Updated Feb 18, 2021 by Chris Scott
“How do I get my dentist website ranked at the top of Google Maps?“
This is one of the most frequent questions I hear from dentists and dental practice owners.
I’ve been building top ranked websites since 1999.
Since 2007, I’ve helped many medical practices and dental practices achieve top organic SEO and Google Maps results for their target patient’s search queries.
I call it the Cutting Edge “Triple Whammy” when we accomplish both top shelf Google organic and Google Maps results simultaneously and then slip in targeted Google Ads to take up even more of the search engine result page real estate.
Ya, I’m greedy. So what. My goal is to dominate.
Cutting Edge clients get more action. Once we’ve achieved this I like to keep one foot on the gas and the other on competitors throats.
There are a slew of factors plus Google’s algorithm involved with Google Maps rankings. The people in Google’s ‘top secret kitchen’ are the only ones who know the exact recipe for rankings on Google Maps but here are what I consider to be some of the most important ingredients.
Start by tracking your dental practice website’s Google Maps rankings (Local SEO).
Make sure you, or your dental SEO company is providing you with the ability to, track progress over time. You should be tracking your rankings and progress in organic and also local (maps) for a variety of your preferred procedures and the keywords associated with them.
Here’s an example of on-the-fly reporting with the Cutting Edge Dental Marketing Dashboard rankings tracking section showing target keywords growth for a dental implant focused practice after a few months. Cutting Edge took over their website and dental marketing mid July:
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.
There are a variety of rank tracking tools out there to choose from. Track your practice and your competitors over time. Watch your team’s effort pay off.
Optimize your dental practice GMB
There are definitely easy wins and gains to be had by optimizing your GMB but that’s not enough on it’s own to rank in maps for competitive queries. It doesn’t matter where the searcher is (could be standing in your parking lot) or how many reviews you have if you lack content on your own dental practice website that matches actual searcher intent you will not show in Google Maps top spots for competitive queries.
For instance if someone searches for a dental implant dentist, Google will show the 3 local authority practices for implants in the maps result, closest to you is the secondary criteria not the first.
How can a practice be considered an authority for a procedure such as dental implants?
First start by having lots of quality content on your website that matches what people are looking for, snap-ins, dentures, all-on-4, prf, bone grafting info, success stories, videos, etc.
You must demonstrate that you are the subject matter expert.
Make sure you’re using Google Analytics so Google can learn from your audience behavior.
Are you successfully converting people who look for implants with your dental website or GMB listing? The more conversions you get over time the higher your maps ranking will be. Same goes for any procedure. See this quick read for how to setup basic conversion tracking while communicating this activity with Google.
If your dental website is doing well with conversions around a certain topic, such as dental implants, over time, you may even get featured like this example where Google awards this dominant authority dental implant focused practice website with half a page featured result for free right next to an ad for Clearchoice who is paying $25-$40+ for that same click:
Google likes “special websites” that satisfy search intent.
Google likes “special websites” that go the extra mile and actually put effort into their content to create value for people searching. Dental practice websites like this often have top rankings on Google maps.
Here is a 30 second video I made for an orthodontist friend on Dentaltown where I demonstrate a featured result, aka position 0, on Google for a competing dental practice that targets Invisalign patients by being transparent with pricing on their dental website:
If your site has 3 little paragraphs about a topic with a stock image (when it should have a skyscraper size page about what you do and how regarding that topic) then get to work writing and adding to your site so both Google and people see it as relevant to the topic as a whole.
Use your website to communicate what it is you do to people and Google. Elaborate more on every procedure, discuss the many sub topics within each. Keep on adding content. Google uses your website to understand your practice, what you do and to put your dental procedure pages in “topic buckets”. When someone searches for a particular topic, Google pulls out these buckets and then combines that with your GMB listing content and the language and sentiment in reviews, then your location and so on.
