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If you’ve never worked with an SEO agency before, you’re concerned about getting a clear idea of what you’re investing in. How can you know what kind of results that $1k a month SEO plan will net you?

I tell prospective clients something that many find (understandably) frustrating: we can’t make any ranking guarantees. SEO is a fickle creature, rankings fluctuate, algorithms change overnight, competitors pop up – there isn’t a possibility of promising that we can get a keyword to spot #1. (And any SEO who tells you that they can guarantee this is lying – even with super niche phrases, you just can’t be sure). We’re confident we’ll be able to improve rankings, but a guarantee doesn’t sit well with me because I don’t make promises I can’t definitively deliver on.

So if ranking spots are out, what do I promise new clients?

Here’s what we can comfortably guarantee: our SEO services will increase your organic website traffic. And the longer you continue with a digital marketing plan, the more we’ll be able to do.

Today, I’m sharing results from a new client we took on last year – and what we were able to do for his online presence and business as a whole. While the client’s information has not been included for privacy, figures from their website’s Google Analytics and Agency Analytics are below to convey a clear picture of how their website performance transformed in the first 12 months they worked with us. Plus, they’re still an active client, and we’re still seeing organic traffic improvements increase month to month.

Client: Medical Spa Looking for a Website Boost

The client: a physician with several medical spas and vein clinics. He contacted us because he had recently expanded and opened another office in a new area that he was less familiar with, where he didn’t have an established patient / referral base.

He’d been working with another website designer who created his website and had performed some email marketing and directory building in the 5 months since he’d opened the new office. His rankings weren’t great, and it was immediately clear that a primary cause was the website design.

Extremely slow (especially on mobile) due to video backgrounds and excessive plugins, it was difficult to navigate and the calls to action weren’t clear.

Additionally, the website content had been copy/pasted from other sites and wasn’t tailored to the client’s own office – and had quite a few spelling/grammatical errors. Some service pages were unfinished, with abbreviated blurbs. The doctor’s depth of expertise wasn’t clearly communicated, and the home page was bogged down with overlong service descriptions that contributed to an endless-feeling scroll.

The meta titles followed outdated SEO practices and were keyword-stuffed, and h1’s were missing from the home page and service pages. Meta descriptions were missing or over-optimized.

Offsite, there were almost no backlinks for the domain, and very few directory listings.

Our recommendation summary in the client’s proposal highlighted the following:

The website would benefit from several design updates and general streamlining. Reworking the home page and adding clear calls to action, adding a before and after gallery and creating personalization will help increase visitor trust and the likelihood of conversion. The onpage SEO needs an update, and the domain’s rankings would benefit greatly from building backlinks from relevant directories. There’s also an opportunity to get more consistent with social media posting and grow those followings.

Steps to Increase Organic Traffic and Conversions

Because the website needed some serious TLC, we started with a design update. Gone were the page load-killing autoplay videos. We added clear calls to action for target services, and featured the doctor’s credentials prominently on the home page. More importantly, we built out all service pages with custom graphics, unique content and optimized keyword phrases – plus all new meta titles and descriptions. Our copywriter rewrote the existing blog posts to remove duplicate content, flesh out topics and remove errors.

We also added structured data to the site to better communicate with search engines, set up a review feed to feature patient testimonials, and added before and after photos to establish treatment expectations.

Offsite, links were top priority – we started link building immediately and built 2-3 links per month from industry-relevant sites. 80+ directory listings were also created and optimized.

We also set up our review generation platform to encourage satisfied patients to leave reviews on Google.

Interim Tactics to Generate Leads Right Away

Because SEO takes time (typically at least 6 months to see significant results), we recommended a Google Ad campaign to generate leads right away while the organic website traffic grew. We set up an ad campaign for dermal fillers, and followed it with a small Facebook campaign to build the office’s Facebook and Instagram followings and generate interest. We also created monthly specials and promoted them in email campaigns to the client’s existing database.

SEO Plan Results – Organic Traffic Increase & Ranking Improvements

February 2019 was the first month of full data, as Google Tag Manager tracking was installed on the site at the beginning of January when we started the client’s plan. In February, there were only 68 visitors.

Here are the organic visitors that followed, month to month:

  • March – 152
  • April – 266
  • May – 355
  • June – 237
  • July – 174
  • August – 187
  • September – 201
  • October – 325
  • November – 314
  • December – 581
  • January 2020 – 847

The above chart shows organic visitors vs. conversions (“goal completions”): both increased exponentially, and continue to do so. Over the first 12 months of the SEO plan, the site experienced a 1,145.59% increase in organic traffic (from 68 visitors in February 2019 to 847 visitors in January 2020). And we’re on track to outpace 847 visitors in February.

What about that July-August September dip? Here’s the other piece of the equation: website rankings.

Here’s a screenshot of the website rankings from January 2019 to today, February 7th, 2020. Rankings started improving within the first 3 months, reaching their initial zenith in April. We then saw a dip in rankings and traffic from July-September, but recovered nicely in the fall and have been continuing to see improvements since.

Why the drop in rankings? This is one example of why we don’t make guarantees. Competition increased in the area for keywords we were targeting, and we also lost our rich review snippets since Google changed their review display policy. Targeting new competitors’ backlinks and making additional adjustments to the website layout helped counterbalance this brief slump.

The most important result? With the help of our year of services, the client is ready to expand his new office and gaining a reputation as a new authority in the area.

Interested in increasing your website’s organic traffic?

We’re here to help turn your website into a valuable source of business. Request a complimentary website evaluation so that we can learn a little about your office and what we can do to help.

seo plan cost
If you ask any business owner about their current SEO plan, there’s a wide range of answers you can expect to hear:

  • I have someone handling it for me, and I’m very happy!
  • I have someone handling it for me, but I’m not sure what they’re doing or whether it’s worth the price.
  • I don’t know why I would need an SEO plan or whether I’d benefit.
  • Absolutely not, I’ve been burned by an SEO provider before.
  • It’s way too expensive, and it’s a scam anyway.
  • What’s SEO?

Where do you fall on the spectrum?

There are countless reasons why small business owners are confused about SEO. It feels nebulous (“what is an SEO provider actually doing?”). Results can be hard for a layperson to understand or measure (“why should I care about whatever ‘CPA’ is?”). It sounds like a big, expensive commitment (“I’m spending $1k a month on my website and I’m tied to a 12 month contract?”).

The thing is, you owe it to yourself to gain some clarity. And we’re here to help!

As a business owner, you need to become familiar with what you’re paying for. Cheap SEO is simple to find – but it’s also ineffective, or often actively harmful for your traffic and rankings. There’s a vast ocean of SEO budgets and corresponding solutions – the trick is finding the one that’s appropriate for your business.

