Local SEO for Dentists and Dental Practices

Local SEO for Dentists and Dental Practices

In dental marketing, “dental SEO” is a term you’ve probably heard repeatedly… and there’s a good reason for that. While it’s true that paid ads can kickstart your visibility, social media can enhance your brand, and postcards can help with local awareness, SEO stands out as a cornerstone of dental marketing.

It’s not just a one-time tactic; it’s a long-term investment in the online future of a dental practice, and that’s how we, as marketers, need to explain it to dentists.

Dental SEO  is about laying down roots that will support growth for years to come, ensuring that when people search for dental services in their local area, they find your client’s practice first.

For me, SEO has one primary goal. It’s about ensuring your client’s practice is visible and appealing to those looking for dental services. Most importantly, it is not only about getting as much traffic as possible but also getting the right kind of traffic to bring in the right kinds of patients. 

What is dental SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, involves enhancing a website’s content and the business’s overall online footprint to ensure it gets top billing from search engines like Google when someone searches for a specific query or service.

01 Dental Seo Search

For dental practices, this means optimizing your online presence to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) whenever someone looks up dental-related services.

For dentists, it’s not even just traditional SEO you need to focus on. Local SEO and its slightly different tactics must be a significant consideration for dental marketers.

Imagine someone in your city searching for “Dentists near me” or “dental implants near me.” The sites in the map pack or top search results have the most effective SEO and will likely attract the most patients online.

02 Dental Seo Local Pack Example

Search engines aim to deliver users the most accurate and relevant answers that match the intent of what is being searched. They shy away from showing incorrect, outdated, or unclear information. Your goal as a dental marketer is to prove to these search engines that your client is the premier source of information and deserves to be on the first page of results.

This does not happen overnight; it is earned by consistently providing value to users. Don’t try to game the system; be careful of SEO scams. Do your research, put in the effort, and create authority for your clients that Google and other search engines simply can’t ignore. This means focusing not only on traditional SEO efforts but also on how your client looks and how they will be perceived by potential patients online.

Why is local SEO important for dental practices?

Remember the last time you clicked on page 3 or 4 of Google to find an answer? Me neither… and that’s all you need to know. If you need more help convincing a dentist, here’s some data proving why local SEO for dentists is essential:

  • Google Accounts for 91.54% of the global search engine market – Source
  • There are 5.9 million Google searches per minute.
  • 21% of the USA uses the internet to find a local business daily. – Source
  • On mobile, the average click-through rate is 22.4% for position 1, 13% for position 2, and 10% for position 3. Position 10 gets you just 2.3% of clicks.
  • A study in 2023 showed that just 0.63% of people click on the second page.

This data, along with how we know the internet is used daily, makes it very clear that making sure your client ranks in the top 5 results of Google will be the difference between getting organic traffic and not.

And, with local searches, the local pack defaults to showing just three sites in the local pack at the top of the search results.

Dental Marketer’s SEO Checklist

Here is a checklist to follow as you conquer local SEO for dentists. Below, we go in-depth on each of these areas.

  • Do your keyword research, understand your competition, and create a plan.
  • Optimize your Google Business Profile.
  • Verify Google Search Console (GSC) and understand how Google sees your website.
  • On-page and technical SEO for the website.
  • Build citations to increase online authority.
  • Create content, content, and more content.

Six Local SEO Tasks for Dental Marketers

Over the past four years, I have been fortunate enough to implement SEO for over 100 dental practices throughout the United States. At Pain-Free Dental Marketing, we have developed a state-of-the-art process that has been proven to show results through trial and error.

An important lesson I have learned is that you need to look at the different areas of dental SEO as building blocks. You can’t start with this, if you have not laid the foundation for that. Make sense? Why would you focus on getting more traffic if the page looks terrible? Why would you ask for reviews if your Google Business Profile looks empty or start building citations if you don’t have a website yet? First, lay the foundation, then build your home.

Here’s how to approach dental SEO strategically:

Do Your Research, Understand Your Competition, and Create a Plan

You can’t implement local SEO for dentists without a roadmap or understanding of what you want to achieve. This is crucial because it will help you as a marketer to measure success and allow you to communicate it to your clients.