Choose Reputable Dental Marketing Companies for Local SEO
Be very mindful with all SEO efforts including “local SEO” as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Beware of cheap SEO as it will likely cost you big time. You can often identify these flakes as they may make “guarantees” about #1 for only one term or two (when their goal should be better positioning your practice for hundreds of queries), they lack transparency for reporting and hide behind statements like “SEO takes a long time” and jargon they know you do not understand in their communications. Just keep the check coming – another month – another month!
I’ve heard many stories about shady SEO in my time. I’ve stepped in to clean up some nasty messes and remove Google penalties left by these characters who try to “game results”. Only a fool thinks they are smarter than Google and can somehow backdoor them.
Only accept advice from people with actual hands on experience along with a portfolio of references to back it up. You probably wouldn’t hire a painter whose own home looks decrepit nor should you take investment advice from someone who is broke. The same applies to SEO and listening to anyone who tells you it’s easy or simple. It’s not.
Great SEO doesn’t cost, it pays
Local SEO is very definable and starts with optimizing your Google My Business and citations but if that’s all you do for SEO you’ll never get there.
If you’d like to learn more about SEO best practices for DIY or dive into the methods webmasters use to optimize sites, here is Google’s own definitive Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Here are a few excerpts:
“Know what your readers want (and give it to them).”
“If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you’re considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.”
“Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.”
“Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.”
Boost your dental practice visibility in Google Maps
An easy win is to look at your primary category in GMB. What is it? Is it just “Dentist” or “Dental Clinic” but you’d like to rank higher with your local SEO in Google Maps for teeth whitening, veneers or dental implants? If so, change your GMB listing primary category to “Cosmetic Dentist” or “Dental Implants Periodontist”.
This move alone can propel you in maps overnight.
In smaller towns (like this example with only 6000 ppl) where the practice GMB listing has a certain category associated with their listing like cosmetic dentist or dental implants periodontist, you can find a dentist in top 3 without even having a website if very few other practices in the small town have that category selected.
There are now up to 9 category choices (one must be primary) at this time that apply to dentists. You can get better placement quickly in a small town by adding all the categories relevant to your practice.
This category change alone will have very little to no effect in a more competitive market if you do not also have a website with relevant subject matter and quality content.
Another huge factor is trust.
For dentists, Google looks at all the above and then right before calculating the result they grade it all with EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). This is because dentistry is a YMYL (your money your life) topic. Dental practices are extra scrutinized before being shown. Does your main content reflect that you’re an expert for the topic? Credentials clearly listed? Do people trust you?
Google does all this and more in a fraction of a second.
The methods to get a donut shop into top spots at Google Maps are not the same as a dental practice.
Google doesn’t allow just anyone to simply create a Google My Business, get a few reviews and start ranking on the top of maps for a YMYL topic like scratching and pulling teeth.
For dental practices the primary factor is relevance, then trust, then location. Play this 86 second video:
Quality Content on Dental Websites
Dentists need to address the usual lack of content on their websites and build trust in order to conquer maps (EAT & YMYL). Invest in your website and heavily in it’s content if you want to beat competitors in Google Maps for competitive queries.
Be more relevant than your dental practice competitors.
Reviews and local links matter but they’ll only get you so far. If your website content sucks and isn’t relevant to the searcher’s intent you can forget it.
Anyone can easily sit down for a few moments each week and write more about what they do and how their practice works, improve their content and get a major relevancy boost in maps as a result. When you work with us we do this for you as much as possible.
It’s prudent to be top ranked in maps for any practice in any market. Top 3 consistently for competitive queries can make your year and even your decade.
Google is the gatekeeper and they are very clear, “provide?unique?content of value to users” above all else.
Dentists should scrutinize their website content.
Is your dental practice website content considered thin? Perhaps run of the mill packaged content? Is it mediocre or lame? Improve on it over time. You will likely reward yourself at the rate of $15,000 an hour for your time spent writing via increased practice production as a result of taking a top 3 maps spot from a competitor.
Here is an example of Google using website content and relevance to award a practice with #1 on maps. Notice “their website mentions full arch” right in the result:
Google features the above practice totally free and often for many implant related searches. As a dentist yourself you know well that “full arch dental implants” is a very valuable search query to be top ranked in Google maps for.
