How to conduct keyword research for Dental SEO
This article is intended to introduce you to the concept and process of keyword research for search engine optimization.It should help you understand what SEO keyword research is, why it is important and how it can help you to make the right decisions when it comes to developing and later executing a successful dental SEO strategy.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the words or phrases that are typed into the search bar of Google or any other search engine. Based on the nature of the keyword, Google tries to understand what the intent behind the search is, and then attempts to display the search results that are highly relevant to the typed in query. The more detailed the search query, e.g. the more words are typed into the search bar, the better Google understands what the user wants to find.
For example “dentist” is a very broad keyword that can have various search intents. A user may be interested to learn about how to become a dentist, how much a dentist earns, what a dentist does or find a dentist in their area. As a result Google may display a variety of search results, as there are multiple potential search intents.
“Best dentist near me” on the other hand is a very detailed keyword that clearly states to Google what the intent is. The user is looking for a dentist that has high ratings and is located nearby the individual. As a result, Google will attempt to display a list of top-rated dentists that are within a close proximity of the individual.
What is keyword research?
In its simplest form, keyword research is the process of finding the most relevant keywords that should be used and targeted by a dental website.The main goal, here, is to maximize visibility on Google for the keywords that the patients in your city are likely to type into Google when searching for a dentist nearby.
Why is keyword research so important for dental SEO?
The process of a professional keyword research serves to inform the SEO specialist on what steps can and should be taken to improve the visibility of your dental website on Google or other search engines. The following 4 questions will help to understand which keywords to go after in a dental SEO project.
How hard will it be to rank for this keyword?
When analyzed with a professional SEO tool, each keyword usually is assigned with a so-called keyword difficulty or keyword competitiveness index. This illustrates how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword. The lower the index, the easier it is to rank for a given keyword, the higher it is the index the more difficult it is to rank for a keyword.
A high keyword difficulty index does not mean it is impossible to make it to page 1 of Google, but rather indicates that it is more difficult and time-consuming to do so.
Let me tell you a secret you probably already know; dentistry is an extremely competitive space. As a consequence, most meaningful keywords will have a medium to high keyword difficulty. Some people shy away from such keywords, but we love the challenge of going head to head against others to improve the visibility of your website.
When you partner with a dental marketing agency such as the Profitable Dentistry, you will be able to maximize your chances to break into the sought after page 1 rankings and climb the ladder overtime.
How much traffic can you generate from a given keyword?
Would it be worth to optimize for a keyword that brings 0 traffic to your dental website, just to show off a #1 ranking? Unless, SEO is done to boost one’s ego, this would be pointless in terms of true value.
The wiser thing to do would be to go after keywords that have significant search volume or can drive significant results in terms of patient numbers or patient case revenue.
Even if a keyword has a search volume of 100 for example, your website will likely only “win” a fraction of traffic from those 100 searches per month. Depending on the position where your website ranks on Google, your dental website has the potential to attract a bigger or smaller piece of the pie.
Ignite Visibility has conducted an analysis of CTR (click-through rate) based on the position on Google. They have found the following breakdown:
Position 1 – 43.32%
Position 2 – 37.36
Position 3 – 29.90%
Position 4 – 19.38%
Position 5 – 10.95%
Position 6 – 10%
Position 7 – 5.28%
Position 8 – 4.13%
Position 9 – 4.13%
Position 10 – 3.11%
The first goal of any SEO campaign should be to make it to page 1, which can be indeed difficult. In search engine marketing there is a saying that page 2 on Google is the best place to hide a dead body, as no one ever seems to look there. If your dental office does not occupy one of the first page rankings, it is as if your office did not exist at all to potential prospective patients who turn to Google to find a dentist in their city.
Once page 1 rankings are achieved, new goals can be set to further climb the ladder and improve the website’s visibility. An improvement from position 7,8,9 or 10 to position 6 could already double the website traffic. With all things being equal in terms of conversion rate, this would mean that page 6 can generate 2x times the website traffic and 2x the amount of leads than those websites that rank on spots 7,8,9 and 10.
After position 6 has been achieved, the next logical step would be to go after position 4 which would once again double the website traffic.