If strategy and success are not defined, you not only lack the ability to express what you will be doing for the dental practice, but it will also be challenging to determine if you were successful. Here are some initial steps to help you understand what you need to do:

Do Your Keyword Research

The foundation of a successful SEO strategy is built on understanding what potential patients are searching for. This step is all about identifying the right terms and phrases that resonate with the needs and queries of your target audience. Think of it as choosing the right tools before performing a dental procedure.

Keyword research is also not just about finding the keywords with the most volume but finding collections of keywords that can work together. This includes using long-tail keywords that can aid in your efforts to reach more traffic and link back to your core pages to increase their authority.

You can find long-tail keywords in the FAQ and People Also Asked sections; you can also use the auto-complete feature to see what Google suggests.

03 Dental Seo People Also Ask


Tools like Answer The Public, Keywords People Use, Glimpse, All in Title, and AlsoAsked can speed this up significantly. Find which one you like best, but they all have free options, which I use as needed.

Understand Your Competition

Knowing who you’re up against can provide invaluable insights. By analyzing your competitors’ online strategies, you can identify opportunities to differentiate your client’s practice and find your unique space in the dental market.

When you see a competitor ranking first for a keyword, it means they did something right. Google is literally telling you; “This is what I like!”. It’s your job as a dental marketer to figure out what Google likes about the page, how to recreate it, and make it better!

Create a Plan

With solid keyword research and a clear understanding of your competition and how you would like to out-compete them, it’s time to craft a plan.

This strategy should aim to improve your client’s online visibility and resonate with your practice’s unique voice, values, and how they are seen online. SEO is as much about what you look like online as it is about ranking high and getting traffic. After all, in the vast world of online marketing, a personalized touch can make all the difference.

Even if you are ranked third, if you look better, you could still get the click before those displayed above you.

Google Business Profile Optimization

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to start with local SEO efforts that will have the biggest impact as quickly as possible. That’s where a Google Business Profile (GBP) can make all the difference.

05 Dental Seo Gbp Example

A Google Business Profile should be at the core of your dental SEO strategy because it’s one of the first things potential patients will see, often even before the website. It also has its own ranking potential and can help give some visibility to a dental practice if, at first, you struggle to rank the website.

If you have not yet claimed or created a Google Business Profile for the dental practice, immediately stop what you are doing and do that right now! Avoid doing verification via the post as it can take a long time. Do verification via the office number or the business video.

Now you’re verified, it’s time to start optimizing.

Step 1: Optimize Your Business Information

Fill out every section of your profile with detailed and accurate information. This includes your practice’s name, address, phone number, and website.

06 Dental Seo Gbp Info

Consistency is key, as it helps Google understand and trust your business, improving your visibility. In the business description, use the keywords you found that have enough volume and will draw in patients, but make sure your description still makes sense for a human to read.

Add services, when the business was founded, any special features, products, social media links, literally add as much helpful information as possible.

07 Dental Seo Products 08 Dental Seo Gbp Description

Step 2: Select the Right Categories

GBP categories help potential patients find your services when they’re searching for specific dental needs, like “cosmetic dentistry” or “pediatric dentist.” Be as specific as possible to stand out in the right searches.

Step 3: Use High-Quality Photos

Visuals make a big difference. Upload high-quality photos of the practice, the team, and before-and-after shots of patients (with their consent).

09 Dental Seo Gbp Photos


Photos can help your listing stand out and give potential patients a glimpse of the welcoming environment you offer. They can help put a worried customer at ease.

Updated, high-quality photos are so important. It does not help if your client ranks number one, but the pictures look outdated or unprofessional. Nobody will click on it, which means all your efforts will be wasted.

This ties back to what I said about making the brand visually appealing to potential patients.

Step 4: Post Regular Updates

Use the posts feature to share updates, offers, and news about your practice. Regular posts keep your profile active and engaging, showing potential patients your practice is bustling and up-to-date.

You also need to make sure that you’re posting new images regularly.

