How to Improve Your Dental Website Rankings in 2016 and Beyond – Part 2

Maintaining your dental website’s ranking can be hard to do. Last month, we examined factors that affect where your website shows up on a search engine results page, whether they are the snack pack or within organic listings. Now that you have an understanding of which factors affect you overall, we’ll go into more detail on how to improve you rankings within Google’s snack pack (set of the top three local businesses that match a search query, displayed on Google’s search engine results page).

Google Snack Pack from Search Engine Results Page

Before you get started, we’d recommend that you brush up on basic SEO lingo with your free guide to The ABC’s of SEO: The Search Engine Optimization Dictionary for Dentists.

Here’s three reasons why it’s important that your practice ranks within a Google snack pack:

  1. A snack pack is prominently shown on a search engine results page above organic listings, incentivizing searchers to stop looking further down on the page
  2. Your reviews are highlighted within the pack, helping you earn searchers’ trust
  3. Searchers can easily navigate directly to your website, or call you from your listing.

Because Google’s snack pack has made it more convenient for searchers to find local businesses, it’s very competitive to appear within them.

Below are the top 3 factors that influence your ranking within the pack, and what you can do to improve each.

1. NAP Consistency

Your name, address and phone number (NAP) information must be consistent on your Google My Business profile, your website, and throughout major online directories. Small differences in your address can confuse search engines and ultimately prohibit you from appearing in the snack pack. For example, if your address is 123 Anywhere St., #201, Sunnyvale, CA, 92777, your address should always appear in that exact format – even interchanging # with Suite or Ste. can create confusion. If you’re not sure how your address should appear, visit USPS’ Zip Code lookup to find out how USPS standardizes your address.

It’s important to be nit-picky about your NAP info because software that collects local business information can get confused and push multiple listings for your business based on the small differences they find, creating what are called duplicate listings. Although this is hard to completely avoid, you can minimize your duplicates by maintaining consistency.

Worried about duplicates? Learn how to deal with duplicate business listings.

2. Domain Authority

Domain authority, based on the quality of backlinks to your dental website, refers to your domain authority score and can be looked up using Moz’s Open Site Explorer site. Most dental practices should have a score around 10/100, but we recommend that you search local competitors to find out how you compare.

Increasing your domain authority can take time because collecting quality links, or link-building, is time-intensive. To review, there are three types of links that you should be pursuing: location-specific links, industry-specific directories, and authority sites.

3. Google My Business

Of course, a well-optimized Google My Business profile is more likely to appear in the snack pack. If you’ve ever seen a business on Google Maps that seems to be missing a lot of information such as business hours, website information or even a phone number, you’re looking a listing that is not optimized and most likely without an owner. The good news is dentists can claim and optimize their orphaned listing. Here’s how to do it:

First, search for your business on Google Maps to check whether there is an existing listing for your business, then verify using Google’s phone or postcard verification process.

Second, fill out all information using your Google My Business dashboard (you’ll unlock access only after completing the verification process).

  1. That will include correct name, address with suite number, local phone number and web address.  Do not use a toll-free number, or P.O. Box as that is against Google guidelines.
  2. Upload a cover photo and relevant images of your business. Photos of your interior, exterior, and staff are always appropriate.
  3. Ensure that you assign the correct categories for your practice. This is incredibly important since choosing the correct category will heavily determine which keywords your listing appears in the snack pack for. Categories that are available for dentists are:
    • Dentist
    • Periodontist
    • Oral Surgeon
    • Endodontist
    • Orthodontist
    • Pediatric Dentist
  4. Update the page that your profile is pointing to so that the title tag includes your city and state, example: John Doe, DDS | Sunnyvale CA

Let’s recap – in our last blog post you learned overall ranking factors affecting your dental website. Now, you’ve continued your SEO education by learning why ranking in Google’s snack pack is important and what you can do to improve your ranking there. In part 3 of our series (coming out next month), we’ll cover ranking factors affecting your practice’s presence in Google’s organic listings.

Remember, you can always download The ABC’s of SEO for a complete glossary on SEO terms.