Why “top of Google” should be your key marketing priority
SEO wins the battle for new dental patient enquiries
As you’ll most likely know, there are numerous ways for a dentist to acquire new patients, from fundamental “word-of-mouth” marketing to comprehensive advertising campaigns using Google, Facebook and more recently, Instagram. But there’s one marketing channel which reliably delivers the best results and lowest acquisition costs and that’s search engine optimisation (SEO).
Outside of “word of mouth” referrals, top ranking positions in Google deliver more dental enquiries per pound spent than any other methodology and it’s more sustainable too. Whilst SEO isn’t fire-and-forget and can take several months to start gaining traction, when your website is prominent in Google search for a wide range of dental queries, you’ll soon reap the benefit of a steady influx of new patient enquiries. You’ll also be less worried about paying for ads as a sole source of promotion, along with the ever escalating costs and maintenance that this entails. Whilst paid advertising does still have an important role to play in certain circumstances, overall, your most sustainable and rewarding mid to long term digital strategy will be SEO.
How do we know this?
The digital marketing teams at Dental Media have been running successful promotional strategies for dentists for nearly 20 years. A key part of our service is analysing and reporting on the various techniques we use so that we see what works best and where maintenance is required. We can also calculate essential measures such as the cost to acquire a new patient and also where the money was spent. So we have a clear picture of how much it typically costs to gain a patient via Google versus paid ads on Facebook etc. Without a doubt, the lowest overall acquisition cost is from “organic” search in Google and even though you may need to invest several hundreds of pounds per month to achieve and maintain search ranking prominence, the cost to achieve that is dwarfed by the value of the new patients and treatments gained. It’s also fair to say that the returns from SEO are also quite substantially better than even the best run paid advertising campaigns.
How to get started with dental SEO?
Having established that SEO is the best sustainable mid/long term digital marketing strategy, it now pays to look at what you need to start on that rewarding journey. So let’s take a look at some of the basic requirements:
A competent website – over the years we’ve turned away quite a lot of work where dentists have approached us to undertake SEO on their behalf but without the key tool to make it worthwhile i.e. a good quality website. To be blunt, if you’re not prepared to invest in a good quality website framework in the first place, then SEO is not for you. If your site is poor, you will likely fail in two key ways 1) Google wants your website to be technically competent and you’ll be at the back of the rankings queue if it isn’t 2) even if you can get a poor website to rank, it it’s not pleasing and easy to use, potential new patients won’t be inspired to contact you even if they do land there.
So to give yourself the best chance of making and sustaining an impact in Google, you must be prepared to invest a sensible sum into your website, both initially and to keep it performing well. As I mentioned previously, the returns are exceptional so these costs are very easily recovered.
A reliable SEO partner – the world of SEO is unfortunately quite murky and has built a questionable reputation over the years. We’ve covered this in detail elsewhere in our blog but suffice to say here, that competent search optimisation is a very important discipline and not something that you want your web designer to “bolt on” to their services just so they can make a quick buck. Any high-quality digital marketing service takes a lot of time and experience and so isn’t cheap – SEO is no exception. Consequently you need to shun the £100 offers that land in your inbox from a “dental marketing expert” and the monthly SEO packages from your web designer that are no more than glorified website maintenance. At best, cheap services like this will not move the Google ranking needle and at worst could land your website with an unrecoverable Google penalty. Please don’t do it!
What you should do is look for a specialist in the dental search field and then check their background and results. Also seek references where possible. This is something we prefer to offer to new clients as a matter of course to give them confidence and allay any of the concerns they may have regarding the benefits of search optimisation.
Patience – this is quite a tricky one as any business owner wants to see quick results from their investment. However, SEO takes time and patience, simply because all work has to be completed within Google’s web publishing guidelines. These guidelines exist to try to make sure that spammers cannot exploit the search results as used to happen a number of years ago. Google is now very stringent and also adept at identifying websites which try to take ranking shortcuts, handing out penalties which are extremely difficult to recover from. Again, please don’t be sucked in by companies who offer fast results and “secret sauce” techniques – you’ll suffer if you do.
There is always some legitimate low hanging fruit so a competent marketer will always go after this first. Thereafter, expect to see initial results after around three months and then ranking building for a broad range of search terms as the months progress. But please remember that it’s a long haul, albeit an extremely well-worthwhile one!
Get in touch
The benefits from a well-run dental search engine optimisation campaign are potentially huge but we would encourage you to validate this for yourself. Here at Dental Media we work with hundreds of dentists UK-wide and we’ll be pleased to provide references and case studies on request. Alternatively please call through on 01332 672548 and ask to speak with our digital marketing lead who will be pleased to assist.Google+