Measuring website performance

Key measurements for dental business owners.

Many of us will have heard the phrase “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” and perhaps unsurprisingly, this also holds true for website performance. You might think that dentists would be right on the ball when it comes to this, particularly considering how important a website is for gaining new patient business. However, it still surprises me to find that the majority aren’t and that lots of improvement opportunities are going to waste.

Where dentists are trying to assess the performance of their websites, we also see a huge variance in quality, ranging from those who have Google Analytics installed but don’t really use it or know how to use it, through to auto-generated reports delivered by marketing companies which fail to measure the factors which really make the difference. Of course, periodically we do see website reporting and management done correctly, but unfortunately this is a small minority of cases.

Website performance – what should you measure?

My advice here is that you only really need to see a report which shows the headline data – sufficient for you to know that the website is performing well and that your digital marketing spend is returning appropriately on the investment. For sure you can drill right down to the “nitty-gritty” data if you wish, but typically dentists are too busy with their business to find time for that. So like any business performance metrics, a concise “headline” report should be sufficient. However, you do need to be sure that your marketing company is presenting the right data and that you can trust them. Unfortunately I’ve seen way too many examples where this wasn’t the case.

As a minimum you need to know the following:

Read more ›

Posted in seo

Getting the most out of your dental photography shoot

Invest a little time and money for the best results

Dental Media photography for dentistsWhen it comes to making a real difference with your dental website, one of the key recommendations is to invest in bespoke photography rather than use stock images.

Whilst there are some great stock images out there and undoubtedly you can build a decent website using them, it’s well-understood that they don’t work nearly as well as personalised imagery. Simply put, users prefer to see who and what they are dealing with, rather than a set of generic stock photographs which may look “nice” but are not very engaging.

To help dentists accomplish this, here at Dental Media we offer an integrated photography service for dentists whereby our photographer visits the practice to capture a suite of excellent images of the facilities and team. We can also arrange for images to accompany patient testimonials and shots of the surrounding area where applicable.

This is a professional service undertaken by a photographer who has worked in the business for many years, including the dental press. It is not to be confused with the budget services some web designers offer whereby a junior staff member turns up simply to take a few basic head-shots for use on the website as part of the website design fee. Whilst that is better than nothing, it isn’t really going to give you the result you need to make your website really stand out. So it really is worth paying a sensible fee to invest in a professional shoot which will provide excellent images which can be used in a variety of media – i.e. web and print.

Preparation makes a difference….

Once you’ve made the decision to invest in professional photography, you want to do it justice by making a few simple preparations for the day of the shoot as follows:

Read more ›

Posted in Photography

Hiring A Dental Marketing Agency?

What you need to ask first….

rising Google positionsThere are a lot of new companies trying to access the dental marketing sector and offering a plethora of “done for you” marketing solutions.

But most of them have very limited experience in what is a very specific field; hence why you need to stop and do a little bit of research before you let them work on your project. Here are some questions you should ask:

Demonstrate your track record and experience

This really needs to be with dental clients. The collateral needed to conduct successful SEO projects for dentists is built up with years of experience and frankly new companies will not have this. So even if they had some success in other businesses, doesn’t mean they will be successful in yours. Even more importantly, do they understand dental terminology and legislation in depth? Professional dental marketing requires production of lots of content for publication across the web – if your marketer gets that wrong, it’s likely you who will suffer at the hands of patients or the legislators. And for sure they’re watching!

Show me some references

Your potential supplier shouldn’t have any issues with you requesting references. Even better, ask to speak to one of their existing clients. There shouldn’t be anything to hide.

Are you a specialist or do you offer a range of services?

There are a number of digital marketing services for dentists which are synergistic. For example pay-per-click (AdWords) campaigns are often inter-twined with organic SEO campaigns and can be used to inform strategy. So it’s reasonable to expect your “organic” (free) search team to be able to help you professionally with pay-per-click and other techniques too. There are a number of agencies who focus primarily on PPC (it’s much easier!) and only bolt-on organic SEO as a necessity. So be sure that anyone you choose can demonstrate success in all of the main channels.

What tools and techniques do you use?

Read more ›

Posted in Advice

Will your DIY website get you to the top of Google?

Using WIX, Squarespace or the like for your dental website? You may struggle….

clicking on mouseDentists often ask why they shouldn’t try building their own practice website using one of the numerous DIY site builders that exist these days.

