Good SEO does not come cheap, especially in the dental field. Google offers a limited amount of above-the-fold real estate on its first page of search results, and that space is dominated by locator maps, business listings and up to (4) paid ads. Organic search results — which, years ago, were positioned prominently near the top of the page — are barely visible without scrolling down. Compare the number of dentists in your area with the number of available positions on Google’s first page of results. That is why dental SEO is far from being free.
How much you will spend on SEO depends on a range of factors. How aggressively do your competitors market themselves? Do you have the in-house staff to focus on content development, blogging and social media? Answering these types of questions can help you make a better prediction of what you should budget for improving and maintaining your SEO. Here we’ll review the factors that most heavily impact costs.
Consider the Competition
The first step when predicting the cost of dental SEO is to consider the competition. Dental offices in small towns and rural areas tend to face fewer competitors than those in larger cities. Also, you need to consider the effectiveness of each competitor’s marketing strategy, as well as whether certain competitors have word-of-mouth advantages from years of keeping their doors open. Every competitor that actively works to improve its SEO is another reason to boost your marketing budget.
When researching your competition, visit the Moz Open Site Explorer and enter the URLs of each of your competitors. Here you can view each competitor’s page authority, domain authority, and link network size. Then, plug in your own domain to see your information. The more competitors there are ahead of you, the more you’ll need to spend to catch up and get ahead.
The Cost of SEO Development
Next, focus on your website and marketing efforts. Is your content sharp? Is your website responsive? Are you thinking beyond Google’s organic search results? We’ll review these and other important facets of good SEO that are likely to add to your overall costs.
Own a Quality Domain: Ideally, your domain should exactly match the name of your dental office. That’s the simplest way to earn a high ranking when people search for your business with either a written or spoken query. However, sometimes that is not possible. If your perfect domain is taken, you can try to find one that is unregistered or you can make an offer on the owned domain. Be prepared to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you choose to go that route.
Restructuring Your Website: Many dental offices offer multiple services to their clients. For optimal SEO, your website should be structured with dedicated landing pages for each service. That could mean unique designs, graphics, videos, text, and other content. It also means optimizing your meta and header tags to clarify the purpose of each section, and each webpage, to the fullest possible extent. This could require anything from a simple brush-up to a complete redo of your website.
Converting to Mobile Responsiveness: Desktop-friendly websites are out; mobile-responsive websites are in. Google recently started giving preference to websites that are fully functional in mobile browsers. Fortunately, most new best dental websites are made with mobile-responsive designs. However, if you operate a well-established dental office with an older website, then you will need to switch to something that works on smartphones and tablets according to established Google requirements.
Quality Content: “Content is king” is an old SEO adage. Years ago, the term “content” mainly applied to articles and images. Now, content has a lot more depth. Articles, blog posts, infographics, testimonials, videos, animations, surveys, and all kinds of other elements fill out the spectrum of content. Build out your website with engaging, quality content, and everything about SEO gets easier. Google’s search engine algorithm has been shaped with endless amounts of metadata to favor content that’s deemed to be relevant, unique, and useful. Starting a blog is an easy way to generate quality content that can bolster SEO in more ways than one.
Getting Citations: Google’s search algorithm gives preference to business websites that are deemed as legitimate and credible. Citations help establish that online reputation. Citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number on other websites. If your dental office has several branch locations, then each needs its own citations. Start by getting listed on Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, Foursquare, YP.com, and dozens of other business directory websites. Search Google for competing dental offices and see which websites they are mentioned on. This competitor research can provide more ideas for where to get citations.
Search engine optimization is not free. It is not simple, either. Good SEO is not just about climbing the organic search rankings; it is about maximizing your above-the-fold page share. That means taking advantage of social media, Google My Business, and business directory listings. It means building your link network and finding citations. It means inspiring positive reviews and thoughtful blog posts that drive potential customers to seek you out. It also means keeping ahead of the competition.
When all is said and done, climbing the ladder of SEO could cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars. Like all things in business, though, you will get what you are willing to pay for, and SEO is an ongoing expense as technology changes over time.