The final step and the hardest step is to break into the top-3 listings. While this can take time and considerable efforts, it is definitely worth it as it can boost business results significantly. The downside is that those pages that rank in the top 3 are more likely than not, to already be highly optimized. As a result, any optimization that is done to your website would only bring about marginal gains.
What kind of content should you prepare to rank for a given keyword?
A skilled and experienced SEO consultant will be able to tell what type of content needs to be created just by looking at the keyword. To remove any doubts or speculation, the true SEO professionals always conduct a process that is called SERP intent analysis. We discuss this concept in more detail further on in this article.
Are people searching for this keyword likely to become patients?
The final question of course asks if all the future SEO efforts will lead to meaningful results in terms of more website traffic, more leads, more new patients and more revenue.
You could write an in-depth blog about the best tooth-brush to use in 2021. This example topic is related to dentistry, so it would make sense to try to rank for it right? Now let’s ask, would ranking for “best toothbrush” increase patients from your local city? Probably not, as those people are looking for a toothbrush not a dentist. As a consequence, it is important to go after keywords that people would type into Google when they are looking for a dentist or specific dental treatments in their city.
To name just a few these keywords are:
Dentist + city
Dental office + city
Dental clinic + city
Dental care + city
Emergency dentist + city
Dental implants + city
How to find keyword ideas:
There are many different ways to find keyword ideas, with each one of these building up to a complete keyword research, which is the key to building a successful keyword strategy.
Brainstorm initial keywords
Google has been around for a while now, and over the past 20 years it has established itself as the go-to search engine for most countries in the western world. This makes it likely that you have used Google yourself when you searched for information, products, services or businesses on the Internet.
Now take a few minutes and think of your dental office and the services that you provide. What would you type into Google if you were a patient looking for a dentist, emergency dentist, cosmetic dentist etc.?
The keywords that you will come up with are what SEO specialists call seed keywords, that they then enter into professional tools and the Google search box to find other variations that are relevant.
Be an expert in the dental niche
Search engine marketers who have worked with dental offices before don’t rely on guesswork and are familiar with keywords that are worthy to go after. Florian Tomko, founder from Profitable Dentistry, is the son of a dentist and has also worked in-house in a private dental clinic as the marketing manager for 2.5 years.
With that extensive experience in-house, we know exactly what keywords to go after, so we don’t waste your marketing budgets or time on optimizing dental websites for irrelevant keywords.
Use keyword research tools
Keyword research tools help to show which keywords have the highest search volumes. They can easily answer the question if “dental office London” or “dental clinic London” has a higher search volume for example. Furthermore, tools can be used to check if there are any new keywords that have meaningulf search volume or if some keywords are trending up or down in terms of volumes.
Most of the best tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs come with a hefty price tag, so it is probably not the best idea to sign up for specialist tools that will be used once only. Agencies and specialists use these tools on a daily basis, so there is no need to invest resources into these tools, unless you are planning to build an in-house marketing team at your dental office.
Check Google to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for
Once the keywords have been identified, it is time to head to Google and plug them into the search bar to see what comes up.
Historically, you probably think of competitors as those that are closest to your dental office, right? This makes sense as you compete with these close-by dentists for local foot traffic.
When it comes to online marketing, you need to alter this line of thinking. In terms of SEO your 8-10 main competitors are those websites that rank on page 1 in your city.
Analyze keywords to find out their potential
Within the field of digital marketing there are many black sheep that take advantage of their clients, as most business owners are not all too familiar with the field of SEO.
As discussed earlier in this article, in dental SEO it is important to optimize your website for keywords that can bring about meaningful results. Afterall, as a dentist you hire specialists or agencies with the intention to grow your dental practice, e.g. your sole goal is to grow brand awareness and increase new patient numbers.
Agencies who make their life easy will rank websites for various irrelevant keywords with low difficulty indexes. As a result they can show off to the client that they have successfully ranked the dentist’s website for 5,10 or 20 keywords for example. In this case, however, the dentist would most likely not notice any increase in website traffic or lead volumes.
Does the keyword have more than 10, 50, 100 or even 1,000 searches? Great, it could be a good fit for your SEO strategy. Keywords with 0 volume should be lower on the priority list.