How and why do they dominate a whole city with featured results in organic and top spots in Google maps for these lucrative dental implant searches? Lots of reasons of course but first and foremost above all it’s because their website content about the overall topic of dental implants kicks ass, takes names and is most relevant to the searcher’s intent.
“Nobody Knows How Google Works…”
Sure we do.
They’re fairly transparent about this here.
The key factors that help determine which results are returned for a Google query:
- Meaning of your query
- Relevance of webpages
- Quality of content
- Usability of webpages
- Context and settings
According to several popular studies, Review signals (quantity, velocity, diversity) account for between 7% and 13% Google ranking factor for maps.
GMB signals account for between 19% and 25% ranking factor for maps.
If you get both those totally in tune you’re still not even halfway there.
You have to be relevant, satisfy search intent and in dentistry you’d best be seen as a subject matter expert with great ever evolving content that’s laid out in a hierarchy Google bots and people both love to traverse. You must establish trust with Google because dentistry is a YMYL subject that requires EAT.
Google discusses EAT in this whitepaper.
“Our ranking system … is specifically designed to identify sites with high indicia of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.”
Learn more about YMYL here on Google’s Search Evaluator Quality Guidelines
“Google’s algorithms identify signals about pages that correlate with trustworthiness and authoritativeness.”
These are a few reasons why you will not succeed using canned content and overused stock photos (Google identifies this as junk) or generally offering a thin content experience for users.
I’ve achieved top map results many, many times.
You can have your GMB all filled out perfectly and lots of reviews flowing but those factors alone aren’t enough to take top lucrative maps spots or even better a featured result. For that you need amazing expert subject matter content that people digest and that converts searchers into new patients (while measuring this activity and sharing it with Google).
If your dentist website is working as intended you’ll get there. If you’re in a more competitive location you will never ever have top lucrative spots in maps with a lame website. If lame content is your issue and your competitor is nailing it with content, it doesn’t matter if someone is standing on top of your building while searching.
Here is a quick video I made demonstrating that having a website and being relevant trumps location every time for Google Maps rankings. You’ll have a hard time ranking top 3 in Google Maps without a website. Well, maybe in a little town with only 3 competing dental practices like shown earlier but otherwise, forget it. It’s also very unlikely you’ll be top ranked in maps, even if you do have a site, without great content that satisfies searcher intent.
Closed captioning is available if you’re in an office.
In competitive markets, where most dentists find themselves, strive for great content and make sure you are communicating conversions with Google so they understand that your dental practice is satisfying their searchers.
Video content is huge this year.
More dentists should be making videos. You can jump right over the competition in Google Maps by making relevant videos, uploading them to YouTube and embedding them on your website procedure pages. Videos have an even greater ranking effect when you take the time to caption them properly too.
See the power of the video marketing for my video above ranking top of search 2 hours after being published:
Dental Website Conversions and Google Maps Rankings
In my opinion, there will be even more of a direct relationship between conversions and Google Maps rankings in 2021. A dental practice site that isn’t converting won’t rank or have a ton of organic traffic. Face it, there isn’t a “ton of traffic” looking for dental services in any one location. Even in Manhattan there’s only a handful of organic searches each day. This is one very important reason to make sure your dental practice website and SEO follow best practices so that you are well positioned with your fishing pole in the water for the few fish that are biting each day.
If a dentist’s website is sub-par it can’t get top ranked in Google Maps in the first place. You’ll only get traffic for competitive queries if you are converting and Google has determined that you satisfy searcher intent for any given query.
Conversions start but don’t end with a form fill out or a phone call. Google goes much deeper and can often “see” a searcher in your building during their appointment and can even attribute a new review to the original search query that someone used to find you in the first place. This activity ratchets your rankings up in Google Maps more than anything.
Cutting Edge is at the forefront of dental marketing and offers packages which include local SEO. See our Dentists on the Cutting Edge package here:
All-In-One New Website, SEO & Digital Marketing + Cutting Edge Software & Strategy For 1 Monthly Price.
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