The importance of the long tail in dental SEO

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There is a fundamental difference between vanity and sanity keyword rankings in Google. Yes, you may like to be #1 for “Dentist in [City]” for vanity purposes among your peers. However, what is the value of these types of patients? NHS, hygienist services or a simple one-off filling? A sanity term would be “dental implants in [city]”. Lower volume but a much higher value to your practice.

These type of terms are known as ‘long tail keywords’. They are search phrases that are more specific – and usually longer – than more commonly searched for keywords. These also get far less search traffic, but will usually convert far higher as they are more specific.

In order to benefit from a long tail strategy, you need to have a clear strategy of the types of treatments you want to attract to your dental practice.

The Long Tail

If you have time, you may be interested in reading ‘The Long Tail’ by Chris Anderson. In short, Chris argues that the internet has altered the traditional supply and demand model which is affected by scarcity. Now demand exists for virtually every niche, although this demand can become very small.

A good example is a jukebox with 10.000 songs. A very small amount of songs will be played very regularly, while a very large amount of songs will be played very few times. However, research shows that virtually all songs are played at some point. The demand for these songs is very small, but it does exist. Almost every song will be played at some point. With the emergence of the internet, possible target audiences became quite large, even if the product is only wanted by a very small percentage of the people.

Competitiveness of the local dental market

In some city dental markets, it is really hard to rank. Some markets are too competitive, with some dentists having the foresight to invest in SEO many years ago. They will have good content and excellent links from authority sites. The reality is that the new (site) on the block who is just starting SEO is not going to jump to the rankings overnight.

This is where the value of SEO agency research into the treatment volumes in your area along with a competitiveness analysis will inform you the actual amount of effort and time it will take to rank for different treatment.

By focusing on niche terms it is still possible to generate profitable dental patients from SEO. For instance, most implantologists want to rank for “Dental implants in [city]”, however they neglect to target “Teeth implants in [City]”. This search term generally has a 50% of the searches of the main term but the consumer is ultimately looking for the same dental solution.

Long tail keywords and ranking

It is much easier to rank for long tail keywords than for more common keywords. Another benefit for focusing on long tail keywords is that, although these keywords are used less in search, the visitor that finds your website using them is more likely to buy your service or product.
The longer and more specific the search terms are, the higher the chances of conversion are.