If you think only large corporations or businesses pay attention to their websites, I’ve got some news for you. Around 73% of all small businesses have their own websites and that includes doctors, lawyers, and even dental practices.

Having a large sign on your front door and a couple of park benches used to suffice as a marketing campaign, but those days are long gone. If you're a single dentist with a small office or if you’re running several practices with different practitioners, you need a website to reach your potential customers and market. Just because your practice happens to sit on a busy thoroughfare doesn’t mean foot traffic will be enough to pay the bills. It’s now believed that almost 99% of consumers use the internet to search for local businesses. Word-of-mouth isn’t as effective as it used to be, so it’s time to put together a website that not only ranks highly with your customers but gets you ranked highly with Google.

This isn’t late breaking news, by the way. There’s a good chance your competitors are already using a bevy of different techniques to draw eyes to their website and away from yours. Having a basic page with contact information and operating hours isn’t going to cut it anymore. Without making improvements to your profiles and website, you could fall down Google’s rankings. That means when a user in your area searches for a dentist they won’t find you.

You need a website that focuses on patient acquisition and business growth. So instead of waiting for Halloween candy to cause another wave of cavities, here are ways you can optimize pages and profiles so that you have a steady stream of customers all year round - and finally beat your competitors in the rankings.

Importance of your Google Business Profile

The importance of Google, in general, cannot be overstated. Not only has the company’s name become synonymous with searching online, they’ve broken down the barriers between consumers and producers. Around 86% of users use Google Maps to search for businesses. So when they search for their local dentist in your area they’ll, hopefully, find your Google Business Profile. That profile is more than just a couple of pictures and a way to get directions, it’s another extension of your brand. It can also give you some extremely valuable data on your business and user behavior.

I’ve already written about several ways small businesses track their success and the Google Business Profile is the easiest way of doing it.

How To Improve Your Google Business Profile

Don’t assume it takes an MBA to run your Google Business Profile. After you’ve claimed your business it’s a relatively simple process, but it’s still one you can easily screw up. Here are a few tips on how you can immediately optimize your GBP.

  • Accurate Address and Operating Hours
  • Descriptions of Exact Service and Specialties
  • Respond to Customer Reviews and Statements
  • Enable Customer Messaging
  • Include Relevant Keywords
  • High-Quality Photos

GBP vs. Your Website

Your GBP can be so optimized that it might even overtake your website in Google’s rankings. That’s not necessarily an issue, in fact, it’s been shown that having a higher ranking GBP helps your website and vice versa. This typically stems from the fact that your GBP features a lot of information relevant to local SEO - the regional form of search engine optimization.

Categories, target keywords, distance, and industry are all different factors that affect local SEO rankings. The best way for your site and GBP to work with each other instead of against each other is information matching. Your messaging and business info is part of your brand, so make sure that carries over to every place that messaging can be found. This is also where the NAP comes into play. Your Name, Address, and Phone number need to be consistent and available, something your GBP greatly helps with so long as that info is correct.

Your GBP and your website need to have matching information to help propel each other up Google’s ranking system.

Highly Competitive Dental SEO Field

Just like any other medical practitioner, there’s a lot of competition for dentists these days. As I already mentioned, having a couple of parents speaking your praises is not going to cut it anymore. Your competitors are using a wide range of techniques to widen the range of their market. 

Search engine optimization is one of the structural pillars of modern websites. By strategically including certain information and keywords, SEO makes it more likely for a customer searching for businesses like yours to actually find yours. SEO isn’t just a button you press or a flip to switch, though. It’s a modern science and one that’s executed with different strategies.

When it comes to local dentists, some of the best things to focus on is local SEO. This, in general, is a combo of Google Business Profile optimization and website content.

Lack of Quality Content

Just throwing a bunch of keywords or random videos on your website won’t help your SEO. Actually, keyword stuffing is one of the ways you can over-optimize your website. Google is smarter than you think, so it’s best to add worthwhile content to your website that’s useful to users instead of just clickbait. Here are some examples.

Educational Blog Content

Want to ease patient minds as well as rise through Google’s rankings? Blog content is possibly the best way to do that. It demonstrates your expertise and knowledge while providing essential knowledge to your customers. Google is a big fan of blog posts and you should be too.

Service Pages

You might have a different specialty than other dentists in your area and your website should highlight that. Not only does it add valuable keywords and content to your pages but customers will know that you’re capable of the exact kind of care they require.

Local Content

Community outreach is important for any local business. If you sponsor a kids' soccer team, organize a volunteer event, or provide to any regional charities that should be featured on your website. Customers love being part of a community so make sure your dental practice is an active member of that community.

