The dental industry is a competitive one. As of 2016, the American Dental Association says there are at least 196,441 dentists in the United States alone. Those who live in dense areas will likely find their colleagues scrambling to get the business of the same clients.
That’s why dentists compensate by building websites. But there lies another problem. When a site remains unoptimized for search engines, users will not find you in the search results page.
This is where dental SEO comes in. But rather than spending time doing it themselves, dentists choose to outsource the tasks at hand. Their focus, after all, should be on the patients and their practice.
Why do you need a dental SEO agency?
Why shouldn’t you do it yourself, you ask? Having to learn SEO from scratch is a massive undertaking. It’s a full-time job that requires an insane amount of resources. SEO agencies already have teams in place that have the expertise and experience to do the job right. The risks are reduced significantly.
Studies have shown that 75% of users will not go past page one of the search results. An SEO agency—especially one that primarily works with dentists—will be able to navigate you through the complicated road to the top.
There are also other areas where an agency could help. SEO is tied to user experience. Companies can look at your site and see what elements could be changed. Optimizing a site for mobile users requires knowledge of CSS and HTML. While that can be a problem for you, agencies are prepared to take on the challenge.
Building an in-house team to take care of online marketing can be expensive. An agency will save you time and money in the long run.
What makes a good dental SEO agency?
You can’t treat your website like any other e-commerce site. Your SEO needs are different. Your practice is targeted. It’s highly likely that you’re working in a single location. Ranking for every dentist-related keyword, while ideal, is not necessary.
Agencies are familiar with the best SEO practices. This includes performing keyword research, creating content, making sites responsive, and fixing metadata issues. So long as you find an SEO company that knows how to do all these, you’re golden.
So what elevates an average dental SEO company to a good one? That would be a company’s experience in doing local SEO. Brandon Seymour of Search Engine Journal mentions three key reasons why local SEO matters:
- Google (and other search engines) factor in location data when displaying search results
- People tend to include cities, states, or regions when searching for businesses on the web
- Consumers are starting to trust smaller, local businesses over larger brands
You want an agency that understands these points. You want them to be able to optimize your site specific to each location you’re targeting. If your clinics have multiple locations, your agency should be able to create separate web pages for each position.
Let’s walk you through an example. When a user needs to find a dentist, that person would most likely type “dentist in (your city)” or a derivative of that query. If your website is optimized for local SEO, your name or clinic should pop up in the results. This would make it easier for customers to get all the details they need so they can reach out to you.
A good dental SEO agency should be able to present you a comprehensive plan on how they’ll target specific communities.
An agency should also be able to look at your site and determine which steps to take to improve conversion. Any changes made in the name of better conversion rates means having more people reaching out to you. That translates to an increase in revenue.
User experience is just as important. When people go to your site, they need to be able to find what they’re looking for as fast as possible. They don’t need to be redirected to page after page of irrelevant information. An SEO agency should be able to tell you which pages to build and which ones should go.
Search engine optimization is an evolving field with trends changing in as fast as a couple of months. You need to be able to find an SEO company that’s at least aware of the latest developments in their field. Also, be wary of any one-man team that claims to be able to do everything. It’s highly unlikely that one person would be able to perform all the necessary tasks to improve your site.
Questions to ask dental SEO agencies
Moz.com released a list of questions to ask SEO agencies before you hire them and almost all of them are on point. Here are a few questions you could ask to gauge whether or not it’s worth partnering up with them:
Can you itemize the services you intend to provide as part of the strategy?
You want the agency to list down all of the services they can offer you. If the company is giving you the runaround, you should reconsider working with them. You want a transparent company who could break down how they intend to use the money you’re paying them.
There are other details you might want to inquire about. Like how many hours per month will they give you per service? Ask what technical aspects of the site are they auditing and fixing. If they’re creating new landing pages, how many will they provide in a month? Having them answer these questions will give you a timeframe to work with.
How will you optimize our content?
Having original content is essential. That is why most SEO companies include content creation as part of the deal. But having unique content is one thing. You want high-quality content. Try to ask for previous works you examine to gauge if they are up to par. Ask how they plan to optimize your site through the content they’ll produce.
How do you go about link building?
