Dental web text that works – for new patients and for Google!

clicking on mouseHow many dentist’s websites have you seen where the text is sub-standard?

Most of them to be frank; either bland and unengaging, overly technical or too minimal to be of any use for Google ranking.

Worse still, there are still websites where much of the content is copied from other sites, which not only breaks copyright laws but also attracts Google penalties.

Unfortunately it’s a minefield of mediocrity and few are actually getting it right; but with that comes a great opportunity to get some fixes in place and step ahead of your competitors.

The bottom line is that many dentists fail to understand just how important text content is – whether it’s for their website, blog or even their pay-per-click ad campaigns. The result is that fickle users go elsewhere simply because the content didn’t grab them in the few seconds you have available to hook them in when they arrive at your web page or land on your ad.

Why is most dental website text sub-standard?

I suspect this is down to a couple of things. The first is that many dental web design companies offer text as part of their overall package but don’t make it clear that what they’ll deliver is a few paragraphs of pretty generic treatment text – “same old, same old”  and drearily predictable to be frank. This is usually just a minimalist description of a treatment and is in no way engaging for potential new dental patients who might be reading it.

The second main reason we’ve encountered on many occasions is where the practice principle or nominated members of the clinical team, choose to write the text themselves. What usually happens here is that you either get a long, technical tome which would be better in a text book, or nothing at all. Many dentists struggle to write in the type of customer facing language which is required, or they are just time-poor and never fulfil their wish to get the website text written themselves. There is then the rush to re-work content and it all gets a bit piecemeal as project deadlines approach. Overall, not great!

How should web content be managed and written?

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Don’t get duped by what you read!

mistake signI’ve written before about the unscrupulous tactics used by self-proclaimed SEO “experts” in the field of dental SEO, whereby unsuspecting dentists are duped into buying poor services which don’t deliver the results they promise.

These tactics are now rife as the dental marketing sector becomes more and more congested and an increasing number of false promises are made. We see it all the time with claims about search engine optimisation and you can read more about this here. However, we are now seeing the same types of promises filter into the world of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, primarily with Google Ads and Facebook.

So what do you need to look out for when searching for a PPC specialist and to avoid being duped by false promises?

What makes a good pay-per click marketer? (and what doesn’t!)

Qualifications – one of the biggest things which PPC teams do to hook in new clients is plaster qualifications all over their website. This includes the Google Ads qualification which on face value looks great. But in real terms it’s typically very basic and perhaps equivalent to a GCSE in the academic world – so not high level. There are much more stringent Google qualifications of course, but a lay person can’t differentiate between those and the basics which PPC teams quickly gain to make them look credible. So you really need to know what you’re looking for here. Just because someone passed the basic Google test doesn’t mean they are any good.

In contrast, the team here at Dental Media has been working with Google mentors to optimise live accounts over several years, trying new techniques and testing to see what works and what doesn’t. This type of experience is way more valuable than a basic Google Ads badge.

A holistic, data-driven approach – increasingly we are seeing the need for comprehensive digital marketing campaigns for dentists, incorporating a multi-channel approach. So the use of organic SEO, PPC, Facebook Ads etc. Whilst these disciplines are independent, they work together to inform overall strategy and to ensure the widest reach possible. Consequently we see much better synergies where the digital marketing team has expertise in all disciplines and work together to meet the client’s targets. For example, Google Ads can be very useful for some tasks where Facebook advertising would be unsuitable – and vice versa. Similarly, the paid channels can be used to overcome localisation issues where traditional SEO falls down.

So bottom line is that you need a holistic approach and a coordinated strategy across all of the marketing channels. Simply contacting someone who claims to be a Facebook specialist but nothing else, won’t deliver this.

Watch out for exaggerated claims and false data

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Big players in the dental website and marketing sector crash in Google – is your site safe?

confused website userOver the holiday period I took the opportunity to take a look at how our competitors were doing with their Google ranking and what I found came as a bit of a surprise; but more of that in a moment. Our own website is typically up near the top of Google, but like any diligent business, we still assess our competitor’s performance periodically to see if we need to adjust our own search engine optimisation.

The process is quite similar to how we optimise and improve the performance of our dental client’s websites to help bring them the huge business benefits of a prominent Google ranking.

