Getting the word out for your implants, orthodontics and facial aesthetics public events
These 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
Why a cheap logo just isn’t worth it….
In 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?
Don’t let your website content land you in trouble with the regulators!
Several 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
Showcasing your work effectively on-line
For 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.
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
Like it or not, a solid offer is the best way to encourage new treatment enquiries via paid ads
In dentistry you will often hear dental coaches recommending that you should not implement offers and price reductions in the quest to gain new patients or indeed when you are trying to sell new treatments to existing patients. This is all well and good in that no-one wants to precipitate the “race to the bottom” on pricing or erode the value of professional services.
However, the advice is also rather “black and white” in that carefully crafted and presented offers can be extremely effective and if you are not prepared to experiment, then you can easily miss out. For example, if you want to take advantage of pay-per-click advertising, a proven technique to gain new business, you have to be savvy and creative when it comes to the use of effective offers.
Why is this?
Over the last 5 years, here at Dental Media we’ve developed our pay-per-click ads for dentists and now manage several hundred campaigns on our client’s behalf. This type of experience allows us to see what works and what doesn’t and perhaps one of the starkest indicators is the power of offers when it comes to differentiating successful campaigns versus ones which struggles.
The plain facts are that more and more dentists are using Facebook and Google advertising because they know, when done well, that there are very good returns to be realised. In fact it’s becoming a “must have” technique in these days of “pay to play” digital marketing. A clear characteristic of these campaigns is that the ones which do well, are the ones which encourage interaction with good offers for users.
If you consider the last time you were shopping for a high-value item or imp0rtant service, then you probably did a couple of things during your search. One of these would likely be checking reviews for the service or product and then also checking the price. Part of checking the price would also likely be investigating any offers that were available.
An offer can be useful in several ways:
- if the purchaser is aware of your brand but isn’t quite ready to proceed at that particular point in time, then your offer is an ideal way of piquing their interest and keeping you “top of mind” for when they do eventually proceed.
- depending on how you configure your ads, you can create a sense of urgency to encourage them to proceed quickly. For example making an offer time-limited, can really help a user to decided quickly for fear of missing out
- more fundamentally, a lot of people are seeking best value and if you aren’t offering competitive services, then many of them will look elsewhere. It’s fine to think that you can differentiate on quality and experience and so justify elevated prices, but of course most can’t. In the real world there are lots of dentists competing for the same patients and they can’t all be top of the Premier League, even if it’s something they might eventually aspire to. You have to build a business and if this means deploying ads creatively to allow you to compete and prosper, then so be it.
What type of offers work?
What we do which you don’t see….
Here at Dental Media, when we quote for an SEO project, we always give an indication of the type of work which our team conducts each month to help move your website up the search rankings in the quest for those all-important new patient enquiries.
But what struck me is that it is likely that most dentists don’t actually have much of an idea as to the extent of the work which goes on as part of this ongoing exercise to beat the competition in Google. So with that in mind, here’s a concise summary of the typical activities our SEO teams complete each month for our dental clients.
Hopefully this will help to give a clearer idea of where the money goes and why great search engine optimisation isn’t something you can purchase for $100 per month from some faceless off-shore team who spammed your email, or as a “bolt-on” to your monthly website maintenance fee!
This is where we review the results of the previous months work and use them to develop our programme for the following month. Have we met targets? What were the good points? Were there any negative points? How did our competitors get on? This work goes hand-in-hand with our reporting (see later), allows us to see exactly how we performed and informs our strategy for the future. We will also ask questions of our clients to ensure that our work is still targeted to their objectives correctly. We will make recommendations and advise about strategy adjustments in our reporting.
On page optimisation
A large part of SEO is making sure that the on-page website optimisation is regularly reviewed and changes made as necessary. This could be as little as a few keyword changes in page titles, through to wholesale addition of new website sections and content pages. This often runs in conjunction with our strategy planning and maintenance work as agreed with the client. We then allow Google a week or so to index the new content and we check to see the effect on ranking positions. We will regularly cycle this type of activity through the various website sections and topics to make sure that they stay optimised.
Link building outreach
“Strongest SEO team in the UK” – says who?
If you’ve been a dental practice owner for a while and during that time you’ve purchased services in the area of dental marketing, you will possibly know what a minefield it can be. It’s not easy to find a reliable, consistent provider who is focused on getting results and totally transparent along with it, and unfortunately the number of bad guys out there is increasing.
When you’ve been in the business for many years, building a strong reputation for helping hundreds of dentists with their marketing, on and off-line; it can be quite frustrating when new teams appear with glitzy websites and making lots of bold claims about their ‘success’ with SEO and other methods. But it’s not just the new entrants who make these hugely over exaggerated claims; a number of marketing teams who have been around for a while try to bamboozle potential new clients with what can only be described as “smoke and mirrors”.
