Internet Dental Marketing : Brace Yourself

Dental SEO Brace YourselfThere are some striking similarities between hiring an SEO company for Internet dental marketing services for your website, and getting braces for your teeth. Most dentists are very familiar with both the process of moving teeth with braces, and also fielding the types of questions that come up from patients who need them. The good news is that this knowledge is very beneficial when it comes to understanding SEO services for dental website marketing, and makes for a great analogy to explain what it takes to position a dental website in the search engines.

The Initial Dentist SEO Exam

As a kid I knew I had an under-bite, but wasn’t aware of all the other issues going on with my teeth. My orthodontist took a thorough look at my mouth, including under the surface with x-rays, and then could show me which teeth had to move to fix my bite. He used examples of properly aligned teeth to show me where mine were out of whack. Similarly, the dental SEO exam will take a look how a dentist’s website ranks for the right keywords for his or her market, and will show how that site compares with competitor websites that are properly aligned in the rankings. That will include looking under the surface of the website, to see how the underlying structure of the site aligns with the standards that rank well on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Without doing that initial examination it is impossible to give an accurate estimate of what it will take to move your dental practice into place on the charts. My son’s dental exam, for example, revealed that he had an upper tooth coming in behind another. Because of that, his treatment plan included a trip to the oral surgeon to expose the underlying tooth. Then the orthodontist attached a bracket and chain to the hidden tooth to pull it out from behind the other teeth. He couldn’t do much to pull the other teeth into place until the one tooth that was severely misaligned was dealt with.

Many dental websites we have examined are in a similar position. Often they have poor content on their website, or necessary content missing from their website, that will hinder their site from ranking well. It is difficult to convince Google that a dentist’s website should be one of the first results for a particular keyword or phrase when it doesn’t appear anywhere on their page. Poor linking done by a prior SEO can also be hindering a site from ranking. A site with thousands of spammy links will have to deal with removing and/or disavowing them if they ever hope to rank well for their target terms. A good dental SEO exam will bring these issues to light, and come up with a customized plan to address them.

How Long Will It Take?

That is almost always the first question that is asked when braces are brought up – usually by the person who will have to wear them. That was my first question when I was told I needed braces to correct an under-bite in junior high. I remember that it bugged me a little that I couldn’t get a straight answer from my orthodontist. He only gave me generalities, when I wanted to know years, months, and days. Now I understand the reason for his non-specific answer – every situation is a little different, and some teeth are more stubborn than others. But as a kid my only thought was getting it done as quickly as possible.

The truth is, the orthodontist could probably have repositioned all of my teeth in one visit. However, it would have been extremely painful, and I would probably have lost all of my teeth after he finished. With braces, the safest way to achieve lasting results is to move teeth into position slowly.

Thankfully Dental SEO usually moves a little faster than the three years I spent in braces. But there is a safe and natural speed that should be observed when attempting to move a website up the rankings. To try to move a site too quickly risks incurring a penalty from Google that can result in a loss of position, or even worse, a de-indexing that drops your site into search engine limbo. Good SEO for dentists is more of an art than a science, and often requires a level of finesse to move things along at the optimal speed.

How Much Will It Cost?

That’s typically the second question asked about braces – usually by the parent paying the bills. I have 2 children in braces right now, so I am all too familiar with this angle of orthodontic work, and have had the pleasure of asking this question twice. The answers I received were different for each child, because the amount of work and length of treatment needed for my son is much greater than for my daughter. I wasn’t shocked by that, as I recognize my orthodontist’s time and expertise are valuable, and know that he will utilize considerably more of both in treating my son. In fact, if I had seen a sign saying “All Braces $1500” in his office I would have found that very sketchy. Even as a layman I can look in both my children’s mouths and see that my son’s teeth had a lot further to move than my daughter’s do. If he had a one-size-fits-all price, I would have known that easy cases like my daughter would be overcharged for the work.

The same pricing principal should be true for dental search engine optimization. Some dental SEO sites list package deals itemizing x number of keywords, y number of page optimizations, and z article submissions per month for one low, low price. If every dentist website and every dental marketing community were the same a mechanized approach like that might make sense. But the braces analogy holds here too – not every mouth is the same, and neither is every dental website. Orthodontic treatment plans have to be customized to the patient, and so do dental marketing SEO campaigns, which means the cost should vary based upon the duration and amount of work needed.

What About A Retainer?

It took the gradual application of force over a period of time to coerce my teeth away from where they naturally wanted to go and into the position I wanted them to stay. Once the alignment was complete, my orthodontist removed my braces and fabricated a retainer custom-fitted to my mouth that would keep my teeth in the proper spots. At first I wore it all the time, but then later only at night, until finally I took it off for good. My orthodontist gave me stern warnings that if I didn’t take the required steps to keep my teeth in place they would move, and I would lose the positioning I had gained.

The same principal applies to SEO for dentists – after you do the big work of moving a site up the search engine rankings you should continue light maintenance work to hold it in place. My braces were a big investment, but benefits from a properly aligned bite made the results worth preserving. The ROI that comes from a good ranking on Google (in the form of “free” search traffic visitors that convert into clients) is also worth holding on to. Paying a little every month to keep the rankings you gained in your initial campaign is a wise investment.

If your dental website doesn’t line up in the search engine results with where you think it should be, let DDSRank give your site an initial exam, free of charge. We’ll take a look at the structure and content on your site, the most used search terms in your market, and how you and your competitors rank for them. Then we will give you a customized quote to move you into position to bring visitors to your site, new clients to your practice, and more profit to your bottom line. Click here to request a no obligation quote.

Steve Brown is the CEO of DDSRank, a company dedicated to helping dental professionals achieve visibility in the search engines.