So what did I spot? What quickly became clear is that two of the long-standing agencies who are well-known and who have been around for quite a while, have been demoted quite severely by Google in the search results. It didn’t surprise me too much that one of the companies had been hit as they’ve been penalised on a number of occasions before. However, the other company has historically been at the top of Google for various digital marketing terms, and despite using questionable SEO tactics, seemed to escape penalty. However, this time it finally looks like Google has caught up with them and justifiably so.

Both of these companies, perhaps the two largest in the UK, have been pushed way down in the rankings for most of the important dental marketing search terms, e.g. dental web design, dental websites, SEO, marketing for dentists etc. This will certainly have affected the number of web enquiries they are receiving as well as raising a question mark about their credibility. The business owners will likely be quite worried; I know I would be. Indeed we can already see that they’re trying to address the situation by doing things like changing their domain name etc – this type of action normally indicates that the penalty they received was quite severe and possibly even unrecoverable.

Why is this important to know?

So whilst this is quite important to know if you are considering their services, what is even more important is if you are already a client. The reason for this is quite simple in that if they’ve used techniques which have been penalised on their own websites, then it’s extremely likely that they’ve done similar with their client’s websites too. Unfortunately it’s only a matter of time before Google catches up and issues a penalty, whether automatically via their algorithmic tools, or via a manual inspection.

Indeed we’ve had a number of clients move to us from both of these companies and in several cases, we had to remove clumsy SEO attempts to help get their websites back on track. This was both in the off-site and on-site context; for example disavowing spammy back-links and removing stuffed keywords in website content.

Do you think your practice website has been affected?

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“Your Money Or Your Life” – What YMYL means for dental SEO

YMYL and SEOGoogle is constantly changing and evolving, using new methods and technologies to evaluate and rank website pages. There is now more reliance on AI – artificial intelligence, than ever before and as SEO specialists, we need to try to interpret what is going on so we can exploit it to best effect for the benefit of our clients.

A couple of key features Google introduced over the last few years are “EAT” and “YMYL”. We’ve looked at EAT (expertise, authority, trust) and how it relates to a website elsewhere in our blog, so today we’ll take a closer look at “YMYL” and how any web publisher needs to be aware of it when optimising website pages for best effect in Google’s search results.

What is YMYL?

YMYL is short for “Your Money Or Your Life” and it’s a set of conditions laid down by Google as part of how it evaluates the quality of a website page. More specifically if a web page is trustworthy and hence warrants a good ranking position. Google uses its artificial intelligence to check a web page to see whether the content is likely to impinge in a good, or bad way on the user in terms of their health, happiness, safety and financial well-being.

Of course we don’t know how Google determines this as all elements of their search algorithms are kept very secret, but we do know that they are making such evaluations increasingly important as their technology becomes more adept at interpreting website pages. As we’ve said before, optimising for Google is now far more sophisticated than the days of simple keyword addition and tweaking a few meta tags.

Quality Rating Guidelines

Google uses a “quality raters” team which carries out comprehensive manual checks on websites. This process then feeds back into the search algorithms to validate and refine them. Effectively, Google’s system is learning and becoming increasingly more accurate, checked all the time by this quality rating process. As you might expect, there is a comprehensive set of guidelines Google provides to the manual checking team to help keep everything aligned. This document is in the public domain and allows us to see exactly what Google is aiming for when it’s algorithms evaluate dental website content.

For YMYL pages, here is what the rating guidelines actually say:

For these “YMYL” pages, we assume that users expect us to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. As such, where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response“.

Here we can see that any web content or blog post which could be considered to have YMYL content, will be considered very closely by Google and then further evaluated in terms of its expertise, authority and trustworthiness – those “EAT” parameters we mentioned earlier and which are covered elsewhere in our blog.

How does YMYL impact on dental website or blog content?

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Banish these big mistakes from your digital marketing campaigns and reap the benefits

confused dentistIt’s that time of year where we start to look forward to the holiday break but also ramp up our planning for next year.

Part of that planning should include a review of your dental marketing strategy to identify what is working and what isn’t.

It’s all too easy to sit back and keep paying out for things you think might be adding value but for which, in reality, you’re not really sure.

So it really does pay to dig into the detail and makes sure that all channels and initiatives are working, whether it’s basic elements like your website, right through to paid advertising via Google and Facebook.

