SEO for Dentists and Orthodontists: Everything You Need to Know

By Erynn Porter | August 22, 2023 | 13 min read Reviewed By Tyler Brown

A whopping 36% of Americans are afraid of dentists. So yeah, dentists get a bad rap.

For most dental practices it can take 7–15 years to build up a patient base. In addition, the average dental attrition rate is 17%, meaning you need at least the same number of new patients coming in to break even, let alone increase revenue

This is why more dental practices need to invest in SEO marketing practices or partner with an SEO agency that enhances their online visibility. Using SEO for dentists is an ideal strategy for being seen by the right people at the right time—as long as you know how to use it. It’s more than writing a few blog posts or local SEO, you also need to be able to meet Google’s Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) standard.

Table of Contents

Your Money or Your Teeth: Google’s Standards for Orthodontist SEO

Meet E-E-A-T





Effective SEO Strategies for the Dental and Orthodontic Industries

Local SEO Strategies for the Dental Industry

Social Proof for Orthodontic and Dental Practices

Link Building for Dentists and Orthodontists

On-Page SEO for Dentists and Orthodontists

Technical SEO for Orthodontic and Dental Websites

The Most Effective Changes You Can Make on Your Own

When It’s Time to Turn to the Experts

Find the SEO Agency that Fits You

Big Leap and Urban Orthodontics

Big Leap and BRUIS

Is Big Leap the Right Partner for Your Practice??

Your Money or Your Teeth: Google’s Standards for Orthodontist SEO

Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) is Google’s standard for any business that could “impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.” Think of any business that deals with news, government, law, finances, health, etc. 

Google holds these businesses to a higher standard when ranking because false information can mean ruining your life…or in this case, your teeth. 

John Mueller, a Google Search Advocate, says the most important thing for YMYL business is to ensure your site and content come from a trustworthy authority. You might assume because you’re a licensed dentist, that should be trustworthy enough—but you’d be wrong. It’s all about how you convey that expertise and trustworthiness. 

Meet E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T is an “easy” way to understand how Google measures a site’s ranking. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. 


When Google is talking about experience, it means you actually have experience with the topic you’re talking about. As you’ve probably experienced yourself, sometimes the information you learn from experts isn’t enough.

Maybe you’ve had a patient that had certain dental symptoms that showed they needed one procedure, but after talking with them, they actually needed another.

This nuance is exactly what Google is looking for. 

Don’t be afraid to bring in your personal experiences as a dentist when creating content. It won’t take away from your expertise when done correctly. 


This means you know what you’re doing within your industry. For dentists and orthodontists specifically, having expertise means you went to school, have a degree to back you up, and have a positive reputation amongst your peers as being knowledgeable. 

The best way to prove your expertise is to create content good enough that others in your field want to link to your page (which you’ll learn about soon). Doing this will make you a subject matter expert (SME) within your field. 

You can also create a detailed bio that shows your experience—the dental school you attended, any certifications you have, if you teach anywhere, have authored a book, or have an active practice. 

Don’t worry about sounding too confident. After all, if you’re a patient that’s going to have someone dig around your mouth with sharp tools, wouldn’t you rather have someone who is has all the accolades rather than one that comes across as inexperienced?


So what’s the difference between an expert and an authority? It’s easy to think they’re one and the same, but they are two separate things.

An expert is someone who knows enough about the subject that they don’t need to prove it through content or speaking engagements. Think of people who perform many scientific studies, but often don’t discuss the findings beyond the paper.

An authority, meanwhile, is a well-known source of information within the industry. They go to conferences, create content, get asked for interviews, and build connections. They may not be as smart as the expert, but they still know their stuff and are easier to find. 

So how does this relate to SEO for dentists? Well, once you’ve done the work proving you have the experience and expertise, you need to start showing it. This can be done through sharing content you’ve created, writing guest posts on other blogs, getting positive reviews, and speaking at conferences (which you can then write about). 


This ranking may be the most important for dentists because you need people to trust you. No one wants to entrust their smile to someone untrustworthy. So how do you prove to Google—and therefore potential and current patients—that you’re a source of trustworthy information and services? 

