It is incredibly important that you spend a small percentage of your annual marketing budget on maintaining your dental local SEO. Whether you focus on organic/paid marketing, online/offline marketing or a combination of the above, this one piece is incredibly important. You do NOT want to overlook this piece!

Local SEO – What is it?

Podcast Highlights:

  • Dental Local SEO – What is it?
  • Driving Traffic to Your Website
  • How Do Other Dentists Get Listed?
  • The Importance in Monitoring Your Google My Business Listing
  • It’s a War for the Consumer’s Mind
  • The Value of a Review
  • Passive and Aggressive Marketing

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. This podcast is brought to you by New Patients Incorporated and I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again is my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome once again to a podcast in our Dental Marketing Mastery Series. And we’re very glad to have you. I’m Howie Horrocks here in Vegas and my good buddy and the President of the company is Mark Dilatush. He’s out New Jersey. How you doing Mark?

Mark: I’m doing fine Howie, How is it? Is it below 9000 degrees there yet?

Howie: Just barely, but

Mark: just barely.

Howie: Well, it’s still triple digit land.

Mark: But how’s the Raider stadium coming along?

Howie: It’s, uh, I think I read where it’s 75% complete.

Mark: Really?

Howie: I know

Mark: Well, I’ll be out there and a couple weeks. Maybe we’ll drive by it?

Howie: We definitely will. Yes.

Mark: So, what do we have today? What’s on the, what’s on the docket?

Howie: What’s on the docket? It’s local SEO for dentists – What the heck is that?

Mark: Wow. Okay, so for everyone who’s unfamiliar with the way we do our podcasts, lots and lots of things have changed here at NPI.

We’ve grown, probably doubled from what we were about a year ago.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: And part of that is, we have a content management person, who – she’s awesome. Her name is Crystal, and she is in charge of our social media and all the content that we put out there, education and organizing. It’s an amazing, she does an amazing job anyway.

And in part of that, she brings in the questions that we get. So, when people engage whatever we’re putting out there, they ask questions.

So that’s where these questions come from, and so if you see our ads, or you see something on Facebook, or you go to our blog, or you go to our new website, whatever, wherever you go, if you have a question, you want to put it on a podcast, please let Crystal know or let us know you can put it anywhere.

Actually, it doesn’t matter because she brings them all in.

Howie: Yeah that’s right.

Mark: Okay, so local SEO for dentists, what is it?

For those of you who are not driving, for some of you who can run a treadmill and look at your phone at the same time, without looking like an idiot and falling off the treadmill, I would ask you to go do a Google search for almost anything with the words near me at the end.

Like ‘Italian restaurant near me’ would be fine. You can even do ‘dentist near me’, that’s fine, too. If you want to make it perfectly topical.

So, what I want to do is, while explaining to you what dental local SEO is, we might as well divvy up that search result page into thirds.

Google Local and Local SEO, local optimization takes up that middle third, it’s the map, the balloons, there are listings under the map, there may even be an ad, dental local ad underneath the map. If there’s a local ad, usually they have three or four non ad listings there.

So that is the Google Local piece of the real estate of the first page of every Google result. That is a local orientation. Not every search on Google is a local. If you typed in Gypsy Moth into Google, you probably wouldn’t get a local box, it would probably come back with images of research papers. Hopefully nobody named Gypsy Moth.

But Google doesn’t always give you a local result. But for the purposes of the conversation and the work that we do, that little piece of real estate inside that map and those listings that are visible underneath that map is very valuable. Very valuable to our client, to our clients and all dentists, not just our clients.

It really helps your organic traffic to your dental website to be visible. Within those maps to have your own balloon, A, B, C, D, whatever. However, many they’re showing and to have your listing visible because what’s right next to your listing. The answer is your Google reviews.

So, you don’t have to go too far to imagine that a dental consumer uses Google and their phone or their laptop very similar to the way you use yours. Just because you’re a dentist doesn’t mean that you use Google any differently.

So, if you Google, let’s think for a second, let’s say you do Google Italian restaurants near me. There’s actually retinal testing that bears this out. But most humans, about 80% of them will look at the top. Then look at the map. Then look at the listings directly below the map. They may glance down to the organics.

But it’s pretty clear to us and to other marketers that Google is trying to emphasize Google Local and the ads above Google Local. Deemphasize organics, does not mean that organics are not valuable because they are. It just means its kind of obvious what Google is doing.

They’re putting more ads above Google Local, they’re putting local further down, which eliminates listings underneath. Because most people just use,

Howie: Why do you think they’re doing that Mark? Because, do you think they’re doing that? This is a facetious question.

I think they’re doing that because they would rather have those paid ads up in the visible area.

Mark: I would say that is a plausible theory, Howie.

Howie: I’m working on a theory.

Mark: Yeah, that’s a good theory.

How do other dentists get listed?

So anyway. So how does a dentist, if they’re not already on that Google Local, the map or the listings below the map, how did they get there?

