How Google Ranks Dental Practices

Prospective patients find new dentists on Google. In fact, 77% of patients turn to internet searches first when looking for a new medical or dental provider (Software Advice).

If you know how to harness Google’s rankings, you can beat out your local competition and attract more new patients. We’ll start with the basics.

Google’s rankings are simply the order in which the search engine shows businesses to a searcher. 

Just like you earn money when more patients set appointments, Google earns money when its website visitors keep coming back to conduct more searches (and view more advertisements). So its whole aim is to show the most relevant result to each searcher so they have a simple, smooth experience.

Before you get bogged down with terminology or endless articles about Google rankings and search engine optimization (SEO), just remember that it comes down to one simple idea. 

Google wants to make sure that when someone searches “best dentist near me,” that’s what they find. 

You run a great practice, and you’re simply using reviews to show Google why your practice should be recommended to their searchers.

To determine rankings, search engines use automated signals to evaluate businesses’ relevance. That includes analyzing your web presence as well as the user’s geography and inferred preferences based on their past searches.

Before we get into the easiest ways to rise in the rankings, let’s cover some commonly misunderstood Google basics. If you’ve ever hired dental marketers to help with your practice’s SEO and didn't see the results you hoped for – read on.

Google Search Crash Course

There are two types of Google rankings. When someone searches for a local business, they’ll first be shown what’s called a “Local Pack.” This will show 3 - 5 business with data pulled right from Google, including star rating, review snippets, and location on a map.

Local Pack that shows 3-5 businesses with data pulled from Google.i

After the Local Pack, they’ll see traditional organic results, which is simply a list of blue links to websites that require a user to click to visit the website and evaluate from there. 

Traditional organic results that require the user to visit the website and evaluate from there.

Most dental marketers that advertise SEO services help you rank higher in organic results at the bottom of the page. Not only is this expensive and time-intensive, but it isn’t the most impactful, because 2 out of 3 prospects look at the Local Pack and don’t scroll further down the page. Plus, your place in the Local Pack might be something you can control… for free. 

Factors That Help You Rank in the Local Pack

We can use what we know about search rankings to get in front of the right searchers. Here are the top two things Google considers when choosing businesses for the Local Pack. (Bright Local)

  1. Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) has 36% influence
  2. Your Practice’s Google Reviews have 17% influence

To get the most impact for your effort, we recommend focusing your attention there. Once you’ve mastered those two areas, you can come back to other on-page SEO strategies.

If your Google Business Profile is complete, as many established dentists’ pages already are, it’s time to consider reviews. Google’s John Mueller reported: “Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking.”

But the value of reviews doesn’t end when you show up in the top spot on Google. 

Your reviews are a huge draw to prospects when they see you in the top three results. Just how important are your ratings? A star rating increase of just 0.1 has been shown to increase the conversion rates of a business location by 25%. (Uberall)

Quick Guide to Common Google Search Terms

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A strategy for using what we know about Google’s search results to rank higher when prospects search for a term like “dentist near me.”
  • Algorithm: Google’s automated process for analyzing how relevant a business is for a searcher.
  • Keywords: Terms searchers use, such as “dental implants” or “Invisalign,” that you can use in your listing and review responses to rank higher in those search results.
  • Local Pack: The top 3 - 5 local search results that show up in a special section at the top of the page and typically earn the most views and clicks.

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