We want our clients – and small business owners everywhere – to understand every piece of the hard work their SEO agencies perform on their behalf. Because we offer comprehensive digital marketing plans, that means quite a few pieces.

Don’t let your eyes glaze over yet! I’ve broken down the components into sections below, with info on the monthly hourly commitment, why that piece matters, and the results we aim for with that piece of the process. There’s also information on determining your own SEO budget before you find a provider so that you can work with someone who’s the right fit.

If you’d like to have a conversation about your own marketing, I’d love to chat – just request a complimentary website evaluation and we can go through your website and online presence together.

SEO Pricing Options – Which is right for my business?

There’s quite a lot to consider when you’re embarking on hiring a digital marketing agency for the first time, so let’s start with a simple question: how do you want to pay for their services? While this is by no means the only thing you should consider before signing with an SEO provider, determining the pricing model you’re interested in can help  you answer other questions: the type of agency you’d like to be working with, the sort of results you’re seeking, and the complexity of your marketing plan, to name a few.

So, what are the typical SEO plan payment models?

  • Project-based – This is a more restricted option for a clearly defined project. Maybe you need help optimizing your website content for a new service, or need to put together an automated email campaign to follow up with website leads, or want an overhaul of your website’s testimonials page, or need to set up structured data on your site. If there are clear parameters that can be easily defined, and the length of the project is limited, a project-based fee model might be best. The tricky part of this pricing option is that many business owners aren’t sure of exactly what their site needs – and because good SEO takes time, it can be tricky to accomplish everything necessary upfront.
  • Performance-based – This model correlates campaign results with cost. In other words, if you don’t see the promised results (e.g. a certain keyword on page 1 of search results), you don’t pay. This is a newer option that isn’t widely available. While it sounds appealing upfront, rankings are impossible to guarantee, so more competitive keyword phrases likely won’t be included in the plan.
  • Monthly retainer – This model is appropriate for clients looking for a comprehensive, hands-off option. The client pays the agency a set monthly rate, and the agency performs a range of services to improve website optimization and online presence. Our agency operates on the monthly retainer model as it best suits our goal of holistic SEO – addressing all the pieces of your business’ digital presence to improve traffic, conversions, reputation and user experience.
  • Hourly rate – Similar to project-based pricing, but for instances where the amount of time involved is somewhat uncertain, hourly SEO pricing is appropriate for smaller projects that you’d like a professional to take care of. They track their time while working on the project, and invoice you regularly until it is completed. This is ideal for less involved projects as the typical hourly fee for an experienced SEO is quite high – high enough that you will likely have a better ROI with a more robust marketing plan.

Typical SEO Plan Components – What They Mean, How Much Time They Take & Why They Matter

Every agency is different, and develops their own SEO plans tailored to what they feel best suits their clients. We pride ourselves on offering comprehensive plans that take every component of your business’ online presence into account. I’ve listed each component below so that you can get an idea of just how much goes into every month of our services – similar agencies with monthly marketing plans will likely offer comparable services.

A note – while we do offer “set” SEO plans, what goes into every client’s optimization process can vary significantly. There isn’t a standard SEO process that we can plug into for every client; we offer these plans and range of services so that we have the budget, flexibility and creativity to adapt throughout the implementation process. That way, we’re able to best fit that business and website’s needs.

Our clients’ plans include most or all of the following services, depending on plan tier and client needs:

Onsite Optimization

What it means:

This needs to be square #1 for any new client. If your website’s design, content, speed and navigation aren’t up to par, no amount of link building, directory creation or paid ads are going to end up delivering new business. Onsite optimization includes all of the following:

  • Website design adjustments to improve navigation, calls to action, and site speed
  • Content rewrites and expansion, with optimization for target keyword phrases
  • Creating redirects for 404 pages and other errors
  • Internal linking / link siloing
  • Creating a robots.txt file and submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console
  • Ensuring all domains redirect to the canonical domain
  • Improving site caching and optimizing images
  • Implementing schema markup as is appropriate

To get an idea of how involved this process is, our client onboarding process includes 20+ tasks related to onsite optimization alone.

How much time it takes:

This is going to be the biggest workload upfront, but onsite optimization continues throughout your SEO plan – we’re constantly updating our clients’ websites to comply with best practices. SEO is always evolving, which makes it both compelling and frustrating!

The amount of time involved in the initial site optimization varies significantly from client to client, but can easily be upwards of 30 hours among multiple team members. On a monthly basis after the initial setup, website optimization takes anywhere from 2-10 hours.

Why it matters:

It’s simple: if your website doesn’t work well, nobody’s going to use it to contact you.

For some clients, we’ve recommended a full website redesign before we begin working on marketing. There isn’t a point in optimizing the site if it’s not easy to use and conversion-oriented. For others, we’ve been able to include the necessary site updates in the first few months of our regular SEO plan. It comes down to the amount of redesigning that’s going to be necessary – sometimes, it’s just easier to start from scratch than attempt to rework another developer’s code.

Link Building

What it means:

Link building is the process of adding links to a website on other websites. Simple enough, right? The thing is, these links should come from other websites with good domain authority and relevance – valuable websites within your niche. And building links on them takes time, concerted effort, and often money.

How much time it takes:

Link building needs to be performed gradually or you run the risk of Google labeling your actions as spammy, and possibly slapping you with a dreaded penalty. We build 1-2 offsite links per client per month. Some of these require a much bigger time commitment than others (like local sponsorships or guest posts), so the time commitment varies, but it’s anywhere from 2-8 hours per month.

We also perform internal linking updates as we create new content so that our clients’ sites can get a boost from their own linking strategy, which requires 1-2 hours per month.

Why it matters:

Offsite links communicate to search engines that your website is valuable. They also help connect your website to your industry and related sites. You want your website to be a part of an integrated network, not lost in an empty digital wasteland. Link building has evolved significantly since the heyday of SEO, and needs to be performed carefully and correctly to yield rewards – but it remains one of the most important ranking factors, and is crucial for your website’s improved visibility in search results.

Content Marketing (Blogging)

What it means:

Content marketing is the practice of creating onsite content that attracts traffic that ultimately converts into new business. For our agency, that means creating new blog posts for each of our clients every month. We research local competitors, trending topics, and keyword phrases to ensure that these posts will both inform readers and be relevant to search engines.

How much time it takes:

Our copywriters create 600+ word blog posts, select accompanying graphics and videos, and format and publish the posts with reader-friendly layouts. This typically requires 2-3 hours per post from the initial research phase to the moment the post goes live.

