Choosing images which work well for Facebook advertising

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Getting attention whilst still complying with Facebook’s strict advertising rules

One of our most popular services here at Dental Media at the moment is Facebook marketing for dentists.

This is where we use our marketing skill to create engaging adverts to show on Facebook to showcase a dentist’s services and attract new patients. The technique is very effective if done right and what you spend on the service can easily be outstripped in new patient revenue.

However, like all advertising, it’s not as simple as “set up and go” and a lot of knowledge and experience is brought to bear to get it right. One of the key elements when advertising on Facebook is the selection of the right sort of images and today we’ll take a closer look at this important factor.

Why image selection matters

It makes sense the a great image will always be the element in an advert which catches the attention. A catchy strap line is also important but getting the image right is even more so. Whilst it’s tempting to simply sign-up to an online image bank and use one of the thousands of generic, smiley face images from there, it first pays to take a look at what other advertisers are doing. You’ll soon realise that corny, generic images are ten a penny and won’t make you stand out from the crowd.

Much better is to go the “personalised” route and introduce images of the practice, staff and patients where you can. Of course you must seek approval first and reference the GDC guidelines to make sure you aren’t falling foul of legislation. The golden rule there is if you are in doubt, then don’t publish. However with a bit of planning and diligence you should be OK. These personalised images are much more appealing for users who typically want to see who they are dealing with and the facilities on offer, rather than some generic, bland offering.

Don’t be afraid to become a little bit more technical if you are promoting specific services, for example, product images for treatments such as implants and orthodontic appliances can work well in the correct context. Your product supplier should be able to help out with some images which you can use, but please read on before you jump in.

Facebook weirdness – why some apparently innocuous images fail their publishing tests

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Optimising Your Dental Marketing Plan For 2019

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4 key drivers for success

With 2019 upon us and new opportunities ahead, it’s timely to take a quick look at some of the priority actions required to ensure your dental marketing campaign is working optimally.

Google in particular, made some significant changes to the way it works and how it ranks websites so we’ll take a quick look at what changed there together with using other channels, namely Facebook, to boost your new patient acquisition.

It’s too easy to neglect your web marketing campaigns but if you do this, ultimately they will degrade and become significantly less effective. So now is a good time for a quick review and intervention as needed.

Google updates now look even more closely at website content quality

Elsewhere in this blog we detailed how Google’s updates back in March and again in August, started to scrutinise the “expertise, authority and trustworthiness” (EAT) of websites; boosting the ranking of those which met their criteria and demoting those which did not. If you saw unexpected Google ranking falls in 2018 around those times, chances are you fell foul of the latest “EAT” ranking criteria. Take a look here for more information.

If you are concerned that you did indeed suffer during the last search algorithm updates or simply need help to make sure your website is robust moving forwards, then please give our SEO team a call.

Technical quality of your website matters now more than ever

Along with Google looking very closely at the quality of your web content, they also appeared to pay an increasing degree of attention to the technical aspects of your website, what we sometimes refer to as “on site” SEO. So elements such as page load speed, mobile-friendliness, ease of crawl for their indexing bots, correct use of code and more, all came under renewed focus. Websites which complied with the more stringent requirements tended to make useful incremental ranking improvements, whereas those which didn’t fell away.

The main take-away here is that technical aspects of your website’s performance now matter just as much as the aesthetics. So if you haven’t had a maintenance tune-up recently, now is the time.

Don’t just rely on organic search for new patients from the web

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Starting SEO for your dental practice website?

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Know these 9 things before you begin!

Prominent, sustainable search engine rankings are a key foundation for any dental business keen to gain new patients from the web.

With web enquiries being second only to word-of-mouth referrals, it’s important to seek out great Google ranking positions and invest in maintaining them. This is something we specialise in at Dental Media and we’ve built up an excellent reputation over the years for providing this type of digital marketing service to dentists, professionally and affordably.

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it’s abbreviated, has changed significantly over the last 6 or 7 years, primarily in that there are now no quick wins. So if you are about to invest in this excellent mechanism to boost your website’s search positions and gain the new business which comes with this, here are some key points to understand before you step in.

