Website strategy for multi-location dental practices

Do you deploy a single website or one per location – and why?

Google local businessWhere a dentist has several practices in different locations, does it make sense to incorporate all of them on a single website or deploy a unique site for each? This is an interesting question and one which deserves very careful consideration if you are to gain maximum benefit and optimise new patient acquisition from Google.

The key driver for this is down to the way Google has evolved and how it presents search results differently for different users. Much of this relates to something called “localisation” and particularly how Google presents local businesses to local users in the search results. So for example, based here in Derby, if I search “dentist Derby” I see local business presented on page one and particularly in the three local (or map) results near the head of the page. This localisation aspect is incredibly important for SEO these days and drives many of the decisions we as digital marketers make, when developing strategies for our dental client’s websites.

Multiple locations – one website

This can be done and has some benefits from a management and cost perspective. However, there are also significant downsides, not just search optimisation related:

  • Including multiple locations on a single website dilutes the location signals Google uses when building ranking results. Even where you develop several distinct sections on the website to represent each of the different practices, you are still compromised when it comes to optimisation for search ranking
  • The different practices may have different objectives and services and it can be very difficult to differentiate this on a single website
  • Patients are easily confused and whilst you may think it is obvious which section of your website represents which practice, it’s easy for fickle users to get lost in the navigation and frustrated

Sometimes it’s simply not practical to deploy multiple websites and a single “umbrella” site has to be used – however, it is much more difficult to optimise these for Google than where each location has its own dedicated website.

Multiple locations – multiple websites

Where management time and budget allows, we normally recommend deploying a website for each dental practice location. Understandably this does incur larger establishment and running costs, but the benefits in terms of SEO and the new patient influx resulting from that, easily cover this.

The main advantages are:

  • It’s straightforward to optimise the website for the specific location; for the home page and all of the internal treatment pages
  • There is no SEO dilution which can result from incorporating multiple locations on a single site
  • Integration with important Google tools such as “My Business”, “Analytics” and “Search Console” is much easier
  • Differences in the practice objectives and services are much easier to demonstrate and differentiate
  • It’s much easier for users to navigate the site without potentially landing in the wrong sections

In most cases (there are a few exceptions), deploying a website per practice location is the recommended route and consistently yields better results than the alternative of incorporating all within a single site.

Making multiple websites cost-effective

In the face of this challenge, here at Dental Media we’ve developed a strategy to help dentists deploy multiple websites very affordably. This is primarily based on the the development of a “corporate” design template which is used for all of the websites. The name, logo and page navigation scheme is then adjusted to suit and each new site is published under a unique domain name and optimised for the location in question. Of course the page content for each website must also be unique as Google will not give credit or ranking positions to pages where the content has been copied from elsewhere.

This strategy is also very flexible – new locations can readily be rolled-out without lots of upfront design work slowing the process down. It also normalises and aligns the business brand across the various locations.

Whilst there may be a few cases where the one location/one website rule doesn’t apply, in most circumstances it does, and the advantages significantly outweigh the additional deployment and running costs.

If you have several practices in different locations and are considering your website and search marketing strategy, please get in touch with the Dental Media team on 01332 672548 for advice. We’ll be pleased to demonstrate how we’ve used our multi-site strategy to excellent effect for a number of clients.