By taking into consideration the CTR breakdown by position, we can start to map out keywords that have the highest potential in leading to clicks and traffic. By analyzing the search results for keywords, we can get a rough idea of how high we will be able to rank for a keyword in the near future, let’s say 3-9 months after implementation of the optimization. The higher the rank is, the higher the CTR will be, and, as a result, the more clicks we can land from organic search results.
Traffic potential is a function of CTR and search volume. The higher both of these factors are, the more traffic can be generated from Google’s organic search results. Keywords with the highest traffic potential should be placed high on the priority list, as these will have the biggest impact, once page 1 rankings are achieved.
As mentioned earlier, this indicates how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword. While most low- to mid-difficulty keywords can be ranked for with top-notch content in itself, high-difficulty keywords will require the full arsenal of SEO best practices and activities such as content optimization, image optimization, page-speed optimization and off-page optimization (link building).
Cost per Click (CPC)
Cost per click estimates for keywords are rarely 100% accurate. While they should be taken with a grain of salt, these values can serve as an indication of the commercial intent of a keyword. Commercial intent basically shows whether a keyword will or could lead to meaningful business results, such as an appointment booking for a new patient.
If we take a look at the 3 keywords below, we can see various levels of commercial intent.
What are dental implants?
The user who is searching for “What are dental implants?” might just be interested to learn more about the topic out of curiosity. This person would be considered to be very high in the funnel and not represent what we call in business a “warm lead” or someone who will likely pick up the phone to call your office to book a dental implant consultation.
Dental implant procedure
The user who is searching for “dental implant procedure” likely already knows what a dental implant is, and now is looking to learn more about the procedure itself. This person is already showing a more in-depth interest in dental implants which would make him or her a warmer lead than the person who searched for what implants were.
Dental implant specialist
The user who is searching for “dental implant specialist” is a hot lead. This patient knows that they need a dental implant treatment and is now using Google to find a suitable dental implant specialist in their area. A keyword like this has high commercial value as a lead for this treatment can lead to multiple thousands in terms of revenue. You will not be the only dentist in your city that would love to attract more dental implant patients, as a result this keyword will be a very competitive one to rank for, but one that is worth the effort as it can have significant effects on your bottom line.
Choose the keywords to target in the SEO project
Deciding on the keywords to use within your SEO strategy is multi-step process that has to be planned out in advance.
Map keywords into topics
This is where the true professionals and dental marketing experts can make the biggest difference for your dental seo efforts. After several hundred keywords have been researched and compiled into a long list, the actual SEO work can begin.
A skilled SEO consultant will segment the long list of keywords and prepare the optimal information architecture layout, e.g. the structure of the pages and blogs that your website should include for an optimal user experience.
Conduct a SERP intent analysis
SERP intent analysis is a process that helps to identify what it takes to rank highly on page 1 of Google. Let’s look at the two main aspects that a SERP intent analysis helps with:
By looking at the top-ranking websites for any given keyword, the SEO specialist can quickly understand what type of content is required to best meet the search intent of a keyword.
Are the best ranking pages landing pages or blog posts?
Are there images or infographics in the search results?
Are there videos in the search results?
Once the best ranking content type is noted, the specialist will know what type of content to create.
Besides understanding what type of content needs to be produced, it is important to also understand how long and in-depth the content that is already ranking is. For this, an average word count can be calculated of the best ranking websites.
If the average content length for “professional teeth whitening” in city XYZ for example is 650 words and the type that is ranking is a landing page, then the SEO specialist understands that they need to create a landing page that is at least 650 words in length, to produce the same or better quality than the competing websites.
Why should you task a dental seo agency with the keyword research for your dental website?
Hiring an expert in the dental niche will help you save time, money and avoid subtle mistakes.
While you could spend hundreds of hours and get to similar results yourself, you probably already have enough on your plate. Handling the day-to-day business of running a successful dental office is stressful enough, and you probably don’t look forward to spending your evenings and free-time studying the latest SEO best-practices.
If you choose a partner such as Profitable Dentistry you can relax, knowing that your dental SEO strategy and keyword analysis is in good hands. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need some help to improve your dental website’s visibility on page 1 of Google.