What the heck is Local SEO? Put simply it's optimising your local online presence, so when a potential patient is searching online for a dentist in your area, your business is front and centre. As a "Bricks and Mortar" business, it's essential that you nail all aspects of local SEO.
What is Local SEO and why it's essential for Dentists
Why is it so important? I know as a clever dentist, you're always looking for evidence-based data so I thought I'd start with a few stats that show why YOU need to be doing Local SEO dental marketing.
→ Online searches which included the term "near me" or "close by" increased by more than 900% over the last two years
→ 88% of consumers who do a local search on their mobile call or visit that business within 1 day
→ 46% of all people searching online are seeking local information
→ Approximately 33% of clicks go to the local 'Snack Pack' results, with 40% going to the regular organic results
What is a "Snack Pack" I hear you ask? No, I'm not talking about the custardy treat your mum used to put in your school lunchbox. The Snack Pack is the boxed map area that shows up at the top of the first page of the Google Search results. It displays the top 3 businesses most relevant to the search enquiry.
In this article, we're going to go through the essential parts of Local SEO along with actionable steps you can check yourself to help you optimise your Local SEO.
Just want us to give you the upshot of your Local SEO Health? We've created a DENTAL LOCAL SEO REPORT to provide you with a quick overview of your Local SEO performance. Simply fill in the details below for your free report.
Let's get stuck in.
Step 1: Check that your site is mobile responsive.
FACT: Google will never rank you high in the local SEO results unless your site is mobile responsive. But hey, unless you're living in 1995 - you already knew this didn't you:).
Apart from just checking your site on your mobile (which is completely cool too), you can do this quickly and easily on your desktop by following these simple steps.
While you on your site, click the three dots in the top right-hand corner of your web browser
Click 'More tools'
Click 'Developer tools'
Click on the 'toggle device toolbar' on the right-hand side of the screen
You should now see a mobile view of your website; you can change which type of device, i.e. iPhone 6, Pixel or iPad by clicking on the drop-down arrow in the top centre of the screen.
Not mobile responsive? It's probably time for a new website.
Step 2: Check your Google My Business account is optimised
Your Google My Business account is the cornerstone of local SEO.
Ensuring your account is claimed and optimised is crucial to your local SEO success. Without it, Google will never show you in the 'Snack Pack'.
Checking your Google My Business account (GMB) is easy:
Make sure you're signed into Google (using your Gmail account)
Your business has been 'claimed', but you are not the owner of your account. It may have been set up by someone else like the previous practice owner or your marketing agency. Ask whoever set it up to invite you to be an admin of the account.
Once you have access to your GMB account click on the 'info' option and ensure the following:
Your hours are correct and consistent with your website and social media accounts
You have an engaging description of your business and the services you offer
You've plenty of professional and beautiful photos of you & your practice
You've added categories for services you provide, i.e. Teeth Whitening Service, Dental Hygienist, Cosmetic Dentist etc.
Do not try and stuff keywords into your business name or description. Not only does it make your NAP (we'll explain more about this later on) inconsistent - it's against Google My Business guidelines.
Once you've done this, check you're also listed on the other search engines such as Bing and Apple Maps.
Step 3: Check your NAP & local citations
You may not realise it, but your business is mentioned many times online, not just on your website and social pages. But also on a ton of business directories as well.
When we talk about Citations, we're simply talking about the online mentions of your business. Think local directories such as Yellow Pages or Yelp or industry-specific directories such as dentist.com.au.
These citations list your Name, Address and Phone number - or your NAP. It's essential to make sure your NAP is consistent as citation signals are one of the top local SEO ranking factors. A consistent NAP and lots of mentions of your business online verify to Google that yours is a legit and trustworthy business.
