Dental and Orthodontic SEO Recovery in 2020

If you own a dental or orthodontic group and you’d like to increase the number of patients you get from your website in 2020, email us at We can create a strategy that will work for you business.

Over the last two years, anyone working in the SEO industry for a dental or orthodontic group has been challenged. There have been numerous major algorithm updates that started all the way back in August of 2018. Now, business owners are left to wonder if their dental or orthodontic website will recover in 2020. Let’s take a look at the history of the dental and orthodontic Google Algorithm Updates over the last two years.

August 2018 Algorithm Update

In August 2018 we first saw the affects of the YMYL (Your Money Your Life) algorithm update. This update hit websites attempting to “game the system” for money and health related keywords. Think of the clickbait type articles such as “how to refinance under 2%” or “charcoal toothpaste is amazing!”. Google started the process of reducing the search exposure to websites that were pseudo science or made false claims. If your website mentioned Juul’s or vaping, specialized supplements there weren’t FDA approved or “how to fix a health issue at home” you were likely hit.

It comes as no surprise that Google started this difficult task after all the fake news websites that greatly affected the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Google recognizes that millions of people trust their algorithms to provide factual content so they were going to take a hard stance on anything that may be considered “new aged science” or “fake medical news”.

Here is a look at how the August 2018 Google Algorithm Update affected a major dental practice website:

Notice how the traffic quickly recovered by late October and early November of 2018. In our professional opinion, Google was testing this update on a few major websites that were receiving a significant amount of traffic. We noticed that our dental and orthodontic clients that were not receiving thousands of search visitors a day were not affected by the August 2018 algorithm update at all. So, we are in the clear, right? Not so fast my friend.

March 2019 Algorithm Update

In March 2019 the YMYL algorithm seemed to be released in full force. Thousands of websites owners (many dentists and orthodontists) reported their websites saw traffic drop by as much as 50% starting on March 13th, 2019. We noticed that a number of dental and orthodontic websites with “mid range” traffic were starting to see a hit.

Here are a few charts:

Note that this particular website saw a drop in mid March and slowly continued to drop all the way in June and July 2019. This particular website has been dropping in traffic since the March 2019 update.

Here is their long term search traffic chart:

We know that this particular dental website has not been actively pursuing recovery nor is there any SEO being done on the website. This is what can happen to your dental or orthodontic website if you do not have an expert looking under the hood at all times.

This is a chart of another dental website that saw a drop in traffic start in March and the traffic took an even bigger hit in May and June of 2019:

Notice the large drop that started just after Memorial Day weekend in early June. We noticed a number of interesting things about the May and June 2019 algorithm update.

May and June 2019 Algorithm Update

The June 2019 Google Algorithm Update was a follow up to the March 2019 update. This one seemed to hit all the dentists and orthodontists that did not get hit in August 2018 or March of 2019. Even dental and orthodontic websites that were hit by the previous two updates continued to see an even bigger drop in search traffic during the summer months.

Notice the extreme case study we have here:

By mid June 2019, most SEO experts were left wondering what would be next. Could Google really hit every single small dental practice website in the United States.

We started our research and we could not find a single dental or orthodontic website that avoided a drop in traffic. Some were more severe than others, but all oral health websites were getting hit.

Google was taking these dental and orthodontic practices off the front page and replacing them with generic articles from The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, Healthline, Colgate and older .edu PDFs from years ago. We even saw Canadian and Australian government website resources from five to eight years ago ranking on the front page.

If your dental practice once ranked for “Best Foods to Eat After a Removed Tooth” you were not going to rank for it anymore. Even if you were authoritative and had superior content and links, you were going to find other well known health websites were on the front page.

Should dental and orthodontic websites even publish new content at this point?

This website took the late May hit but also took another hit in late July and early August 2019:

August 2019 Algorithm Update

By August 2019 there were only a handful of dental and orthodontic websites that survived the previous three (3) algorithm updates. If they had survived, they took the hit in August 2019. Here are a few charts:

Note that these websites that were hit last are also seeing almost a full recovery. It was also true that Google did not announce any update in August 2019. We feel as if this was the final update before Google started to turn the knob back the other way and give dentists and orthodontists their rightful place on the front page of Google Search.

Small September 2019 Algorithm Update

Notice this very small blip in September 2019 on this website that seemed to avoid all previous algorithm updates:

Road to Recovery in October and November 2019

As you can see with many of the previous charts, dental and orthodontic websites started to see search traffic come back starting in October of 2019 and continuing into November of 2019. As someone that has worked with dozens of dental and orthodontic websites over the last five years, it is safe to say no one truly knows what is going to happen next.

What we do know is that creating very focused and unique content combined with acquiring highly authoritative links is what the Google Algorithm was built on. All of our clients have continued to see the number of patients acquired from their websites grow year over year for the last five years.

While there will be ups and downs in terms of overall website traffic, our goal is to make certain location and service landing pages are at the top of Google Search through each and every algorithm update.

If you own a dental or orthodontic group and you’d like to increase the number of patients you get from your website, email us at We can create a strategy that will work for you business.