Having links to your site on other websites is a crucial component of SEO. This is referred to as link building. But not every link going to your site is good. They have to come from legitimate and credible sites. Unfortunately, some companies create links that are spammy. Google frowns upon this shady practice and would hand out penalties to websites that use this technique.
You should ask the agency how they do their link building. What kind of link building will they be doing? How many links should you expect in a month? Do they have a list of sites to contact for placement opportunities? What’s their understanding of the latest Google updates? How do they define a quality backlink?
Walk away if their plan involves violating Google guidelines.
Can I meet the team assigned to my project?
You want to work with the best. That’s why you want to meet with the team that you’ll be working with. Interview them to see if they have the experience to do the task at hand. Throw them a question about their specializations. When presented with a team of interns, reconsider your position.
Do you currently work with any of our competitors?
While fairly obvious why they shouldn’t accept contracts from competitors, some agencies tend to take jobs regardless. Find out if the agency works with other dentists in your area. Continue working with them if you’re sure that it is not the case.
What do you know about our industry?
You need to know if they understand the industry you’re in. Every industry’s needs are different so you need to assess if they can work on updating a dentist website. This is even more important of they’ll be making changes to your site content.
How much time will be required from you?
It’s a good thing if the agency wants to get in touch with you on a regular basis. However, you do have a job of your own. If they require your constant attention, then working with the agency will do you more harm than good. The whole point, after all, is to have them do the work for you. Clarify from the get-go how much time you can commit on a weekly or monthly basis.
What sort of ranking increase can we expect?
This one is a trick question. There is no real answer to this question as there are multiple factors to consider. No reputable company will give you an exact answer. They will instead explain how they can get you on top of the search rankings based on their experience. If the agency guarantees you’ll be number one for any related search queries, you’re probably being taken for a ride.
How will you analyze campaigns and report on them?
Ask them how they plan on reporting progress to you. Learn what tools they’ll be using and how often they plan on giving feedback. You need to stay on top of their development.
The best dental SEO agencies to choose from (so far)
VJG Interactive offers several services including local SEO, PPC management, link building, social media, and online reputation management. They offer a free consultation so you should take advantage.
DDS Rank specializes in dental SEO. To be more specific, they specialize in “capturing local customer traffic.”
Prodentite is another agency that caters to dentists as well as orthodontists, periodontists, and other specialists. They will help identify issues that can cause you to get penalized by Google. If you don;t have a website, they can set one up for you.
Brick Marketing is based in Boston. They offer the following services: SEO, white hat link building, content marketing, social media marketing and PPC advertising.
There are other dental SEO agencies out there, but these four should be a good start. If you’re uncomfortable with what they have to offer you, remember that you can shop around for better deals.
Example of excellent dental SEO campaigns
If you’re still having doubts as to what a dental SEO agency can do for you, there are case studies available online. These studies discuss how dentists have seen an increase in business by having agencies implement SEO changes. Below is one case study by Patient Prospectors, a dental SEO agency.
The agency was tasked by Falls Park Dentistry determine how they could gain more clients. Up until 2014, the clinic’s efforts had been limited to traditional marketing including Yellow Pages listing which just doesn’t work these days.
The agency did an audit and saw multiple site issues. The clinic’s phone number was not displayed prominently. The names of the doctors and services offered were nowhere to be seen. When they tried to view the site from a mobile device, they were unable to navigate. That was when the agency decided to create a new website.
After the site redesign, an SEO team stepped in and focused on content creation. Efforts were made to build backlinks so that search engines could rank the new site. All of this resulted in the following:
- New Website is Converting More Visitors to New Patients
- 19 high-value keywords on page one of Google
- 11 high-value keywords on page one of Yahoo
- 16 high-value keywords on page one of Bing
- Increased Website Traffic by 89%
- Increased Phone Calls by 70%
- Generated Over 100 Positive Reviews
You can access the full version of the dental marketing case study here.
Dentists have a lot of competition out there, but with a dental SEO agency, you’ll have some advantage over your colleagues. SEO takes up a lot of time and training. So why not hire an agency who would do all the work for you?
Find the right agency by following the guidelines above. Let them take care of online marketing so you can concentrate on bringing smiles to your customers’ faces.