3 reasons not to quit your organic SEO campaign….

website traffic trend

….and one good reason why you should!

Here at Dental Media we look after websites and digital marketing campaigns for hundreds of dentists based in the UK. A large component of the monthly work we undertake on their behalf involves promoting their websites to prominent positions in Google, a process known as search engine optimisation or simply, SEO.

It is well understood that high search ranking positions are very important for securing new patient enquiries and consequently dentists are becoming increasingly aware that a suitable budget has to be allocated to this type of promotional activity.

Organic SEO is the process of improving the search positions for a business in Google’s free results sections, both the traditional listing of results and in the local/map sections. To do this well takes a lot of time and effort and cannot be rushed. All work must be completed within Google’s web publishing guidelines and done sustainably. There are no quick wins and over-aggressive SEO can easily result in a website being demoted or even banned by Google, as we’ve covered elsewhere in this blog.

Fortunately, most clients are aware of these constraints and expect to see results improve gradually as their search positions improve over time. However, very occasionally, a client elects to cease their SEO work based on misconceptions and misunderstanding of the processes involved. In today’s blog we’ll look at three reasons why clients have (prematurely) stopped SEO work and why their decision was questionable. The objective here is to shed light on the processes involved and to set a benchmark for expectations.

I’ve made it to the top, it’s time to stop….

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Why Ad Content Refreshes Are Critical For Facebook Marketing

Facebook logo

Stagnant Facebook Ads Don’t Work And Cost You Money!

Advertising on Facebook is fast becoming a “must-have” component of any comprehensive dental marketing tool-kit. However, you may see more dentists expressing frustration with the Facebook channel than celebrating their success with it. This is usually down to inexperience and not understanding which parameters to use to get results, and a DIY approach often doesn’t work here.

One of the key mistakes being made by dentists advertising on Facebook is failing to maintain and update the ads they are using – both the text and image content. But why is this important? Let’s take a closer look.

Refreshing the creative content of Facebook Ads – why it matters

Facebook is far more visual than channels like Google when it comes to advertising. Whereas in Google you will likely leave text ads weeks and sometimes months before tweaking them, with Facebook, ads which not regularly maintained, very quickly become stale and stop performing. This is because users very quickly become “banner blind” and even if your ad is in front of them, it simply stops registering. The more frequently they see the ad, the stronger this effect becomes.

How often do you need to revisit your Facebook ads to update them?

This depends and actually will be dictated by what you see in your data analytics. There are a number of parameters you can see in the Facebook reporting suite which will guide you on when to intervene. Dental marketing experience certainly counts here but there are some key things to look out for to indicate an ad may have become stale. Look for elements such as “frequency”, the amount of times an ad has been served (av) to an audience, the costs per conversion rising, actual conversions dropping off, engagement falling etc. It becomes clear fairly quickly when intervention is necessary.

Typically ads need to be refreshed anywhere between 1 – 6 weeks but it will vary considerably. The key is to monitor the data and use this to help make your decisions.

What needs to be refreshed and how?

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Is your minimalist blogging an SEO risk?

clicking on mouse

Short-form 200 word blog articles will likely be penalised by Google

Regularly adding high quality content to your website via a blog is widely recognised as a great way to help users understand and interact with your business, as well as helping with Google search rankings.

We’ve been helping our dental marketing clients with their blogs for the last 6 or 7 years, either by advising and training their staff in how to do it effectively, or where time doesn’t allow, by generating high-quality content on their behalf. Indeed this is a key part of all of our SEO contracts and campaigns.

Google was fairly tolerant of this type of “on-site” SEO in any form for a number of years, and many marketing companies jumped on the blogging band-wagon by offering the service. If you look around the dental website landscape, you will see many blogs of this type, typically filled with very short articles of 200 – 250 words and fairly heavily stuffed with keywords and links. By and large, marketers got away with this type of tactic but more recently, things have started to go wrong. Google has become way more adept at identifying useful content as opposed to that which is just being used for a search engine advantage. In many cases, this “short form” content is now actively being penalised by Google and is destructive rather than constructive.