Why it matters:

Content is king! Creating in-depth, valuable blog posts has big returns for site traffic and relevance. Blog posts inform, entertain and educate your existing clients as well as prospects considering your business. For local businesses, non-local traffic can still have an impact on your SEO because that traffic shows search engines that your site is valuable. Some of our clients’ posts have received coveted featured snippets, meaning they get special real estate at the top of Google results, which yields a significant increase in site traffic.

Blog posts are also great fodder for link building and social media posts. And because the content is unique to your office, it gives you the opportunity to showcase a particular service, event, staff member, or anything else you’d like to share. Our agency has always been content-focused and that approach has served our long-term clients with evergreen results.

Social Media

What it means:

The process of posting to your business’ dedicated social media profiles. Social media platforms of note include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Google Posts.

How much time it takes:

We provide a few options for the number of social posts per month depending on client preferences – some have more social media-driven followings than others and benefit from the additional posts. For the average client receiving 3 posts per week on 4 social media platforms, the time commitment is between 12-15 hours a month. We also offer additional posts during special periods like the holidays when businesses may be running dedicated promotional campaigns through social media.

Why it matters:

Social media technically does not impact your website rankings, as all links are nofollow (search engines don’t count them as valuable, like they do with back links). So why do it? There are still plenty of reasons, ranging from keeping your existing clientele updated and giving them an opportunity to easily communicate with your business to connecting with other local businesses, brands you work with and industry professionals. Social media is where your clients and prospects are spending a solid chunk of their time – you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity to get in front of them.

Email Marketing

What it means:

Pretty self-explanatory: creating email campaigns to send to a specific group of your database (or the entire database). Campaigns can be automated (follow-ups sent to new leads from your website), or one-time (announcement of a flash sale). There’s a wide range of email marketing platforms out there – depending on the business’ needs and the database size, there’s one that will fit.

How much time it takes:

We provide email marketing for our clients as needed. This can mean that they have monthly specials they promote, in which case we create a new email at the beginning of each month; or more sophisticated automation they’d like to set up to better communication with their existing clients, which takes significantly more time upfront but is then self-managing. Monthly commitment on our team’s part can be anywhere from 2-8 hours.

Why it matters:

Like social media, email marketing isn’t going to have an impact on your website rankings, but turns our efforts in another important direction. Instead of seeking out new leads, email marketing generates new business from your existing database. We love email marketing because it’s affordable and effective – for most of our clients, email campaigns provide a great monthly cushion of revenue and the effort of chasing down the lead is far less involved than with new prospects.

Pay Per Click Ad Management

What it means:

Pay per click (PPC) is a type of advertising in which you pay for each click that you receive. Google Search and Display campaigns are the most common type of PPC. Facebook also has an extremely popular ad platform that has a variety of pricing models – some pay per click, others pay per impression.

How much time it takes:

Google campaign management alone can be upwards of 15 hours a month, especially if landing page (the place you’re sending ad clicks) design and development is involved. Facebook campaign management is between 5-10 hours per month. We track form submissions and phone calls from ads so that we can see exactly where your ad spend is going, and which ads are top performers.

Why it matters:

Ads don’t impact SEO, but they drive new business right away. If you’re just launching an SEO plan, we may recommend that you try a conservative ad campaign to help get new leads immediately. SEO takes time (our clients typically see significant results around the 6 month mark of their plan), but ads can get you leads the same day they launch. Most of our clients run some kind of ad campaign long-term, to supplement their organic conversions.

Review Generation

What it means:

The process of requesting reviews on select directories from your happy clients. Review generation and reputation management can be performed with a variety of tools; we offer a review platform that wraps everything into one neat package that is easy for you and your staff to use. The system sends an email and text to a client following an appointment, requesting that they leave a review for you on the platform(s) of your choice.

How much time it takes:

Our review generation platform can be set up to automate review requests (depending on your CRM / EMR), or the office can trigger requests manually, or our team can assist with the request triggers. The amount of time our agency spends on this monthly will vary depending on the setup.

Why it matters:

Reviews establish you as an authority in your field, and a desirable provider. Social proof is one of the most powerful supports you can have for your business. And in the case of Google reviews, they can also influence your Google Local rankings – so they’re always the first review platform we recommend targeting.

Directory Listing Submission & Maintenance

What it means:

Creating listings on local business directories and controlling those listings so that incorrect information can’t be added. There are thousands of directories, and different experts have their own philosophies for which ones to target – the ones we cover have great domain authority and inform a wide range of prospects. We also submit to listing aggregators to get your correct business information spread throughout the directory networks.

How much time it takes:

Setup is the major commitment with directory listings, and can take 6+ hours per office location. We also monitor listings for duplicates and update them as needed on a monthly basis, which takes 1-2 hours per month.

Why it matters:

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone, and is an important ranking factor. If your business information is consistent across the web, that sends a positive message to search engines and also cuts down on human confusion. If you’ve ever had a different business address, or if you’ve changed business names or phone numbers, getting into those directories and updating your information will make a difference.

Reporting, Analytics, and Plan Adjustments

What it means:

Analyzing website performance, providing you with relevant and readable reports on how your website is doing, and adjusting our SEO efforts as needed to capitalize on site strengths and weaknesses. We use a variety of tools ranging from Google Analytics and Search Console to Agency Analytics.

How much time it takes:

Time spent on this process per client per month varies widely depending on site performance, and can take anywhere from 5-20 hours. Sometimes we need to head in a new direction with our content marketing or onsite optimization, and that means an overhaul of our initial plan.

Why it matters:

An SEO plan is nothing without analysis. It’s this personalized, hands-on approach that makes our clients so appreciative of our services. We break down how the website is performing, and think critically about what may help encourage prospects to find the website more easily, spend more time on it, and ultimately covert into new business.

How do I come up with my business’ SEO budget?

If you’ve been keeping track of the time commitment per task, you can see that after initial onboarding, we can spend up to 100 hours per month on each of our clients’ digital marketing. When you take the cost of our most popular marketing plan into account, that comes out to only $10/hour – sounds more than reasonable, right?

But is that $999/month marketing plan a sensible one for your own business?

I want our clients to be comfortable with their plan costs, and get an ROI that makes sense for their bottom line. If you’re note sure what that means for you, there are a few resources that can help you decide on a digital marketing budget. Over on Search Engine Journal, Chuck Price has an awesome article that goes in-depth on what determines your budget, with this excerpt that I particularly appreciate –

That said, the right budget is one you can afford, without losing sleep, for a minimum of four (and ideally 12) months.

It takes time to properly plan, implement and tweak a campaign in order to evaluate its success.

Also, the lower the budget, the longer the journey.

This is something that I’m super upfront about with our clients – SEO takes time, and the more you invest now, the sooner you’ll be seeing a payoff. Cheap SEO plans are a dime a dozen, but they’re not actually going to make a difference to your website’s performance in the long term. We implement, test, track and adjust our efforts so that they make a difference for your site, rather than implementing a cookie cutter model.