Step 5: Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Reviews are the rocket of dental marketing and a cornerstone of your GBP’s effectiveness. Encourage satisfied patients to leave positive feedback with keywords and respond professionally to all reviews.

10 Dental Seo Review Example


This not only shows potential patients that you value feedback but also can improve your search rankings.

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Google Search Console and Understanding Your Dental Website

Many marketers think you need a plethora of different software to track the success of your SEO for dentists. The truth is that Google Search Console (GSC) is an excellent starting point and one of the best tools in your digital toolbox.

GSC is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.

For a dental marketer, understanding and utilizing Google Search Console is akin to having a high-powered dental X-ray machine that sees not just the surface but deep into the health of your website’s visibility online. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Verify and Monitor Your Site’s Performance: Track your site’s performance in Google Search results. Analyze queries that bring users to your site, view your site’s click-through rates (CTRs), and check your rankings for specific keywords.
  • Inspect URLs for Indexing Issues: Use the URL Inspection tool to check if Google can crawl your site’s pages, understand any indexing issues, and request re-indexing of new or updated content. If pages are not indexing, you can figure out why.
  • Identify and Fix Mobile Usability Issues: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly by identifying pages with usability problems on mobile devices. This is crucial for maintaining and improving your site’s ranking in search results.
  • Improve Website Content Based on Data: Utilize search analytics to refine your website content. Focus on creating content around keywords and queries that are proven to drive traffic to your site.

On-Page and Technical SEO for Dental Websites

Now that you have the essentials in place, it’s time to start looking at your website. You might be thinking I’m crazy for only getting to the website now, but remember, we needed a plan first. Then, as a dentist is a local business, we had to make sure the Google Business Profile was optimized for the local pack, and then we used Google search console to understand how Google interacts with your website.

Now, we get to work on the website itself.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. It involves both the content and the HTML source code of a page.

For dental marketing, on-page SEO is crucial because it helps search engines understand the content of your website and its relevance to search queries, especially those related to the dental services your client values.

While many SEO specialists bucket all kinds of categories into on-page SEO, I have only seen a few factors that truly impact how your website performs:

1. High-Quality Content

You have probably heard this a thousand times before, but it’s true. If we ask ourselves what the most basic function of Google and other search engines is, it’s to provide users with the information they seek.

You must ensure that your dental website provides valuable information on all your client’s services. I often see dental websites with no service pages or location pages, which makes me go crazy. To target a dental service, it needs its own page!

Important: You can’t rank for a keyword by mentioning it once on the homepage of your website. You need to be creating topical authority to really make a difference. The only way to create topical authority is to produce high-quality content in all forms (written, graphics, banners, videos, pictures) that answer any and every question potential dental patients have. You can also learn more about Google’s E-E-A-T policy for content here.

An essential element of Google’s E-E-A-T is showcasing your authority and expertise. Dental practices will have in-house experts; their dentists! You should be using them to help you create genuinely authoritative content, whether it’s Q&As or guides.

2. Keyword Optimization

If you followed my steps correctly, you should understand what keywords people are searching for, how people find your client’s website, and what services the dentist would like to rank better for.

Now you know the keywords you would like to rank for; you can start weaving them into your website’s content. Use variations of keywords, write multiple pages that speak about the service in different ways, and create internal links to help the user find the info they need. It’s as simple as that.

Too often, dental marketers get so focused on how many times you use a keyword and where instead of just writing a really good piece of content.

Of course, apply basic SEO best practices to ensure keywords are represented in your headings as needed, but it is more important to have good content with keywords sprinkled in vs. lots of keywords with some basic content. Concentrate on Topics, not individual keywords.

Important: Do not target the same keyword for multiple pages. Doing this risks cannibalization.

Instead, create what I like to call a “pillar page” and see that page as the one you would like to rank highest for.

You can then build supporting pages with variations of the same keyword or long-tail keywords that you link out to, making the pillar page more valuable. That’s basically why Wikipedia is so successful. Write a great page on a dental service, then link to other more in-depth pages on your website for those who want to learn more about specific aspects of the topic.

