Why SEO is your first priority for digital dental marketing

Why SEO is your first priority for digital dental marketing

Despite advice you may have heard otherwise….

I recently read a blog post from a well-respected dental coach which detailed how one of his clients was seemingly being provided an SEO (search engine optimisation) service which wasn’t delivering results. It also stressed how the dentist seemed to be in the dark about where new patients were coming from and whether the SEO was actually delivering any benefit at all.

The conclusion was that the service was “money down the drain” and that the dentist needed to focus instead on attracting new patients via “internal marketing” and seeking recommendations from his/her existing patient list.

Whilst I completely agree that SEO which isn’t working and worse, isn’t transparent, is indeed a complete waste of cash, it’s also important to stress that SEO, done well, is a huge contributor to the success of a dental practice. In today’s blog we’ll take a look at why that is and why a holistic, multi-channel approach to dental practice marketing is essential for ongoing success.

SEO – what does the data say?

We are fortunate to manage SEO campaigns for lots of dentists across the UK which gives us huge insights into how many new patient enquiries those programmes actually yield. Alongside this we also manage a lot of paid ads and social media marketing campaigns which allows us to compare, in detail, the relative cost of acquiring new patients from different channels. The clear conclusion is that SEO has always provided the best quality new patient leads and at the lowest cost when compared to other forms of digital marketing.

This is not to say that those other channels should be avoided; on the contrary, they can and do yield excellent results. However the “cost per acquisition” from SEO is typically a fair bit lower than paid marketing channels and we see this time and time again.

This is not just our data however. Whilst we have lots of information from the dental sector, other sources will also illustrate the benefits of SEO in a similar way, albeit for different business sectors.

Why do you need SEO for a dental practice?

We’ve already touched on how good SEO is very cost-effective, but you also need to appreciate how useful SEO is when it comes to the actual number of new patients it brings to the practice. This is quite substantial and after “word-of-mouth” referral, new patients enquires from Google comes a clear second. Of course this is only the case where a website is prominent in the Google rankings where it can be found quickly and easily by those searching for dental services. It is the primary role of SEO to establish and maintain that prominence and hence why it is so important.

What does SEO cost and what is the return-on-investment (ROI)?

The cost of SEO for dentists varies quite considerably based on scope. Factors such as location and the degree of local competition play huge roles here as you might expect. What you tend to find is that the large majority of dentists whose websites feature high up in Google, have their own SEO underway and at this stage it becomes a case of catch-up and overtake. This can take time (months) and the effort needed will depend on how well-established the competitor sites already are.

Typically, SEO will cost anything from around £250 per month to over £1000 per month depending on the scope required. In terms of ROI, using the “lifetime value of a patient” model, where a spend of £450 delivers just 5 new patients a month, the spend is easily recovered. This calculation is based on a mix of general dentistry – where the new patient receives a more complex treatment such as orthodontics or implants, the return is significantly greater.

To give an idea of new patient enquiries from Google, with the campaigns we run for dentists we typically see anything between 10 and 50 new enquiries per month.

Transparency and reporting

As the dental coach I mentioned earlier suggested, spending money without knowing the return is pointless. This is why any SEO initiative must come with clear and quantified reporting showing progress over time, traffic data and the actual number of enquiries the campaign generated. You should also expect recommendations about how the website can be improved progressively to yield even better results. If your web guys aren’t providing this, then look elsewhere.


Dental SEO is one of the key cornerstones of any digital marketing plan. A website which features high up in Google is one of the best and most cost-effective sources of new patient enquiries and unlike paid ads, will continue to deliver without the need to pay large click fees to the likes of Google and Facebook.

SEO isn’t an either/or type of service – whilst I consider it to be perhaps the most important digital marketing channel of all, it should be considered in conjunction with other well-run marketing initiatives such as paid ads. Of course this all runs alongside the “internal marketing” the dental coach mentioned in his own blog post.

Whether you are starting out with a new website or if you are more established but still wallowing in the lower reaches of the search engine results, the team at Dental Media can help. To get a no-obligation assessment of what you need to start achieving results, please call us on 01332 672548 or use the contact form on the website.