The answer used to be very easy, simply because the early generations of site builder were not only poor aesthetically but also very poor technically; particularly when it came to optimisation for search engines (SEO).

Some website agencies will still try to put you off by telling you that is still the case today, but actually it’s not that simple, as things have improved considerably with one or two of the main website building tools.

So for example, you can now adjust the main technical features which impact on SEO and basic things like URL structure (www addresses for pages) have been fixed to be SEO friendly. Although the templates the DIY systems come with look very generic, some of them are just about adequate and you can use the “drag and drop” functionality to adjust them. As an experienced web guy I shiver at the thought of “drag and drop” editors, but I have to be fair and say they are better than they used to be. So you can just about produce something which is basic if not stunning.

OK, that said then, are you good to go to simply pay a tenner a month and have a crack at building your own website with a realistic expectation that you’ll shoot up the Google results? Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.

The pitfalls

So we’ve discussed how DIY site builders have improved and how they can get you online cost-effectively with something basic. However, in times of serious and increasing competition, basic isn’t really good enough.

Aesthetics, usability and conversion potential

Whilst it may seem straight forward to knock together a website and get it published using one of these systems, are you really sure it’s representing your best interests? With more and more practices producing high quality websites built by skilled and experienced designers, it isn’t really reasonable to suppose that a DIY version is going to be able to compete on an even footing.

There are a number of key ingredients which all have to be expertly developed and tuned to produce high-end dental websites which not only look great, but also acts as excellent marketing platforms to encourage potential new patients to contact you. The skills needed to implement these types of features come with suitable training and lots of experience. So whilst trying a DIY venture is commendable, please stop and consider the practicalities if you do. Your website is your number one marketing tool and deserves suitable investment to get it absolutely right.

DIY websites and SEO

Read more ›

Posted in seo

Website hosting – doing it right

Why cheap hosting for your practice website is false economy

waiting for a website to loadWhilst the large majority of dentists completely understand the importance of hosting a dental website using professional, business-grade services; periodically we do get web design clients who ask us to use hosting they have registered themselves or as recommended by their local IT support company. Whilst we will do this, experience suggests that problems can arise at some point, either with the initial website deployment or downstream when something goes wrong.

More often than not, this scenario arises when the client has been attracted by a hosting service which is low cost. It’s easy to see why this can happen as anyone who subscribes to or has read a PC magazine or visited a “tech” website online, will have seen advertisements for annual hosting from as little as £20 per year. But cheap is not always good, indeed it’s very often pretty bad and this is usually the case with “budget” web hosting.

What is “budget” website hosting?

This type of service is primarily suitable for DIY projects which are not business critical i.e. where outages and lack of support will not materially affect you. So hobbyists etc may find budget hosting very accessible as long as their primary concern isn’t quality and stability.

Why businesses should avoid budget hosting

If your website is important for your business (and whose isn’t?) then you should avoid using budget hosting services for the following reasons:

Read more ›

Posted in Hosting

Dental marketing – “done for you” versus “done by you”

Why 100% outsource of practice marketing generally falls short

bored man asleepWe quite regularly receive enquiries from dentists who are looking for a completely outsourced dental marketing service – so with the intention that there is zero involvement from the practice team. In today’s blog we’ll take a look at why that strategy is now sub-optimal and why the local team have to be involved in some activities if the best results are to be achieved. This will also illustrate why companies who proclaim to do it all for you, should be treated with caution.

To make it as clear as possible, I will illustrate the elements which can (and generally should) be outsourced, followed by those which need at least some local involvement; together with brief explanations. We will also take a quick look at dental marketing activities which can be shared between the practice team and an outsource partner. None of this is “rocket science” and should be fairly easy to differentiate.

“Done for you” dental marketing:

