How To Rank Your Dental Website In The Google Local Listings
Local SEO – Key Features Dentists Should Know
As you are very likely aware, getting your dental website prominent on to the first page of Google search results is very important. New patient acquisition from the web is second only to word-of-mouth referrals and so any business wishing to avoid or at least minimise paying significant sums of money for paid ads, will have a solid ‘organic’ SEO strategy in place.
The first page of Google is split into different sections and I’ve covered this in depth elsewhere in this blog. One of the key areas where you need to seek prominence for your dental business is in the local or ‘map’ listings – this is the area near the top of the page where typically three results appear along with a map detailing their actual location. In addition to the map, each of the results is displayed with a link to the business website, another link for directions to it and, very importantly, the number of reviews the business has gained.
These ‘local’ results are very prominent and catch the eye of users very quickly. Data suggests that over a third of all traffic from Google now originates from people clicking on one of the results and so it’s very clear why getting your website into this local pack as it’s known, should be a key objective. But how do you go about achieving that?
In today’s SEO blog we will take a look at 10 of the key ranking signals Google uses when determining which websites to include in the local results on page one. Generating these signals comes with differing degrees of difficulty; some you will be able to achieve yourself, other elements will very likely need the assistance of a dental SEO professional.
Let’s make a start with the fundamentals of local SEO ranking for dentists:
Set up your ‘Google My Business’ Page
Google provides a little corner of the web for all business where basic information for that business can be added. Setting up this page is fundamental as it lets customers and Google know what the business is about and key information about location, opening times, types of services offered etc. You can (and should) upload photographs to show people different aspects of your facilities and services. For a dentist, this could range from pictures of the outside of the dental surgery, through to indoor shots showcasing your surgeries and equipment.
You must not skimp on this set-up and the consistency of the data you enter there is very important too. There are plenty of guides on-line and as part of our SEO auditing service, Dental Media can also assist to make sure you get this key information absolutely spot on.
Name, Address, Phone Number Consistency (NAP)
When we are configuring SEO to help drive listings in the local results, one key thing we must do is to ensure NAP consistency. This refers to how the name, address and phone number of your business appear in Google My Business, on your website and indeed on any listing where your business is included on the web. Google scans all of this information and uses it to categorise and locate your business – if the NAP information is inconsistent, then this won’t help Google or your chances of appearing well for local searches.
Local business directory submissions
Any signal which helps Google to understand what your business is about and where you are based is useful and this is where good quality local business web directories come into play. Seek out and submit your dental business to as many of these as possible, but make sure they are good quality and not just “spam farms” designed for link-building. Here at Dental Media our local SEO team maintains lists of bone fide directories for lots of different locations within the UK, all reviewed on a quality basis to ensure compliance with Google’s publishing guidelines.
Get listed on local review sites
You don’t want to submit to any old site, but there are a number of really useful ones where listing your business will help with local SEO efforts. Whilst the reviews you receive on Google (and to some degree Facebook) carry by far the most weighting, good reviews accrued elsewhere can also help.
The number of good reviews a dentist receives appears to correlate well with presence in the local pack listings. Whilst this isn’t always the case, it tends to follow that businesses with lots of good reviews often also appear very well for local searches. Google itself states that a high proportion of good reviews will help to improve a business’s visibility and help to drive new enquiries.
I can’t stress how important it is to have a proactive process to gather reviews at your practice and it’s never too early to start!
Respond to reviews
There is some evidence to suggest that how you respond to reviews is taken into account by Google for ranking purposes, but even if this isn’t the case, it makes sense to do it from a business perspective. So be sure to answer the positive and negative reviews you get. Please see elsewhere in this blog for guidance on how to answer reviews, particularly negative ones, most appropriately.
Create a Facebook business page
Whilst ‘social signals’ have limited direct effect on SEO, there is some worthwhile secondary effect to capture. In fact Google has publicly stated that they can capture business information from a variety of sources and use this to determine what a business does and where it is based.
You should also create your business listing on other social platforms e.g. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, even if you don’t intend to be very active on those platforms. Remember that Google is able to find and collate all of these types of signals.
Make sure your website is mobile optimised
This may sound obvious but it’s particularly important for local SEO too. With people looking for local business whilst out-and-about on their mobile ‘phones, it really helps to ensure that their user experience on those devices is as friendly as possible. Google will analyse for this too – so if your website hasn’t been audited technically for a while, now is time to get it done and any issues rectified.
Localised website and blog content
In addition to the basic location information on your website e.g. your address etc, you should also look to create additional location specific information on your site and blog.
The basic SEO techniques will apply for treatment pages where your web copy should reference your location, but also try to reference other local interest information such as charity events, trade events, wedding fairs etc. All of this ‘localised’ information provides great references and local signaling for Google to pick up on.
Technical enhancement to boost local SEO
Hopefully whoever built your website did all of the basics right when it came to adding in the basic elements needed to form a good platform for SEO. However, it’s well worthwhile an audit if your Google positions haven’t turned out as expected or what you were promised.
Even with those basics in place, there is still more can be done to boost local SEO performance. For example, a technique known as ‘structured markup’ can be used to add code to a website to help Google understand specific types of information such as opening times, location etc. This is quite restricted for a dentist but can still add some value in specific circumstances.
There is also a lot of evidence to suggest that those websites which have strong SEO which helps them appear prominently in the traditional Google rankings (the ‘ten blue links’), also tend to do well in the local listings. So it’s increasingly clear that good quality SEO which builds a website’s relevance and its overall prominence in Google, is also important to help it appear well in the local/map listings. Indeed your SEO team should be focused on achieving good rankings for you in all areas of Google.
Ensuring a dental website appears well in the Google search local listings is extremely important as this area of Google alone accounts for over a third of all searchers’ clicks. Techniques exists to ensure that your website is set up correctly to help achieve this, along with other ‘off page’ techniques which generate the type of signals Google needs to determine which websites to rank in the local pack.
Some of these key elements you will be able to work on as a local team, for example, the number of reviews your business gets. However, there are other more technical aspects which will very likely need the assistance of an experienced dental SEO practitioner.
Do you need some help with Google listing for your own practice website, including ranking in the local pack results? Please get in touch with the team at Dental Media for a no-obligation audit and transparent advice on 01332 672548.