What is SEO and how does it affect your dental practice?

shutterstock_174393956SEO stands for search engine optimisation. This is a strategy that, if used well, improves your chances of being noticed by potential clients. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are becoming the leading means of enquiry and referral. For your business to do well and for you to be able to attract new clients, you need to be referred by a well-known search engine.

In order for these search engine sites to refer to you more often, you need to create a good website containing relevant information and content that links to keywords used by searchers.

Sounds really simple doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at how much a potential new enquiry is worth to a dental practice. Depending on what treatments you provide, an enquiry could on average be worth £2,500. This is where it begins to become really complicated and very competitive.

A potential new enquiry

Every dental practice wants that ‘£2,500 patient’ and more of them. It increases profit and sustains growth for the livelihood of the business. A search engine’s result page normally displays 10 results that answer the question searched. Typically the business that provides a solution or an answer to the enquiry, and that is amongst the top 10 listed on the result page, will get the searcher’s attention. This is because a typical user of a search engine who finds the answer to their question on the first page will not go back on looking for another answer. They will go to the business that answers their question the quickest, gains their trust, looks both professional and knowledgeable, and is in the first 10 results on a search engine.

Knowing this user behaviour means that you and every other business wants to be in the top 10 search results.

Search engines have information bots that travel and discover everything that exists online. Their main duty is to go through a website’s structure; reading its content and the website’s images and analysing how many views it receives from users, as well as other sites with a similar agenda. It then reports back to the search engine, which in turn, uses this information to decide how relevant you are to a question. This then determines where you are placed on the results page of a particular enquiry.

SEO experts

There are SEO experts who experiment with search engine results using their own websites to try and figure out how the search engine works. By doing so they generate specialist information that they can then share with their clients.

SEO specialists provide their clients with well planned strategies that are aimed at improving SEO. More often than not these strategies work in boosting the business and/or website. The only problem is, search engines are always changing how they analyse and order relevant information, which means improving SEO is not a one-time thing, websites needs to be updated regularly and always be available online with new and relevant information.

SEO does work, and is now a necessary part of business. It may mean a lot of added effort and dedication, but if you want a place on the first page, then this is the only way to compete with your rivals. Make your website SEO and user friendly.

Paying for the first page

Or alternatively you could pay a search engine and get to page one right at the top as an advert. You can opt for ‘pay per click’ (PPC) or ‘pay per view’ (PPV). This can be costly depending on how many other people want to be included on the same first page. A search engine is aware which words are popular in questions in specific areas and will charge accordingly to make a profit, which may add to your expenses.

Search engine results these days bring 60-90% of a business’s potential new inquiries/clients.

When beginning a new SEO campaign it is important to ask: ‘Is your team ready for the new inquiries?’

This is because SEO is very effective and it means a lot of new enquiries and potential clients. All the new inquiries that do come in are expecting a high level of service, knowledgeable staff to inform and reassure them, staff ready to answer any questions without handing them over to answering machines or providing delayed response. If these things are not addressed then what you will create is a negative user experience resulting in negative marketing.

Although SEO is guaranteed to improve your business, you have to play a part in its success and ensure that all your efforts are not in vain.

For more information please visit Hassan’s blog at www.hassanmushaid.wordpress.com.

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