When it comes to this step, you have two jobs:
Verify your citations are consistent and remove any duplicate listings
Build more relevant citations
The first place you want to start is to make sure your NAP is consistent across:
Google My Business
Your social media accounts
When we say consistent - we mean consistent. For example, if your address is written as 89 Smith St, Smithtown on your Google My Business account but written as Smith House, Cnr of Smith and Jones Rd, Smithtown on your website - this is inconsistent. Pick one and stick with it.
Unfortunately, checking your other citations without special SEO software is quite laborious and time-consuming but necessary.
Citations will need to be audited and cleaned up manually. To do this start by Googling your business name and check mentions of your business and make sure your NAP is correct.
To help you we've put together a list of the 30 top local citations in Australia.
When we talk about 'on-page' SEO - we're talking about your website. We speak to (way too) many dentists who come to us after their website's built who ask us to now "do the SEO". While we can improve SEO after your website is built - successful websites are created with SEO as an integral part of the foundation.
In saying that - here are some of the on-page SEO factors we can optimise to improve your local SEO.
Check your homepage is optimised for your main Keyword. It needs to be in your H1, your title tag and your URL. (Your main Keyword will depend on what you're trying to rank for, for most general dentists it will be "Dentist [your suburb])
Make sure your NAP information is on every page (usually in your footer)
Embed a Google map onto your site showing your location and a link to Google maps
Add relevant Schema markup. If you have access to the backend of your site and know how to add code, you can use Google's Structured Markup Helper to add this. Otherwise, ask whoever looks after your website
Check that your meta data contains your main Keyword
Have more than one surgery? You'll need to create specific location pages on your website for each practice. These pages need to be unique and provide potential patients with information such as opening hours, parking/transport options, and individual practice descriptions.
Step 5: Check your Google Reviews
Reviews are not only crucial for local SEO but also for humans searching online for a new dentist. Think about it, last time you booked a hotel or a new restaurant, didn't you check out their reviews? Potential patients are no different.
Here's how to quickly check reviews and find out how many reviews you should aim for to be the best in your hood.
Google' Dentist [my suburb]' i.e. Dentist Paramatta
From the 'Snack Pack' click "More places"
Ignoring the paid 'Ads' scroll down the list and see who has the most reviews - this is the number you have to beat
Implement a system for building genuine patient reviews
It's not enough to have the most reviews, you want to, of course, have the most 5-star reviews, but we don't recommend that you go out and get fake reviews. Google likes to see a natural timeline of additional reviews. Also, it's very bad form to leave fake reviews on competitor businesses.
Looking for a way to automate requesting reviews from only your happiest patients? Contact us to find out how.
Step 6: GMB Regular Check-up and cleans
Local SEO (just like 'traditional' SEO) is NOT a set and forget activity. You must continue to improve, stay active and monitor your results. The three most important things you need to be doing are:
1. Reply to your reviews.
Unfortunately, it's against AHPRA guidelines to reply to positive reviews on Google. We'd suggest that you contact these people personally via phone or email to thank them. The negative reviews must be addressed. A simple offer to have the person contact you directly to discuss the matter is enough. If you can't find the reviewer in your patient database - mention this in the reply.
2. Be on the lookout for inaccurate edits.
Anyone can go onto GMB and suggest edits to your listing. If you're the owner of your account, you will get email notification of this. If you don't go in and check the edit, Google may go ahead and makes these changes. Sadly, competitors and dodgy SEO companies have been known to go in make edits on other peoples GMB account on purpose.
3. Google My Business Posts
In your GMB account, you're able to go in and create posts. Regular and informative posts allow you to attract and connect with your audience.
So now you should have a good understanding of exactly what local SEO is, why it's essential and what you need to be doing to get in front of all the potential patients searching for a dentist in your area.
It seems like a lot of work, but I can pretty much guarantee you that most of your competitors in your area will not be doing this. So you have a tremendous opportunity here.
Seem like too much work? We totes understand. That's why we've created a Local SEO package to take care of everything for you. Contact us for a free 30-minute consult to see how we can help you nail your Local SEO so that you can get on with being an amazing dentist.