Dental Seo Vaneers Example

For example, I have a veneers page; I briefly mention the benefits in a paragraph. I will then add: “If you want to understand all of the benefits of veneers, you can do so here.”, with a link to a page that sits in the veneers subfolder, going into more details on that specific subject. Google will understand this and recognize that your pillar page provides value because it provides users the opportunity to explore the topic more.

3. Optimizing Meta Tags and Descriptions

Ensure that each page has a unique title tag and meta description that accurately describes the content of the page. These elements not only help search engines understand the topic of each page but also serve as a first impression for users in search result pages.

Use your title to stand out. Don’t just go for the same title as the page. This is your chance to grab your potential customer’s attention in the SERPs. Use a featured image that will grab a patient’s attention.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO means ensuring that your dental practice’s website is not only visible but also easily accessible to both search engines and potential patients.

Without the necessary technical SEO, you could add new pages to your website, and nobody will ever see them. Or you could write the perfect piece of content, but the page takes too long to load, so nobody sticks around to see it. These are just two examples, but you catch my drift.

Here are the top technical SEO tactics I recommend to dental marketers:

1. Website Health & Performance

We all hate a slow website, as does Google because it impacts the user experience. You must ensure a website has fast load times, mobile-friendliness, and secure connections via HTTPS. As marketers, we know these factors influence user experience and search engine rankings.

11 Dental Seo Page Speed


Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can be invaluable for diagnosing and improving website performance. I did some research on what has the biggest impact on website speed, and it actually has nothing to do with the website itself.

Hosting is one of the most important factors that influence the speed of your website. If the website you are working on is hosted on unreliable or unresponsive servers, it will directly impact how Google interacts with your website and, therefore, your SEO efforts. Search Engine Journal has gone into more detail on that here.

Other things can affect your page load time, like the size of your images or even plugins. Consider doing an audit of all of this and actioning anything you can, like old plugins or lazy loading.

2. Structured Data for Enhanced Visibility

Structured data is a powerful tool for improving a dental practice’s appearance in search results.

By implementing schema markup for local businesses, we can help search engines understand and display important information about dental practices, such as services offered, hours of operation, and patient reviews. This can enhance visibility in local search results, making your clients more findable and appealing to potential patients. We make use of SchemaPro, but there are all sorts of different ways for you to implement your local schema.

3. Submit Sitemap to Google

An XML sitemap is like a map for your website. It tells Google about your important pages and where they are. This is helpful, especially if your website has many pages or is not connected very well.

A sitemap and strategic internal linking are sure ways for Google to crawl your website effectively. Google has guidelines on how to create and submit a sitemap.

4. Optimize Your Site Architecture

A website has many pages. It’s important to arrange these pages so search engines can easily discover and go through them. This is where the organization of your site, also known as your website’s information architecture, plays a role.

This will also help with how potential patients navigate the dental website. You need to pave the way to ensure the site structure makes sense and flows in a productive way.

The three things I know most patients care about are who’s the dentist, what this will cost me, the insurance questions, and finally, how I can contact this office. This is just an example, but you should apply this framework to your service pages and how you implement internal links.

5. Target Keywords in Your URL 

This might seem insignificant, but I believe every bit counts when it comes to dental SEO. Anything I can do to beat my competitors is a step closer to a new patient. Ensure you use keywords in your URL, and don’t make them too long. Google does not like generic URLs. You should also not include numbers unless it is absolutely necessary.

Build Citations to Increase Online Authority

When it comes to citations, I always like to use the following example:

If today I told you my name is Ian, here is my address and number, call me anytime. Then, the next time I see you, l tell you my name is Michael, with a different number.

The third time I see you, I tell you my name is John. And so on.

Eventually, you will think I am either crazy or simply untrustworthy. Why should Google trust your client if their business information is incorrect across multiple platforms and directories?

By consistently listing a dental practice’s name, address, phone number (NAP), and website across various online directories and platforms, these citations help increase the practice’s visibility on search engines like Google.

This is crucial for attracting local patients searching for dental services in their area. Furthermore, citations contribute to the credibility and legitimacy of a dental practice in the digital realm, reassuring both Google and potential patients of the practice’s established presence.