And there’s a, short answer is, make sure everything in your Google My Business Page, the name, even the hyphens, the commas, the address, the suite numbers, the spaces in between those addresses, the zip codes, everything, everything, every piece of data in that Google My Business listing is exactly identical in all of your other directories.

A directory is something like Bing, Yahoo, and Jeeves, Duck Duck Go, all the other search engines and all your social media properties.

Google doesn’t just index its own data; it indexes all the other data from all the other directories. So, what it’s looking for is consistency.

Now, you may say yourself, “Well, I don’t even have directory listings on 30 of those other places”.

You know, there’s about 80 or 90 search engines out there that are valid.

And you may say, “Well, I know I never even heard of these other 50.”

And our answer would be, uh-huh, but I bet you that the three dentists above you, underneath that map, have heard of them, and they have updated their information exactly the same way in those directories. I would also say that the other dentists, who are just in that map box, have social media properties. And those social media properties also have all of their information consistently written, everything’s the same, keep everything the same.

So, if the name of your practice is “Affinity Dental of Des Moines” then it needs to be “Affinity Dental of Des Moines” everywhere. And down to the spaces in between the words, everything has to be written out, and entered correctly, perfectly in each one of those directories.

If you do that, and of course, your social media, if you do that very good chances that you’ll begin to move up that list. Google will identify you as being more relevant because you’re in more places, and you’re very consistent with your information relevance is measured somehow by Google, nobody knows exactly how.

But if you do that, and you stay on top of it, because directories don’t always take in your new information. Sometimes it takes them a month, three months, four months, six months a year. and sometimes directories change your information for no apparent reason.

Sometimes assistants will log on or business administrators will log on, unbeknownst to the owner of the business. They think they’re helping and create a second Google business page.

I mean, I could literally spend the next half hour telling you stories about all ways that dental teams and associates could mess up the owner of the dental practice by trying to do something. They think they’re doing it useful. They’re not nefarious human beings. They’re trying to do something good. But what they’re really doing is hurting the marketability of the practice.

Howie this might be a good This might be a good break point.

Howie: Yeah, just you’re reading my mind. So, hang on, we’ll be right back.

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Howie: Okay, we are back. And we’re talking about local SEO for dentists.

And Mark, before the break you were mentioning that you can speak for an hour or so on the mistakes that well-meaning staff might make or things that could go wrong with these with these directory listings, right?

Mark: Sure. And sometime I mean, yeah, and for the most part, none of these are nefarious. I mean, sometimes they are sometimes an associate will create their own Google My Business page, utilizing the same address, and actually get it on.

When you get a Google business page, verify Google sends you a postcard with a pin number on it, they’ll get it verified for the same location as the owner’s practice, because they’re working there.

And now all of a sudden, now you have two different Google business pages for the same address. And that’s a pretty quick way to confuse Google. Google doesn’t like confusion. Google likes everything the same. And they look at everything the same being, you know, more relevant less confusion for the searcher.

Howie: Yeah, if you if you have two different listings, and one of them is, is spelled a little differently, or like you were just mentioning earlier, maybe there’s an extra space. Google recognizes that as a whole different entity, right?

And so, you don’t get the – I don’t know what the right word is – exposure that you would if you were the same listing across all directories.

Mark: Correct. Correct.

It’s a War for the Consumer’s Mind

So that’s Google Local, the way to get the first step is exposure. So, the exposure to your balloon, I call them balloons, the A, B, C, D. Local balloons that show on the map, where you hover over them, and it says Dr. Tom Smith, DDS. And then, the exposure below that map, which is the listing. And so that’s the exposure part, how do I get on the map? How do I get to that listing? Now, once you’re there, what do you want to have to stand out? And the rest of this podcast is about it. You know, basically it’s a war for the consumers mind.

I mean, you, you should have, you don’t have to have the MOST reviews, but you should have, you know, you shouldn’t have the LEAST. You shouldn’t have just four, right. So, you should have, you know, a good number of Google reviews. You know, the sweet spot for your review score between 4.7 to 4.99. That’s believable.

If you only have five reviews, and you have a 5.0, everybody knows you asked your whole family to leave your review. Okay, so they may not even you know, they may not even select you because of that. So that’s the sweet spot 4.7 to 4.9.

Now, moving beyond that, is your review score and the total number of reviews. What you do when you look for ‘Italian restaurant near me’ is the same thing that a dental consumer does.

Remember, everyone. This is very likely someone who doesn’t, didn’t receive anything from you, they didn’t receive any advertising from you. They don’t know you from anyone, they don’t know what services you offer. Just like you don’t know, the whole menu of the Italian restaurant that you’re looking for. You’re just looking for an Italian restaurant, you know, then maybe you’ll look at their reviews. Then maybe look at their review score, you’ll probably look at the top two.