  • website design – this is the foundation of your digital marketing and acts as the hub through which the majority of web enquiries will flow. Whilst DIY website building tools have improved, they are still a long way behind what an experienced design can achieve for you. One of our blogs from a few weeks back looked at why your website isn’t just about aesthetics and why it must be underpinned with numerous technical features and suitably marketing orientated. So whilst you need to get involved with the content and overall direction of your website, the configuration and incorporation of best practice, is best left to those with experience.
  • search engine optimisation – this is another area where DIY can do more harm than good. Frankly it’s difficult enough for full-time SEO guys to stay abreast of all of Google’s updates and changes so trying to do this in-house doesn’t really make sense. Budget for it appropriately and choose an expert with a suitable track record.
  • set up and optimisation of essential web business properties; e.g. Google My Business, Analytics, Search Console etc. These are all tools which underpin your digital marketing activities, including monitoring performance. Some are a little quirky and ideally would be set up (in the practice’s name and accounts) by your marketing partner.
  • Pay-per-click marketing (AdWords, Facebook etc) – this is an area where we see more errors and wasted cash than any other. Setting up and running pay-per-click is not for the inexperienced so get help with this. As a minimum have an experienced PPC guy set up the campaigns for you and then get some basic training if you want to try to maintain the accounts going forward; however, in reality what you save on click-costs will likely be more than the fee you would pay for an expert to do it all for you.
  • traditional advertising – contrary to some advice, although traditional print advertising has declined significantly, it’s certainly not dead. Your marketing agency will be able to assist you with the design of adverts for local papers, leaflets, newsletters etc which can still work very well for raising your profile in the local community.

We can see here that most of these are “digital” activities i.e. creating an excellent web presence and then broadcasting your services expertly via the web. However, the web isn’t the exclusive domain of your external marketing partner as we’ll see later.

“Done by you” dental marketing

Read more ›

Posted in Advice

Do larger dental websites work better in Google?

The role of website content in search marketing

In our goal to answer many of the popular questions we are asked by dentists who are embarking on digital marketing campaigns, this blog discusses how the quality and breadth of content on a website can materially affect Google ranking results.

Size matters… usually….

Quite a lot of dentists are keen on minimalist websites, perhaps seduced by the slick lines of non-dental website they’ve seen elsewhere. Whilst this quest to differentiate in a sea of generic WordPress template websites is commendable, is it always a good move? The truth is that in general, large, well-elaborated websites tend to work better in the search results than minimalist versions. It is important to understand that this is not always the case – Google is very smart these days and will surface popular content in the ranking index even where it was published on a smaller website. However, these cases are rare and generally it is fair to say that, on a like-for-like basis, a new larger website will form a better search platform than a new smaller website.

Why is this?

There are a few factors to consider here. Google likes differentiated information which we need to take into account when setting up the architecture of a website. So where a dentist crams information about several treatment types into a single web page, this is very hard to optimise and consequently Google will be confused about what to prioritise. To avoid this type of content dilution, it is important to make sure that each of your main treatments has its own web page and specific optimisation. This will invariably give you a better spread of results in Google; so casting a wider net for new dental patients who are searching for services.

Going further than this, if you are promoting a specific type of treatment, e.g. implants or orthodontics, it can really help to have several web pages covering different aspects of the discipline. If you really want to maximise the advantages, then a treatment specific website is a great tool – we discussed this in detail in an earlier blog here.

Google is incredibly adept at identifying “authoritative” information – so good quality and depth usually wins out over minimalist.

Content quality

It’s no use thinking that cramming lots of junk into a website will work to satisfy the content breadth equation. Whilst this sort of SEO technique used to work a number of years ago, Google quickly wised-up and started to penalise those attempting it. It goes much further than this these days; simply writing short, repetitive content and adding it to your blog can be seen as “thin” content and whilst it is unlikely you will be penalised, it’s likely to be ignored by Google. It’s much better to publish a couple of longer articles which hold a user’s attention, rather than several very short ones which add little or no value.

Adding new content

Read more ›

Posted in Website

Should You Join A “Braces” Marketing Network?

Does paying the middle-man make sense or better to go it alone?

invisible brace networkOne of our clients recently asked our advice about joining an ‘invisible’ braces marketing network and whether we thought it represented a good investment versus doing it stand-alone with marketing assistance from ourselves. Whilst it’s not really possible to give a definite “yes” or “no” answer to this, it is possible to study the data and scenarios to help with an informed decision.

Firstly, lets look at how this type of network operates and the services they offer.

The model

Essentially the operation revolves around a hub which uses paid advertising, primarily Google AdWords, to place ads for a particular braces product prominently for most location searches across the UK. So anyone who searches for the product on Google is likely to see the ad and may well click through to the main website owned by the network. Dentists from around the country subscribe to the network and pay a substantial joining fee along with a significant monthly subscription. In return, the potential patients are filtered through to the regional providers to deliver the service.

