Let’s be honest; SEO can be incredibly difficult to understand. One of the most common problems we see when people switch to us from another SEO company is that nothing has ever been explained to them and they can’t tell if they are getting a good ROI on their spend.
If you’re running a dental practice and have recently employed an agency to help with your SEO, you need to know that the agency is actually earning their keep. Sadly, it’s not always easy to see if the work that’s happening is actually helping you reach more patients.
There’s a lot that goes into an SEO campaign, which can make it incredibly difficult to answer this question and get to the bottom of this.
We’re going to tell you the truth… there isn’t a single metric that can tell you that your campaign is working and you have to look at a variety of things.
We’re going to run through some of the things you can check to get a better understanding of whether your dental SEO campaign is working or not.
1.0 Explore Your Analytics Data
Before we get into this, you need to make sure that you’ve got a way to track what’s happening on your site. Google Analytics is an incredible and is the most common tool of choice to track your websites statistics.
Regardless of which analytics tool you use, it’s important to use one, as it’s important in evaluating the performance of your practice’s site. A lot of the things we’re covering in this article will rely on you using your analytics tool to mine for data.
It’s also important to be keeping track of your performance, as you can’t improve what you aren’t tracking. You can use spreadsheets to do this (we like to use Google Sheets due to how easy it makes collaborating with our team and our client’s team).
Along with an analytics tool, you’ll also want to use a backlink checker. Ahrefs is by far the best backlink analysis tool currently on the market, and also has a free trial period.
1.2 Measuring Your Organic Traffic
First things first, you need to work out how much organic traffic you are getting. Organic traffic is visits to your site that come via search engines.
Because of what organic traffic is, it’s one of the best indicators of how successful your SEO campaign is. If your campaign is working, your organic traffic will increase over time.
You should keep track of your organic traffic on a monthly basis and you can get this information easily from within Google Analytics.
In Google Analytics, click ‘Acquisition’ and then ‘Overview’. This will show you a table, breaking down your traffic sources.
You can also easily compare it to the previous month by clicking the date and then ‘Compare to: Previous Period’.
Once you’ve got the numbers, you can make a note of these for future reference.
1.2 Referral Visits
Another way to check that your campaign is working is by checking the number of people that visit your site through referrals. Referral traffic is visitors that have come to your site from a link on another site. This is a good indicator of whether you are gaining quality backlinks, as quality backlinks not only improve your rankings, but also drive traffic to your site.
Referral traffic is also a great way to figure out if your social media campaign is working, as it also records visits from social media networks.
You can easily check your referral traffic in Google Analytics by clicking ‘Acquisition’, ‘All Traffic’ and then ‘Referrals’.
This shows you a table of your referral sources. It also shows you the overall number, which you can make a note of.
As well as looking at the number of referral visits you get, you should also take a look at how many backlinks you have. We use a variety of tools for this, but find that Ahrefs is the best.
If you aren’t sure what backlinks are, we created a short overview video:
In the beginning stages of your campaign, your backlinks will be created due to your SEO efforts. As your campaign progresses, you create more content and you get more traffic, you’ll naturally start to pick up more links.
As well as checking your backlinks using tools, you can also get some backlink information in Google Webmaster Tools. You can get this information by clicking ‘Search Traffic’ and then ‘Links to Your Site’. Once here, you need to click ‘More >>’ under “Who links the most”. You then have to click ‘Download latest links’ and ‘Download more sample links’.
We created an incredible guide to getting quality links to your site: 15 Link Types and How to Build Them.
This may seem obvious, but a lot of dentists don’t check their rankings and blindly believe what their SEO agency is telling them.
Even though you can get a good sense of how your campaign is going by checking your organic traffic, you should still make sure you check where you’re ranking for the keywords you want to target. It’s important to note that rankings will fluctuate, sometimes daily, so don’t get too obsessed and check all the time!
There are lots of ways you can check your rankings using tools online. We use Agency Analytics, but you aren’t likely to need something as expensive or feature-packed.
SERPLAB is a free rank tracking tool and we find it is actually more accurate than a lot of paid tools. The free plan will give you daily rank updates.
1.5 Popular Pages
Quite often you’ll be wanting to focus your SEO efforts on specific pages, such as different services like teeth whitening, Invisalign braces, etc. If this is the case, you’ll want to check how each page is performing and how much organic traffic is going to them.
This is something that is also easy to do in Google Analytics and to do it you have to click ‘Behaviour’, ‘Site Content’ and then ‘Landing Pages’.
Having lots of traffic is great, but if it isn’t converting into patients then there’s no point!
There’s many things that you can track on your website, such as contact form fills, click-to-call actions on mobile, email address clicks, newsletter subscriptions and many more.
All of these can be tracked using Google Tag Manager and to show you how to do it would be a whole other series of posts in itself.
Make sure the agency you are using are tracking conversions (and reporting on them) because so many don’t.
2.0 Setting Expectations
SEO for Dentists isn’t easy and you must have realistic expectations. If you expect a lot more than what your dental SEO can manage, then you’ll never feel like you’re getting a good service.
With SEO you have to think long-term and have to think of it as an investment in your business. Often you’ll experience quick results, but you must be aware that it can take 6 months or so before you see a positive ROI.
How long it takes to see a positive ROI depends on a lot of things. It depends on how competent your SEO provider is and also how competitive the market is. For example, it’s generally going to be much harder to rank a dental practice in London, where millions of people live, than it is to rank a dental practice in Truro, where only around 20,000 people live.
It’s also important to remember that SEO isn’t something that you should stop once you see the results you desire. In competitive markets (dental SEO fits in this one!), you must keep on top of it as it will only be a matter of time before one of your competitors decides to invest in SEO with the aim of securing that #1 spot.
Think about it.
Is your competition, the largest dental practice in the city going to stop their online marketing? I doubt it.
3.0 Competition and Volume
All websites are different, and the success of your campaign may depend of the niche area of dentistry that you want to target. Larger markets will no doubt have more competition and this can make it more difficult for your dental practice to climb the rankings.
As well as this, the areas you want to target may not have a lot of people searching for it on a regular basis, so it may take longer for you to see a measurable difference in revenue.
Because of this, it’s incredibly important to make sure that you are targeting the right keywords and phrases that have a higher volume of monthly searches.
4.0 Putting All of This Together
So far we’ve covered some things that will give you an indication of how your SEO campaign is doing. Now you need to put all of this together.
If you regularly check all of this and keep track of it, you’ll be able to measure whether your traffic has grown over time.
By the end of the first year you should typically find that the business that you have generated from the campaign outweighs how much you have spent.
With SEO for dentists you generally get what you put in. It can take a lot of effort to rank higher in this competitive industry, so you need to decide whether you are serious about investing in the growth of your practice.
5.0 Evaluating ROI After One Year
SEO is often seen as a mystery, but it really doesn’t have to be. Use what has been described in this post to get a bigger picture of how your SEO campaign is performing and you’ll be able to see if it has been worth it.
Here’s what we covered and what you should be checking:
- Organic traffic (traffic from search engines)
- Referral traffic (traffic from other websites and social media)
- Amount of quality backlinks your site has
- The rankings of your site for target keywords and phrases
- The performance of the pages you want to target
- Conversions from organic traffic
You now have the information needed to check whether your SEO campaign is working for your dental practice. This isn’t a definitive guide to checking your campaign, but a way for non-SEOs to check some key metrics.
Once a year has passed, you’ll be able to look back at your spreadsheet and work out whether it has improved your business.