Google uses citations as a vote of confidence that you are who you say you are and that the business you are marketing exists. Building citations has always been a crucial part of my dental marketing strategy and something I recommend to all marketers focussing on local SEO for dentists.

Brightlocal has been my favorite tool for doing this, making it easy for me to manage over 100 dental practices simultaneously. 

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Multilocation Practices Vs. Single Location Dentists

Whether your client has one or multiple dental practices will make a difference in how you implement dental SEO. It is not so much a change in what you need to do but how you will implement it to be effective locally.

Multiple Locations, One Website

Before we start, I want to share this: One of the most challenging questions I have gotten over the years was, “I would like to draw in patients from a town 30 minutes away. How can we do that with SEO?”.

My response always starts the same. We can begin to target another town with new pages, but Google search results will always show the user a business located in that town/city over a different practice that is 30 minutes away.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why would Google make me drive 30 minutes to a business when I have multiple other businesses that can provide me with the same services within 10 minutes of my location?

I say this because you need to understand this principle to implement SEO for a practice with multiple locations. Local SEO is all about, you guessed it, local. You need to prove to Google that your business is an option for that community and the best option available.

To do this, each location will need its own website or, at the very least, a dedicated page on your site to target the branch and the town/city it is in. You can’t have a website that simply mentions the different locations in these areas. This will not be enough to compete with another practice with an entire website targeting that local area. 

So, if you have a single website for multiple locations, make sure you have separate pages that provide a detailed look at each practice with additional service pages that link to the services you provide in that town.

You also need to target local dental service keywords on those pages and share reviews from that location, etc. I know Google ranks location-specific pages better because the only URL that I would get to rank successfully was the page dedicated to that town. No other page on the website would appear in that town because Google did not associate the rest of the website with the town/city we were targeting.

Here’s an example of how to do this.

12 Dental Seo Locations

Pro Tip: You also need to make sure that a Google Business Profile is created for each location, and you can link back to the location-specific page to help with SEO.

You’ll also want to make sure that each individual location has its own Google Business Profile and that you’re managing them all as their own entity. Putting all your time into one branch’s GBP won’t help all your other GBPs, for instance. Similarly, you’ll need to build citations for each location, not just your first one, and actively manage your listings.

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Best Case Scenario

In a perfect world, you will need to build a website for each location the dentist has and implement the strategies I have discussed in this article. In my opinion, this gives you the best chance of competing locally and ranking better in Google search results for multiple locations. 

Differences in SEO for Dentists vs. Other Industries

Now, you will notice that backlinking was not part of my core strategy for dental SEO. In local SEO for dentists, getting links from other websites (backlinks) isn’t as crucial as we used to think, especially in areas where there aren’t many dental practices competing with each other.

In these scenarios, focusing on backlinks might not be the best use of your time. Even Google said back in 2022 that backlinks are less important than they were before.

I have found this especially true in areas where there is less competition or other dental practices are not implementing a dental SEO strategy. If the practice you’re doing marketing for is in a smaller city or town where there’s not much competition, you can rank well in search results without worrying too much about getting backlinks.

Instead, ensure the Google Business Profile is spot-on and regularly updated, use the right local keywords, update your website regularly with relevant content, build out citations, and encourage happy patients to leave as many reviews as possible.

Final Thoughts & Advice

It’s important to know that this article is not the ultimate solution to dental SEO but rather a look into the most important factors that have made a real difference for the dentists I have worked with over the past few years. When it comes to local SEO for dentists, there is no set formula. It’s about trying different strategies and seeing what works best for you. Different dental offices have different needs and will measure the success of your SEO efforts in different ways.

Make sure you over-communicate, under-promise, and over-deliver. Dentists are dentists, not marketers, so do not expect them to understand the value you bring as a dental marketer. You need to show them!


Ian de Jongh
About the author
Ian de Jongh is a dynamic leader with a knack for innovation, bringing a wealth of experience as a startup company director, holder of a master's degree in international relations, client relations manager, and an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ian built a five-member SEO department from scratch which specialized in local SEO for dentists. Ian works at Pain-Free Dental Marketing, a full-house digital marketing agency serving over 100 dental practices.

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