalized. This can significantly hurt your lifetime search rankings.

Common misconceptions about SEO services

  • SEO is smoke and mirrors: SEO is not a straightforward concept for dentists, and many think it's smoke and mirrors and cannot improve their practice. However, SEO and proper website development can be a powerful marketing tool. Website traffic is trackable, and improvements can take time to see. But if your SEO company isn't showing you reports and giving you access to your website Google Analytics, you should consider other companies.
  • SEO is expensive: The increase in web traffic means potential patients are seeking your treatment. What’s a new patient worth in your practice? Targeting specific keywords to attract a specific patient demographic can equate to a large ROI.
  • Digital marketing such as SEO isn't important for my practice growth: How often do you search for a restaurant on your phone? When you need a service in your area, where do you search? I look online to find the best person in my area based on reviews and search results. Patients in your area are doing the same thing for dentists. SEO can improve your website’s exposure, which can lead to a significant influx of the types of patients you want.
  • You're a specialist so you need SEO that specializes in your field: SEO is not specialized like the dental field. If you're an orthodontist, you do not need an orthodontist-specific SEO company. The companies who tell you this have found a niche and have targeted dental specialists because they’re often higher paying clients. It’s a marketing ploy for them to attract certain clients.

Dentists deserve better SEO services

Since dentists often lack knowledge about SEO, they may ask their colleagues. If a colleague had a good experience, then the SEO company must be good, right? I'd say most dentists trust a friend who had a good experience. But do they really know whether it’s a good SEO service or not?

I'm here to tell you that most current dental SEO services are overcharging and underachieving. Some agencies only provide pay-per-click advertising through Google AdWords. Google AdWords is free to set up and you can do it yourself, but these companies charge dentists to run AdWords for them. Then budgets need to be set for the AdWords to run monthly.

Once these monthly budgets are met, the dentist’s website ranking will fall. SEO can be a much more organic process that helps you avoid paying for every click of your website link. This SEO tactic makes you constantly pay to keep your website in the top three links, whereas organic growth ensures your website stays in the top without the monthly budget adjustments.

You might also be interested in: SEO for dentists: Getting to the top of Google search

If you currently have dental SEO services or are considering a different SEO company, ask them the following questions:

  • May I see my website's analytics?
  • Where is my current website lacking and how will you improve it?
  • What are the monthly reporting metrics you provide and what do they mean?
  • What are your long-term goals for my website?
  • What makes your company different from other dental SEO companies?
  • Do you have a blog writing service, and how often are the articles published?
  • What link-building strategies will you be using for my website?
  • Do you have a pay-per-click service?
  • What is your monthly price and what is included in the price?
  • Is there a contract I need to sign and is there a time I can opt out?
  • How long will it take to see results?

How to find the right SEO company

Finding the right SEO company can be a daunting task. With so many companies, how do you know which one is the right fit for your needs? If the company can answer the above questions, then they’re on the right track. If they’re evasive or seem to be reading from a script, that’s a red flag. The SEO company should be able to custom tailor their services to your specific needs.

The right SEO company will understand your unique services and passions and gear their marketing strategies to reflect that. They’ll understand the type of patients you want and how to reach them through SEO tactics. The wrong company will use the same tactics for every client, regardless of the client’s individual needs.

Dentists need to be savvy when it comes to their online presence and SEO. There are a lot of companies that will overcharge and underachieve. Ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. And most importantly, don't be afraid to ask for help. Feel free to get in touch with me with any questions you have and my advice will be completely unsolicited to better our profession of dentistry.

Jordan Thomas, DMD, cofounder of SEO.Dentist, is a general dentist who graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. In addition to every-day dentistry, his company, SEO.Dentist, helps dentists attract patients to their practice through organic search engine optimization. This has been a tremendous opportunity for Dr. Thomas to help colleagues understand what SEO is and how it can actually benefit them in the long run. Contact him at (916) 752-2280 for any SEO questions.

This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that willelevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field.  Subscribe here.

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