Starting SEO for your dental practice website?

Know these 9 things before you begin!

Prominent, sustainable search engine rankings are a key foundation for any dental business keen to gain new patients from the web.

With web enquiries being second only to word-of-mouth referrals, it’s important to seek out great Google ranking positions and invest in maintaining them. This is something we specialise in at Dental Media and we’ve built up an excellent reputation over the years for providing this type of digital marketing service to dentists, professionally and affordably.

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it’s abbreviated, has changed significantly over the last 6 or 7 years, primarily in that there are now no quick wins. So if you are about to invest in this excellent mechanism to boost your website’s search positions and gain the new business which comes with this, here are some key points to understand before you step in.

A poor website is not a good place to start

Successful SEO is founded on a great website, and not just one that is aesthetically pleasing. Numerous “on site” factors are essential to get right if your campaign is to bear fruit. Indeed Google in particular is looking much more closely at on-site performance factors such as load speed and mobile “friendliness” these days. So the first step to SEO which works is a high-performing website which works for users and for search engines.

It’s not all about Google position 1

It’s natural for dentists to want all of their search terms to be at position one in the search results index but frankly this is unrealistic. Whilst prominent results are important, much more important is a wide range of results which bring traffic from a range of sources. It is also important to understand about the “quality” of web traffic too, so giving the best chance of new enquiries. Your digital marketer should be able to explain this to you in detail and you can also search elsewhere in this blog to understand more. The important take-away here is that SEO is about delivering increasing, high-quality traffic which converts into tangible enquiries, not just about search positions.

Don’t expect instant success

High-quality SEO is sustainable and works within Google’s strict publishing guidelines. Step outside of these and your website is very likely to be penalised and possibly even removed from the search index. Consequently the approach must be cautious and focused on delivery good quality material which will be useful for users, i.e. not about tricking the search engines. This sustainable approach takes times so do not expect to see huge leaps forward in the short term. Organic SEO is about securing and maintaining results in the mid to longer term. Techniques such as pay-per-click (Google Ads and Facebook) can be used to gain traction in the shorter term.

You will need a sensible budget

As mentioned above, the days of quick wins and simply hiring an off-shore SEO company to fire hundreds of dodgy links at your website are long gone. Creating good content and encouraging links to a website from bona fide third party sources is painstaking, skilled and consequently takes time and resources. You should expect to pay for this as you would for any other professional service. And as we’ve mentioned before in this blog, watch out for the suppliers who use weasel words to trick you into thinking you are getting a comprehensive SEO service when you most definitely aren’t!

Be prepared to contribute at the practice level

This is a tricky area and one where many practices struggle. Understandably the day-to-day pressures of running a dental practice can get in the way of digital marketing but it’s so important to maintain the resource and consistency for these campaigns. Whilst some marketing companies claim to offer full “done for you” services, there are elements which you definitely will need to be involved in, for example seeking reviews and generating meaningful social media content.

Expect to change when Google changes

Very few companies change how quickly they do things more than Google. Every year, the ways in which search results are displayed and which factors dictate this, are adjusted very frequently. Whilst Google very rarely tells us why and how they do these things, it is still possible to get an good understanding simply by analysing what we see across the hundreds of dental websites under our control. When we see the need for changes on your website, e.g. refreshing stale content, seeking more reviews or perhaps even a full re-design, then we’ll guide you. Failure to follow experienced guidance, as with anything, is likely to result in less success for your SEO campaign.

Understand the relationship between pay-per-click and SEO

As mentioned earlier, using SEO to improve search positions is a mid to long term strategy and cannot be hurried. Fortunately there are other channels we can use to generate website traffic and enquiries whilst traction builds. Facebook and Google Advertising are great ways to get your business noticed in the short term and can be very effective when done right. These channels aren’t just for the short term either – with Google and Facebook increasing the emphasis on “pay to play” to use their platforms, it still makes sense to deploy paid advertising campaigns even when your organic search campaigns is maturing and bearing fruit.

Be willing to learn, particularly when it comes to strategy and goals for your campaign

A skilled digital marketer will be keen for you to understand and buy into what he/she is doing. This should include a comprehensive, regular report on how the campaigns are performing and recommendations for future strategy. Whilst it is understandable why a busy dentist may struggle for time to be involved, developing and implementing digital strategy is so important for new patient acquisition and so warrants a reasonable degree of buy-in from the business owner or manager.

Be prepared to maintain consistency

SEO is never “fire and forget” and should not be quit simply because your search results have improved or you’ve become frustrated just a couple of months in. Many factors can influence where your results rank, for example Google switching tack or your competitor ramping up, and so the environment is more dynamic than ever before. Consequently it makes sense to have your team watching for and responding to these changes as they come along.

Summary

Dental website SEO is a key foundation within a modern digital marketing strategy. When done expertly it will lead to new patient enquiries which easily exceed the investment made. However, as discussed above, there are several important factors to understand and embrace if the strategy is to work and be sustainable into the mid and longer term.

Here at Dental Media we look after digital marketing for lots of dentist across the UK, bringing hundreds of new enquiries every week. If you’d like to know more about any of the topics above or simply need to understand more about how we can make a difference for your own practice, please call us on 01332 672548 or use the website contact form.