The Impact of Local SEO: Optimizing Google Pages in Dentistry

SEO blocks. SEO is important for helping you gain online visibilty and local SEO is critical for help you stand out amongst your competition.

Climbing to the top…What’s Important For Local SEO?

Lately, Google My Business (GMB for short) has undergone a significant upgrade, and it is now commonly called Google Business Profile. In this blog, however, I will still call it GMB for simplicity and today, we’re here to learn about the importance of local SEO.

Google, SEO, and the science behind it all are excellent. Google has several algorithms, which can analyze a multitude of things. In addition, it can consider information on your page, website, and, of course, social platforms, too. In short, a well-optimized website is vital – and without the proper optimization, you’re business and website will likely to get lost at sea.

We know you’re curious…How can local businesses compete online with national brands and chains?

A woman working on her computer. If you are optimizing your website or webpage for local SEO, it's important to understand the basics of how Google works.

The key is that Google prioritizes local businesses in results for local searches. The top picks show up in a search result feature you may be familiar with – that feature is the Google Map Pack, or sometimes it is also called the Local Map Pack because the results are local to the searcher.

Check out the Boost Your Dental Practice: Maximizing Growth With Google Business Profiles and Local SEO podcast.

So, how does Google determine local search rankings?

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t openly share details about calculating local search rankings. However, according to their guidelines, there are three major factors that all businesses should focus on when optimizing their information to be considered for appearing in local search results.

This article covers the most important things you should list on your Google page and how to best optimize your Google profile listing to improve your local SEO without any technical experience.

Top 4 local SEO ranking factors include:

  • GMB Profile
  • On-Page SEO
  • Reviews
  • Links

Enhancing your Google My Business Presence and Optimizing Local SEO.

What should you avoid when it comes to local SEO?

  • Not having a clear understanding of your target audience.
    Failing to make a connection with them can be detrimental.
  • Plagiarism.
    Do not use content from other websites.
  • Using the wrong keyword(s).
    Be sure to do your research.
  • Having content that is not up-to-date.
    Nobody wants to read old news.

Now that you know the most important points to upgrading your local SEO, it’s important to remember that each of these steps will take time. Afterall, you can’t rush perfection, right?!

Want to gain a better understanding of your website? Try this SEO Analyzer tool.

A man searching Google maps on a mobile device. A well-optimized GMB profile is critical to ensuring your business can be found online.

Adding and claiming a business on Google

Claiming and Establishing Multiple Listings on Google My Business (GMB)

Google allows dental practices to have a primary Google My Business profile representing the entire clinic. In addition, individual dentists within the practice can have individual GMB profiles separate from the dental clinic. This structure lets each dentist maintain an independent online presence, thus allowing patients to discover and review them individually. To keep everything streamlined, however, it’s crucial to correctly associate each dentist’s profile with the central clinic listing and adhere strictly to Google’s guidelines, ensuring no overlap or duplication.

Adding Your business through Google Maps?

You can either build your business profile from the bottom up or you can sign up with Google Maps. To do so, follow the steps below:

  1. Add your address to the search bar.
  2. Go to Business Profile located in the left side menu and select “Add Business.”
  3. Right click anywhere on the map and select “Add My Business.”
  4. In the top left, click Menu and “Add My Business.”

Claiming Your business through Google Maps?

  1. Navigate to Google Maps
  2. Add your business name into the search bar
  3. Locate you business and select it
  4. Click “Claim this Business” or “Manage Now”

To ensure a seamless integration of individual practitioner profiles, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Naming Convention: Only use the practitioner’s name without adding the clinic’s name. This keeps the dentist separate from the clinic.
  • Contact Details: Assign a unique phone number to each practitioner’s listing, even if it means using a forwarding number that redirects calls to the primary clinic.
  • Website Association: Each practitioner’s profile should point to a distinct page on the clinic’s website, different from the one linked to the primary clinic profile. This distinction becomes essential when categorizing listings on GMB.

The goal here is that each individual practitioner profile should be distinguishable from the central clinic’s GMB listing. Google’s system is proficient at identifying similarities, and perceived duplications could trigger an alert, possibly leading to the listing’s removal.

Therefore, each practitioner profile must contain unique and pertinent details to ensure differentiation.

Man going through a checklist. Following a checklist to update your GMB profile is a great idea to ensure your listing is as complete as possible.

updating YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PROFILE

A Complete GMB Checklist

Ensure You Make The Most Of Your Pofile

These steps should be completed by your practice administrator or marketing agency.