Something especially important to consider when determining budget is the value of a website prospect that finds your website and converts because of your SEO efforts. What is your net profit from working with that new client? Now, how many leads are you receiving from SEO each month? Check the value of those leads against your SEO budget to get an idea of your return on investment.

Because the majority of our clients are healthcare professionals, ranging from dentists to med spa owners to physicians, new leads also have added lifetime value. They’re not just purchasing a product and moving on – they’re deciding to work with your practice in the long term. Once they’ve received excellent service from you, they’ll continue to work with your office for years to come. So that lifetime value makes the ROI far higher.

How much are other small business owners paying for SEO services?

Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, ran a survey in 2015 asking US & Canada-based SEO consultants and agencies about their company structure, pricing and more. The survey includes the following findings for US-based agencies:

As you can see, the majority of clients pay between $2,501-$5,000 per month. This includes enterprise companies and is not exclusive to local businesses, so the budget may seem high – for our local business clients, between $500-$1000 is more reasonable and is in line with their budget.

Interested in learning more about whether an SEO plan is right for your business? Just request a website evaluation. It’s complimentary, our team will have it completed within 2 business days, and it’s a commitment-free way to learn more about where you’re currently at with your digital marketing.

I look forward to discussing this with you further!

holiday marketing ideas

The holidays have that special ability to creep up on us whole also being totally omnipresent. Walgreens is putting out Christmas decorations on November 1st (and we’re grumbling about it plenty); yet, as the week of Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re suddenly scrambling for a presentable turkey and a passable pumpkin pie recipe.

Because the holidays present themselves all too quickly, it’s more likely than not that we don’t have our small business’ holiday marketing plans in place. This time of year is incredibly hectic, and you’re already squeezing appointments around your attempts to take a little time off and away from the office. How do you find time to keep up with your typical marketing efforts, much less add to them?

Holiday marketing doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. Finding the best option for each platform makes it possible to capitalize on the biggest buying season of the year without spending extra time in the office. And we’ve made it super simple by listing some of our favorite holiday marketing approaches below.

The best part about these? Most can be completed in advance and scheduled, so you can work on these whenever you get a moment instead of tearing yourself away from the festivities to camp in front of your computer.

“Where do I even start?”

Feel like you’re already spending more time on your office’s marketing than you have available? Hate formatting email campaigns and coming up with website copy? That’s what we’re here for. Our team not only loves digital marketing, and we love figuring out personal approaches for each office, business and brand we work with. Reach out today to request a complimentary website consultation or get answers to your holiday marketing questions.

Holiday Marketing Ideas By Platform

This list makes it easy to pick and choose, and zero in on the options that make the most sense for your office. Don’t have access to your website or the ability to update it? Skip ahead to social media. Unsure about editing your Google My Business listing? Make those updates on your Facebook page to keep everyone in the know about holiday hours.

The Internet is a wonderfully vast place, and you’ll be able to get your message out even if you can’t take a fully comprehensive approach. And if you’re ready to get more consistent and well-rounded with your marketing, just get in touch!

Your Office Website

Website edits can be a touchy subject, depending on who built your site and what kind of access you have to it. For some sites, their CMS (content management system) makes it simple for non-tech folks to edit pages and information. For others, the content is pretty impenetrable. It never hurts to send a quick email to your site manager and find out whether they can add a small blurb for you to complete the updates below.

  • Adding specials – Holiday specials are crucial – this is a time to shop, and small businesses everywhere are breaking out their best prices to attract new customers. Adding specials to your website can be as involved or simple as you’d like; you don’t need to create graphics and rearrange your site layout, you can simply add information about the available specials to the corresponding pages (e.g. “$200 off Whitening This December” to the top of your Teeth Whitening or Cosmetic Dentistry page). We’ll have another blog post featuring some of our favorite holiday specials tactics in a couple weeks, so be sure to check back for some inspiration!
  • Adding holiday hours – Updating your office hours to reflect the many closures that usually accompany the holiday season will keep everyone on the same page and manage patient expectations. Add information beneath your regular hours to note that you will be closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and whatever other special hours will apply. This may not feel like marketing, but it’s an important part of connecting with your existing and prospective clients and establishing trust and communication with them. And that makes it an important part of your marketing!

Your Social Media Profiles

Social media is the simplest way to connect with existing clients, and lends itself to holiday marketing extremely well. Even without website access, social media allows you to advertise, put up regular posts, and communicate online with your business’ community as needed.

  • Facebook/Instagram ads to your client database – We love Facebook and Instagram ads – when they’re done conservatively. If you’re unsure of how to set up an ad campaign, it’s easy to suddenly find yourself spending big without seeing much return on investment. Facebook’s Ads Manager is set up to maximize your spend and broaden your audience, but that’s not what we typically recommend. Instead, ideal holiday ads should target your existing client database. Grab an export of your clients from your EHR or email marketing platform, and upload that under the Audiences tab of Ads Manager to create your custom audience. This way, you can target individuals already familiar with your business who are more likely to take advantage of your holiday offers.
    Feeling clueless about where to get started with Facebook ad audiences? Check out our post on crafting the perfect group to target with your ads.
  • Organic social posts – Not interested in ads? Regular Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts don’t cost a cent, and they’ll still get the word out. Try using a free graphics editor like Canva to create eye-catching posts for your specials and make them stand out. Announce your specials and make sure everyone knows they’re only available for a limited time. You can also boost particularly good posts by paying a set amount to ensure they get in front of more eyes – but make sure the post is high quality first to guarantee engagement (and always be thoughtful with your targeting).
  • Show off holiday antics from inside the office – The holiday season is (hopefully!) full of cheer, and your clients love to see that! Get them better acquainted with your team by sharing pictures of offices parties, gift exchanges, or even just some really cute reindeer cookies that showed up in the break room. Personalized content always wins out on social media!
  • Keep your followers informed (and your office on their mind) – Social media is also a great place to share your office’s holiday hours, especially if you’re unable to update them on your website. Make sure that everyone can schedule their appointments before year’s end or before the end of the holiday break by keeping them informed about your availability.

Your Google My Business Listing

Your GMB (Google My Business) listing is technically a piece of social media because you can use it to communicate with folks searching for your business. But it’s especially crucial because it’s connected to your Google listing and Google results, those coveted spots that your digital marketing efforts are after.