One such example currently claims to have the strongest dental SEO team in the UK, but when you look closely, you’ll see that this is pretty far off the mark. Their client results are at best very average and their own website was actually penalised by Google not too long ago due to using techniques way outside of Google’s publishing guidelines. If they managed to do this to their own site, what are they risking with dentist’s websites?
The problem here, and it’s a big one, is that your average dentist has no clue how to differentiate between good and bad and is easily duped by glossy websites which claim amazing successes. But if you are experienced and you look more closely at what they say and do, it’s very clear that their a lot of the claims are not based on substance but mainly obfuscation and misinformation. So how are they doing this and what do you need to look out for to ensure you don’t get duped? Let’s take a closer look at these questionable ways!
Presenting vanity metrics
What you need to know about this important web asset
Over the last few months, a couple of our older clients have asked for domain names to be transferred to new owners when selling their practices due to retirement. This is all part of the natural progression of course, and it’s always nice to meet the new clients when they come along.
However, what I realised as part of the process, is that a lot of people actually know very little about about apparently small but important assets such as domain names and just how critical they can be. For example, a domain name is registered either to a company or an individual and if those particular credentials are wrong, transferring to a new owner can be quite problematic.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key points you need to understand when it comes to the domain names associated with your dental practice website so that you don’t get caught out in the future.
Make sure your domain is registered in your name
This is most important and worth checking for any of the domains that you own. What can happen is that a marketing agency or other third party is allowed to register the domain name(s) on their client’s behalf but then registers it in their own name and not their clients. This practice is still rife unfortunately and is historically based on an unfounded belief that it somehow gives control should a client default on payment for example. Frankly it’s just bad practice, so please watch out for it.
.com or .co.uk?
These are the two most popular domain name variations in the UK, but which one should you choose? In most cases, .co.uk is the most appropriate as this is actually designated for use by UK businesses. If you want to go with .com, that’s OK but it doesn’t make you look more impressive and isn’t directly UK related. It’s really for use by bigger organisations with multi-national presence. But don’t worry if you inherited a website with a .com – it can still be made to rank as well as a website based on a .co.uk domain.
There are lots of other domain names available these days, for example .dental, but they are a bit funky and it’s our recommendation that you can’t go wrong by selecting a .co.uk.
Do you need multiple domain names?
Important things to consider before investing in a new dental practice website.
These days it’s easy enough to set up a website, even if it’s using a DIY website builder you saw advertised on TV or from an ad in your Facebook timeline. But what you may not realise at the outset is that not all websites are equal and if you make the wrong choice, then you will likely regret it.
Before we jump in and discuss the types of websites which are available and their respective pros and cons, let’s take a quick look at the characteristics you really should be seeking when building a website for a dental practice. Fall short on some of these and you’ll be behind the pack. But why is this? Well in most areas, there are always a few dentists who understand just how important a great website is and will invest accordingly. This really does make a big difference when it comes to acquiring new patients from the web.
So what should you be looking for when you start your new website project?
- Great looking – but not just form over function
- Easy to use and navigate
- Calls to action to encourage a fast response from users
- Fast loading and SEO optimised
- Technically excellent
- Written empathetically – to “hook” users in as soon as they arrive
- Prominent patient testimonials and reviews
- Case studies
- Galleries and videos
- An integrated blog
If you can achieve the above (and really this should be your target) then you have a great foundation for attracting new patients from the web. However, get it wrong and those enquiries will likely be going elsewhere.
What routes can I take to publish a new dental practice website?
So how can I get online with a new site and what are the pros and cons of the various mechanisms you can use to get there? Let’s take a closer look.
A DIY website builder
Two key factors for dental website Google ranking
When it comes to getting prominent search engine rankings for dentists, perhaps the most fundamental aspect to check before any SEO campaign kicks off, is where the practice is physically located.
This is so important and governs what can realistically be achieved for an organic search engine promotion. Unfortunately this is not really understood by many dentists and so can lead to some fairly unrealistic expectations regarding what can actually be achieved. Let’s take a closer look at the background to this and what you should and shouldn’t expect from your SEO partner.
Localisation in Google
This refers to the way in which Google delivers search results based on the location of the searcher and the physical location of the types of businesses they are searching for. This is broadly understood by most people when it comes to the local or “map” results which Google presents on page one of the search results, but perhaps less well understood for the rest of the organic (free) listings. In a nutshell, Google knows where you are when you search using a variety of mechanisms, including the network you are connected to, GPS tracking and more. They can also do this even if you have location checking switched off on your mobile ‘phone; so please don’t assume that you can operate truly incognito unless you have some fairly sophisticated VPN systems installed.
Google also knows where the businesses you are searching for are located, again using a variety of signals. These range from the obvious ones like the address the business uses on its website, through to the address reference other websites use when linking to the particular business in question. Google is extremely adept at aggregating all of this data and then using it to very accurately position businesses within their mapping systems and also within the search results.
Why does this matter for SEO?