Dental SEO Keyword Research

Dental offices should know what their clients search for in order to find the dental services that they need. That’s why we’ve put together this step by step guide for conducting SEO keyword research for your dental website.

If you’re looking for a list of keywords to get started, this website put together a great list of what patients want to ask their dentist.

Finding Keywords

There are several different ways that you can go about discovering new and relevant dental specific keywords. We’ve outlined some of the most common keyword research methods in order from simple to advanced.

Google Auto Complete

Google auto complete dentist for

As you type keywords into a Google search bar, you will get auto-complete results, which can help steer you towards finding new targets and variations that you may want to consider.

For example, just by typing in a few dentist + variations, you can find that a significant number of people search “dentist for __”, which are likely keywords that you will want to show up well for. If you offer services for children, people with Medicaid, people with dentures and braces (and who knows, maybe even dogs), then you likely want to have dedicated landing pages and content for this sector of your target audience.

Google Search Console

If you have not set this up already, it is an essential tool to monitor the SEO technical health of your website. Along with submitting sitemaps, checking the index status of your pages, finding crawl errors, and checking for mobile usability issues, Google Search Console provides search query data for your website.

Why is search query data important? It tells you what your website currently shows up for in Google search results. You can view how many times your website showed up for a search query, how many times people clicked through to your website, and your average position for the query.

Additional tip – you can combine Google Search Console with Keywords Everywhere, a Google Chrome extension.

Paid Tools

There are many freemium and paid keyword research tools available, all with varying levels of quality. A few of the most popular tools are currently SEMRush, Grepwords,, and Ahrefs. Most of these offer a taste of their full potential, but if you want to get in-depth you need to fork out some cash.

The benefit of many of these tools is that you are able to research competitors to see what keywords are driving traffic to their websites as well as search volume statistics.

What to do with these keywords?

Okay, now you have a fairly big list of keyword targets. Now what?

Keywords are tools – if you don’t know how to use them, then you won’t get much work done. Or worse, you could violate Google’s guidelines and do more harm than good.

There are a huge number of considerations when it comes to optimizing a website for a set list of keywords, and quite often businesses find ways of shooting themselves in the foot or make simple errors when implementing their research onto their website. For that reason, it’s easier to outline some of the common mistakes that we see dental websites make time after time.

Mistake #1: Over-Optimizing

Also known as keyword stuffing, this involves packing too many keywords into the content of a webpage. This could involve many different parts of a webpage including obvious factors including the, title tag, meta description, and on-page content as well as less obvious factors such as alt tags, internal link anchor text, and the URL address.

SEO professionals use paid tools that help them determine keyword density of a page, as well as character length for meta data across an entire website to ensure that it is at the proper length.

Mistake #2: Focusing on too many keywords

We see this one all the time – a webpage wants to rank for everything, so they optimize a page to rank for everything. This typically results in too few landing pages, too long page titles and meta descriptions, and Google being very confused as to what the page is all about.

As a very general rule of thumb, a page should only target 1-3 keywords, however there are plenty of exceptions with semantic keywords (see Risk #3 below).

Structuring your website so that it efficiently casts a wide keyword net as a whole takes quite a bit of planning and research, and often utilizes a mix of static commercial pages (service pages) as well as resource focused pages (blog posts).

Mistake #3: Ignoring semantic keywords

When search engines decide to rank websites in a particular order for a keyword, they aren’t just looking for keywords on a website that match a search query.

Semantically related keywords are used in similar situations to one another, and they can help an advanced algorithm like Google deliver more relevant results to its users.

This is part of the reason why a cooking website with a chili recipe page would have a very tough time ranking well for “dentists near me” – even if they did a good job of incorporating that keyword and other close variations into their chili recipe page.

Using the keyword “dentist near me” again, semantic keywords to that keyword might include:

  • Our staff
  • Schedule an appointment
  • New patients
  • Healthy teeth
  • Beautiful smile

This is not a complete list by any means – just a few examples. None of these keywords include the word “dentist”, but they play a role in establishing relevancy to the main target keyword.

Mistake #4: Forgetting about current traffic sources

What keywords do you currently rank well for? Hint – Google Search Console is a great way to find out. Will the changes that you make to your website hurt traffic in any way?

We see this happen quite often where companies will make URL address changes

Mistake #5: Focusing on too broad or too specific keywords

Keywords like “dental”, “surgery”, “teeth”, and “whitening” on their own are not good keyword targets, as the user intent is incredibly varied. Even if you were able to rank well for such a competitive keyword, the quality of visitors would likely not be relevant to your local dental office. Someone searching for “whitening” for example might be looking for the WebMD page on teeth whitening. A better keyword target might be something more specific that still has good search volume, like “teeth whitening dentist”.

Alternatively, you run the risk of ranking in a vacuum if you do not know the search volumes associated with keywords. Your website may rank #1 for “Kalamazoo dentist specializing in general, family and cosmetic dentistry”, however that won’t do you much good if no one searches for that exact long-tail keyword.

Mistake #6: Forgetting about everything else

There is SOO much more to improving your keyword rankings for your dental website than conducting keyword research. Unfortunately, most dentists stop at conducting keyword research and overlook many easy to fix factors that they really need to address.

Do you have any spammy backlinks that are hindering your keyword rankings? Do you have a sitemap? Is your website using Schema markup? Is your website optimized for site speed? Is it mobile friendly in Google’s mobile-first indexing world? Is your website secure with a SSL certificate?

You can check out our series of other Dental SEO resources below:

Looking for some help? We have plenty of experience in improving keyword rankings and driving traffic for dental offices. Use our contact form or give us a call to learn more.

Image Credit:

Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

Michael Hall

Michael Hall is an Account Manager at Netvantage SEO, which specializes in SEO, PPC and social media. Mike also runs our Denver office.

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