  • Use Google Posts – Google Posts are a cool feature that still haven’t been widely adopted by small businesses. These posts show up in Google search results for your business, and provide additional real estate and messaging opportunities for your business. If you have access to your GMB listing (which you absolutely should), here are instructions for writing posts. If you don’t have access to your GMB listing, get in touch and we’ll be able to help you out.
  • Update your holiday hours – If you’re going to update your holiday hours in just one place, Google My Business is it. This means that your hours will come up when anyone sees your office’s listing in Google Maps or in regular search results. I know I’m being repetitive with this, but it bears repeating as this update helps your entire staff avoid frustrated clients and scheduling snafus.

Your Existing Patient Database

Your current clients are right there, ready to be marketed to! Email campaigns are an amazing marketing tool because of their high ROI and relatively low barrier to entry. Whether you have an existing email platform or are hoping to get started with one, now is the time to jump in and take advantage of the season.

  • Holiday specials email campaigns – Make sure your database knows about the holiday specials you’re offering – and increase urgency to encourage offer claims. All it takes is a few simple emails! If you already have an email marketing platform set up for your business, check their templates for “specials” or “holiday”-related options and tweak those so that they’re personalized to your business. If you’re looking for an email platform, some of the simplest (and most affordable) to get started with include Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Autopilot. If you’re interested in getting professional help establishing your email marketing, just reach out!
  • Thanking your clients for their business – Here’s the most important part of your holiday marketing (yes, I saved the best for last). A simple thank you means a lot, and shows your patients that you are thinking of them and appreciating them as the year ends. It’s because of them that your business is thriving, and they appreciate hearing that from you. Craft an email with a heartfelt message and send it just before New Year’s to end on a high note! While it may sound cheesy, your clients really will remember that email, and it will positively impact their feelings toward your office.

We have another blog post in the works about putting together holiday specials for your practice, so check back at the end of November for more details! And if you’d like some help getting any of these tactics in place, just reach out – we’d love to discuss your holiday marketing.

Happy Holidays!

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facebook audience targeting for dentists and healthcare professionals

You did it. You took the first step toward getting new patients through Facebook advertising, and figured out the campaign objective for your new ads. You triumphantly chose “Traffic” or “Brand Awareness” or “Engagement” and clicked through to the next screen…

Only to be met with this absolute nightmare.

facebook ad set screen

With this many options, how can you figure out exactly what’s right for your practice? Who is your ideal ad audience, anyway?

Take a deep breath – and keep reading. Below, I talk through this process step by step to identify the key components of this messy Ad Set screen, and how you can come out on the other side with a nicely sized audience that makes sense for your campaign objective.

Hold on, what’s an ad set?

First off, I’m going to interrupt myself to provide a little more information about the anatomy of a Facebook campaign. Knowing these three components by name will save you some headaches down the line.

  1. The campaign is the umbrella under which the ad sets and ads live. The campaign is determined by the campaign objective (Conversions, Brand Awareness, Video Views, etc). This is the broadest component.
  2. The ad set is the part of the campaign that will be delivered to a certain audience. You can have multiple ad sets in a campaign to target different types of individuals with the same ultimate objective. Different ad sets might target one location vs. another, individuals who have visited your website before vs. those who have not, or a thousand other permutations that we’ll discuss later in this post.
  3. The ad is the post that will be shown to the ad set’s audience. This is the smallest piece of the Facebook campaign, and is the component that targeted individuals actually see and interact with.

Questions to ask yourself before creating your first ad set

What’s your campaign objective?

Although you’ve already chosen your objective, keep it in mind as you approach your prospective audience. Who is going to be the most likely to successfully interact with that objective? Here’s an example. If your objective is Video Views or Brand Awareness, you’re likely advertising to individuals that are unfamiliar with your practice. On the other hand, if your objective is Conversions or Leads, you’re likely advertising to individuals that have connected with you before. What does that unfamiliar audience look like, vs. the familiar one?

Is this a campaign that you’d like to show a more general audience vs. someone specific?

This is a bit of a trick question. In my opinion, every campaign should have a specific audience. Facebook makes it all too easy for you to cast an overly wide net because their main goal is for you to spend money on their platform, and a bigger audience means a more expensive campaign. But a bigger audience doesn’t also correlate with a better response. Ad leads that are physically too far from your office, or uninformed about a procedure, are likely to be unresponsive to your staff’s attempts to book their appointment and get them into the office. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending ad dollars on a lead, then losing additional resources through your staff taking the time to call and email them without ever getting a response.

Even in a situation where you’re just desperate to get the word out about your practice, you should never go for a blanket “my location + 20 mile radius” as your sole means of targeting. This is going to cast too wide a net, so that you spend advertising dollars collecting individuals that aren’t ultimately going to be ideal clients (or ever really connect with your office).

So what should a more general campaign look like? Start broad and then add in shades that will narrow your scope.  There’s a big difference between a highly specific, small audience and a broader but still targeted audience. The former is typically very precise and often related to the prospect’s past interactions with your ads, website, or Facebook page (more on that below). The latter is typically bringing in a cold audience, who has not interacted with your practice before – but is primed to be a good fit.

Take a look at the following to guide your ad targeting –

  • Consider your target audience’s interests. What have they recently been searching for / showing interest in online? Are they parents, what are their professions, what are their income demographics?
  • Look at a map using a radius tool and ask yourself, realistically, how far prospects would be willing to travel to visit your office. Facebook also offers the option to target by a group of locations without radii, which can be useful when there are areas in your immediate radius that you’re not interested in targeting.
  • Consider the offer you’re putting forth in the ad. Is this something that is going to be appealing to an outsider who has not had any contact with your practice, or are they unlikely to see the appeal? You want to develop your ads so that the audience at the top of the funnel is shown an easy-to-understand offer. Then those who interact with the ad / offer but don’t actually convert are guided on to the next step in the funnel, where they receive a more detailed offer for a service or product that they’ve already been educated about. The top of the funnel audience is more broad, and the middle and bottom of funnel audiences are more defined.

Who is a specific individual you’d like to see your ad?

Now is the time to determine your ideal buyer. We touched on this in the previous section, but there are a few specific factors you’ll want to consider, including –

  • Age – can choose a range between 13 and 65+
  • Gender – can choose all, men, or women
  • Languages – can choose any language
  • Demographics – parents, married vs. single, education level, profession, income level
  • Interests – online activities, pages they’ve liked, and related topics
  • Behaviors – purchase intent, purchase behaviors, devices used
  • Connections – people who like your business’ Facebook page (can include or exclude), friends of people who like your page

Once you’ve thought through each of these, congratulations! You have articulated your buyer profile.

Now to get down to the nitty gritty – how do you actually set up these restrictions on the ad set page?

How to Define Your Ad Set Targeting Options in Facebook’s Ads Manager

Location

There are a few different options in the location section alone, and it can be a bit tricky to understand.