  • Ensure Your Information Is Accurate, Comprehensive, and Up-to-Date. Furthermore, incorporating relevant website URLs into your Google Business Profile (GBP) is a strategic move to enhance your online visibility and fortify your SEO initiatives.
    Key URLs to consider adding to your GBP include:
    Main homepage URL, online appointment scheduling, Teledentistry services, if available, and direct links to various services you offer on your website.
  • Ensure your GMB, Google Maps, and website all have the same matching information: address and contact info.
  • Complete and Optimize Your GMB Business Information.
    • About: A compelling Business Description is written, and some popular keywords in your description are included to rank this service.
    • Contact
    • Location
    • Hours
    • More
    • Short Name
    • Accepted Health Insurance
    • Your Website
    • Appointment Link
    • Virtual Care Link 
    • From the Business 
    • Accessibility
    • Health and Safety
    • Opening Date 
    • Business Description
  • Ensure Google Maps is connected with your GMB profile.
    • Local Citation: USE EXACT GOOGLE MAP CITATIONS: When inputting your address, ensure it matches the correct coordinates on the map and include the same zip code (5-digit vs. hyphenated 9-digit code) provided on your website.  
  • Complete Local Business Schema Markup.
  • Add multiple areas to increase your reach. 
  • Enter every possible category for your practice. Here, you need to add your office under every area of your expertise that can legally be applied. For example, I do many endos and am at the level of an experienced endodontist. However, I am not an endodontist. Therefore, I cannot legally classify myself as such, nor can I list my practice under that of an “endodontist.”
    Categories: Do be sure to have your practice listed as a general practice. 
    Dentist (listed in the primary category)
    Dental clinic 
    Emergency care service 
    Emergency dental service 
    Dental hygienist 
    Dental radiology
    Denture care center
    Oral surgeon
    Teeth whitening service 
    Cosmetic dentist 
    Dental implant provider
    Also, if it applies, list your practice under:
    Endodontist, Periodontist, Pediatric dentist
    Pediatric dentist
  • Embed your GMB listing on your website.
  • Collect reviews regularly. If possible, ask for reviews with pictures. It is best to have visual content. Google gives posts with pictures a priority and higher ranking, resulting in positive reviews with pictures increasing your local SEO. Learn more about Google reviews.
    Ideally, a local guide has reviewed and added a picture of your business.
  • Respond to all Google reviews (or any other reviews) regularly. 
  • Activate messaging function. Speak directly to your customer’s messages. Reply in a timely manner to messages.
  • Add CAQs to your GMB profile: Sample of CAQs for Google Profile .pdf
  • Add Products, including desired keywords and URLs.
  • Add services, including desired keywords and URLs – While writing short descriptions, you can add desired keywords to describing the services you offer. Ex: Sedation Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, Children’s Dentistry.
  • Add and update pictures regularly. Do name pictures with your location. Geo Tagging: Do tag every photo with your location, also known as GEO tagging.  Alt Text for Images: This is text that describes an image and is read aloud to those who are visually impaired. Example: A dentist in Lincoln, NE, is working on her patient.Learn more here.
  • Add a short 30-second video if Google allows it.
  • Regularly create posts and events.
  • Messaging availability. If you need clarification on whether you have this feature, navigate to your GMB dashboard and check for any notifications or tabs related to call history. If you can’t find it, be patient. Google continuously updates GMB features, and it might be available to you in the future.
  • Add Additional GMB Profile Users to help manage your listings.
  • Claim and establish multiple listings on Google My Business (GMB): one for your practice and one for each provider. Ensure the information on 2nd listing is unique (suite number or phone number. Pls note it will violate the rule mentioned above but still should be fine).
  • Track Missed Calls. If this feature is available to you  If your GMB page has this feature enabled, you can view the date and possibly the time when a customer tried to reach you but couldn’t connect. This is invaluable for businesses keen on timely customer service, allowing them to return calls promptly.
  • Monitor Customer Journeys with Google My Business Insights (Profile Metrics) and have monthly reports.

Optimizing Your Website’s Homepage

After you optimize your Google page, it is good to check the optimization of your landing page on your website. When you create your Google Maps business listing, one of the sections you need to fill out is your website URL. When you add your website URL to your Google business page, you are creating what I call the “landing page” to your Google Maps listing, which plays a vital role in your overall local SEO strategy. The website you associate with your Google Maps listing will directly influence the ranking and authority in the local search results. Google uses your website to make critical associations with your Google Maps listing, such as keyword targeting, business category relevance, and domain authority, which impact your rankings.

