5 Tactics to Maximize Your Dental Website Rankings in 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, most of us take time to think about everything we’ve accomplished the last 12 months and what we can do to improve in the next year. One of the most common questions we hear from dentists is about how they can get better rankings, so as you prepare for 2018, here are some quick things you can do to maintain and potentially improve your rankings by the New Year.

1. Update Your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions are coded into each page of your website. This snippet of text appears in search engine results pages to give searchers a preview of what your webpage is about.

When a searcher clicks the website from the results page and stays on the site, it signals to search engines that the webpage was valuable. Over time, search engines are more likely to rank the website higher in results. Providing a clear title and description incentivizes searchers to click on through to your website and therefore helps improve your rankings.

How to improve page titles and meta descriptions: There are two things you must consider when writing page titles and meta descriptions: character limits and keywords in the copy.

Page titles only allow 50 to 60 characters and descriptions only allow 150 to 200 characters (including spaces). Make the most of every character and eliminate any unnecessary text. For example, default names of website pages such as “about” or “home” don’t really tell the searcher much about the content on the page and wastes character space.

Additionally, identify keywords searchers may use to find your services and include these words or phrases in both the page title and meta description, as Google automatically bolds words that match the searchers query.

2. Add Your Practice to Online Directories

A local directory listing is any page or profile dedicated to your dental practice on third party sites like Yelp, YP.com, Angie’s List and Merchant Circle. It’s important to find your practice on these websites and ensure your practice’s name, complete address and phone number is correct. Dentists commonly find that their name is backwards (e.g. last name, first name DDS) because major data aggregators purchase business details and push them out to local directories. Of course, bots can’t correct the information, which is why it’s up to you to do so.

Search engines rely on online directories to understand your practice location and relay this information to searchers. Results are customized based on the searcher’s proximity to your practice. When search engines run into messy listings, they are less likely to suggest you to searchers and cause you to rank poorly.

How to improve your directory listings: Search for your practice in top directories for dentists and follow the instructions to claim ownership of the profile. Additionally, check data aggregators (Infogroup, Neustar, Acxiom, and Factual) for your practice and correct the listings.

3. Prioritize Your Google My Business Listing

Not to be confused with Google+, a Google My Business (GMB) listing is your dental practice’s profile on Google Maps. It includes your name, address, and phone number like your standard listing mentioned above, but because it’s a Google property, it deserves a mention of its own.

Having a clean GMB listing is important because it is major ranking factor on Google’s search results. A clean listing is more likely to appear in Google’s map results, which is almost always at the very top of the page and therefore more likely to be clicked on.

How to improve your GMB listing: Follow the instructions to claim ownership of your business on Google My Business. Additionally, you must remove any duplicate listings of your dental practice. Read this tutorial to learn how to clean up your Google My Business listings.

4. Collect Online Google Reviews

70% of dental patients said that online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of dentist. While we’ve touched on this in the past, having online reviews creates trustworthiness and transparency. Additionally, reviews on your GMB profile can impact your practice’s online visibility, implying that reviews are a ranking factor.

How to get more online reviews: While still at your practice, have your staff ask patients how their appointment went to create an opportunity for them to provide you with feedback. If the patient shares negative feedback, it gives you an opportunity to solve it right then rather than seeing a negative review.  If they share positive feedback, it gives you an opportunity to ask for a review which is likely to reflect a positive rating. Next, show them how to leave a review on Google by following this tutorial.

5. Insert Local Structured Data Mark-up

Structured data mark-up is what search engines use to gain more information about your website. It’s added directly to a page’s HTML mark up and makes it easier for web crawlers to determine basics about your practice such as reviews, services you offer, and hours of operation. Google then uses the mark-up to highlight that information directly onto search engine results pages like the one shown below.

Structured data helps your practice stand out in search results by highlighting your practice in a ‘rich snippet’ which is an enhanced Google result listing (example below). In this case, Google has also provided an aggregate Yelp review rating.

Test your website for structured data by using  . Then, ask your website provider to help you implement Local Business mark-up code using this generator. Copy and paste the code for your website provider to implement.

To learn more about improving your website’s rankings in 2018, download the free whitepaper, Local Search and How It’s Affecting Your Practice by filling out the form below.