SEO Strategy, SEO for Dentists: 5 DIY Steps to High Google Map RankingsJanuary 7, 2015Kate ProykovaReading time: When someone is looking for a dentist, they usually indicate the location they need, e.g. “dentist Philadelphia,” or even more specifically, “dental services Houston River Oaks.” For location specific searches, Google offers special local listings which point users directly to the nearest dental practices on the map.Getting into the top local results is a great way to boost your dental practice client base. Below we list the 5 steps you need to take optimize your site for Google’s local map results.Step 1. Choose which keywords to rank forYou should begin with SEO (search engine optimization). The very first thing you need to do is decide which keywords you want to rank for. Usually this is a combination of dental terminology and location, which together best match how your customers find you online:“dentist Manchester” “dental center Chicago downtown” “dental services in Missouri City”In order to choose the right long tail keyword, you need to do some research with the help of a keyword tool to discover keywords which (a) have a high search volume and (b) have a low competition rate. You need both of these factors together and in the right balance to successfully rank for the search term. If you choose a keyword with a very high search volume, the competition might be too fierce; and if you choose a keyword with very low competition, it might not be searched frequently enough to bring you any valuable amount of traffic.We usually advise clients to go with the most localized keyword, since that’s where competition is lowest, chances to rank are highest, and users are usually most willing to convert, i.e. make an appointment right away.You should also mind the fact that most dentist-related searches now happen on mobile devices, so you’d better check who your users see when browsing via their iPhones.On-page SEO for location keywordsOnce you choose a local keyword which you want to rank for, e.g. “dental services Missouri City,” you can begin to integrate it within your website content. That means adding it to your title tags and meta descriptions on major pages, and adding it to your address line in the contacts page and in your website footer. Since dentistry is a physically-grounded service, your location is a major reason why clients end up choosing your services over those of others: make sure your location is an obvious keyword on your site and try to rank as high for it as you can.Step 2. Create listings in top local directories with consistent Category, Description, and Name, Address, Phone (NAP)The top local directories to go after are:Google My BusinessBing Places for BusinessYahoo! Local ListingsYelp for Business OwnersUse the keyword research from Step 1 to identify the best name for your business’s online listing. You can use your business name as is, e.g. “Smile Dental Center,” or you can add the location, e.g. “Smile Dental Center, Manhattan.”For best results in local listings, Google recommends that you:Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.Make sure your address is accurate and precise.Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.Here’s a very handy tool which will help youScan Your Business in Local DirectoriesUpdate existing listings to have consistent NAPIf you already have your dental practice listed in major local directories, you need to check that your NAP is consistent. If you find any differences, choose the best version and modify all NAP to be identical. This helps Google’s robots recognize that the listings all point to one and the same business, an important factor boosting your local listings rank.Claim your listingsIf you find that there is a listing of your business which you are not managing yourself, you need to claim it. The process takes some time, but after the listing is in your hands, you’ll be able to update it with your official NAP and use it to boost your local results position.Step 3. Continue adding listings to other local directoriesOnce you’ve added/updated your dental practice listings with consistent NAP to all the major directories, you should continue adding it to other local directories on a regular basis, e.g. 5 new listings per month. Don’t forget to keep your NAP consistent, so the bots identify your business and aggregate results from all directories.Step 4. Add images of your dental practiceAdding images and videos to your listings increases the click-through rate, since users are more likely to choose a listing with images than those without. Click-through rate is an important ranking factor for Google and if yours is high, it will eventually increase your position in the local listings results.Step 5. Ask customers to write reviews about your servicesYou no doubt already have many happy customers. Use this to your advantage and ask them the small favor of recommending your services to others on Google or Yelp. Positive reviews will drive amazing waves of clients straight to your door. Plus, having many positive reviews will increase your rankings.Follow those 5 steps and you will increase your search engine position, which means more visitors to your site and more appointments in your offices. If any of the steps sound difficult for you to accomplish yourself, or you just don’t have the time to go through them, you can always ask a company specialized in Local SEO to assist with managing your local listings and to help discover the best keyword your business should rank for.