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SEO & Website Optimization for Dentists
Dr. John Conaghan, a dentist serving Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland (MD) and NW Washington, DC had an antiquated website that could only be found on Google when using searches that included his name! Blue Corona tracked Dr. Conaghan’s website, improved it aesthetically and provided a foundation of SEO to help him increase his online visibility!
Can a Dentist Benefit from SEO?
Many dentists are just now discovering the power the Internet can have on growing their practice. A while back, a dentist serving the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland (MD) community, asked us to help him improve the look and performance of his website. His site had an outdated look and feel, but more troubling was the fact that his website was very difficult to find on Google, Yahoo or Bing using any search term other than his name!
While it’s easy (and tempting) to try and focus on immediately improving a website’s aesthetic appearance, maximizing a website’s functionality requires a multi-step process.
The best way to maximize a website’s overall performance is to start with accurate tracking (analytics) and analysis. If you own a dental practice and you don’t know how many visitors reach your website today, where they are coming from, how many visits you receive from non-branded organic searches, your site’s true visit-to-inquiry conversion rates, etc., you cannot maximize your online marketing performance – period.
Without analytics and tracking, you also won’t know the “dosage” required to best accomplish your goals.
Think of analytics, tracking and analysis like an XRAY. As a dentist, you may see a visible cavity during a patient’s exam, but you’re probably still going to do an XRAY to see if there’s more damage below the surface – things going on that you couldn’t initially see! After a month of in-depth tracking and several hours of analysis, we were able to show this Bethesda dentist exactly how his current website was performing from a sales and marketing perspective.
Tracking showed that this Bethesda dentist’s situation was even bleaker than originally suspected:
In the entire month of March, this Bethesda-based dental practice’s website only received 66 visits. Those 66 visits generated 10 phone inquiries and no online inquiries. Now, people don’t switch dentists very often and this particular dentist does not accept all forms of insurance. His primary target is higher-end consumers – those willing to pay more for his expertise and skill. Given this, it’s not a realistic goal for this dentist’s website to generate high volumes of immediate patients.
Instead, his goal should be to increase the number of (qualified) people visiting his site. One way to tell if a visitor is qualified or not is by reviewing the keyword used to find the site. Branded keyword searches are when a searcher enters a company’s name (or in this case they search for the dentist’s name). When someone searches using a branded term, it indicates that they already knew about your business prior to performing their search. In some ways, the number of branded searches you receive can be viewed as a proxy for your overall marketing performance and brand recognition in your market.
Dentists interested in growth should focus primarily on increasing visits from relevant non-branded search terms.
Think for a moment of your dental practice. Although it would be nice if each new visitor called or emailed you during their first visit to your practice’s website, for most high-end dentists, this is an unrealistic expectation. Generating leads and new patients is the end-goal for every dental practice, but initially you should focus on simply getting more quality visits – defined by time on site and average pages per visit – from non-branded keyword searches.
Have a quick look at the keywords used by visitors to find this dentist’s website (March 2009 – pre website or SEO work):
As you can see, nearly every keyword used was a branded keyword (the single exception is “snap on smile review”). On the one hand, it’s good that so many people already know this dentist by name. However, many of these are likely existing patients.
After seeing this information, one thing this dentist wondered is, “do people really search for dentists on Google?” He thought that if he received hardly any visits from non-branded search terms, it might be that no one was looking.
We performed a few searches for keywords we speculated might be used to find a dentist like Dr. Conaghan and we could not find him anywhere on the first 10 pages of search results.
Some of the keywords we tested were:
– “Bethesda dentists”
– “best dentist Bethesda”
– “neuromuscular dentistry Maryland”
– “best dentists in Bethesda”
– “Bethesda best family dentist”
While it could be that no one uses Google, Yahoo and Bing to find a new dentist, it’s more likely that the reason this dentist was not receiving any search traffic from terms other than his name was because his website was not listed in the first 10 pages of search results!
Very few visitors venture past the first page of search results and almost none click on listings more than 5 pages back. Think about yourself as a consumer – how often do you go to the 10th page on Google to find something you need?
Pay Per Click Advertising as a Research Tool
It’s often difficult to optimize a website – for conversions or SEO – when there is so little traffic. Do more people search using “bethesda dentist” or “dentists in bethesda?” While there are a million keyword tools on the market, none of them are as accurate as a live Pay Per Click campaign – especially when it comes to local businesses.
So, after doing a quick tune-up of this dentist’s website, we launched a research-oriented Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaign to help us determine the best words for which to optimize the site.
