By Dr. Jennifer Silver
Tactics to help attract new patients and rank high on search engines
“Remember that you’re not writing only to search engines; you must create a blog that speaks to search engines and people.”
When I was first tasked with writing a dental blog, I was stumped—what in the world do you write about? Under the logic that you wouldn’t want your hairdresser taking care of your teeth or your dentist cutting your hair, I decided it would be best to hire someone, so before I set up my blog I worked with an SEO consultant and a copywriter, both of whom I found on Upwork.com by simply posting a job to the platform.
As a result of following expert advice, several of our blogs and service pages now rank on Page ?1 of Google, and organic traffic has increased considerably. Most traffic originally came from people searching the name of our practice. Now, more than 7 percent of traffic comes from the keywords “Invisalign Calgary” and nearly 4 percent of traffic comes from people searching “dentist SW Calgary.”
Time and time again, the experts I hired referenced seven things that rule supreme when creating a good dental blog for patients. I’m going to share those things to help you achieve great results and avoid making some of the most common mistakes.
Remember, a “good blog” is defined as one that ranks on search engines (so more customers can find you) and provides people with comfort, support and the information they seek.
1. Don’t guess what blog topics to write about—do keyword research
Before you start creating a bunch of random blog topics off the top of your head, do something called “keyword research.” I’m going to run you through the basics, but it helps to hire an SEO professional to help you get started.
Google Keyword Tool (free), Moz, SEM Rush—there are many different platforms you can utilize for keyword research. The goal is to discover what your target audience is really searching for, not just what you think they’re looking up. People are likely searching for some variation of whatever you’re thinking, but it’s important to get the words or phrase just right so you have a fighting chance to rank on search engines.
Plus, by searching ideas using a keyword tool, you’ll get a list of related searches. For instance, when you search “signs you have a cavity” using Google’s Keyword Planner, you get a variety of relevant keywords such as “signs you need a filling.” And boom, just like that! There’s another blog topic for you to add to your list. This grants a whirlwind of possibilities for different, but still related, blogs you could write. Don’t forget to interlink your related blog posts and webpages—but that’s advice for another day.
2. Create a blog for patients and search engines
Finding the right keywords will help you rank on search engines and ultimately attract more patients. Which is great, considering the local search association website LSA Insider reports that 51 percent of people find a dentist using search engines, while just 18 percent rely on family and friends for a recommendation.1
But remember that you’re not writing only to search engines; you must create a blog that speaks to search engines and people. A dental blog is a great place to connect with your current and potential customers by offering helpful advice in a relatable tone.
3. Get inspired by your dental patients
Even with keyword tools at your disposal, creativity is still required. Before you can search for keywords, you need a starter topic or phrase. So, where do you come up with that?
Dentists have incredible insight regarding what their patients want to know. After all, they answer their questions every single day. What are some of the most common things patients ask during, before or after different types of dental appointments? Take notes on these things and use them as inspiration to see if the rest of the web is searching for the same or similar things.
4. Go after local SEO by using location-based keywords
Let’s say you’re a Calgary dentist looking to rank for the keyword “Invisalign.” With up to 1 million Google searches per month, you better bet it’s incredibly challenging to rank for such a competitive keyword.
Before you take on the challenge, keep in mind that you aren’t necessarily trying to rank with the whole world. More importantly, you want to attract locals who can get in their car and drive to your dental clinic. That’s where local SEO comes in handy. Instead of targeting “Invisalign” you could target “Invisalign [your location].”
Sure, fewer people search the localized version of keywords each month, but your chances of ranking on Page 1 are much higher. Plus, people searching for a local dentist are more likely to convert into a patient because you offer exactly what they seek.
5. Remember, blog format is important for SEO and readability
High-quality content that is easy to read, informative and relatable is super important. It’s not just the words you write, though—the format you put them in is important too.
An effective blog post contains headlines (titles), an informative intro, related images, helpful links, block quotes and a definable conclusion.2 Many of these qualities relate directly to blog format.
Some key points to remember when formatting your dental blog include:
- Start each blog with a friendly, relatable tone, but don’t forget to include the keyword and topic somewhere in the first sentence.
- Make sure to break up content into sections that are properly titled and bolded to stand out from the rest of the text. That way, people can easily skim through and find what they’re looking for.
- Break up content with bulleted and numbered lists.
- Create concise and informative paragraphs.
- Add a picture or two to create a visual element.
6. Hire a guest blogger
Bring on the occasional guest blogger to spruce up your dental blog. For one, guest bloggers typically provide backlinks, which is a link back to your website. This is great because quality backlinks can help improve page rank on search engines by showing your site is reputable. In addition, guest bloggers often have a following of their own that will check out your link and potentially bring in new business. Furthermore, a guest blogger can create relatable content that speaks to a specific target audience in a way no one else could.
So, who do you hire as a guest writer? You could enroll a beauty pageant to write a blog about how a certain dental service helped them win more pageants. Or, reach out to a real customer who writes and ask them to create a blog about their personal experience at your dental clinic, one that potential patients could relate to.
7. Always be updating and evolving your blog
According to the Canadian Dental Association’s State of Oral Health report, 75 percent of Canadians visit the dentist each year, and 86 percent visit a dentist at least once every two years.3These visits often arise out of an unexpected toothache or other dental issue. Think of each blog as a door between potential clients searching for answers to their problems. The more doors (or blogs) you have, the better chance you’ll be found.
That’s the thing about writing a good dental blog—it’s not something you can do a few times and then call it a day. Instead, you need to post regular blogs, either weekly or biweekly, that hit on a range of topics. Keep track of posts that get more traffic so you can tailor your future blog ideas to your audience.
For instance, if you get a lot of traffic to a blog titled “Does Invisalign Hurt?,” consider adding other related blogs such as “What Is the Cost of Invisalign?” Add links to your original Invisalign blog so that your readers can easily see how to learn more.
You can create a good dental blog that attracts new patients!
Creating a good dental blog takes time. Your first post is not likely to rank on Page 1 of Google. So, whatever you do, don’t give up early in the game! With the proper approach and plenty of patience, you can eventually reach Page 1 of search engines and see an increase in organic traffic to your website.
Dr. Jennifer Silver was born in Newfoundland, but has considered herself an Albertan for 15 years. She graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Today, she owns two dental practices in Calgary, Alberta, Macleod Trail Dental and Southcentre Dental.