Dental SEO or Dentist SEO is the process of having a dental practice's website show up on Google for relevant terms in both organic listings and the Google My Business map pack. The intention of dental SEO is to get more potential clients to the said practice by creating specific pages on platforms focused around keywords that will let users searching for that specific service in a specific location find your practice quickly, easily and in a compelling way.
The reality is dentists need to understand the psychology of their potential clients and how they look for something and what is important. If someone is searching for a general dentist, someone to help with braces (orthodontist), cosmetic dental work or any service, based on how important it is and how quickly they need the service, they will either ask someone they know for a referral, go on a site like Yelp or will simply search on Google.
If I chipped my front tooth and it's in a lot of pain, I will likely just Google "emergency dentist" + my location or "24/7 emergency dentist" because I need someone now. Based on the search, I will probably click on the Google Maps or maybe the ad because I am in a rush:
Let's do a review of what this looks like in a real example.
"Emergency Dentist Los Angeles" SEO Review
Here you can see the main thing that is showing up is ads (people are bidding on this) and also local Google My Businesses that are as close to vicinity to me as possible.
This tells us a few things:
People are making money on this search so people are bidding on the keyword.
Location and getting to someone that is close by is extremely important.
So if you were an emergency dentist in the area, you would want to consider running ads and also it is most pertinent that you have your Google My Business show up prominently for all the services you provide within a driving distance of your practice.
As a local business but especially in the dental field, understanding SEO and knowing how your patients will or are searching is extremely critical to being able to have a strong digital presence to build you leads.
Dental SEO Takeaways
Do your keyword research. Understand how your users are searching and what are the terms they are using.
Create high relevancy on the platforms that matter (Yelp, Google My Business, your website pages)
Do On Page SEO or create highly topical pages with specific keywords, usually doing 1 keyword per page for your website and updating your Google My Business to showcase the services you offer and where you're located
I'm making this post to not only explain what an SEO Service is but to also explain what it will look like in 2020. So we'll start with the easy and then go into what 2020 can look like.
What is an SEO Service?
An SEO service is the work an individual or agency provides that utilizes best practices to create a compelling page result that will rank for visibility on Google or other search engines while answering the question or filling the need of the searcher.
It's important to know that in SEO, three entities must be serviced - one being the search engine and the other being the searcher and last being your client. It's finding that middle ground between the three that is the difficult part and requires the skill and finesse of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist or agency to do so.
How do you create a page that is compelling to Google, that answers the question of the user and gets your client (or you) relevant traffic that will be happy and take actions you want them to take?
Creating a Compelling Page for All Entities is the Job of the SEO
The SEO consultant, specialist or agency needs to understand the user and how they are searching and broker the best possible page that will satisfy Google and get the client or you the traffic that is relevant. The psychology of the searcher is most easily understood in what are the keyword strings that are being put into Google to come up with the query they put in to find the info they want.
Even if you put a basic search like below into Google, you can see Google is projecting what they will search for based on knowing the psychology how and what most people are searching for:
Once the keyword is confirmed, the SEO team is supposed to take that keyword and study it. Who is ranking for it and what type of content makes sense for this type of keyword?
The different steps are here and will be in future articles:
Here's my Upwork profile for reference. I've generated many clients and done over 93 jobs and 2,607 hours of work on Upwork to generate a nice living on Upwork alone (hint to any SEO entrepreneurs or wantrepreneurs who want to dive in).
From the profile though, you can see the models I primarily work off of - hourly or retainer.
Why I off the hourly or retainer model is sometimes clients are NOT good clients. Like any business relationship, partnership is required from all sides to make things work and go smoothly. Too often I've had clients who are unresponsive or do not take the advice I give them or will not allow the changes to a page we need to help improve the rankings.
Models 3 and 4 would actually create a liability for me, especially with new clients.
So I'll go into the costs both to me and to the client now below, looking at each model.
1. Hourly SEO Pay Model
This is the model most popular with people who need consulting, small jobs, want to see how I work or don't have large budgets.
My hourly pay has gone up over the years after starting at $50/hour and going up to where it is now at $100. Above I mentioned the average is $75/hour - $150/hour but that was mostly the rate agencies would charge. Many SEO's in the US range from the $25/hour - $75/hour range and can be found on Upwork with similar fees. You can see the range here although they don't have very good reviews:
The hourly SEO model works for maybe things that are more technical or a technical audit, questions or strategies people have or looking into competitive analyses. Generally I would budget about 10 hours for this model so take their hourly rate and budget for 10 hours as your top end budget. Typically a competitive analysis or a site audit on a small site can be conducted in that time frame.