The effect of Google’s 2018 updates on low-quality, short form blog content

Here at Dental Media, one of the SEO services we offer is Google penalty recovery. This is where we examine websites which have suffered significant ranking drops and then propose strategies to clean them up to re-establish ranking positions. This is quite a tricky exercise in that it is never 100% clear why a website might have been penalised, and in some cases, different penalties can affect the same website. However, we have a lot of experience and tools at our disposal and usually we can be fairly sure why a website has been demoted in Google. Common penalties are often associated with unnatural back-links or blatant spamming techniques on the website itself.

More recently however, Google has started to look far more closely at the quality of content on a website and which sites actually answer user’s search queries best. This is where the “shot form” 200 word blog articles no longer make the grade and where there are many of them which serve no useful purpose, Google actually classes this as “thin” content and can apply site-wide penalties as a result. Moreover, as we recently explained in another blog article, Google is looking at “EAT” parameters in relation to website content i.e. expertise, authority and trust. Sites which demonstrate high “EAT” characteristics typically do well, whereas those with low “EAT” tend to suffer.

With these considerations in mind, it is fairly easy to see why spammy, short-form blog articles are particularly risky.

The evidence

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Why your outsourced social media isn’t working

Facebook logo

Don’t waste hundreds of pounds on under-performing social media services – here’s why….

There is a lot of skepticism in dental world about the value-for-money offered by some search engine marketing companies, and rightly so. There is a strong tendency for some of these SEO packages to offer lots but actually deliver very little, as we’ve covered elsewhere in our blog.

SEO done well is invaluable, but can be a rip-off in the hands of the unscrupulous.

More recently, the same dental marketing companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon, offering similar packages, apparently designed to bring lots of new patients flocking to the door. To be clear, here I’m talking about the services which primarily offer posting to your page and the odd boosted post, not the more complex social media advertising campaigns using landing pages and lead funnels. For the latter, expert external guidance is recommended.

Whilst these superficial social media services seem useful on face value, when you look closely, they’re actually a really bad investment, and in today’s blog we’ll take a closer look why.

Outsourced social media doesn’t really work

The overriding reason why you are wasting money with these type of packages is that outsourced social media doesn’t really work at all. So even if your agency is posting content regularly on your behalf, it’s likely to be of an impersonal, generic nature which simply doesn’t engage users. This same content is used over and over again and is more likely to put users off, rather than encourage them to interact with you.

Content which has a chance of working is typically generated by the practice team and of a practice-centric nature. Outside of this, you’re pretty much wasting your time.

The types of monthly packages you’ll see offered by social media agencies, often for hundreds of pounds per month, tend to leverage on the lack of knowledge of subscribers and to illustrate, here are a few examples of what’s out there:

  • updates to your profile logo and photographs – (this is straightforward and very easy to do yourself)
  • 4 or 5 posts to your page per week – (typically this is generic, low-value material of the type noted above)
  • boosted posts – (simple to do and also not very effective when compared to the targeted Facebook advertising mentioned above)
  • monthly reports – (usually a simple regurgitation of the standard Facebook reporting and, if you’re lucky, simple integration with Google Analytics)
  • guidance and compliance – (the GDC standards for social media usage are not really that hard to comply with – what are you really buying?)

In fairness, a few suppliers try to integrate a practice’s own content into the mix, but this relies on you having suitable content in the first instance.

Be aware before you subscribe

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WordPress 5.0 is coming soon – it will probably break your website!

WordPress problems

Huge changes to WordPress imminent – have you tested in advance?

Elsewhere in this blog we’ve discussed the issues associated with using the popular, but maintenance-heavy, WordPress platform for your dental website. The issues associated with hacking, incompatibility of plugins and hence the need for very regular maintenance intervention, are well-known.

That said, many dentists still end up with a WordPress based website and then hope that their designer stays on top of it to keep it updated and secure. Unfortunately, this often is not the case as the maintenance issues and incompatibilities become more onerous as the core platform updates. This is why there are so many WordPress websites out there which fall into disrepair and eventually get hacked. That said, if you do go the WordPress route and are prepared to invest in its maintenance, you can still get a viable site for your business – but please understand the implications if you do.