Other Ways to Boost Your Dental Practice Website

Video content and virtual tours that show your practice, your staff, and your personality. Staff directories and FAQ pages can ease the minds of tense or fearful patients. Graphic demonstrations of procedures so customers learn exactly what they’re in for. These are just a few relatively minor additions that can completely revitalize a website and its pages, but it’s not everything your website needs to be effective.

Poor Website UX - User Experience

Your website could have all the content in the world but if the pages aren’t loading, your traffic is heading elsewhere. The user experience needs to be optimized and that takes attention to detail.

First of all, most users are on their phones now, so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you’re losing a significant amount of potential customers. Page speeds are much slower than what they used to be so make sure your website doesn’t feel like it was last optimized in 2009. That same principle can be applied to your website’s navigation. When you’ve added the above content to improve your ranking, you want users to be able to find that content. A higher session rate doesn’t matter when the user spends most of that time trying to find your blog or being frustrated over your poor navigation tools.

Add menus that can be easily opened and used so that every resource on your website is readily available. That’s also an essential accessibility feature. The ADA has an entire list of ways to make your website more accessible to everyone, even those who are differently-abled, so make sure you’re following them.

Backlinks are as valuable as a customer willing to tell their friends about you. Any time your website is linked to a list of local dentists, a small business registrar, or a news article that’s considered a backlink. When it’s a reputable company describing the high quality of your care, that’s basically a free advertisement and one that Google recognizes. The problem is when that source is considered spam, or not relevant to your industry, then it’s considered a weak backlink.

You need to value quality over quantity in every facet of your website. Yes, that even includes the kind of backlinks that lead to that website. Reach out to reputable authorities, like local news stations or charitable organizations, and build relationships. See if there are any locals who blog about small businesses and see what they can say about you. You’re an expert in your field, right? Offer to write a blog for your local newspaper where you answer basic questions about dentistry.

Build authority on relevant content, and from reputable sources and platforms, and you’ll cultivate a wealth of worthwhile backlinks.

Technical SEO Issues

No, technical SEO issues are not related to the grammar you used in your keyword phrases. They relate to the performance of your website and how that also affects SEO. The worse your website performance on key metrics the lower you’ll fall in Google’s rankings. So it’s not just users who notice when your site speed is lower than others, Google notices too. Choose a web host that competes with the best not one that competes with the lowest prices.

You also want to give search engines a helping hand when it comes to interpreting and understanding your content. Schema markup is a way of adding unique tags to a page’s code that allows the search engine to more comprehensively standardize your content.

Security is also a fairly important issue. You want to protect user privacy as much as your own, so incorporate HTTPS to add an additional layer of security and protection between your website and web browser. With higher security protocols you increase your trust with the user and, consequently, increase your spot in the rankings.

Those aren’t extraordinary lengths website owners should go to, this a short but comprehensive list of the ways to maintain a well-functioning website. Make sure your website is fast, its content is discernable, and that it's secure enough to protect you and the users visiting it.

Inaccurate or Inconsistent Citations

When your website or business gets those precious mentions on other pages, you want that info to be correct. A mistyped website URL or an incorrect address could send customers going the wrong way or direction. Your dental practice needs to be accurately represented in all of its mentions and that takes a decent amount of effort - or just a nifty internet tool.

Citation building is a way of making sure information about your brand is consistent and universal. Several companies offer that service, and when they do, you get a list of different sources and directories where your website is listed. Then, you can use the builder to add key information to those listings so that all users learn more about you and your business. Those could be hours, addresses, and phone numbers which are just as effective as a screenshot of your business card every time your dental practice is mentioned.

I recently wrote a piece about the citation-building company called Brightlocal and how it can benefit your business for just a few bucks. Don’t sit on a service that can benefit you, get the word out there with a competent citation builder.

Poor Online Reviews and Review Management

Reviews as worth their weight in gold. Your care and services are being reviewed on dozens of different websites and apps and you need to encourage it. If you're confident in your care, suggest or ask satisfied patients to review you. Even just a 5-star Google review is a huge boost. It demonstrates your quality and as the reviews increase it will also demonstrate the popularity of your practice.

You can also show more of your personality by responding to reviews, even the bad ones! Add context and explain situations, without violating HIPAA, so that users understand why that review was made. We recently did some work with Center City Orthodontics that saw them get some major improvements on key metrics. That didn’t happen with overly complicated web tools, it happened with a calculated pivot to focusing on Google reviews.

Just like the rest of these strategies, your website likely doesn’t need a complete reinvention. You're being outranked because your customers spent time doing the research. Now that you’ve done the same, create worthwhile content, fix your SEO issues, and get those backlinks sorted out.

Local patients are waiting to find you, so remove these virtual obstacles to fix your dental practice website.