Local SEO for Orthodontists

/Local SEO for Orthodontists
Local SEO for Orthodontists 2017-11-12T10:14:26+00:00

If you are an orthodontist, you are aware of how hard it can be to attract new patients. While some patients come through a referral network of dentists, many others choose to self-refer. When that happens, the prospective patient will generally run a Google search and simply call the first one on the list. To maximize your patient list, then, you need to make sure you are in that critical top spot.

We will walk you through our proven step by step process to move your practice to the top of the list. But before we do that, let’s analyze why local SEO is absolutely critical for any orthodontist.

3 Reasons Orthodontists Should Invest in Local SEO

Google Is the New Yellow Pages:

Getting new patients used to be a simple matter of placing a Yellow Pages ad and waiting for the calls to come in. In today’s internet age, though, fully 97% of prospects look for local businesses online, and Google is by far the dominant force in search.

Free Traffic:

Although the ads of the Yellow Pages are no more, advertising is still one of the biggest expenses for the majority of small businesses. If you can improve your Google rankings, you will benefit from a constant stream of free traffic that you need only convert into patients.

Quick Results:

On average, national and international companies must wait at least 6 months to a year to see a significant improvement in their Google rankings. As an orthodontist, though, you have a huge advantage. The reason is that you are competing only against other orthodontists in your local area, not those on the opposite side of the country. And a lot of your competitors have not yet discovered the power of local SEO. With a targeted local SEO campaign, you could hit the first page of Google local results in as little as 30 days!

Step 1: Select Your Keywords

Step 1 of your local SEO campaign is simple: list the keywords that best describe your services. As an orthodontist, you might try such keywords as “braces”, “Invisalign”, and “teeth straightening”. Once you have a fairly sizeable list, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

You do not need to develop or pay for an ad campaign, but you do need to have an account to use Google’s free Keyword Planner. This tool lets you input your chosen keywords to find out how much traffic they get. It also offers suggestions for related keywords that you might not have thought about.

With all of this information available, you are now ready to decide on exactly which keywords you will use. All keywords fall into one of two basic categories:

  • Buying Intent: These keywords are used by people who are imminently ready for your services. For example, someone searching for “adult braces Chicago” probably knows that he needs braces, and is ready to choose an orthodontist for the job.

    Focus your local SEO campaign on buying intent keywords, which produce the fastest results. Make sure those keywords are featured on your homepage, and structure your service pages around them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords indicate that the prospect is just shopping around. She might need orthodontic work at some point, but is not ready to have it done. For example, someone searching for “braces colors” might have a feeling that braces are in her future, and is curious what they might look like.

    Make research intent keywords a lower priority, since they do not drive quick conversions. However, they can still be useful in FAQs and blogs. These posts introduce your practice to prospects who might think of you when they are ready to have work done.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

Once you have a final list of keywords, you are ready to optimize for them in two different places—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s how:

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a mini-website that appears in the “Map” section of Google listings. It increases your overall presence online and gives potential new patients a quick summary of your practice. In addition, it is much easier for a Google My Business page to become highly ranked than for a webpage, which means you can boost your Google rankings even more quickly.

Follow these steps to make sure your Google My Business page is accurately and fully filled out:

  • Verification: First, claim your page and submit to Google’s verification procedure. You will know this step is complete when you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your company name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be accurate on your Google My Business page and entirely consistent across the internet. Make sure Google knows that your business is local by listing a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google categories can be a bit confusing, as Google requires you to list your services rather than your results. Besides Orthodontist, you might try such categories as Cosmetic Dentist and Pediatric Dentist, if you provide those services. Try to list 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: Think of the description as a 100 to 200-word overview of your practice that ends with a call to action. This format generally works well: {Name of Practice} offers professional {orthodontic services, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your background and/or why patients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for a free estimate!
  • Hours: Make sure your office hours are up to date, and are listed consistently throughout the internet. If you offer emergency after-hours treatment, list that information in a separate paragraph.
  • Images: Images are a wonderful way to boost patient engagement and show prospects that you are trustworthy. Try adding a few photos of the office, or of satisfied patients’ smiles (with permission!). Your images must be sharply focused, sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Start by optimizing your homepage and service pages, also known as your “core” pages, for your chosen buying intent keywords. Later, you will shift your attention to your “content” pages, or blog posts and FAQs, which are centered around your identified research intent keywords. Here is how to optimize:

  • Homepage: The title tag is the most important part of your homepage. Think of it as a book’s chapter title, and make sure it is between 50 and 65 characters. Try this format: Orthodontist in {Your City} | {Name of Your Practice}.

    The next most important element is the meta description, which calls attention to your primary services and ends with a call to action. It should be between 100 and 150 characters in length, and use a format similar to: {Name of Practice} offers quality {braces and Invisalign treatment, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today to schedule your free evaluation!

    Known as the H1, your visible headline must be descriptive yet concise, and include your primary category. Try this format: {Orthodontist} in {City, State}.

    Finally, consider your page copy. It should be 500 to 1000 words long, cleanly written, and well edited. It should give background information about your practice, briefly describe your main services, and end with a strong call to action. Include your primary keyword in a natural way.

  • Service Pages: Each primary service should have its own page, and each should be tightly focused on a single keyword. Optimize each service page in the same ways as your homepage.

Step 3: Build Citations and Links

With your local SEO campaign’s basic structure in place, it is time to build citations and links. These elements improve your online reach and help to boost your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is a listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) in an online directory. You can use general national directories such as yellowpages.com and Facebook, as well as general local directories such as the website for your town’s Chamber of Commerce. In addition, seek out directories that are targeted to orthodontists in particular or dentists in general. Make sure your NAP is identical in every listing.

    Although many directories are free, some provide only paid listings. Before you invest, use Google Analytics to find out whether that site is driving traffic and conversions.

  • Links: You can easily boost your Google rankings by developing inbound links from top-quality, authoritative sites. Build relationships in person and online with businesses that offer complementary services, such as general dentists. Then ask those companies if they would mind trading links. Also use a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer tool to determine where other orthodontists in your area are getting their links.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Patient reviews are critical for two reasons: they convince prospects to try your services, and they reassure Google that you have a legitimate practice. Although all review sites play an important role, Google My Business page reviews provide the fastest increase in your rankings. Send an email to your satisfied customers with a link to your Google My Business profile, and ask them directly to write a review. If you do this on a consistent basis, you will soon have a frequently-updated stream of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Progress

You can only learn how well your local SEO campaign is doing, and find those areas that need improvement, by tracking your results. Although there are innumerable ways to track and analyze page data, focus on these three core metrics:

  • Rankings: Since Google customizes its search results based on past browsing behavior, the only way to know how a particular page actually ranks is through a tool. Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, the free Google Search Console is a good start. Ask your webmaster to install it, and then check your report once or twice per month.

    For a more complete picture, consider a paid tracking tool such as the one available through RankRanger. It offers the ability to track your Google My Business page as well as your webpages, and provides automatically updated ranking information from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: Google Analytics is the best way to track your traffic, or how many people visit your website. You can look at your total traffic, which pages draw the most visitors, and the percentage of visitors that come from Google search. Check your traffic report each month, and keep an eye out for any long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is any specific action you want your website visitors to perform. For example, you might want them to schedule a free evaluation. Google Analytics lets you track telephone conversions as well as web conversions, see which services draw the most conversions, and even determine which pages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Let’s Get Started!

As you can see, a comprehensive local SEO campaign is key to driving more potential patients to your orthodontics practice. Make your way through the five steps in order, finishing one in its entirety before moving on. Here is a recap:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping orthodontists attract more local patients through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote

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