Unfortunately that’s not the full story and periodically, the day-to-day maintenance issues associated with WordPress actually increase dramatically. This happens when they release a full version update rather than and incremental update within a version. Sometimes, the update is so large that it introduces wholesale structural changes into the way that WordPress works, bringing with it a tsunami of problems where even the best maintained websites break. Such a change, WordPress 5.0, is just a couple of weeks away from launch and the impending shock wave has web design agencies which specialise in WordPress sites, very concerned. If you have a WordPress based dental website, you should also be concerned.

Why is WordPress 5.0 so different?

The upcoming version of WordPress is designed by default to incorporate a completely new editor know as ‘Gutenberg’, named after the German printing pioneer from the 1400’s Johannes Gutenberg. This has apparently been done so that the commercial side of the WordPress business can remain competitive with the wide range of third-party visual editors which already exist. So it looks like WordPress are trying to develop a “one-stop-shop” for their content management system.

Whilst this all sounds good and potentially very useful for website owners, the transition from the older versions of WordPress will not be without issues, in some cases a lot of issues! It is already known that many plugins (the bits of software which extend core functionality) will cease to function, as well as the themes which are used to change the front-end appearance of WordPress. So all round a lot of upheaval.

My site is on WordPress – what should I do?

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Technical SEO and your website

website poor performance

Why the technical performance of your website matters more than ever before – for users AND search engines

Have you noticed the proliferation of dental websites which rely on huge images to generate “wow” on the home page, typically presented via some sort of image switching mechanism or “slider”?

Most of the sites out there these days have something similar and it’s understandable why, at least from an aesthetic perspective. Such features are very appealing and as they say “a picture paints a thousand words”. Another website trend at the moment is something known as “parallax” effect which is where text moves on a page and the image moves behind it when you scroll. Also quite quirky and interesting.

Whilst these types of features are appealing and eye-catching for users, are they equally as good when it comes to satisfying the requirement of that other critical website user, Googlebot? This is the crawler which Google uses to gather data from your website to allow it to be indexed and then ranked in their search results. What Googlebot finds and how the data is interpreted, is incredibly important for how your website fares in the ranking index.

Why the technical infrastructure of a website matters for SEO

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Employee Advocacy

training session for dental staff

Don’t miss out on this huge marketing asset

You may be fueling business growth through the well-known and effective channels of digital marketing, for example SEO and pay-per-click, but are you missing out on another critical asset which is right under your nose?

Here I’m referring to your employees and using their knowledge and experience to help broadcast positive messages about your business within their own social communities. Numerous studies have indicated that a company’s employees are in fact the most credible brand advocates and reliable sources for a business’s target audience.

This concept is broadly referred to as “employee advocacy” and it works just as well for small businesses as larger ones; albeit the overall “reach” of such strategies will obviously be governed by the number of employees involved. Irrespective, this employee advocacy approach is very powerful and well worth nurturing, particularly considering the socially connected environment we all live in these days.

So how can your staff help with your dental marketing?

In the dental context, there need to be firm ground rules in place and possibly even some training to ensure that when your internal brand advocates are broadcasting to the masses, that they’re not inadvertently breaking any GDC rules, ICO rules or any others which apply. This should go without saying and is very important. Once that confidence is established, you can then encourage your team to begin sharing your content and messages with their own social connections. Many of the younger generation now have hundreds if not thousands of social connections and the potential reach is significant when you get it right.

As well as increasing the social reach of your brand, when your team share your content you will also benefit from:

  • increased website traffic
  • increase in qualified leads
  • better social engagement as new users interact with your business profiles

Some examples of employee advocacy and why it’s so powerful

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When your website gets hacked

WordPress hack risk

What steps do you need to take to get back on track quickly?

If you look through search engine results you won’t need to go too far before finding dental websites which have been hacked. Google in particular, is now quite adept at identifying hacked sites and flagging these with a warning message advising you not to click.

Modern browsers and anti-virus software are also better than ever when it comes to blocking hacked sites and reducing the risk of the malware spreading. However, it’s clearly best not to be in that situation in the first place and not get hacked. But what steps should you take if you are unfortunate enough to be compromised? Before we step in, let’s take a quick look at the type of websites which get hacked and why it happens so you can determine the risk.