As an SEO, I would sell 10 hours or have the client budget out about 10 hours. Often times ancillary questions or needs come up and to provide a complete service you want to bake in phone calls and follow ups so the client has a number in their head that you can fulfill on for any extras they will have (and they have them).
2. Retainer SEO Model
This is model that many of my clients have and the range for this goes from $500/month - $3000/month with the average being $1250 - $1500/month. This is also the model for people looking to rank keywords in the top spots of Google versus looking for advice, strategies, competitive analyses and technical reviews.
The model for this can be looked at as a multiple of the SEO freelancers or agencies rate but these typically has additional costs that go into it (primarily content creation or backlinking). Upwork is generally where I will see hourly engagements but the retainer model will be sourced more often from more stable and successful businesses.
For SEOs, I often get those clients through my "Los Angeles SEO", "San Francisco SEO" and "New York SEO" pages. Having and ranking a local SEO page to attract larger businesses is where many of my retainer clients come from.
The real reason why the retainer model is necessary is the time and costs can vary month to month but this variance is necessary. Content creation and link building or external PR is what will help boost your sites ranking and both of these come with a cost in terms of time or actual money.
For a $1000 per month retainer, easily $250-$500 may go to outgoing expenses in terms of content creation and external PR. The balance then will still be time that is being spent on the account.
So I may be spending fewer hours (if my hourly rate is $100/hour) than the value of the contract but the costs of ranking in the retainer model bring down the end value to me as the SEO. So maybe I spend 5-7 hours on the account each month but I only have $500 left in take home from a $1000/month contract after expenses.
This is why the retainer model works the way that it does - costs unknown to the businesses that the SEO agency or freelancer has to account for and impacts overall profitability.
3. How Should Clients Budget for SEO?
If you want tech, competitive analyses, overall reviews or strategy sessions, book a freelancer or agency for 5-10 hours but have 10 hours in your head as your top level cost. Make sure to get their hourly and negotiate deliverables and a follow up as part of the package.
For ranking initiatives, think 3-9 months at least for most keywords with this varying depending on your site stats, where you are ranking now and how competitive that keyword is. So if the SEO retainer is $1500 then you're looking at $4500 - $13,500 over the value of the contract.
Then look at how much each conversion value is to you and if there is an LTV - lifetime value you can calculate. If I do SEO for a real estate agent in Vancouver (I'm really talking to one at the moment), 1 conversion is worth $10,000 - $30,000 depending on the value of the home and the commission rate / split they have.
So $4500 - $13,500 investment becomes rooted in reality as SEO is ongoing - they should have the rankings for a long time. If 1 sale can basically have them break even and then it's profit moving forward, it makes sense.
This is how you should look at SEO and consider the value or return on ranking. Just seeing keyword rankings or keyword volume is not enough. If you're able to generate X amount of traffic and convert Y% into business, how much is that worth to you? If you get ongoing conversions, what's the value of a year? Do those people buy again or is there a lifetime value?
SEO is expensive and bad SEO is even more expensive.
Really look at your business and see if it is important and what your business can afford. I generally stay away from startups or businesses that are strapped for cash as SEO takes time. They should invest money into ads to get instant cash flow and an instant ROAS (return on ad spend) so the can keep growing the business.
Depending on what you need, the hourly or retainer model will attract likely the better SEOs unless you can work out a deal for an entire project that they feel confidently they can deliver on or feel so strongly they can do a deliverable based model that they take that.
2020 is happening and as a business owner, I'm committed to making it a big year for my business and my life.
As an SEO Agency owner, I find that a lot of small businesses underutilize digital marketing opportunities that can really help drive online lead generations to their businesses. And most of all, a lot of it can be fast, easy and FREE.
So let's dive into some SEO Tips for small business owners in 2020 but first some common questions to get out of the way for housekeeping.
What does SEO stand for?
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. The search engines would be things like Google, Yahoo, Bing and international engines like Baidu and Naver.
With SEO, words being used, especially keywords, are extremely important. To decipher the above, the words "process", "increasing", "quality" and "quantity" of website traffic" by "increasing" "visibility" are super important.
The goal of SEO is to take your page or website through the process of increasing relevant traffic you want to see your page.