First of all, you need to decide whether you’ll be targeting:

  1. Everyone in the specified location
  2. People who live in the specified location
  3. People recently in the specified location
  4. People traveling in the specified location

If you’re unsure of which might make the most sense for your practice, just choose option#1.

Next, you’ll set the location itself. Click inside the location box and type in the city you’d like to target, then adjust the radius to the appropriate number of miles. The map will update to show you what that area will include.

facebook ad set location targeting

Also, if you’re interested in targeting the specific city but not a radius, click the “+10 mi” section to bring up this menu:facebook city radius targeting

You can then switch to “Current city only.” If you’d like to target a group of cities, you can click “Add locations in bulk” at the bottom of the map to do so quickly and not need to enter them one by one.

Age

Select an age range that reflects your ideal customer or patient.

Gender

Choose whether you would like to target men and woman (“All,”) or either men or women.

Languages

Choose the languages that you would like your targeted audience to speak.

Detailed Targeting

This is where things get a little overwhelming. There’s a whole lot in the detailed targeting box, but once you start making choices you can take advantage of the helpful “Suggestions” feature to bring up additional relevant options instead of needing to sift through absolutely everything.

Let’s say I want to target new parents – I type “parents” into the bar and receive these options.

facebook detailed targeting

I’m interested in new parents only, so I select “New parents (0-12 months).”

Now that this selection been added to my targeting, I can click “Suggestions” to pull up related interests, demographics and behaviors that might be useful for my audience –

facebook detailed targeting

You can also click “Browse” to view an organized menu of all your options, which is useful if you’re just getting started with ad targeting and not quite sure what to search for. These are organized under the umbrellas Demographics, Interests and Behaviors.

facebook detailed targeting browser

One more thing in this section – don’t overlook the Exclude or Narrow Audience options below the targeting search window.

  • Exclude – Chances are, you’ll almost always want to be making exclusions to your ad set. For example, if you’re hoping to target individuals whose recent activity indicates an interest in getting dental work done, you’ll want to exclude people who are in the dental profession as those aren’t prospective patients.
  • Narrow audience – This option allows you to add additional behaviors, interests or demographics that must be shared by the group you’ve defined. This helps refine the overall audience.

Connections

Choose whether you would like to include or exclude people who like your business’ Facebook page, or include friends of people who like your page (which can provide a valuable audience).

Save This Audience

You’ve put all the hard work in – be sure to save this audience with a descriptive name so that you can use it in future ad sets without needing to redo the legwork! While you can always duplicate ad sets to use in the future, I like to save individual audiences so that I can grab them whenever I need.

Audience Size

You’ll notice a live-updating area on the right hand side of the Ad Set creation screen with the title “Audience Size.”

Facebook audience size

This helpful section is important to keep an eye on as you refine and narrow your audience. The meter at the top will give you an idea of whether your audience becomes too small for ads to regularly be shown. The estimated daily results provide a rough estimate of the kind of results you might have with the size of your audience and the budget that you set. Remember, these figures aren’t necessarily accurate – they just provide a general idea of what you can expect to see once that ad set has been running for a week.

Custom Audiences

There’s a huge component of your audience that we haven’t even delved into yet – custom audiences. These audiences can be incredibly useful, as you can use them to target niche groups of individuals that may make the most sense for your practice – from recent website traffic to your existing database. But because creating these audiences can be a bit technical, I’m saving this for our next post.

Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of managing your own Facebook campaign? That’s what we’re here for. Get in touch with details on the campaign you’d like to run and we’ll take care of everything you need – and deliver new business to your office. Reach out today!

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facebook ads for dentists

It’s the late winter lull. Your schedule is feeling a little light. You’d love to get some extra patients in the door – and Facebook ads seem like a good option for increasing online lead volume. But you’re at a complete loss as to where to begin, or where to turn for advice that makes sense for your own practice.

Sound familiar? You’re absolutely not alone. While Facebook can be an incredibly beneficial advertising platform, it can also be a real headache to break into. And because Facebook is happy as long as you’re spending money, the platform itself isn’t always the best source of actionable advice.

Hopefully, this post will be a bit more helpful. This is part one of our Facebook advertising for healthcare professional blog series. This week, we’re tackling the first steps toward getting a Facebook campaign up and running – understanding the campaign objectives that might make the most sense for your practice.

Best Facebook Campaign Objectives for Dentists & Doctors

You have your Facebook ad account ready and you’re itching to create your first ad. You click “+ Create” to pull up your first campaign – and this screen comes up.

facebook campaign types

….Now what?

While some of these are more self-explanatory than others, they all have a time and place – and our job is to decipher when and where that is. Some objectives are glaringly unhelpful for most healthcare professionals (App Installs and Catalog Sales, for example), but others are subtler. How to choose between Brand Awareness and Reach? Or Traffic and Engagement?

We’ve broken down some of the most useful medical and dental Facebook campaign types below to make things a bit clearer.

Brand awareness

This objective shows your ad to people who are likely to recall it and remember your brand in the future. This is ideal for new practices and small businesses who are trying to get the word out in their local area, and less helpful if you’re hoping to actually drive conversions and website traffic.

Traffic

The traffic objective drives traffic to your website or landing page to in turn drive conversions. Traffic ads are versatile and can also be optimized for “landing page views,” which helps Facebook show them to individuals who are more likely to view your landing page / ad destination. Traffic ads can also be used to create remarketing audiences – groups of people who have visited your website but haven’t converted, who are warmed up and more likely to convert in the near future. We’ll go into remarketing in more detail in a future post in this series!

Engagement

This objective shows ads to individuals likely to engage with the ads – to like/react to them, view your Facebook page, share the ad post, or otherwise interact with that content. Enagement ads can be useful for practices hoping to build their Facebook following or promote an event or limited offer (referral program, contest, temporary special).

Video views

This objective puts your video content in front of users who are likely to watch more of the video. This objective is widely used to build remarketing audiences, as well as increase page interaction and brand awareness, so there’s some overlap with other objectives.

Lead generation

This objective creates a form directly on Facebook that users can submit to indicate interest in a specific treatment or special offer. Lead ads have a unique advantage in that they prefill the user’s information from their Facebook profile, so as little effort as possible is required in order for the lead to share their details with your office. The downside is that this means lead ads tend to attract users with minimal interest in actually following through and booking – they may not even remember submitting the form when your front desk reaches out. Another tricky component is that you’ll need to set up an outside integration in order for the leads’ information to be sent to you (there’s no email notification or Facebook notification option).

Messages

This objective encourages ad viewers to send your office a message. The messages objective can be very useful when you’re promoting a treatment that isn’t well known, or is otherwise likely to bring up questions. You will need to have a staff member paying attention to the practice’s Facebook page so that they can answer these in a timely fashion – messengers tend to expect a speedy response. You can also set an auto-reply that provides a link with more information.