To help with your assessment, here are some of the top mistakes we see dentists or their managers makes all the time with their digital marketing efforts. Address these and you should be firmly on track for the year ahead.

A stale website

Far too many dentists invest a lot of money in a website but then neglect it. The level of neglect ranges from persevering with an old-fashioned site which isn’t even mobile-friendly, to neglecting security updates on a content management system so that the website gets hacked (WordPress users, this means you!)

A website isn’t fire-and-forget and if it’s to continue to do well in terms of user engagement and Google ranking, you will need to continue to invest in it. This means checking your content regularly to make sure it’s still relevant as well as adding new sections to keep the site fresh. You also need to check the technical performance using tools such as Google Search Console and the ranking performance in Google too. Your practice website is a major asset when it comes to new patient enquiries and also acts as the key foundation stone for all of your digital marketing activities. Please look after it!

Overpaying for website maintenance

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Basic Google Analytics concepts for business owners

website traffic trend When you’re blogging about your area of expertise, it can be all too easy to use terminology that readers may not actually understand, and I suspect I occasionally fall into that trap too. So once in a while it pays to step back and look at some of the basic concepts you are discussing and make sure that your readers can actually follow you without being too confused!

With that in mind, this blog will take a quick look at website traffic and how it can be differentiated in data analysis programs such as Google Analytics. This is so important to understand because, as we will see, website traffic comes from lots of different sources and not all of it is equal in quality, or indeed its potential to deliver new patient enquiries. Let’s jump in and get to grips with this sometimes confusing terminology and what it all means.

Website traffic – what is it exactly?

When users land on your dental practice website, they “clock up” visits or sessions which contribute to the overall flow of traffic to the site. However, these visits can come from various different sources and we can differentiate these within analytics programs. For the purpose of this blog, we will consider the hugely popular, free and excellent Google Analytics package, although others systems do exist.

Often you will see marketing companies simply publish overall traffic stats as part of their client reporting, however this alone is fairly meaningless. For example, it’s easy to get lots of traffic through to websites using social media channels, but it doesn’t mean that the traffic is converting to patient enquiries and treatments. It’s well known that social traffic is much less targeted than traffic from people searching with intent on Google for example.

Knowing the above, it makes sense to differentiate the traffic by source (or channel) and then also measure the number of enquiries from each of those traffic channels.

What are the main website traffic channels?

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Getting the word out for your implants, orthodontics and facial aesthetics public events

Dental open day eventThese days you have to work hard when it comes to marketing a dental practice and simply having a good website and some decent SEO may not be enough. The chances are that your competitors are also doing similar and it can be an ongoing task to keep ahead.

Whilst that type of digital marketing will always be very important to maintain a steady influx of new patients from search engines, there are other more immediate techniques which can also be very effective. One of these techniques is running open days, where you can market new dental treatments to existing patients and to new ones too.

Open days are particularly popular for orthodontics and implants treatments, and more recently, facial aesthetics too.

So how do you raise awareness of these types of promotional events to ensure that you have good attendance and get some worthwhile treatment bookings? With that in mind, lets take a look at how you can get existing and new patients on board by using the web and social media.

Attracting existing patients to your open day

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Why a cheap logo just isn’t worth it….

bad dental logo exampleIn an increasingly competitive dental environment, do you want your practice to stand out above the crowd with a memorable, professional logo?

Or would you prefer to save a few hundred pounds and make the same mistake that many practices do by trying a DIY job, or paying £50 for a cheap, template version from the web?

If you go the cheap and cheerful route, you’ll may well end up with something rather poor, for example the cheesy “tooth” logos that are all too prevalent. In fact if you search “dentist logo” in a Google image search, you’ll find a range of tooth-type logos which range from the downright awful to barely passable, either available from “stock” images websites or knocked together by cheap logo services.

Whatever the source, the result is pretty much the same i.e. something which will not represent your practice in the best light and which definitely won’t differentiate you from the other guys out there who purchased the same dodgy examples. You’ll likely have seen them and hopefully decided that you can do better. The good news is that you can, and likely much more cost-effectively than you might imagine. I’ll come on to that later.

