Dominating Google Maps with Dental Practice SEO
For DSOs aiming to bolster the bottom line of their practices with increased new patients, the key lies in being found and chosen locally. And, the best way to be found and chosen is to rank high and wide on the Google map.
Optimization for Google Maps is a localized dental SEO strategy that cannot be overstated. The primary asset for improvement is the Google Business Profiles (GBP). Each of your practice GBP’s are essential to ensure each practice location can easily be found by potential new patients in the area.
In this article, we’ll discuss five ways to improve your Google map rankings for your practice locations by optimizing your practice location GBPs.
Do This Vital Step Before Optimizing
Make sure you understand where each one of your dental practice locations is already ranking well on Google Maps. You can do this by running a Google Map Heat Report.
Here’s why this is important. Rankings on the Google map are localized and based upon where the person is searching from. A person searching for a dentist across the street from the practice will probably find that practice ranking high on Google Maps rather than someone searching on the other side of town.
The only way to understand how well your practice ranks is to drive around town with your cell phone in hand, doing searches, and then looking to see how high your practice shows up. But no one is going to do that. Enter Google Heat Mapping.
A Google Heat Map is created by directing the Google search engine to run a search inquiry from a specific latitude and longitude. You don’t actually have to be standing at the location; you’re simply telling Google to run a search “as if” you were standing at that location.
Below is an example of a Google Heat Map for a practice and the search phrase “dentist near me.”
The practice is located in the center of the map. Each colored dot is half a mile from the next dot, and each dot represents a search result as if you were standing at that point, pulled out your phone, and searched “dentist near me.” The number on each dot is how far down the list the practice was found for each search. The lower the number is, the better. If you’re number 1, you’re the top listing on Google Maps at that location.
A practice will rank differently for each search phrase. For example, in the graphic below, we have the same practice, but the search phrase is “dental implants near me.”
Before optimizing, you should run a few Google Heat Maps for each practice. You may rank extremely well for “dentist near me” but not for “dental implants near me.” Knowing which search phrases you’re ranking well for will help direct what you need to do when you begin optimizing.
1. Check Your Websites Technical SEO and Speed
Technical SEO accounts for approximately 30-40% of your Google map rankings, which is weird because technical SEO is all about your dental website, not your Google listing. Well, folks, website SEO and how well your GBP ranks are connected. In Google’s eyes, your website and Google listing are one and the same.
Technical SEO is making sure that the nuts and bolts of your website are working correctly. How fast does your website load? Is it mobile-optimized? Is it current with all the requirements from Google, Bing, and Yahoo? It must be secure with a current SSL, images must be compressed correctly, all metadata and schema must be correct, and your hosting plan needs to provide enough bandwidth to load the site quickly.
These geeky terms may be confusing, but they’re not to the company that built your website or your website hosting company—anyone who works in website development and management understands all of these intimately.
💡Pro Tip: Run a Technical SEO and Site Speed Report. Give the report to your website development or hosting company and tell them you need an “A” grade. They should be able to fix errors, and you’ll see improved rankings on Google Maps.
2. Optimize Your Google Listing
Unknown to most DSO executives and even many marketing managers is the fact that you can optimize your GBP’s. Optimization of your listing pays out serious dividends by improving your rankings and helping your GBP to be found high on the map as well as in a wider radius. Ultimately you get more new patient phone calls.
For the best results, you want to make sure that you follow all of the steps in this dental SEO mastery guide.
💡Pro-Tip: In addition to your practice GBP’s, each one of your dentists have at least one “Practitioner GBP.” A practitioner GBP is a listing for the dentist. Google allows each practitioner to have a listing because they understand that many dental offices have multiple practitioners. A practitioner’s GBP can be optimized just like a practice listing. What this means for your DSO is that when patients search for a local dentist, they’ll find your location and practitioner listings. The more Google Maps real estate you control, the more new patient phone calls you’ll receive.
3. You Have to Have a Blog and Write to it.
Blogging is a crucial strategy for improved rankings. Google ranks websites according to a principle called E.E.A.T, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It’s a digital measuring stick that helps Google understand which dentist should be ranked higher in search. Google is not looking at your level of care, or how nice your office is, or whether you just purchased a Cerec. They are primarily looking at your website SEO. If you haven’t published a blog post to your website in a year, what does that say about your practice?
Blogging is foundational to SEO and ranking higher on the map. An active blog signals to Google and the other search engines that you’re a source of valuable information and a leader in your field. It directly impacts the E.E.A.T. algorithm.
💡Pro Tip 1: Run Google Heat Maps and write your blogs targeting areas where you’re not ranking well. For example, you’re not ranking in an area called “Tall Woods” for “dental implants” keywords. Write an article titled “7 Important Tips for Dental Implant Patients in Tall Woods.” You will see some improvement in your rankings for that area.
💡Pro Tip 2: Duplicate content on your websites will negatively impact your search rankings. Utilize tools like ChatGPT to write quickly and ensure originality by checking your copy with Grammarly or tools like it. And don’t worry about AI copywriting tools negatively affecting your rankings. Google recently announced that it will not negatively affect your website rankings if you used AI to write copy.
4. Create Valuable Links
Inbound links, also called backlinks, come from reputable and relevant websites, driving traffic to yours. For instance, when a respected online directory links to your site, it’s an inbound link. Inbound links are digital endorsements, acting like billboards for your site. When Google finds a link to your site on a trusted, relevant website, it sees it as a vote of confidence. This association boosts your credibility and pushes your site higher in search engine results. Prioritizing high-quality inbound links is vital for dentist SEO success.
Creating valuable links is one of the most difficult tasks in SEO because someone has to write something about your practice, or you have to be willing to write something for someone else. Writing requires time, and I’ve yet to meet a dentist or marketing manager who has extra time to write.
💡Pro Tip 1: Hire a professional copywriting company to help you out. It’ll take less time and money.
💡Pro Tip 2: Create inbound links with colleagues and local medical professionals through blog post exchanges. See the first suggestion in this article about how to create valuable dental practice links.
5. Consistent Social Media Engagement Improves SEO
Social media engagement will positively impact your SEO. Google and other search engines keep an eye on social signals. A social signal is anything positively happening within your social media accounts. Increased or consistent activity, more social media followers, high engagement, and links from your social media accounts to your website and GBP help with SEO.
Not only does social media activity help your GBP and website to rank higher but your social media accounts will start showing up in the organic search rankings. When a patient searches for your practice, they’ll find your website, your GBP, your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok pages all at the top of the search engine.
💡Pro-Tip: The key for DSOs social media success is a balance between time and ROI. In order to keep social media tasks and labor costs at a minimum, you need to use the best social media publishing software that you can find. The software that your marketing manager has at her fingertips is going to save tens of thousands of dollars in marketing and labor costs in the long run.
Dental Practice SEO: Conclusion
Mastering SEO for dental practices is a necessity to rank higher on the Google map and attract a consistent flow of new patients. From GBP optimization to technical SEO and social media engagement, each element plays a crucial role in building a strong online presence. Embrace these strategies to ensure that each of your dental practices stands out and attracts the attention it deserves in the digital realm.