Why Orthodontists Must Master Local Search

Things aren’t looking that bright for a lot of orthodontists these days.

There was a time when orthodontists pretty much had a lock on the business of correcting malocclusions. They did have a lock on treating more complex orthodontic cases.

That all changed when Invisalign® was introduced. Suddenly, GP dentists could effectively treat mild to moderate orthodontic cases. And they did, signing up by the tens of thousands for Invisalign training. That was a serious blow to many orthodontists’ pocketbooks.

Invisalign was challenge enough, but now ClearCorrect has tossed its hat in the ring, putting further pressure on orthodontic practices. And Smile Direct Club is striking at the very heart of the orthodontist-patient relationship by offering do-it-yourself dental molds and shipping clear aligners directly to patients.

Right now, orthodontists have two main corporate competitors enabling tens of thousands of general practice dentists to treat malocclusions. And one corporate competitors enabling tens of thousands of patients to essentially treat themselves.

The situation is dire, but not hopeless.

How You Can Fight Back

The quest for new patients begins online. Today, more than 90 percent of dental prospects begin their search for a dentist on the internet. That’s equally true for prospects with orthodontic needs.

The basic and most essential element of search engine optimization (SEO) is selecting the right keywords. Keywords are the words, or phrases, that searchers enter and that search engines like Google respond to. Today’s dental prospects are just as likely to enter a multi-word term (a long-tail keyword) as a single keyword like “dentist” or “braces.”

Begin your quest for the right keywords with Google’s free Keyword Planner. You’ll need an AdWords account (also free) to access the Planner. Create a list of likely keywords – orthodontist, braces, clear aligners, and so on – and plug them into the tool. Be sure to include your geographic location as a keyword (Dalton, Georgia for instance). All search these days is local.

You’ll be able to see how much traffic each keyword generates.

Once you’ve decided on the keywords that you can expect to generate the most hits, you’ll need to incorporate them into your online content – website content, blogs, social media posts, and so on. There are specific rules for adding keywords, but detailing those rules is beyond the scope of this article.

Differentiate Yourself

Make sure that you test your keywords for terms that will set you apart from general dentists who offer invisible aligners. Possible terms include expert, experienced (or highly experienced), superior, and anything else that will appeal to prospects looking for the best dental professional to address their orthodontic problems.

You’ll need to tailor your website copy to reflect your expertise and experience in helping patients achieve superior results.

You won’t get every clear aligner case in your market, but you can and should get the prospects who are interested in a superior result from an orthodontic expert they trust. Those better prospects are generally willing to pay more to have confidence that they’ll realize the result they want.

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

Being found online requires more than choosing the right keywords. There’s a great deal of behind the scenes optimization work required to achieve a high page ranking in local search.

If you’re a gifted natural at SEO work, you can do it yourself. The vast majority of dentists will do far better to outsource optimization to a reputable third-party provider. Some dentists balk at the cost, but that’s short-sighted. Getting a handful more of aligner cases will easily offset any vendor expense, and subsequent cases will give a nice boost to your bottom line.

No matter what the general dentists in your market do.