After you optimize your landing page (your website’s primary/home page), it’s always good to check the optimization of your entire website to ensure it has the following:

  • Popular keywords in the meta description, SEO title, and URL name
  • Great, duplicate-free content
  • Links to social platform

Page Structure

One of the biggest things that can be overlooked for optimization is actually quite simple: page structure. If you’re curious, page structure includes things such as:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headers
  • URLs (links)

Adding Additional GMB Profile Users

You can add anyone who can help you manage your Google page by assigning their role to them. If you need assistance managing your Google page, you can invite others and assign specific roles to them. In doing so, they can help in various capacities based on the permissions you grant.

However, a word of caution: It’s advisable not to grant full control to anyone, even a trusted marketing agency. Instead, simply invite them with a ‘Manager’ role. This ensures you retain primary control over your page while allowing them to contribute meaningfully.

Interested in AI marketing? Check out the YouTube video below Google Bard Approach.

Neil Patel's YouTube video The Google Bard Approach for marketing. Local SEO is critical whether you are doing it yourself or you're using an AI assistant.
Neil Patel’s “The Google Bard Approach” YouTube video.

Settings

Some basic info is required. Also, DON’T FORGET TO VERIFY YOUR LISTING AND ACCEPT UPDATES REGULARLY! 

Google emphasizes recency of business status to bolster consumer trust

A woman holding a phone displaying Google maps. To ensure local SEO ensure hat Google maps is connected with your Google My Business profile.

Connecting Google Maps with your GMB profile

By optimizing your Google page, your Google Maps listing will be optimized as well. 

In addition you should also be:

Interested in elevating your ranking for a specific dental service?

If your answer is, “YES!,” consider subtly including a version of the relevant keyword in your PROVIDER’S GMB NAME. Incorporating applicable keywords carefully and thoughtfully can boost your visibility for those particular services, connecting your clinic with potential nearby patients.

  • Choose strong keywords and be sure you are answering a wide range of search intent. Use the “near me” search term to have an edge on keyword targeting. Remembe to avoid keyword stuffing.

However, a word of caution: Simply adding a keyword to an existing GMB name is not advisable. Some businesses, though, have rebranded effectively, integrating the desired keyword authentically into their business name, thereby boosting their ranking.

To execute this change correctly, ensure the new branding resonates with the business’s overall beliefs and identity.

The most authoritative Google Map citations for local SEO are those that are consistent with your Google Business Page. How you publish your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on external websites and directories should match the NAP on your Google business page.

Blocks that spell out SEO audit. Doing a local SEO audit can help identify things that you can do to stand out amongst your competition.

Local Citation: USE EXACT GOOGLE MAP CITATIONS 

Your business NAP is basically an acronym for your business name, address, and phone number:

N = Business Name

A = Business Address

P = Business Phone number

Every published Google Map citation on external websites and directories should match that NAP used on the Google My Business page. A local citation consists of seven data points collectively making up a local citation. 

Those seven data points are:

  1. Your business name
  2. Your business street address
  3. Your city
  4. Your state
  5. Your zip code
  6. Your business phone number
  7. Your website URL

To ensure your business is linked correctly: Open www.google.com/maps in a new web browser. In the top left corner, search the name of your company. (This is also a great opportunity to check if your address is correct on your Google My Business dashboard.) Learn more from Neil Patel

Location: To Increase the radius of your reach consider:

  • Adding small towns if patients drive from them to see you
  • Adding zip codes you use 

Embed Your Local Google Listing on Your Website.

Learn more here.

A woman who is thinking about the best approach to SEO. Creating great content and regularly updating your GMB profile will create an excellent user experience.

Common how-to questions

How Do You Write Google My Business Posts That Drive Results?

Follow These 5 Easy Steps…

  1. Pick your post type: Event, offer, specials, or announcements.
  2. Choosing the right photos and videos: Avoid using stock photos.
  3. Pick a keyword-driven title: Keep your post title concise and include a keyword you want to target when you write a post.
  4. Choosing the right Call to Action (CTA): Always include a CTA (call to action button) when posting. Avoid adding your phone number, as it is already listed on your GPB. Also, do not include your email as it violates Google’s terms.
  5. Consider desktop & mobile devices: Your Google My Business Posts will look different on a mobile device versus a desktop computer. While your post can include upwards of 1,500 characters, it’s often recommended to keep them below 500.