This makes sense though right? We would want as many relevant people seeing my digital page as possible because those people will take the actions I want them to take. An example would be I created a "Los Angeles SEO", "San Francisco SEO" and "New York SEO" page to drive users. Who is most relevant for me would be people based in Los Angeles and looking for SEO or in New York and looking for SEO.
So the question is how can we do something for as cheap, fast and effective as possible? Let's dive into a few options.
1. Created Highly Targeted Local SEO Pages
One of the biggest mistakes I see small businesses making are just general service or product pages when they are a local business.
People who are searching for something and want a local option will generally add a location modifier or search a naked keyword but expect a local option to populate. To circle back then to my example earlier about "Los Angeles SEO", I created a local Los Angeles page because people search for "Los Angeles SEO".
You can verify it a few ways but the easiest is search the keyword and see if people are competing like that as you can see the below:
**Alternative way to verify local value is a free keyword tool called UberSuggest by Neil Patel that tells you how often people are searching a local keyword.
So now back to the keyword review and local SEO pages - why do we want to do this? Two reasons.
A. Local competition is far less competitive than general competition
If you try to rank "SEO" vs "Los Angeles SEO", we're talking about competing against everyone that's a .com user vs everyone competing specifically for Los Angeles that's a .com user. The volume has decreased but the pie of people competing has significantly gone down as well.
B. Localizing makes you far more relevant
This makes sense right? If I'm looking for a bakery for artichoke bread..I want to see the options walking or driving distance to me. Other bakeries may be really good but if I search "artichoke bread Los Angeles" or "buy artichoke bread" and I'm located in Los Angeles, I'm looking for a place to buy it now in Los Angeles.
This is why we want to create localized pages that are super focused and relevant for people in that area. It's less competitive and easier to rank AND it's more relevant for people looking for the service or product.
Review the competitor pages and their keywords and start to draft a page similar but better than theirs and see where your page will end up.
2. Google My Business
GMB or Google My Business is a placement of your business location on Google Maps.
GMB's often show up near the top or first below the ads for local searches as they've determined geographic location of a business to a person is one of the primary things people want and are looking for. Convenience (walking or driving distance being short) is king.
So again..."Los Angeles SEO" what do we see below the ads?
So shameless plug you see my business here but not really because again distance in king. I'm writing this post where my business is so obviously I am going to show up as one of the top options for Google to use.
However, what's important to note here is under the search, the Google Maps is the first thing people see. So it tells us that Google (who has determined after tracking other searches) is valuing the maps and distance of a search and a local business to a person is of high importance.
Now why is this important...
A. Of all the internet people competing...people anywhere can compete for a term like "Los Angeles SEO". But not everyone has an address.
The pie now has gotten even smaller.
Anyone with a website can technically compete for any term. However, to compete on maps, you generally need an address. So not only has the pie gotten smaller, it literally is tracking and ranking businesses based on where their address is in relation to a person.
If I need an "Emergency Dentist Oakland", the distance of an emergency dentist to me is of the utmost importance and you can see people literally have an entire business named around this service:
So as a business owner, you can create a GMB and use the keywords in the name of your business and the description and if anyone is located near you and looking for your services, you will automatically show as one of the top options. This is why I'm in Los Angeles but searched Oakland and the specific service within the GMB name and a Google Map Pack are the first things we see.
Create a Google My Business
Include keyword in name and description of your service with location
3. Directory Listings
This is an important and interesting one - and one with big asterisks and caution warnings.
Google gives a lot of power to directories or aggregators like a Yelp or Angie's list. These sites have a lot of inherent "trust" as providers of good information and a platform to connect users to ultimately what they want - research to find the business they want.
Being on these sites are important as they (especially Yelp) have geographic targeting options as well. If I'm looking for a Korean barbecue restaurant, the main options are top reviewed or closest to me that are open now.
These aggregators can provide a lot of visibility and within their own platforms that attract many users, it's getting digital foot traffic so people can know you exist. As a new or small business owner, it's definitely an important position to have placement.
However, these directories are notorious for being not friendly to the business owner. Just see this review from this site:
Not exactly comforting...but the customers still go on Yelp. Their is a price to pay as you can clearly see from above.
Those are my top 3 tips in 2020 for local or small businesses to gain more traffic actually quickly in 2020.
Best of luck, use the SEO and learn it yourself and grow your business to have 2020 be the best year.