Does the term SEO confuse you? Jan Clarke clarifies what it all means.

Your dental practice website will be one of the first ports of call for a potential patient, and one of your most effective marketing tools, where they can find out about your treatments, people and prices. How do you get your dental website to show up on a search, never mind at the top of page one, but just to show up?

The answer is simple, search engine optimisation, or SEO for short.


It is important to view SEO as a marketing tool that delivers the correct information on your web page relevant to the searcher’s own search phrase.

In short SEO is the art of injecting those search strings into your website’s pages in a way that the search engine understands. This starts with the content of the page, the words or the copy. Search strings can be subtly embedded into your pages using well written copy that is relevant and doesn’t stray away from the subject being discussed. It is worth noting that headlines, subtitles and body text all count towards rankings, however their importance has now been equalised as Google’s search algorithm now looks at pages as a whole for relevance.

It is very important to make the copy readable and as ‘human’ as possible, too many keywords and key phrases can actually have a detrimental effect on your website’s search engine rankings. Google for example actively penalises ‘keyword crammed’ pages as being over optimised.

There is a balance to be struck between good readability and keywords or search strings.

Another major factor in the SEO of your pages is what goes on behind the scenes of the visible web page. You may have heard of ‘meta tags’, the code behind the page that informs search engines of what your page is about.

The three meta tags that interest us here are as follows:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Keywords.

Again, when looking at these three tags you need to be relevant, there is no point mentioning endodontics when the page is about cosmetic teeth whitening, as this would not be relevant in the overall context of the ‘on page’ copy.

One often missed factor when optimising your pages is the URL to be used for that page, or the bit before the .HTML .PHP or if using WordPress, the slug! Make the URL of your page descriptive, here is an example:



The descriptive URL has far more chance of being picked up for a potential implant patient in Glasgow when they search for a dental implant clinic in Glasgow!

Attracting the right patients

The above methods are the baseline for your SEO activities as there are more advanced routes to having your dental website SEOd, once the above is in place, using methodology that search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo endorse and actively encourage.

In Google’s own webmaster guidelines, the key to gain rank on its search engine, is hinted at quite blatantly: ‘The key to creating a great website is to create the best possible experience for your audience with original and high quality content. If people find your site useful and unique, they may come back again or link to your content on their own websites. This can help attract more people to your site over time.

‘As you begin creating content, make sure your website is:

‘Useful and informative: If you’re launching a site for a restaurant, you can include the location, hours of operation, contact information, menu and a blog to share upcoming events.

‘More valuable and useful than other sites: If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training.

‘High quality: your site’s content should be unique, specific and high quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.’

To summarise, if you take the individual points above we know that the majority of dental businesses do rank quite well on credibility, some could do better on the quality, and most could do more to engage the human viewer.

Your website should also be unique, not a series of keyword crammed paragraphs, but original copy written by humans, for humans, in plain speak.

SEO starts with the basics, get the basics right and your rankings on search engines will improve, it may take time, however the results of good ranking of your pages will attract the ‘right’ patients.

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