Organic SEO, Adwords PPC or Facebook For Dentists?

Where first with your digital marketing budget?

confused website userThe question of where to use your digital marketing budget is usually a hot topic when dentists call our team for advice. Should they go with search engine optimisation, AdWords (pay-per-click) or jump on the current bandwagon with Facebook advertising? Great question and one that is reasonably straightforward to answer.

But first, there is a step to take before any of the above and this is ensuring that you have a top-quality website already in place to encourage conversions. Indeed, as we’ve discussed in other blogs, we may well decline to offer web marketing services where we know the website is not really fit for purpose when it comes to converting new traffic to enquiries – you would be wasting money.

So given that a suitable website is already in place, then we can move on to consider what type of traffic generation systems are most suitable. Let’s take each case in turn before summarising.

Search Engine Optimisation – Organic (Free) Traffic

SEO is extremely important for helping websites to rise to prominent positions in the search engines and of prime importance in the UK is Google, which sees in excess of 90% of all search queries. Traffic from clicks on these “natural” search results tends to bring the most meaningful enquiries. This is because it is generated by people searching specifically for goods or services with definite intent. Some people also tend to view paid adverts with a degree of suspicion, preferring to click on the organic results (including “local” listings).

So prominent ranking positions in the organic search results really are a key objective, even if Google is continuing to make it harder to achieve them. Those practices with great search results really do pull in lots of new patient enquiries every month.

Google AdWords – Pay-Per-Click

AdWords are excellent where a dentist needs to get traffic from Google quickly, perhaps where a new website has just been launched and has no relevant organic search presence established yet. Similarly, where a new treatment has been introduced or perhaps an open day needs to be advertised, then PPC can be a great tool. However, there is a cost to this; the money you pay to Google each time your advert is clicked, plus the fee to the agency who are managing your campaigns. Just on that, DIY PPC can be very wasteful so please consider carefully before trying to set up and run your own campaigns – there is plenty to go wrong which usually means you end up paying Google more than you need to!

PPC is also becoming increasingly important when you consider mobile ‘phone usage. This is simply because most of your mobile screen will be filled with paid adverts when you search for goods or services using that device. So as a dental business, you are unlikely to be found in mobile searches unless your ad is in the mix on page one. Google really is forcing the “pay to play” issue here.

Facebook advertising

This is becoming an increasingly popular way to generate traffic and enquiries, however you need to understand the pros and cons and not just jump on it because your dental coach or marketing company told you to! Advertising on social media is disruptive for the users in that it presents an advert when they are generally not really looking for services; so whilst many may click through to your website or landing page out of curiosity, the large majority will simply leave without real interest. That said, it is a great way to build brand awareness and done diligently, can still generate useful enquiries. So Facebook is becoming an increasingly important part of a fully-rounded online marketing plan for dentists.

So what’s priority?

Hopefully you can now see that this depends on circumstance and there is no one equation which fits all needs. However, we still recommend that organic search engine optimisation (SEO) needs to be on the agenda from the outset for most practices, simply because, once achieved, those precious free ranking positions will deliver lots of new business – plus you’re not forking out every time someone clicks your link!


There are numerous ways to increase the traffic to your website in the quest to gain new patients and perhaps the three most important ones are covered above. Ideally you would build a digital marketing strategy which combines all three; however armed with the knowledge above and with some guidance and support from the team at Dental Media, you can make an informed choice. Please call us on 01332 672548 for an unbiased, no-obligation discussion.