Key features of a quality logo service

When you are looking to develop your brand and evaluating a dental logo development service, there are some key features to look out for. If the service does not provide these elements as standard, then you need to ask why or more likely, consider another provider:

  • a bespoke design service i.e. not sourced from “stock” or created with a cheap logo creation tool
  • a design in keeping with your business and ethos – just because you’re a dentist doesn’t mean that you need a “tooth” logo – on the contrary. Your designer should discuss your requirements with you and provide a comprehensive questionnaire to gather your ideas and objectives
  • several concepts – you will typically agree the number of concepts in the fee
  • an agreed number of iterations to produce the final logo design
  • creation of a professional file pack, including low and high res jpeg versions, vector and pdf formats. Also also CMYK and RGB colour profiles

One omission we see very regularly with cheap logo services is failing to provide a vector version of the logo. This is the format which will scale up to very large sizes without degradation in resolution. Vector format is almost always needed for sign and print work and the budget providers often omit it deliberately so you have to go back and pay a lot more when you realise you need it in the future. Way too many dentists make this mistake, so please do your homework! “Buy cheap, buy twice” as they say.

What does a good logo for a dental practice actually cost?

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Don’t let your website content land you in trouble with the regulators!

mistake signSeveral articles in the Dental Media blog look at how to develop and launch a website which will be a credit to your practice and also bring in those essential new patient enquiries. However, when we do that we also need to be very aware of the regulations which go alongside, for example privacy via GDPR, data security and also the strict requirements of the GDC.

Today’s short blog will focus on the GDC and what you can and can’t say on your website. Also the information that they require you to have in place.

This is incredibly important as quite a lot of dentists have fallen foul of the regulations and ended up in trouble when the content they used on their websites was inappropriate. Unfortunately this is something we still see a lot of and our content team have to filter very carefully before we add website content submitted by dental clients. I’ll illustrate with some examples a little later.

GDC guidance on advertising

The “golden rules” are laid down in this document from the GDC and even though they are classed as “guidelines” it makes sense to follow them. As you likely know, the GDC can be very punitive, so it pays to stay on-side:

Advertising – The GDC Guidelines

This guidance runs alongside the general Standards For The Dental Team and in a nutshell says:

  • keep information current and accurate
  • use clear language
  • back up claims with facts
  • avoid ambiguity and unrealistic expectations
  • be careful when endorsing products
  • show you qualifications, where you gained them and your GDC number in your biography
  • provide clear contact details
  • include the GDC’s contact details
  • a complaints procedure and who to contact if the complainant is not satisfied
  • show when your website was last updated

Specialist Titles

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Showcasing your work effectively on-line

Dental laboratory in actionFor years, many dentists were slow to catch on to the power of the web when it came to advertising their services to the general public.

Whilst there are still plenty who are stuck with poor websites, there are now many more who have realised that an excellent web presence is essential and the first rung on the ladder when it comes to securing new business from the web. Indeed a lot of dental marketing is now quite progressive.

However, what struck me recently is that many dental technicians and laboratories seem to be stuck where dentists were several years ago in that their web presences are generally poor and often non-existent. I’ve been pondering this is and to be frank, it’s not entirely clear why.

We are aware that there is often a strong loyalty between dentists and their labs and many have been working together for years. Perhaps then, they don’t feel the need to market their businesses in the same way that dentists do? I suspect that there are also elements akin to “cottage industries” although many dental labs are state-of-the art and utilise equipment costing many thousands of pounds.

Opportunities missed?

But surely there are some missed opportunities here? Loyalty and solid business relationships are essential but is this sufficient in times of increasing competition and price pressures? If you are doing great work and producing high quality restorations, it seems like an ideal opportunity to display these on a high-class website and showcase them in front of potential new clients.

There are a number of good reasons why you should consider this if you run a dental laboratory, a few of the mains ones are as follows:

  • all businesses, small or large, need a great website. It serves as a comprehensive reference point, detailing essential information such as location, contact details, services provided and much more
  • if you are looking to grow your business, then a website is an essential tool, simply to let dentists know you exist and what you can provide
  • even if your business is solid, it might not always be that way. If you lose business, then you need to go on the front foot to replace it. A website showing your work, capabilities and client testimonials is essential as part of this process
  • streamline your workflow – a correctly configured website can provide all sorts of facilities for your users, from secure enquiry forms to information downloads and more. If you make these facilities available via your website, then you can potentially save a lot of administration time

Dental technician websites – key features

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