Boost Post

Observant readers will notice that this objective wasn’t included in the Facebook campaign screenshot above. Yet it’s actually the objective that most small businesses use – at least early on in their advertising journey. Why? Because it’s built into the business page itself.

When you finish writing a great post and publish it to your business page, you’ll notice a “Boost Post” button in the lower right hand corner.

facebook boost post button

Click this, and you’ll pull up a window with quite a few targeting options and questions about where you’d like to show the post. The important part here is the Objective section –

facebook post boost objective

You’ll notice similar options to objectives we’ve already detailed above, namely Engagement and Messages.

The reason post boosts are so popular is because they feel much easier to set up for someone not acquainted with Facebook’s Ads Manager interface (which can definitely be a doozy to navigate). But because boost options are more limited, it’s not always the right route to take.

When is a boosted post the right bet? If you have an already popular post on your page that you’d like to share with a wider audience, it’s a great option.

What Next for my Facebook Ad Campaign?

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but we’ll be back with more information soon. Next up is ad targeting – what makes sense, what’s excessive, and where Facebook might try to trip you up into overspending for diminishing returns.

Tired of reading endless Facebook ad advice? Get in touch with our team for a comprehensive Facebook advertising solution. We’ll take care of ad content, your landing page, your campaign setup and everything in between. Reach out today for a complimentary consultation of your website and details on which ad campaigns might be ideal for you.

search engine

Organic search engine optimization is all about making your website appealing to search engines – and snagging new visitors in the process. With the thousands (millions?) of SEO recommendations floating across the internet, it can be tricky pinning down exactly what’s going to make a difference. That’s just one reason why it always pays off to just pay attention to what’s currently working – and do your best to imitate the approach.

Google has us all in its thrall – but we’re not entirely powerless. There are definitive steps website owners can take to stand out among the pack. And featured snippets are probably the coolest payoff for properly-optimized, high quality website content.

What’s a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is the block of text above the list of regular search results that displays a relevant excerpt from the linked page. This is technically a search result, but it takes precedence over everything else on page 1 for a few reasons. One, it actually delivers a block of information, rather than linking the searcher to the website itself. And two, it’s the first thing you see on that page of results (with the exception of ads, which are always going to rise to the top because they’re a moneymaker for Google and other search engines).

Here’s an example of a featured snippet that answers the searcher’s question about tooth decay:

example of a featured snippet for a dental website

There’s more than just a single featured snippet, here – the list of related questions all open out to show additional featured snippets, with blurbs from sites above linked URLs.

Then, there’s the first of the standard search results – a link to a private practice’s site that has an informative and easy-to-read piece on common causes of tooth decay.

Featured snippets are Google’s way of getting searchers the information they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. As the behemoth continues making choices that enforce their commitment to a higher quality internet, we can expect additional user-oriented results that prioritize searcher intent.

So How Do I Get Featured Snippets for My Practice Website?

Take a look at your website and consider whether there’s room to work on the following:

  1. Use of targeted keywords and strategic content – If you’re a dentist with a single office, you’re most interested in marketing your services to the immediate area. But plastering your site pages with variations on “Chicago dentist” keyword phrases isn’t going to yield great results – it might even get you penalized. More importantly, those searching for “Chicago dentist” are likely more interested in location and convenience than viewing site content. Instead, you can capitalize on more popular phrases that are going to lead to real (and engaged) site traffic. Consider what searchers looking for dental advice might be typing, and build content around those phrases. Building a page about the causes of tooth decay, like the dentist below the featured snippet in the graphic above, isn’t a bad place to start.
  2. Q&A pages – Because so many search queries are questions or pieces of questions, building out an FAQ or Q&A page (or, even better, multiple pages organized by topic) is a great strategy. Be sure to mark the questions as headings and the answers as paragraphs to capitalize on snippet optimization (more on that below).
  3. Appropriate formatting – Diving up pages with subheadings, lists, tables and other HTML formatting that better communicates with search engines will help them understand where to pull from and increase your likelihood of being in a featured snippet. From basic SEO optimization to snippet-specific formatting, there are plenty of opportunities for adjustments.

Where Do I Even Begin with Snippet Optimization?

Don’t get overwhelmed – get active. If you’re looking for professional help, submit your website for a free evaluation and we’ll help you decide on next steps.

graphic showing responsive design elements on laptop, tablet and mobile phone

Is your website deisgn begging for retirement?

That’s a complicated question – and one that we’re happy to help you answer. In fact, there are a series of straightforward tools you can use to start diagnosing your site’s issues and considering whether they outweigh its strengths.

Deciding on a redesign should have you considering site appearance, function and versatility – and identifying which realm (or realms) your site is lacking in.

Looking for an expert’s eye? Request a complimentary website evaluation and we’ll provide an outside opinion as to areas for improvement. Sometimes, bringing in a stranger to take a look at a site you know so well reveals hidden problems that are begging for a fix.

Common Aging Website Problems – And the Tools to Identify Them

Poor Website Load Speed

When a website takes forever to load, a few things happen. One, the site visitor gets irritated and takes off without ever engaging with your site. And two, the search engines take this as a signal that your website is low quality – and alter their rankings to reflect that.

Site speed is always going to be crucial from both a user and bot perspective. And with our increasingly all-encompassing use of the internet, it’s only going to get more important.

So: how fast is your site? And is that fast enough to satisfy 2017’s demands?

The first tool to check out is Google’s Pagespeed Insights. Some of the factors they take into account are a little finicky, but the tool will give you an overall understanding of whether your site is sluggish. Then, check that score against a Pingdom speed test. We like this tool because it’s not logged down in Google-borne biases, and also compares your sites to others that have been recently tested to give you an idea of how it’s measuring up.

Technical Errors / 404’s

Are some of your site pages dead ends? If your site is old, it’s possible that some of the images and pages are no longer up and running. There may also be issues with certain browsers or devices.

In order to see exactly where users are hitting 404 errors, set up your website with Google Search Console. It’s easy to configure and will give you specific listings of which pages are throwing errors. All you need to set it up is access to your website’s registration account or the site files – here are some quick instructions.

Difficulty Navigating Website

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own website, there’s a bigger problem at hand. You want visitors, especially new ones who have no experience with your business, to be able to quickly arrive at their desired piece of information. But bulky (or overly minimal) menus get in the way, as do pop-ups and other distractions.

We wrote a post about site navigation last month – check it out for some specific pointers.

Non-Mobile Responsive Design

This is an absolutely huge consideration – especially in today’s SEO landscape. Simply put, if your website isn’t responsive, it’s not going to rank. What does it mean to be responsive? All elements on your website should resize and realign based on the screen size and device that it’s being viewed on. This allows for the best possible user experience – and less zooming, reloading, and frustrated abandonment of the site.