Well, you need to ensure your website (and everything in it) is:

  • Truthful
  • Accurate
  • Easy to understand
  • Secure
  • Credited if you didn’t make the content

And another aspect of trustworthiness is social proof, which we’ll dive into in the next section.  

Effective SEO Strategies for the Dental and Orthodontic Industries

Did you know 3 out of 4 people search online to find a dentist? What about the fact that the first organic result is 10 times more likely to get a click than the 10th spot?

Needless to say, your online presence and search engine result page (SERP) ranking matter A LOT when gaining new patients. Many orthodontic and dental practices don’t invest in proper SEO practices even though it’s good for them—kind of like the typical dental patient with flossing…

Local SEO Strategies for the Dental Industry

location pin on map showing orthodontist offices in a local area

First and foremost, you want the people nearby to know about the existence of your practice. The best way to do that is through local SEO focusing on your location and services

You want your orthodontic or dental practice to appear when people Google “dentist near me” or “orthodontists in your location.” 

To make the most of local SEO for orthodontists and dentists, you need to do two things:

  • Create a Google Business Profile: The best way to get your dental practice to appear for the search terms above is through a Google Business Profile. When a dental practice makes a profile, it’ll appear right after sponsored ads on the search result page. So, if you haven’t done this already, do it now (it’ll only take a few minutes, and it’s free).  
  • Look into local directories: Not everyone uses Google (it shocks us, too), so take advantage of any local directories you can add yourself to. Not only will this open up your audience base, but it also helps with your visibility on Google. It’s a win-win!

If your practice has multiple locations, it may be too time-consuming to do these local dentist and orthodontist SEO practices yourself. After all, you have teeth to clean! This is when an experienced SEO marketing agency can come in handy. 

Social Proof for Orthodontic and Dental Practices

Another part of local SEO is your reputation among the local community. The best way to improve your reputation (or get one in the first place) is to get patients to write reviews, which in the marketing world is called “social proof.” 

Though getting patients to follow through and actually write one can feel like pulling teeth…pun intended. Roughly 44.6% of patients have posted an online review of a healthcare provider.

To prove getting reviews are worth your time, check out these statistics:

  • 69.3% of patients look at Google for reviews (another reason to make a Google Business Profile)
  • 71.9% of patients say online reviews from fellow patients affect their decision to use that particular provider
  • 69.1% of patients won’t even consider a provider with an average star rating of 4.0

It’s not just getting the reviews but addressing them as well—60.6% of patients are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied when a provider doesn’t respond to their negative review. But, if you did, 81.3% of patients say they’re satisfied or very satisfied that you did, leading to second chances. 

dentist building back links

We talked about backlinks in the expertise section, and now we can explain it more. A crucial SEO for dentists’ and orthodontists’ strategy is link building through backlinks, meaning other sites link to your website in their articles. This shows a search engine your expertise and authority and will rank you higher for it.

Unfortunately, not any backlink will do, especially for a YMYL site. You need quality backlinks— especially from quality websites—as they’re seen as especially trustworthy. That’s not to say typical blogs are bad either, you just have to be wary of spammy sites, which can tank your rankings. 

On-Page SEO for Dentists and Orthodontists

How many times have you reached for your phone to look up a symptom you’re feeling? Those search results are due to on-page SEO, which pulls from relevant content throughout your site (such as keywords and images).

Because you’re a dentist, you have a unique edge over other types of websites—you can give people real answers when they’re worried about their teeth. Most of the time, people will look for a reason why their mouth hurts first before looking for a dentist. We’d all rather find a simple answer before spending money.

By providing accurate and trustworthy educational pieces, you’re naturally bringing your dental office to a potential patient without sounding too much like a salesperson. Using keywords, which are what people type into a search bar, you get the attention of many people looking for answers to a specific dental problem.

And if the honest answer is to see a dentist, well, they’re already on a dental website…

Technical SEO for Orthodontic and Dental Websites

This type of SEO is anything having to do with the building and maintaining of your website. As a medical professional, it’s crucial to have an accessible, secure, easy-to-navigate site. In fact, your website matters so much that 54.8% of potential patients say a provider’s site is very important or important in their decision to use that provider or not. 

