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There was a time, not that long ago, when everyone looking to be found online focused on short-tail keywords. When it comes to dentistry, think of things like”‘dentures,” “root canal,” or “braces” as examples of short-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords were common because the various search engines weren’t that sophisticated in understanding and responding to more conversational queries. That changed with the advent of personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Echo, and Google Assistant.

Today, it’s estimated that nearly 60 percent of searches are conducted on mobile devices, often using a personal assistant. And even people who search from desktop or laptop computers are embracing voice search. Google announced in 2016 that some 20 percent are all searches using its search engine are voice searches, which are generally phrased as a question. That percentage is only going to grow as personal assistants become more sophisticated and people become more comfortable using them.

Search Becomes Casual

Device users, by and large, aren’t programmers. They’re not going to spend time researching keywords when they want to find something; they’re just going to ask or type a question. The keywords that you use for your website, blog posts, or other online marketing have to be responsive to natural queries – long-tail keywords.

For dentists, some examples might be, “Are dental implants right for me?” Or, “What’s involved in gum disease treatment?” There’s greater specificity in long-tail keywords, meaning that you’ll likely get fewer “hits,” but the hits you do get will be more focused. In the case of the first example, you’re likely to get dental prospects who are closer to a decision point about implants vs. dentures vs. bridges rather than searchers who are curious about what dental implants consist of.

Not all long-tail keywords are questions, though. Some are simply search terms strung together, i.e., “dentist implants New Albany Indiana.” Again, notice that the addition of more related terms provides fewer but more specific search results.

Do Your Research

So, long-tail keywords aren’t quite as simple as imagining how you’d phrase a question about the services you offer. Fortunately, long-tail keyword research isn’t that difficult.

There are a number online tools that you can use, but be warned – some of them have a price tag.

A more cost-effective strategy is to use Google itself. Notice that when you type in a search, Google also gives you a boxed list of “People also ask” results. Those are long-tail keywords that frequently occur during related searches.

Once you’ve identified your long-tail keywords, the next step is to incorporate them into your online content. That has to be done seamlessly. The days of “keyword stuffing,” or cramming a lot of keywords into an article or page to the point where it reads unnaturally, are past. Google is wise to most of the tricks that “black hat” search engine optimization pros use to try to place higher in results.

Final Thoughts

Dentists can certainly do their own keyword research and optimize their online content themselves. However, they don’t earn a dime from those efforts. Dentists make money seeing patients and solving their dental problems. This is one area where it’s more cost-effective for dentists to outsource the work and get back to doing what they love.

Update on Colin Receveur’s new book for 2017!

We’re now able to confirm a summer release date! If you read one book on dental marketing this year, it has to be this one! We’ll share more details as the release approaches.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.