Immediately, we found that people were searching Google, Yahoo and Bing for general dentistry related keywords.
PPC advertising allowed us to determine which keywords people were using to research and find a new dentist and figure out which parts of the existing website were most problematic from the visit-to-inquiry perspective.
As part of our tracking and analysis of this Bethesda dentist’s website, we used call tracking to monitor his phone call volume. Although the primary purpose of our PPC campaign for this practice was research – not clicks or lead generation – phone calls from the website increased considerably during the PPC campaign.
Here are some high-level stats using data derived from call tracking – comparing baseline data to months with active PPC campaigns:
– May 09 web calls +260% over baseline
– June 09 web calls +144% over baseline
– July 09 web calls +340% over baseline
Online inquiries increase by similar amounts.
In late July 09, we set out to do a complete overhaul of the site – to fix certain aesthetic elements as well as to improve the site’s SEO.
Here’s a look at the original website before any work done by Blue Corona:
The dentist had a photo slide-show on his original homepage, but the flash file had become corrupted and so when visitors arrived at his website, they got a blank screen! It had been this way for months before we stepped in and started our project.
The dental industry is extremely competitive from an SEO standpoint.
Ranking high on the first few pages of Google, Yahoo and Bing requires a high level of keyword density on each page of the website as well as proper coding, title tags, cross-links, inbound links and much more.
As we redeveloped this Bethesda dentist’s website, all of these factors were taken into account along with the client’s budget.
One-time SEO Project for a Bethesda Dentist
Here’s a look at the revised dental practice website with SEO:
The new website combines a more aesthetically appealing design with a tremendous amount of improvement on the SEO side of things.
The dental practice’s budget did not allow for an on-going SEO campaign, so the results and changes you’re seeing here are for a one-time SEO project.
Many small business owners have a difficult time justifying the expense of new websites and SEO – often because they don’t understand that their website is a sales funnel.
If you want to grow, you MUST focus on driving new (qualified) visitors into the funnel and accurately track the visit-to-inquiry conversion process (call tracking is helpful as well).
Immediate SEO Results
Here’s a look at some of the SEO results related to the website redesign:
Before the new site and the optimization, this Bethesda dentist was getting less than 10 non-branded organic search visits per month. Today, he receives over 40!
Considering what one click for a keyword like, “Bethesda dentist” costs using online marketing strategies like Pay Per Click, the value of our SEO work is enormous!
Here’s a look at some of the organic keywords used today to find this Bethesda dentist:
Look briefly at the screen shot of keywords above. Recall that before the SEO work, this Bethesda dentist was found only using his name!
Today, nearly all of his top keywords are non-branded terms – phrases like:
– “bethesda dentists”
– “best dentist bethesda”
– “bethesda dentist”
– “neuromuscular dentist maryland”
If you’re a growth-oriented dentist, this is exactly what you want! Lots of local dentists run print ads in expensive magazines. When you do that, how many website visits does it get you? You can track this if you’re interested in the real answer! The answer is – almost none!
Most SEO campaigns will generate immediate inquiries from prospective new patients, unless you are extremely selective in the patients you are willing to accept (like this Bethesda dentist). The more selective you are, the more visitors you must drive into your “funnel” before you get a new patient. Keep this in mind when launching a new online marketing campaign.
You should not place all of your emphasis on patients. Look at some of the visitor quality metrics like Pages/Visit and Avg. Time on Site. Some of the visitors spent significant amounts of time on this Bethesda dentist’s website. While they all may not have immediately inquired during this visit (some did), they are certainly much more aware of this dental practice than they were prior to their search.
Increase Referrals with Email Marketing
Like many small businesses, most dentists find that their number one source of new business comes via referrals from existing customers. How do you keep in touch with your current patients?
Email marketing can be a highly-effective way to keep an on-going dialog open with your current patients, super-charge referrals and integrate your business into social networking sites like Facebook.
Here’s the email newsletter we created for this Bethesda dentist.
If you own a dental practice and you’re not using email marketing, you’re missing a gigantic opportunity to better leverage something you probably already have – happy patients! Email newsletters are great for promoting new services to existing patients as well as encouraging referrals.
Email newsletters are easily integrated into the pratice’s website as well as social media websites. They are also extremely inexpensive and easy to execute.
To learn more about how Blue Corona can help you grow your dental practice using website design, optimization, PPC, SEO, email marketing and social networking, drop us a line today!
Note: Blue Corona stopped providing SEO and PPC services to Dr. Conaghan when Dr. Conaghan switched to a new provider that “rents” him a website. His site is no longer easily found on Google, Yahoo or Bing!
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