This model has obviously worked well for the network and for some of the dentists who subscribe too. The network website shows some testimonials from dentists who claim several new braces cases per month delivered via this mechanism. Knowing the margin for typical ‘invisible’ braces cases, then the return on investment looks fairly solid. However, what we don’t know is how many dentists subscribe but don’t actually see the return they expect or indeed what the membership churn is.

The network also provides other marketing collateral and some training to help their subscribers sell the product, however, whether this is actually worthwhile over and above what the brace suppliers offer as a matter of course, is uncertain and would need to be established on a case-by-case basis.

What is also quite surprising is that there also seem to be locations in the country where more than one dentist is allowed to join the network which would seem to go against exclusivity and potentially introduce conflict? However, there may be mechanisms in place designed to manage this.

How does the network utilise Google for seeking enquiries?

As mentioned previously, this seems to be primarily through the use of paid adverts i.e. AdWords. This system avoids the “localisation” which governs how the organic (free) results work and allows an advertiser to place an ad in any area of the country and in a prominent position (as long as Google is paid enough for clicks). The marketing network will use some of the subscribers money to pay for the Google advert clicks – but how much is uncertain. There also appears to be some promotional activity via Facebook as well as other “perks” for members of these networks; albeit what they actually are and their overall worth appears to vary. So please check this if you are considering joining.

What is certain is that the network doesn’t really feature very well in the organic (free) Google results which are typically dominated by local dentists. This is also the case for the local (map) results on page one of Google. What is important to consider here is that less than 30% of all traffic from Google searches goes via AdWords – the large majority still goes via the organic results. We will discuss the importance of this next.

So should you subscribe to the braces marketing networks or not?

Read more ›

Posted in Advice

Is your dental practice website marketing activated?

Why your website is not just about aesthetics

optimising website designDentists regularly approach web design agencies to build a practice website which “looks pretty”, often driven by their own personal taste and preferences. However, the number of pretty websites which appear on page two and three of Google suggests that often, too little thought is given to how the website actually works to attract new patients and encourage them to contact you.

Google ranking has always been important, but these days particularly, the technical configuration of a website is more important than ever before when forming the best platform for doing well in search engines. Similarly, the information you present and how you present it is critical to capture the user’s attention and “convert” their visit to a useful enquiry.

So if you or your designer just concentrate on the aesthetics, you will miss excellent opportunities which would arise if you’d taken a more comprehensive approach when researching and building your website. SEO (search engine optimisation), “user experience” and compelling content all need to be integrated into the design process to ensure that your site is not just a brochure but a complete marketing platform which achieves the objective of delivering new patients.

Understand your patients

Before the design process begins, you need to think carefully about what you are trying to achieve; so the type of patient you are trying to attract and the treatments you are trying to deliver. You then need to document the challenges they face and why you are best-placed to address those challenges for them. So whether your primary service is to replace missing teeth for patients over 50 who have high disposable incomes, or straighten crooked teeth for teenagers or young adults, then it pays to consider your mains objectives in detail. This can then be shared in depth with your designer who will help build the best possible vehicle to achieve your goals.

It’s not about you

It’s important to accept that the website is not all about you – it’s about your potential patient and understanding and solving the problem they have. Of course a significant part of this is demonstrating your own knowledge and experience and how this plays a big part in the patient’s journey from finding you right through to a successful outcome. But primarily it’s about them and solving their problems. You and your excellent services are just a route to that.

Your website has numerous jobs

Read more ›

Posted in Website

Control your own web properties and accounts

Don’t let your marketer control your Google “My Business”, analytics or social media accounts

Google BusinessHere at Dental Media we regularly manage transfers of websites into our care from other marketing and web companies. This is typically where the client moved on due to poor service, high fees or a combination of the two.

One of the most frustrating aspects of transfers is when we realise that control of important web properties such as Google accounts and social media channels, rest with the original dental marketing company and not with the dentist themselves. This can be quite problematic and should never occur in the first place.

Your web assets – your ownership

As well as your website, there are a number of very important web “assets” which, as the business owner, you also need to control. This doesn’t mean that you need to manage them, but you do need to have the fundamental access control for the accounts in question. This means that should you move marketing or website agency, then your associated accounts are completely portable too and not potentially stuck with your former provider.

Some properties such as Google “My Business”, Analytics, AdWords (if relevant) and key social media channels must be set up in the name of the practice and with the practice in primary control. Management of the accounts can be assigned to a marketer as you choose – but ultimately these properties are yours and extremely important components of your digital dental marketing.

Not your accounts?

Read more ›

Posted in Advice