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99 Problems: Local SEO for Dentists Ain’t One

Local SEO For Dentists

In the second part of our 99 Problems, we dive into the world of dentists. If you are a dentist ready to score some new patients? Let’s dive in!

Missed our first part of our 99 problems? Check out our article on GBP category dilution.

Google Business Profile SEO Tips for Dentists

When it comes to local SEO for dentists and the number of available GBP categories, the dental vertical wins first prize (the insurance vertical may be a close second).

What Google Business Profile (GBP) categories should dentists use?

As of my most recent count, I am seeing 13 available GBP categories. This seems like a wonderful thing for local SEO for dentists at first glance. But it also presents two challenges.

dentist gmb categories

Challenge #1: The primary GBP category matters the most

The primary GBP category carries the most ranking power when it comes to SEO for dental clinics, compared to the secondary categories, by a long shot. In fact, in the 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors study it was ranked as the number one Local Pack ranking factor.

local search ranking factors 2020

This means that the first order of business is selecting the best primary category. So which one do we pick? Dental Clinic? Dentist? Cosmetic Dentist?

In our experience, the most effective category in 99% of cases is Dentist. Why? Because the keyword Dentist and its explicit version Dentist + City gets the most search volume. Most patients start their journey with that search, even if they need a specific procedure, and it seems to drive the most conversions. As you can see in the ranking graph below, once we changed the primary GBP category for this dentist in NYC from Cosmetic Dentist to Dentist, they started to rank better for Dentist and didn’t lose rankings for Cosmetic Dentist. Win-Win.

primary gmb is dentist

Challenge # 2: You can only select 10 categories total

After deciding on a primary category, the second challenge becomes what to do with the remaining 9 available categories. Luckily, for those looking to capitalize on their local SEO for dentists, there are a few strategies available to you.

  1. Just pick the 9 that make the most sense. This is the simplest option. It’s also the least effective. For instance, if you are a general dentist, you likely do dental implants, teeth whitening, and perhaps some cosmetic work. Let’s say you want to rank locally for Dental Implants Near Me. The challenge you will face is the fact that you will be up against dental clinics that specialize in dental implants and are using that as their primary GBP category. The chances of outranking them are close to zero. Strategy number two is how to overcome this.
  2. Google allows businesses with practitioners to create separate GBP listings for each of the practitioners. If there is more than one dentist at the location, create a listing for each of them and optimize each one with a specific primary GBP category. Want to compete for dental implants near me? No problemo. Create a practitioner GBP and select that as the primary GBP category. Want to rank for ceramic braces near me? Google has you covered. Create a practitioner GBP and select Orthodontist as the primary category. Want to get some visibility for cosmetic dentist near me? You get the picture. Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure to link the Google Business Profile listing to the relevant service page on the website for each one. For instance, when you create a practitioner listing to rank for dental implants near me, use the dental implants page on the website as the GBP landing page.
  3. What if I am a solo practitioner? You can still take advantage of this strategy. Check out this article on how Google handles solo practitioner listings.

Don’t forget the hygienist

A seemingly lesser-known category related to dentists is the Hygienist GBP category. Depending on the market, searches for things like best dental hygienist near me and dentist hygienist near me get a decent search volume. And for some dental clinics, hygienists are one of the main reasons why patients make return visits to a dental clinic. One of the things I like to do if I am determining if I should create a GBP listing for the hygienist is to:

  1. Check the Search Queries report in GBP Insights to see if you are already getting visibility for people searching specifically for keywords related to hygienists.
  2. Check the Google reviews place topics and reviews snippets to see if patients are already mentioning the hygienist.

gmb hygienist categorygmb hygienist reviews

If you notice a trend where patients are saying great things about the hygienist you might want to consider creating a GBP profile for them.

Tips for optimizing a dental website

I wanted to share an tactic for local SEO for dentists that worked well for a dentist in Grand Prairie, Alberta that we work with. We don’t typically think of creating service area pages, or city pages for a dental clinic. This is especially true if you are a dentist in NYC, for instance, or any other major city with a large, dense population. Simply own your backyard and you will be just fine. But how does SEO for a dental clinic work if your clinic is in a rural area with a small population, and you need to attract patients from farther away? This is where a service area page strategy can come into play.

This particular dentist had this exact challenge to solve. They are located in Grand Prairie, AB, and in order to hit their growth goals, they needed to attract patients from surrounding areas that in some cases were pretty far away. So over the course of three years, we built pages on their website optimized to rank locally in those areas.

higson dental service area pages

And they performed well!

They started driving relevant organic traffic from those areas.

higson organic traffic

higson dental organic traffic

We also started ranking in the 3-pack in those areas. It’s typically pretty challenging to rank in the 3-pack outside of the city that you are physically located in, but if you are in a rural area, with smaller surrounding areas, it can work very well.

higson dentalhigson dental

Need some inspiration to implement this strategy for your own SEO for a dental clinic? Here’s an example of one of the service area pages that we created for them.

That wraps up part two of the 99 Problems series. Stay tuned for the next episode on SEO for car dealers.

Contact Sterling Sky Inc.

If you’re a local business that needs help with your Google My Business listing, review strategy, or online presence on Google and other search engines, at Sterling Sky we can help. We offer SEO auditsconsulting, or monthly local SEO services. Contact our office today for more information.

Read more of our insights on our top 5 SEO strategies for family lawyers.

Check Out What Others Are Saying About Our Local SEO Services for Dentists Near You

Joy and her team are always very professional and incredibly knowledgeable. We have always enjoyed working with Sterling Sky for all our SEO needs.

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Colan Nielsen

Colan started in the local SEO world back in 2010 and is also deemed a product expert by Google as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum. He is a contributor to Moz’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors survey and is a former Google MapMaker Regional Lead. Read Colan's full bio here.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Thank you for the info! How does the local filter work in cases where there is a practice and practitioner listing? Is it less likely to be applied if they have different primary categories?

    1. Hi Melissa, yes exactly. If the categories are different they won’t filter each other because they will rank for different queries.

  2. Thank you for this article! Really helpful info. If we have a dental office with more than one practitioner where the name of the practice is the same as one of our dentists, how would we go about creating a separate listing for that dentist? Ex: Cole Smith DDS is the name of the business. 2 dentists work there – Cole Smith and Ryan Phillips. So we want 3 listings. How would we differentiate the name of the dental clinic from the name of the practitioner, Cole Smith DDS?

    1. Hi Kylee, I would skip the practitioner listing for Cole SMith in that case. You’ll likely run into ongoing issues with the listings getting flagged as duplicates. Just do the main practice listing and one for Ryan Phillips.

  3. Brilliant strategy and an often overlooked one, especially for dental practices in less densely populated or rural areas. Creating service area pages or city pages tailored for specific locations helps bridge the geographic gap and is an excellent approach to cast a wider net. Not only does it cater to search engine optimization, but it also demonstrates the clinic’s willingness to serve broader communities, which can foster trust.

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