Which types of websites are most prone to hacking?

It’s very hard if not impossible to hack a traditional website which is built in flat html and any hacks of this nature tend to come where a server has been compromised i.e. not via the “front end” of the website itself. The huge majority of hacks occur with database driven websites, so information sites which have content management systems or ecommerce systems.

The most hacks occur with the WordPress platform which although popular, needs a significant amount of maintenance to stay secure. However, even well-maintained WordPress websites have fallen victim to new hacks which have happened in a very short space of time. Other content management systems also need maintenance but WordPress is historically more prone to compromise than any other.

So if you have a website which fits into one of those categories, your risk is higher than if you have a website which is built with traditional “flat” html and consequently you need to take extra precautions.

Unfortunately most hacking occurs where a designer delivers a website but then fails to maintain it. This can happen for a couple of main reasons, 1) they can’t be bothered even though you paid them and 2) they delivered a website built with a pre-made template and/or plugins which then became incompatible and couldn’t be supported. Both of these scenarios are much more common than you might imagine and many dentists fall foul of the hackers who check constantly for vulnerabilities which can be exploited.

What do you do if your dental website gets hacked?

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Why most dentists fail with Facebook marketing

Facebook logo

Is the rush to Facebook dental marketing working for you? Likely not….

The hottest topic in dental marketing at the moment is arguably Facebook advertising. With most agencies pushing this and with this “new” channel becoming ever more accessible, the number of dentists jumping on the band-wagon seems to be increasing exponentially.

But the feedback about the success of Facebook and it’s ability to deliver new patient enquiries is at best mixed. So is this about the Facebook framework itself under-delivering, or more about the way dentists are trying to use it? It’s actually a mixture of both as we’ll see later.

However, it’s only fair at this early stage to point out that Facebook marketing can work; but you need a good level of knowledge, experience and persistence to make it happen.

The key challenge with advertising in Facebook

This is important and the main thing to understand before you launch into your Facebook campaign. Fundamentally, Facebook is a social channel and its main use is to act as a vehicle to facilitate interaction between family, friends and colleagues. So despite all of the noise you may hear about people searching for services and products on Facebook, the vast majority of this is done elsewhere, i.e. Google. So in most cases, users are on Facebook for social interaction, rather than with predetermined buying intent. So if you serve an ad to these guys, even if it’s well-targeted, it’s unlikely to receive as much strong purchasing engagement as an ad served on Google or even a traditional search engine result.

Consequently, traffic you get from Facebook is from users who are typically much further up the purchasing funnel and potentially only mildly interested in what you have to offer, rather than filled with burgeoning purchasing intent. However, that said, it can be very useful for building local brand awareness and creating initial touch-points.

Understanding this is key before thinking that Facebook it the answer to all of your marketing prayers – it isn’t. This is why we always recommend a Facebook campaign as being complementary to SEO and Google Ads, rather than attempting to displace those tried-and-trusted mechanisms.

Too much noise?

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Is your dental reception video effective?

Video Presentation Dental Waiting Room

Presenting the right content on your waiting room flat-screen TV

The dental reception video is an excellent tool for helping existing patients understand more about the treatments you provide and encouraging them to investigate new options to enhance their smiles and/or improve their oral health.

Indeed, in terms of value for money, it’s a difficult one to beat as it is “ever present” and working in front of a captive audience. So it pays to invest appropriately to deploy content that will work well.

Many dentists have invested in video presentations for their reception areas but some are much better than others; ranging from “off the shelf”, generic versions which can be rather low quality and cheesy, to fully bespoke version which, when done well, can really create a great impression for your patients.

Why invest in a reception area video?

Here are the main benefits of a great dental reception video:

  • “always on” – brings relevant information to your patients as they wait
  • introduces your team and facilities
  • demonstrates your full range of treatment options and their benefits
  • shows smile makeover ‘before and after’ results
  • showcases patient testimonials
  • introduces offers and events e.g. open days

Whilst “face to face” discussions are always likely to be best for delivering new treatment take-up, a carefully crafted video can certainly pique initial interest and get the ball rolling. Plus it’s always there working for you!

What works and what doesn’t work?

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