“Your Money Or Your Life” – What YMYL means for dental SEO

YMYL and SEOGoogle is constantly changing and evolving, using new methods and technologies to evaluate and rank website pages. There is now more reliance on AI – artificial intelligence, than ever before and as SEO specialists, we need to try to interpret what is going on so we can exploit it to best effect for the benefit of our clients.

A couple of key features Google introduced over the last few years are “EAT” and “YMYL”. We’ve looked at EAT (expertise, authority, trust) and how it relates to a website elsewhere in our blog, so today we’ll take a closer look at “YMYL” and how any web publisher needs to be aware of it when optimising website pages for best effect in Google’s search results.

What is YMYL?

YMYL is short for “Your Money Or Your Life” and it’s a set of conditions laid down by Google as part of how it evaluates the quality of a website page. More specifically if a web page is trustworthy and hence warrants a good ranking position. Google uses its artificial intelligence to check a web page to see whether the content is likely to impinge in a good, or bad way on the user in terms of their health, happiness, safety and financial well-being.

Of course we don’t know how Google determines this as all elements of their search algorithms are kept very secret, but we do know that they are making such evaluations increasingly important as their technology becomes more adept at interpreting website pages. As we’ve said before, optimising for Google is now far more sophisticated than the days of simple keyword addition and tweaking a few meta tags.

Quality Rating Guidelines

Google uses a “quality raters” team which carries out comprehensive manual checks on websites. This process then feeds back into the search algorithms to validate and refine them. Effectively, Google’s system is learning and becoming increasingly more accurate, checked all the time by this quality rating process. As you might expect, there is a comprehensive set of guidelines Google provides to the manual checking team to help keep everything aligned. This document is in the public domain and allows us to see exactly what Google is aiming for when it’s algorithms evaluate dental website content.

For YMYL pages, here is what the rating guidelines actually say:

For these “YMYL” pages, we assume that users expect us to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. As such, where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response“.

Here we can see that any web content or blog post which could be considered to have YMYL content, will be considered very closely by Google and then further evaluated in terms of its expertise, authority and trustworthiness – those “EAT” parameters we mentioned earlier and which are covered elsewhere in our blog.

How does YMYL impact on dental website or blog content?


Banish these big mistakes from your digital marketing campaigns and reap the benefits

confused dentistIt’s that time of year where we start to look forward to the holiday break but also ramp up our planning for next year.

Part of that planning should include a review of your dental marketing strategy to identify what is working and what isn’t.

It’s all too easy to sit back and keep paying out for things you think might be adding value but for which, in reality, you’re not really sure.

So it really does pay to dig into the detail and makes sure that all channels and initiatives are working, whether it’s basic elements like your website, right through to paid advertising via Google and Facebook.

To help with your assessment, here are some of the top mistakes we see dentists or their managers makes all the time with their digital marketing efforts. Address these and you should be firmly on track for the year ahead.

A stale website

Far too many dentists invest a lot of money in a website but then neglect it. The level of neglect ranges from persevering with an old-fashioned site which isn’t even mobile-friendly, to neglecting security updates on a content management system so that the website gets hacked (WordPress users, this means you!)

A website isn’t fire-and-forget and if it’s to continue to do well in terms of user engagement and Google ranking, you will need to continue to invest in it. This means checking your content regularly to make sure it’s still relevant as well as adding new sections to keep the site fresh. You also need to check the technical performance using tools such as Google Search Console and the ranking performance in Google too. Your practice website is a major asset when it comes to new patient enquiries and also acts as the key foundation stone for all of your digital marketing activities. Please look after it!

Overpaying for website maintenance


Basic Google Analytics concepts for business owners

website traffic trend When you’re blogging about your area of expertise, it can be all too easy to use terminology that readers may not actually understand, and I suspect I occasionally fall into that trap too. So once in a while it pays to step back and look at some of the basic concepts you are discussing and make sure that your readers can actually follow you without being too confused!

With that in mind, this blog will take a quick look at website traffic and how it can be differentiated in data analysis programs such as Google Analytics. This is so important to understand because, as we will see, website traffic comes from lots of different sources and not all of it is equal in quality, or indeed its potential to deliver new patient enquiries. Let’s jump in and get to grips with this sometimes confusing terminology and what it all means.

Website traffic – what is it exactly?

When users land on your dental practice website, they “clock up” visits or sessions which contribute to the overall flow of traffic to the site. However, these visits can come from various different sources and we can differentiate these within analytics programs. For the purpose of this blog, we will consider the hugely popular, free and excellent Google Analytics package, although others systems do exist.

Often you will see marketing companies simply publish overall traffic stats as part of their client reporting, however this alone is fairly meaningless. For example, it’s easy to get lots of traffic through to websites using social media channels, but it doesn’t mean that the traffic is converting to patient enquiries and treatments. It’s well known that social traffic is much less targeted than traffic from people searching with intent on Google for example.

Knowing the above, it makes sense to differentiate the traffic by source (or channel) and then also measure the number of enquiries from each of those traffic channels.

What are the main website traffic channels?


Getting the word out for your implants, orthodontics and facial aesthetics public events

Dental open day eventThese 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….

bad dental logo exampleIn 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!

mistake signSeveral 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

Specialist Titles


Showcasing your work effectively on-line

Dental laboratory in actionFor 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.

Opportunities missed?

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

Facebook logoIn 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….

website traffic trendHere 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!

Strategy planning

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?

confused dentistIf 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