How Do You create an Event on your GMB profile?

Go to your GMB profile.

Follow these steps:

  • Select “Add Update.”
  • Once in the “Add Update” section, you’ll see various post options like “Add Update,” “Add Offer,” etc. Click on “Add Event.”
  • Fill in the event details.
  • Event Name: Enter a catchy, relevant title for your event.
  • Start Date and Time: Choose when the event begins.
  • End Date and Time: Choose when the event concludes.
  • Event Details: Write a brief description of what attendees can expect. Be concise, yet informative.
  • Add Photo or Video: Choose an attractive image or video that represents the event. Ensure it meets Google’s recommended specifications.
  • Button: This is optional. You can add a call-to-action button, such as “Sign Up”, “Get Directions”, “Learn More,” etc., and provide a link (example: providing a link to an event registration page).
  • Once all the details are filled out, preview the event to ensure everything looks good.
  • Click the “Post” button.

Your event will now appear on your Google My Business profile, providing valuable information to potential attendees who search for your business or see it on Google Maps.

How do you get positive Google reviews or feedback?

It’s unfair, but patients check reviews and choose offices with a 4.9 star or higher rating. 

It’s best to reply to every review, whether positive or negative. Google loves it when a business interacts and responds to reviews. How do you keep your page from getting negative reviews? 

There is no magic answer. Unfortunately, at some point, everyone will get negative reviews. The best way I have found to help avoid negative reviews, is to ask patients you know about a positive experience by texting a message similar to the example below right after their appointment:

“Sarah, Thank you very much for visiting our office today. Please share your positive experience on our Google page (@nameoftheoffice.) Please call our office if you have any questions or ideas for us to improve. We appreciate your trust and for allowing us to provide your dental care.” 

After you gather reviews on your listing, you need to respond to them. That means all of them the good, the bad, and the neutral. Take the time to write a message to each reviewer using the Google My Business dashboard, and be sure to quickly (and positively) respond to negative reviews.

Why am I emphasizing the importance of answering negative reviews? Because 45% of people are more likely to visit a business that responds to them. Check out the stats.

A chart showing how likely customers are to visit a business that responds to negative reviews. Responding to all reviews, whether good or bad, can have an impact on your local SEO.

Sample Reply:We apologize for the negative experience you had. Providing exceptional service is our standard, and our teams are dedicated to offering non-judgmental, compassionate, high-quality dentistry to every patient. As part of our commitment to accessibility, we accept various insurance plans and offer flexible payment options.

We genuinely value your feedback, and we would like to address any concerns you may have. We attempted to reach out to you, and we encourage you to contact us to discuss and clarify the reason for the conflict. Please feel free to call us and ask for Sydney, our customer service specialist, who will gladly assist you. Your satisfaction is important to us, and we hope to have the opportunity to make things right. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Check out The Raving Patients Podcast.

A woman who is texting on a mobile device. To ensure a great customer experience it's vital to make sure customers can easily contact your business either by calling or through online messaging.

google my business messaging

Google My Business Messaging Summary

Speak directly to your customers through Google My Business Messages. This feature allows you to add the ability to text your office. Many patients prefer texting vs. phone calls. Our offices use texting as the main form of communication.

You can turn this feature on by clicking the “Accept Messaging” button in your Google My Business dashboard.

Customers may want to contact businesses directly if they have queries. While phone numbers are commonly listed, 90% of customers prefer texting. Thus, mobile messaging through Google My Business can boost engagement and sales, with direct SMS having a better conversion rate than mobile ads. Studies show direct SMS messaging has a higher conversion rate than mobile advertising. Check out this ultimate marketing guide.

Ensure you respond to messages in a timely manner, as Google also calculates your response time and shows it on your listing. This is averaged from the length of time it takes you to respond to inquiries. Consider uploading CAQs and welcome messages. Update and add CAQs from this list.

Nebraska Family Dentistry Group Sample of CAQs for Google.

**Texting survey results in Google My Business.

Texting survey results. Local SEO is one of many critical components in making sure your business remains among the best in business.

Finally, you can add a “Welcome Message” from your business profile in Google Maps or from your profile dashboard. This is what users receive when they start a message to you. Here’s how:

  • Google Maps welcome message Google My Business chat settings Google My Business 

For instance, a sample message could read, “Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate the ability to serve you and will respond to your request momentarily.”