A poor website is not a good place to start

Successful SEO is founded on a great website, and not just one that is aesthetically pleasing. Numerous “on site” factors are essential to get right if your campaign is to bear fruit. Indeed Google in particular is looking much more closely at on-site performance factors such as load speed and mobile “friendliness” these days. So the first step to SEO which works is a high-performing website which works for users and for search engines.

It’s not all about Google position 1

It’s natural for dentists to want all of their search terms to be at position one in the search results index but frankly this is unrealistic. Whilst prominent results are important, much more important is a wide range of results which bring traffic from a range of sources. It is also important to understand about the “quality” of web traffic too, so giving the best chance of new enquiries. Your digital marketer should be able to explain this to you in detail and you can also search elsewhere in this blog to understand more. The important take-away here is that SEO is about delivering increasing, high-quality traffic which converts into tangible enquiries, not just about search positions.

Don’t expect instant success

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Why a £50 per month pay-per-click budget will likely fail

Google Ads

Explaining attrition in your lead-funnel and the need for realistic budgets

One of the key questions we often hear when dentists enquire about our pay-per-click marketing services is how much to budget for the click costs paid to Google or Facebook. This is a great question and one which needs to be investigated and understood if a PPC campaign is to get the required traction and yield results.

The actual budget required is frequently under-estimated, often by a long way. For example, recently I spoke with a potential client about setting up an running dental pay-per-click campaigns only to be advised that his budget was £50/month for click costs. As I’ll demonstrate below, this is highly unlikely to get you the meaningful traffic and patient enquiries that you need.

Before moving on, it’s worth noting that we have no vested interest in recommending budget levels for Google and Facebook ad campaigns – this is the money you pay directly to those networks and not to us. However, as we’ve noted before in this blog, please watch out for PPC management services which pay the monthly click costs out of a total fee you pay to them. This is prone to skimming i.e. the agency always maintains their profit margin and reduces the click fee paid to the networks, irrespective of performance. So if you are using PPC, please make sure you pay click costs direct and then you’ll have full transparency.

Attrition – impressions, clicks, enquiries and treatments

Understanding the full chain of events whereby a potential new patient sees your ad and (hopefully) ends up on your treatment chair is important. This is because at each stage of the process there is a significant level of attrition i.e. drop-away. So unfortunately every click won’t result in an enquiry and for those that do, there is another level of attrition before treatment is confirmed. But what are the levels of attrition at each stage and how does this reflect back into the budget you need to allocate? Let’s do so simple sums.

For the purposes of this explanation, the first area to look at is the number of times your ad is shown (on Facebook or Google) compared to the number of times it is clicked, i.e. the user actually goes to your website or landing page. The very best campaigns will have click-through rates (CTR) of 20% or more but it’s not uncommon to see DIY campaigns with CTR below 2%. The average for the dental sector is around 3% – so only 3% of those who see your ad actually click if we are looking at averages. Fortunately, most campaigns are run whereby you only pay when someone clicks your ad, so from a cost perspective, a low CTR is not going to drain your budget. However, unless you click bids are high enough to ensure your ads are prominent, you aren’t going to get the traffic you need anyway.

Now let’s assume that you actually get 3 visits to your landing page for every 100 times your ads are shown. We now also have to consider the conversion rate for these visitors i.e. the ratio of visits to actual enquiries. This typically averages around 4%. We do have high-performing landing pages where the ratio is double this or more, but for illustration purposes, it is sensible to use averages. So in this scenario and working backwards, you need around 1000 ad impressions to generate 30 page visits and 1 enquiry.

Now we also need to look at the number of enquiries which result in treatments. Our data from the close work we do with our dental clients, suggests that the best practices can convert approximately 30% of their enquiries, whereas those with less sophisticated approaches convert less than half of this. For illustration purposes, let’s use 20% as the average enquiry to treatment conversion ratio.

How does this factor into your PPC budget?

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3 reasons not to quit your organic SEO campaign….

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….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

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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?

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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

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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

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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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