Avoid These Recurring Dental SEO Mistakes

Avoid These Recurring Dental SEO Mistakes

Don’t pay for search engine optimisation which doesn’t perform

If you’ve read any of the SEO articles on our blog you’ll know just how important prominent website ranking in Google is. New patient enquiries from practice websites in the top three positions of page one in Google are 15 times greater than those for the websites at the bottom of the page. If you are on page two, then it’s pretty much useless.

It’s also worth reminding that the number of new patients coming from website enquiries is, on average, only second to the number coming via word-of-mouth referral.

Knowing the above, you might consider that most dentists would prioritise their website search optimisation to ensure that they reached those lucrative top positions? Of course some do, but many do not bother at all. Perhaps even worse is the huge number of dentists who pay large sums for SEO services but never actually achieve their goals. They may understand why it’s an essential marketing activity but don’t have the knowledge or experience to understand where they are being let down.

To give some additional insight into this and to help you avoid similar issues, here are the top five recurring SEO mistakes we encounter time after time.

Ignoring local SEO

It’s easy to assume that everyone knows what we mean by “local SEO” but that would be misguided. Relatively few dental professionals actually understand that page one of Google displays in separate sections, e.g. the paid ads, traditional organic results, knowledge panel and local/map results. The layout of page one is covered in more detail elsewhere in this blog.

The local (or map) results are the (typically) three business which are listed in the top half of the page together with additional information such as reviews and mapping. Recent research suggests that over 30% of all web traffic goes via the local results which is on a par with clicks on paid ads. So it makes sense to ensure that your website (more accurately your business), features prominently there. Unfortunately that is not the case for many dentists and so they miss out on this large tranche of local search traffic by default.

Featuring in the local results involves a range of techniques supplemental to “standard” SEO and so you need to ensure your marketing agency has got you covered for that. You’ll also need to play your own part in gaining business reviews, a significant part of the local SEO strategy.

Targeting irrelevant, low-traffic search terms

This is more the fault of an unscrupulous marketing agency rather than the fault of the dentist. The mistake arises when the dentist is duped to believe that a certain search phrase is relevant and popular when it actually attracts very little useful traffic at all. The marketing company then proudly presents that the key phrase is top of Google; but this is easy to achieve as it’s essentially irrelevant and hence has little competition. We see lots of competitor SEO reports which contain dubious information like this. Don’t be duped and ensure that your campaign is actually targeting relevant searches and topics.

Failing to focus on traffic and conversions

We mentioned keywords above and they are still an important guide. However, much more important is the level of traffic flowing to you website and how much of that traffic actually converts into meaningful enquiries. Too many dentists are fixated on keywords but don’t look at the traffic and conversion fundamentals.

Similarly, ‘dodgy’ SEO companies will love this scenario because it allows them to hide using the type of keyword tricks mentioned above. But it’s impossible to hide behind traffic and conversion statistics, so please be sure you are monitoring these.


What I mean by this is allowing your SEO team to set up your campaign and then never update you or it ever again. With Google introducing hundreds of search algorithm updates each year, changes in rankings positions should be expected. It’s the role of your SEO team to monitor this proactively and then set and re-set strategies accordingly. They should appraise you regularly and also how they are adjusting your campaigns to meet the ever-changing search landscape.

Switching your SEO before it takes effect

Several years ago, Google introduced a set of web publishing guidelines as part of its efforts to combat web spam i.e. bad SEO purely designed to try to manipulate the ranking results. Alongside comprehensive algorithms designed to weed out and penalise the SEO spammers, these guidelines are designed to help bone fide websites prosper and do well in Google, whilst the bad guys get relegated.

What this means is that SEO has to be performed cautiously, naturally and in compliance with Google’s publishing rules. Step outside of this and chances are that your website will be penalised. Consequently, it can take several months to improve ranking results and then ongoing effort to continue and consolidate the optimisation – patience is very definitely required!

Unfortunately we see examples where dentists expect to be in top position in a couple of months and get frustrated as a result. This can result in them ceasing SEO altogether or switching completely to paid ads. In the opening paragraphs we alluded to how lucrative great organic search rankings actually are and why they need to be a priority for any dentist’s marketing strategy; so quitting SEO early is never a good plan. Hang in there and reap the rewards in good time.

We’ve also had a couple of clients who worked with us to achieve great ranking positions and then decided to quit because they thought the job was done. No surprises when those rankings gradually started to fall away as the months progressed. SEO is very definitely an ongoing task.


Dental SEO is extremely rewarding when executed competently and under the jurisdiction of a trusted marketing partner. However, finding such a partner and then understanding what they are doing on your behalf is not straightforward and it’s easy for a dentist to get sucked into the types of mistakes we’ve illustrated above.

If you’re struggling to get the search ranking success you expect or if you’re keen to embark on a new campaign and need guidance, please get in touch with the Dental Media team on 01332 672548.