With the feature activated and ready to go, you get an SMS text message whenever someone asks a question via the message button on your listing. You can then directly respond in the form of a text message.

This feature fosters a closer connection between your business and customers, helping you to appear more transparent. In turn, this can lead to increased credibility and sales.

Learn more from Neil Patel here.

The messaging feature on Google my Business allows you to exchange texts sent straight from your listing. Local SEO is one of many vital components in making sure your business remains at the top.
Blocks that spell out Google. Ensuring great content is only a portion of SEO. Managing your online GMB profile(s) can give you an edge over the competition.

UPDATING YOUR GOOgle Generated website, local shecma markup, and insights

Google Generated Website…

What is it?

Important Note: Remember, not every GMB listing will offer the same features. Google might roll out certain functionalities based on region, business type, or other criteria. Always check your GMB dashboard to see which features are available to you.

Optimizing Your Google My Business ‘Website’ Feature

Google My Business (GMB) provides a “Website” feature that allows businesses to create a simple website based on the information available on their GMB listing.

While this is a helpful tool for businesses just starting out, or those without a digital presence, it’s always more beneficial to have a dedicated, fully-fledged website of your own. Here’s why:

  • Customization and Branding: With your own website, you have complete control over design, user experience, branding, and content depth. This allows for more extensive customization to reflect your brand accurately.
  • Extended Features: A dedicated website offers more advanced features like e-commerce functionalities, integrations with other platforms, blogging capabilities, and more.
  • SEO Potential: A standalone website has broader SEO opportunities, with multiple pages to optimize, more content to produce, and a wider range of keywords to target.
  • Professionalism: Having a domain name specific to your business adds a layer of professionalism and can be more memorable for your clients.

However, if you’ve decided that your primary website is the way to go (which we recommend), it’s crucial to ensure it’s optimized to achieve better rankings on Google. For a detailed guide on how to do this, click here.

Insights

Monitor Customer Journeys with Google My Business Insights (Profile Metrics)

Just as with any marketing strategy, gauging the effectiveness of your Google My Business listing is paramount. To truly understand the effectiveness of any marketing strategy, assessing the results of your Google My Business listing is crucial. Thankfully, Google provides integral tools for this purpose. For a comprehensive comparison, refer to the table provided by Agency Analytics.

https://help.agencyanalytics.com/en/articles/6888689-google-business-profile-transition-to-performance-metrics

and 

https://app.agencyanalytics.com/template-browser?template=googleMyBusiness&_gl=1*plgij2*_ga*ODU2MTg5MzgxLjE2OTMyMjY4MDI.*_ga_CVYKERYDZ4*MTY5MzIyNjgwMS4xLjEuMTY5MzIyNjgyMS40MC4wLjA

And also by Google: Review your Performance reporting.

This tab has info that tells you: 

  • Total views.
  • Number of people visiting your website from your Google page.
  • Number of website visits.
  • Number of phone calls from your Google page.
  • Number of people using maps in your office. 

Local Businesses Schema Markup

Add Local Business Schema Markup. You want to wrap the address in schema language after you include the NAP for your business on your website.

Schema language is a structural protocol adopted by Google, Yahoo, & Bing to make it easier to determine certain datasets within web pages. I refer to schema language as direct data that enhances key data sets within web pages. Direct data is particularly relevant when it comes to local SEO.

You can view the full hierarchy of schemas, or direct data sets, here.  

Mountains. Perfecting SEO is a great way to ensure that your business remains at the top and stands out. A complete, regularly updated GMB profile will create a positive customer experience.

Final thoughts about your journey and climbing to the top

In Conclusion

Mastering SEO can indeed be a daunting task. I’ve distilled the essentials specifically for optimizing Google pages in this document. Most professional agencies are equipped with the know-how for Google page optimization and website enhancement. I provide pointers on what to watch for if you require guidance in assessing your agency’s proficiency.

In the grand scheme of things, overlooking the opportunity to claim and refine your Google My Business listing is much like refusing a prime digital advertising space offered at no cost. It’s a priceless chance you don’t want to bypass.

Wishing you the best in optimizing and seeing more new patients finding you.

Dr. Kathryn Alderman,
Mentor and CEO of Nebraska Family Dentistry
Founder of Progressive Practice Solutions

nebraskafamilydentistry.com
YouTube: Nebraska Family Dentistry 
Facebook @nebraskafamilydentistry
https://progressivedentalmentor.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/progressivepracticesolutions