SEO – the detail is in the data

Look deep into your Google Analytics data to see what’s really happening with your search optimisation

As you’ve possibly gathered if you’ve read other articles in this blog, I spend much of my time working on search optimisation for dentists. A fair proportion of this time is spent looking into the data collected via Google Analytics (and other tools) to determine how strategies are working and also to identify where fundamental problems can be affecting website performance.

This area of optimisation has always fascinated me and I’m more than willing to admit that it can be very frustrating at times (Google is not very transparent!) as well as occasionally surprising.

That said, years of experience and the data made available to us in the likes of systems such as Google Analytics, does allow us to configure and deploy SEO campaigns which deliver compelling results.

In today’s blog, I’ll illustrate two recent events where analytics data was crucial in determining what was happening with the performance of two dental websites and also informed strategy for their ongoing upgrade and marketing campaigns.

The DIY website the dentist thought was working well – but wasn’t

In the first case, we were asked to evaluate a website that a dentist had built himself using an online web building tool. The site itself was not ranking well in Google but the owner was convinced that the substantial number of new patient enquiries he was getting each month were coming from organic (free) searches made in Google. This didn’t really stack up but fortunately we had access to the Analytics account to look deeper at the data.

It relatively quickly became clear that the site was only receiving about 15 visits per day from organic traffic, whereas we could also see several times as much traffic coming from the paid channel – a few more questions to the dentists revealed that he had previously set up an AdWords Express account and was spending a substantial amount of money on this.

To check further, we also set up some conversion goals to see where the enquiries were actually coming from. A few weeks of additional data revealed that, as expected, it was the paid channel which was responsible for the majority of the enquiries and not the organic (free) channel where the website was significantly under-performing. We also noted excessive bounce rates across all of the channels.

These insights enabled us to make several recommendations, namely 1) significantly improve the website, 2) invest in SEO to improve the organic ranking results, 3) upgrade and optimise the AdWords account, together with professional management. The objectives were two-fold – to establish a good organic ranking position for long-term sustainability and significantly improve the return on the paid traffic spend. Understandably the dentist didn’t really know where to look and hence had no real idea about forming a suitable digital marketing strategy.

The huge website the dentist wanted to rationalise and re-design

This is actually quite a regular occurrence i.e. a client who has a large, well-established website but come update time, wishes to go “minimalist” without really considering how this might affect search results, web traffic and enquiries. In this particular case, the dentist had built a very large website over a period of 4 or 5 years with regular blogging and regular addition of new page content. Whilst the design was dated and needed a full face-lift, we were instantly cautious with the requirement to “go minimal” and rationalise, particularly keeping search traffic in mind. The dentist was actually getting a lot of enquiries but didn’t really understand where they were coming from.

Fortunately Google Analytics was installed on the site and we were quickly able to see that traffic was coming to the site into many of the web and blog pages, primarily from what we call “long-tail” keyword searches. In total, this traffic exceeded that coming in from more general phrases such as “dentist” or “cosmetic dentist”. So the instruction to rationalise and minimalise would certainly have impacted on this; but not in a good way!

The recommendation to the dentist here, was re-design your website but keep the core of the content in place; only rationalising where we could prove that the pages weren’t adding value. The new design, with better navigation and calls-to-action, would also improve conversion rates and lower the excessive bounce rates.


Website performance is not subjective and can be analysed carefully using tools such as Google Analytics and Search Console. The data provided therein allows us to determine what is actually happening and form appropriate digital marketing strategies moving forwards. It also helps prevent significant mistakes and misunderstandings similar to those noted in the examples above!

If you have a dental practice website but you don’t really know how it’s performing, why not get in touch with the SEO team at Dental Media for assistance? We can be contacted on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to help.