Plus, did you know that search engines actually visit your site just like a person would? Search engines have “spiders” that crawl your website, note its organization, loading speeds, and analyze the content on your site. If the spiders can’t easily navigate your site or a page takes too long to load, that will affect your search ranking. 

Another important aspect is whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, as this will certainly affect your interactions with a search engine and user. 

You may know the structure of the human mouth like the back of your hand, but understanding a website’s structure is a complicated subject. Sometimes it’s better to partner with a marketing agency with experienced technical SEO specialists and web development services to save yourself the headache.

The Most Effective Changes You Can Make on Your Own

Being new to the dentist/orthodontist SEO world, you may be hesitant to jump right into partnering with an agency. Like most dental patients, you’re probably looking for what you can do on your own before making an appointment with a professional. 

If you’re willing to learn the basics of SEO for dentists and orthodontists, you can:

  • Make a Google Business Profile: We hate to harp on this, but this is one the easiest things you can do on your own to improve your overall and local SEO for orthodontists and dentists.
  • Do basic keyword research: Find out what people are searching for when searching for dental-related subjects. How do they phrase things? Can you create content to use that keyword? These are questions that need to be answered during keyword research.
  • Update content for better keyword use: If you already have a lot of content on your site, see what could be updated with new keywords from your research. It’s a great way to improve on what you already have.
  • Define your website’s pages: Part of making it easier for a search engine’s spiders to crawl your site is clearly defining your pages. Make sure it’s obvious what your About Us page is and how it differs from Schedule a Dental Appointment page.

When It’s Time to Turn to the Experts

Sometimes no matter how much you brush and floss your teeth or how hard you wish your teeth came in straight, a dentist or orthodontist is still needed. And just like dental problems, there will be orthodontist and dentist SEO strategies you won’t understand and problems you can’t solve alone.

That’s when it’s time to invest in a good marketing agency. Like a quality oral hygiene regimen, a quality SEO marketing agency can create long-term good by listening to your goals, seeing what’s currently there to work with, and creating strategies to improve your SEO.

Some of these strategies can include:

  • Site audit
  • Competitor audit
  • Advanced keyword research
  • Web development
  • Content creation
  • Authority building

Find the SEO Agency that Fits You

Like braces, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO. SEO for dentists and orthodontists will be completely different from SEO for a clothing shop. 

When researching different SEO marketing agencies, ensure they have (at minimum) experience with YMYL businesses. Ideally, they also have experience with dental and ortho practices, as that specific context can make all the difference. 

Big Leap and Urban Orthodontics

Big Leap Digital Marketing Agency Case Study for Urban Orthodontics

Take, for example, our partnership with Urban Orthodontics. This practice had been previously working with a different agency but said agency wasn’t communicating with Urban Orthodontics about their performance metrics.

Because Urban Orthodontics wanted an agency that listened and communicated well, they partnered with Big Leap. Our strategy included:

  • Creating 25 new local and main pages
  • Researching local and industry-specific keywords
  • Eliminating and/or altering duplicate content
  • Improving widget implementation
  • Increasing site speed
  • Giving monthly, quarterly, and yearly performance reports

And what was the result of all these changes?

  • 1,782 increase in keyword positions on Google
  • 10 web pages being in the top 3 positions on the search page
  • 52% improvement in site speed
  • 109% increase in conversion rate

Big Leap and BRUIS

Creating and maintaining a website can be hard, let alone when you’re on a mission to straighten teeth—which is why BRUIS came to Big Leap. After working with our web developer, BRUIS saw:

  • 48.6% increase in returning visitors
  • 46.7% increase in pageviews
  • 45.5% increase in new visitors 

Big results from BRUIS and Big Leap

Is Big Leap the Right Partner for Your Practice?

Needless to say, SEO for dentists and orthodontists is a multistep process that’s always evolving—just like your industry. There are always new breakthroughs in strategies and procedures, as well as better products and techniques to use.

But, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

When partnering with a trusted SEO agency like Big Leap, you can feel confident that while you’re working with your patients, we’re implementing effective strategies to get you seen. 

Grab the attention of patients who are looking for your dental practice when they need it most. Talk to a dental SEO expert today!

Get a Free 30-minute consultation

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