Dentists – are you ready for voice search?

viewing video on smartphone

Is your website voice search friendly?

The number of users searching for products and services by voice continues to grow at pace, so-much-so that Google recently suggested that over 50% of searches will be via voice by 2020.

This is another fast-paced digital trend which cannot be ignored when optimising your website for maximum effect. People aren’t just using devices like ‘Alexa’ and Google Assistant at home, they are also using similar technologies to search online, primarily from their mobile ‘phones. So how should you get ready to exploit this trend and in particular, making sure your website is set up correctly?

Why are users turning to voice search?

The main reasons are that it’s cool and convenient – why type when you can talk? Voice search technologies have come on in leaps and bounds and are now generally very good at understanding what you mean, even where you use conversational type queries. So overall, the voice search experience is now way better than ever before and only set to become even more intelligent. So it’s time to take advantage.

Set up to support the mobile experience

Whilst all facets of search engine optimisation (SEO) are now focused on the huge shift to mobile devices, this area is now even more important due to the burgeoning presence of voice search. It makes sense that the most usage of voice search is via mobile devices, so we need to be absolutely sure that the experience we present to users is optimised for that environment. In basic terms, this means that your dental practice website needs to be completely mobile-friendly as well as being aesthetically and functionally engaging. Imagine being found by a user querying Google by voice, only to present a website with a poor mobile experience which forces them elsewhere!

Adopt natural language

Read more ›

SEO BS – here’s how to avoid stepping in it!

bored man asleep doing nothing

The dental SEO business can be a minefield for the unsuspecting – watch out for the weasel words!

Just for the avoidance of doubt, this post is not suggesting that SEO is a bad thing. On the contrary, SEO, done well, is essential for any website in a competitive niche and that includes dentistry. What I am saying is that there is a huge amount of misinformation when it comes to search engine optimisation and unfortunately way too many unsuspecting dentists and/or practice managers fall for it time and time again.

As an example, please take a look at last week’s post where we discussed a marketing company which takes on clients with full knowledge that they can’t actually do the work, but get away with it anyway.

So the aim of this week’s post is to highlight a range of false promises that marketing companies make which sound great to the lay person, but can’t really be fulfilled. Let’s go….

SEO BS is all over the marketer’s websites

Everywhere you look, you will see dental marketers proclaiming success with phrases such as “thousands of dental website searches on page 1 of Google”. To compete, we actually have to say similar but in reality, whilst it sounds impressive, it’s not really that hard to achieve. Even with some basic SEO and a well-structured website, you should expect to get to page one on Google. You may not be top, but you should get there or thereabouts, at least for some search terms. So no big deal. I actually get concerned if any of our clients drop off page one, even where we are not undertaking any optimisation for them. The real deal is to get *lots* of search terms prominent on page one and collectively delivering lots of useful traffic and enquiries – there’s a big difference.

Ranking promises

This is a big one to be wary of. All too often we get dentists call to say they’ve been promised position 1 Google rankings by some company or another. There are only two explanations for this – the first is that they are lying (Google simply has too many variables to promise anything) and the second is that they will try to achieve it for some obscure search phrase which adds nothing. Good SEOs don’t make promises. The only type of guarantee I’ll subscribe to is that I’ll work diligently to help you acquire new dental patients from the web via search – most other guarantees you’ll hear elsewhere are BS.

A constant stream of SEO BS in your inbox

Read more ›

Is your marketing company *really* doing the SEO you think they are?

confused website user

A cautionary tale and why you need to check what you’re paying for!

As you’ll see if you read further into our blog, we periodically highlight some of the questionable tactics used by some dental marketers and the disproportionate fees they charge.

Often work that is claimed to be done isn’t, or the wording of the contract a dentist signed up for is so obfuscated that they can’t actually quantify what they’re paying for. Where we see such irregularities, and sadly there are lots, we feel it’s only right and proper to bring them to the attention of the dental community.

Another example came to our attention last week when a dental SEO practitioner elected to leave their existing company to go freelance. The person in question contacted us to see if we had any work positions available and to explain their situation in more detail. Here’s what they told us, and as you’ll see, it’s a cautionary tale for any dentist who pays out to a third-party company for search engine optimisation services. Very often you aren’t getting the value you might think, and very often, nothing at all!

SEO… or not?

During our discussion, the SEO guy advised that they had been taken on to be lead marketer for the company’s monthly marketing clients. They had joined the “team” expecting other marketers to be in place; however what was actually happening was that the work was either being outsourced off-shore or not done at all. The company expectation was that the SEO guy would take on just short of 50 clients who were each paying hundreds of pounds per month for Google promotion services.

This set the alarm bells ringing as it’s just not possible for one person to manage that many clients, with the support of offshore outsource or not. The suitably of using an offshore marketing service is highly questionable anyway, but that’s a story for another blog.

The dental marketing company in question charges their clients anything from £300 per month upwards to £1k plus for SEO advice and services, but closer inspection, shows that their service is at best hit-and-miss. Best case, one person trying to manage nearly 50 clients would only be able to input 3 hours per client per month and probably less. This is nowhere near enough time for to make a difference with Google ranking, particularly where competition is significant. What is perhaps more perturbing, is that the company was taking client’s money and then not doing any work at all for months at a time where they felt they could get away with it.

Reporting and accountability

Read more ›

Pay-to-play digital advertising for dentists is here to stay

budget for marketing

Pay-per-click – why do you need to consider it and what are your options?

Three or four years ago, the main channel for gaining new patients from the web was via the organic (free) search results; primarily Google.

But whilst high ranking in the free search listings is still very important, paid advertising channels are now coming to the fore and are now nearly indispensable tools for dentists who wish to make best use of available digital opportunities.

Suffice to say that the pay-per-click phenomenon is well and truly with us and looks to be staying that way.

What changed – why do you need to “pay-to-play”?

It is perhaps Google which set the trend with this. Their “AdWords” (now Google Ads) system has been around for a number of years and has progressively become more and more refined and ubiquitous. In the past, the presence of ads was reserved to a couple of slots at the top of page one of the search results and in a fairly low-key format. However, Google progressively increased the foot-print of the ads which show on page one and is now also showing them in more positions, not just at the top of the page. You will even see ads appearing in the local/map results. This is good for those who know how to use the system properly, but not so good for companies which rely on the free listing for their primary exposure.

This “ad creep” is perhaps best illustrated on a mobile ‘phone where all a user sees on pages one of the search results is ads and the local map listings. You typically don’t see anything else until you scroll down! And with 60% or more of all traffic coming via mobile devices, you will clearly see the issue if you are not investing in ads.

Facebook was somewhat different in the way in which it drove users to pay-to-play. Having encouraged businesses to grow their “likes” on their business pages, they then quickly started to curtail the organic reach of content posted by users. So whereas in the past, most of those who had liked your page would see your content, now less than 5% will. Let that sink in for a moment, all those people who like your page aren’t seeing your content! Not great. So if your dental business advisor says you need to stop wasting money on paid ads, you might want to question how all that lovely content you are posting is getting the exposure it deserves.

What are the main channels to consider for paid advertising?

Read more ›

Choosing images which work well for Facebook advertising

Facebook logo

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

Read more ›

Optimising Your Dental Marketing Plan For 2019

clicking on mouse

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

Read more ›

Starting SEO for your dental practice website?

Google symbol

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

Read more ›

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?

Read more ›

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….

Read more ›

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?

Read more ›