Social media and paid search (PPC) have proven to be mighty effective digital marketing channels for medical professionals to pursue.

But as important as these channels are, they don’t paint the full picture of your marketing strategy. If you really want to make the most of your marketing efforts, you have to incorporate organic search as well.

Organic search is responsible for 64% of all web traffic, according to a 2014 Conductor study. Look at those numbers closer and you’ll realize that social media makes up only 2% of traffic, paid search makes up 6%, and 12% comes from direct hits (searchers going right to a website).

In other words, if you want to get the best return on your investment, then you want to invest in your organic (or SEO) efforts. And, for an even bigger ROI, make sure to focus most of your SEO efforts on Google, as it makes up more than 90% of the market.

Everyone – including your competitors – wants to rank #1 on Google’s search engine results pages. A top rank would be great, of course, but so long as you rank in the top 5 results, you should begin to see an uptick in web traffic, as these top 5 results account for nearly 68% of all clicks.

But how can you build that type of online presence for your dental practice? You have to know the ins and outs of SEO for dentists. Let’s begin, shall we?

Know what Google wants so you can shape your SEO strategy accordingly

Understanding what Google looks for when ranking websites will help you maximize your efforts and see results fast.

First and foremost, let’s delve into your content

medical discussion contentThe web is all about information, which is why your content is the single most important component of your SEO strategy.

Years ago, SEO-friendly content meant stuffing a web page with your targeted keywords over and over again, without any regard to the quality of that content.

Google’s become too sophisticated for that these days. Now, your content has to deliver a valuable experience to your readers, or else Google will never reward you for your efforts.

Valuable pieces of content include educational articles, videos, and graphics that answer the types of questions or concerns your targeted audience has.

For example, many parents are on the search for a kid-friendly dentist. You could create a ton of content around the concerns of these parents, including:

  • An article on what to ask your child’s dentist before you make an appointment
  • A video that highlights the kid-friendly approach of your office
  • A fun graphic that helps parents teach their children positive at-home oral hygiene

Don’t overlook the power of evergreen content

evergreen contentAs you produce content for your practice, you might, from time to time, post articles that are timely or news-related. This approach will help you come across as a true influencer in your field.

However, your most powerful type of content is evergreen content, which is content you can use over and over again; it doesn’t have an expiration date.

For example, a blog post that discusses what to expect during a standard filling procedure likely has a very long shelf-life.

Evergreen content like this is so powerful because you can promote and use that content all year long.

SEO also includes the layout of your website

Google is all about giving its users an enhanced experience, which is why the layout of your website has an impact on your search ranking. Your website needs to be easily navigable, with relevant internal linking and related content.

For example, on a webpage where you discuss your cosmetic dental services, it’d make sense to link to additional pages that focus on each of these specific services, such as teeth whitening and veneers.

Not only does this type of structure give your readers access to information they’re looking for, but it keeps them on your website longer, which is very good for SEO.

website speedYour website has the need for speed

No one likes to stare at a screen waiting for a page to load. That’s why Google rewards fast sites with good rankings.

PageSpeed Insights from Google is a good place to go to test out your site’s speed. Not only does PageSpeed show you the speed of your webpages on both mobile and desktop, but it offers suggestions on how to speed up your pages.

Your goal should be to attract local prospects

Google is all about local searches these days. It will tailor its results based on the location of the user at any given time.

This is very good news for your dental practice, since you’re likely trying to attract prospects within a specific coverage area.

One of the best ways to pop up on local searches is to register with Google My Business. Make sure to provide (and maintain) accurate and updated information about your practice (Name, Address, Phone Number).

SEO strategies your dental practice should avoid

SEO strategies have come a long way since the early days of Google. Not only do the strategies of 5 years ago no longer work in your favor, but they actually could hurt your rankings. Here are a few approaches you should avoid altogether.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is when you pepper your webpage with dozens of references of one of your targeted keywords. For example, if you wanted to rank for Atlanta dentist, there was a time when you’d repeat that phrase over and over again on a web page.

But by doing this, you’re likely creating an unfriendly user experience. Not only will that turn off your prospects, but it’ll turn off search engines as well.

The more appropriate approach to keywords is to look at these words and terms as subject ideas, from which all the content on your page will be focused on. For example, if your keyword is teeth whitening, your page should include relative terms and phrases (such as stained teeth, cosmetic dentistry, and so on).

Duplicated Content

cloned contentIt’s pretty easy to copy and paste someone else’s content and pass it off as your own. But don’t do it. If Google comes across two identical pieces of content, it will only index one of those pages, and, most likely, it’ll choose the one that was published first.

In other words, if you copy and paste a competitor’s webpage onto your own site, chances are your page will never rank.

Keep in mind you could be duplicating your own content as well. If you create a “services page” template and only change a few words based on the service you’re focusing on, each of these service pages will struggle to rank.

For example, you may have individual pages for Dental Cleanings, Composite Fillings, Tooth Extractions and Root Canal Therapy. If most of the content on each of these pages is identical, you’re doing your website a disservice.

Make sure each page is unique, and avoid copying content from competitors’ sites.

SEO is constantly changing – Make sure you stay on top of the trends!

Organic search accounts for the largest amount of web traffic on Google. Without a solid SEO strategy in place, you’ll struggle to grow your practice and reach the scores of web surfers in your area.

But creating a solid SEO strategy means staying on top of the latest trends and algorithmic changes that can impact your rankings. For instance, Google’s 2015 Mobilegeddon algorithm update gave a boost to mobile-friendly webpages. In other words, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, it isn’t going to rank well.

If you weren’t on top of the latest SEO news, you’d have never known why your website suddenly plummeted in rankings.

While many businesses rely on an SEO or digital marketing agency to handle their webpage rankings, you can grow your online presence by simply implementing the strategies we outlined above.