And if there’s a train wreck on there, you’re just going to look at the train wreck, laugh at them, and then you’re going to go back to the top one or the second one. Probably look back at the balloons to see which ones furthest away from you. Probably click through to their website to take a look at their menu and their pricing. And then you’re going to pick one.

Well, guess what? That’s what dental consumers do to, they do exactly the same thing. They don’t, they’re not eating, you know, pasta. But you know, they’re going to click through to see if Google is going to give them three or four to choose from.

And exposed to Google reviews and expose the review scores to these people. That’s a lot of eyeballs. That’s a lot of, of very valuable property.

Remember, the old days with the Yellow Pages? Where dentists with $2000, $2500, $3000 a month, $3500, $4000 a month, $4500. And the old Yellow Page rep just used to drive around in the circle to all the dentist and he get 500 more dollars a month from every one of them.

And it was all the jockey for the position where? At the very beginning of the Yellow Pages. Right? Okay.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Google is nothing more than electronic version of the Yellow Pages. And, and yeah, I mean, there’s so many similarities to this whole business model. It’s kind of spooky. Everybody says the yellow pages are old. And I mean, basically, Google just regurgitated them into pixels. But the same principles apply here.

Howie: Yeah

Passive and Aggressive Marketing

Mark: Okay, this is, these are, if you can get a lot of eyeballs on your office location on that map. And then a lot of eyeballs on your listing. If you have hundred, whatever, whatever the number of Google reviews, it doesn’t have to be 100. It just has to be somewhere around the number of reviews that the person or the office with the most reviews near you has, like the nearest person has 70 and you have 58, that’s fine.

That part doesn’t matter that much you just have to be close. It’s the review score that matters the most and whether or not you’re listed there.

Okay. We can go into now, “Well, you know, how do I get reviews?” We’re not going to go into that, we have a product for that. But we’re not going to go into that on the podcast. There are lots and lots of products out there that do this. If you’re interested in getting a product that does this automatically, we can help you. But that’s not what this is about. What this is about is getting there. How do I get there?

It’s making your Google business page directory listing, accurate first. Then copying the accuracy word for word, space for space, punctuation for punctuation to all other directories and all other social media properties. Babysitting it and making sure that the directories have absorbed that new directly directory information and applied it on their end. Which means you have to go and check all those websites. Um, yeah, it’s a pain in the butt. It’s a lot of work. But that’s how you get there.

So, if you’re sitting there now and you’re wondering. Well, how come Bob and Jim and Mary, my local dentists in my town, how come? They’re on the map? How come I’m not on a map? Wow, I want to be on the map. Okay. You’re sitting there wondering why Google, you know, they’re not penalizing? Well, they actually, they are they’re penalizing you. Because all that stuff isn’t done yet. Okay?

Howie: Well, they take it personally too, you know?

Mark: I know

Howie: Why am I not up there?

Mark: It’s what, it’s so incredibly, I mean, it’s very inexpensive to get there. And it’s definitely a worthwhile part of your annual budget to be in that map box and in those listings. Assuming that your dental practice reviews are up to snuff, and your review score is healthy. Then if all those things are in place, my goodness, you just bought thousands of local eyeballs for I’m not going to say nothing, but I’m going to say next to nothing. And, you will be, remember from prior podcasts, there are two – there’s several different media types. But there’s two general media types.

One is aggressive. The other one is passive. Most offline is aggressive, most online is passive. And what I’m talking about right now is purely passive, you’re just sitting there waiting for some local consumer to type in “Dentist near me”. You’re hoping they look at the map, also you’re hoping you have a balloon in the map and a listing. And you’re hoping that they choose your listing.

And after they look at the menu of all your offerings, choose you through your website, call your office and make their first appointment. So that is 100% passive advertising.

But like we’ve said all along, you need a good mix of both. And it’s a lot cheaper to do Google, you know, local SEO, than it is to say, in most markets, do organic SEO and in most markets, maintain a healthy dental Google Ad budget.

So, if you’re going to try to get into, you know, if you’re going to start to play the game of search, that would be where we would start. We would just you know, get your dental local SEO going first, and then track their responses in the dashboard.

You’ll see them show up, it’ll say Social or it’ll say, Google or what have you. It’ll also say organic, right? And once you see that show up, then you can say okay, well, that’s worth, you know, whatever it cost me to do that. And then you can expand out to organic or then you can expand up to the ads.

If you think about it, if you have an ad and you have local, you’re pretty much took up 60% of the first view of every Google search for dental services in your market. So, it doesn’t take forever, you know, to get those things. So anyway, that’s local.

If you hear those terms, local SEO, Google Local, Google my business, Google My Business local, if you hear all those terms. All those terms mean is getting you on the map, getting your listing below the map.

And we are adding the piece that before you do that, or while you’re doing that, make sure your reviews are up to speed.

Howie: Yeah. Well, that shall conclude today’s podcast. We’re certainly grateful that you’re all out there listening to us, and we hope you come back next time. Bye now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can get all our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher and And on our website,, and