Google has another tool that allows for easy peasy evaluation of responsiveness – try out the Mobile-Friendly Test.

Outdated Design

This takes a bit of subjectivity – there’s no simple test you can run your site through to get a thumbs up or thumbs down on how current it looks, unfortunately. But what you can do is try to take an objective look at your home page. Compare it to other websites that you frequent on a regular basis – does it look like it was built in the same era?

Design trends change extremely quickly, and it doesn’t take long for a site to start looking like it was built years ago. That’s one reason why avoiding trendy design tactics and sticking to something tried-and-true can be a good approach, especially if you don’t want to keep having to invest in new designs.

Looking for help coming to a redesign decision? Just get in touch!

Dental Website Design | Website Design for Dentists | Dental Web Design Tips
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man confused in front of his laptop

A website should make all the work simple for its visitors. But all too often, you wind up on a site that’s nothing short of baffling. As a site visitor, you’re not just confused – you’re frustrated. Because you didn’t sign up for a digital puzzle, you just wanted to get the phone number for your local Thai restaurant. But this site is taking you further away from that information, instead of delivering it to you.

The last thing you want as a small business owner is for your website visitors to fall into this trap. Attention spans are decreasing all the time. If a visitor doesn’t find what they’re looking for right away, they don’t work harder to get to that information – instead, they just navigate away and look for another provider.

Of course, there are many different ways to make sure your site design speaks to visitors’ needs. But today, we’re talking about the most basic place you can possibly start: site navigation. While every website has some kind of navigation, countless sites make big mistakes. And this isn’t just bad for the user, but it’s also sending a perplexing message to search engines trying to index your site.

Check out some of the most important tenets of site navigation below – and get in touch for an analysis as to whether your site is falling into organizational traps.

Don’t Get Too Experimental

With mobile site designs becoming increasingly crucial – and often more important than desktop – there are all kind of tricks popping up for displaying mobile menus. But you should never journey too far from the standard menu signifiers. After all, you need your visitors to understand what the symbols on their screen are telling them.

Whether on desktop or mobile, keep the menu in the standard position – if you hide it all in the footer or have it difficult to access, it’s going to irritate more than a few visitors.

  • What to try – If you’re using the now-standard three horizontal lines as a menu marker, consider adding text like “Menu” next to it for visitors who might not be as familiar with mobile navigational shortcuts. This is especially valuable if you tend to have older clientele.

Use Descriptive Labels That Make Sense to Visitors

When planning out your menu, look at your website content from the perspective of an outsider with no knowledge of your practice. What would they be most interested in? Which page is going to be the most helpful in giving them the information they’re looking for? Make the heavy-hitters the highlights of the menu – for a dental practice, this is usually tabs like “New Patient Information,” “Testimonials,” “Contact Us,” and “Our Services.”

  • What to try – Specific is usually better – vague labels that group together a variety of pages could confuse visitors not familiar with your services.

Limit the Number of Items in Your Menu

Don’t overwhelm a new visitor. Not only do fewer links increase the likelihood of a visitor finding what they’re looking for, our short-term memories literally can’t handle too much at a time. Research suggests that the human brain can keep seven items in mind at once (plus or minus two). So try to limit your menu to seven or fewer items. If you’re stuck with a ton of absolutely necessary items, you can always split them up into groups.

  • What to try – If you’re struggling to limit the menu items in your main navigation, have a friend or family member take a look and pinpoint what they’d be most likely to click or find useful.

Order Your Menu With Priorities in Mind

Items in the middle of lists tend to get lost in the shuffle. Those at the beginning and end are most effective, because the viewer’s attention is strongest. They’re also more likely to retain these items’ names.

  • What to try – Most menus put the primary page as a link at the very top/beginning of the menu. Since many visitors enter the website through the home page, this gives them a simple way to find it again without a lot of back button clicking. The last item is ideally your contact form and information.

Looking for some expert guidance with your website organization? Reach out today for a complimentary site analysis.

Dental Website Design | Dental Website Navigation | Design Tips for Dental Websites
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ssl and site security for dentistsWith data protection and online privacy continuing to play a role in world news and U.S. politics, more and more small businesses are looking at site encryption. But when you’ve already been running a WordPress site without an SSL certificate, how do you switch over without missteps?

As with many WordPress updates, there are going to be some hiccups along the way. But that doesn’t mean you should skip SSL. Getting your site more secure is an important step for any business – and https:// may even become a ranking factor for search engines in the future (Google’s hinted at this for years and now marks non-https sites that collect sensitive information as “Unsafe” in Google Chrome). And human visitors appreciate https, too – browsers show an indication of site security in the left hand corner of the URL address bar, and getting a green lock is always preferable to a grey or red one.

Installing an SSL Certificate on Your WordPress Site

At Doctor Web Solution, we host all our clients’ sites on WP Engine. This server is WordPress-specific and already makes a big difference in improving site security by blocking unsafe plugins and automatically updating WordPress versions – we haven’t had a single hack since we made the migration to this server. And adding SSL certificates helps keep WP Engine websites as secure as possible – a top priority for any hosting provider.

With WP Engine, adding an SSL certificate is free and relatively simple. As of October 2016, SSL certificates are free to add through Let’s Encrypt and available to all WP Engine installs. You simply add a certificate to each of your installations and then configure the settings. If you have any issues with redirect loops or broken plugins, open up their chat support for help.

When updating our sites, the most common obstacle we ran into was issues with older slider plugins not being SSL-compatible. This was usually because they continued serving http:// versions of photos over https:// – rendering the images broken. If you’re looking for plugin alternatives, shoot a us a quick note and we can discuss more about updating your current theme.

WordPress Plugins for Easy SSL Migration

Now that you have your certificates set up, it’s time to make sure that your site is serving content properly. What does this mean? Now that you’re serving visitors pages over https://, you need to make sure that images, iframes and other elements within those pages are also being served over https://. This usually means updating the html – and you don’t have to go through and do this by hand. Plugins like SSL Insecure Content Fixer help you identify and fix insecure html so that you don’t get the dreaded broken lock on your browser address bar.

How to Update Your Analytics & Tracking

Now that you’re serving traffic over https://, your Search Console and Google Analytics tracking should follow suit (if you’re not tracking traffic and conversions via Google tools, just send us a quick email and we can help you get set up). Updating these settings will ensure you’re still correctly recording traffic and not missing out on https:// activity.

Complete these steps in Search Console:

  • Click Add a Property (from main Search Console dashboard) -> choose Website -> enter the https variant of URL. Example: https://mysite.com
  • Choose the appropriate verification method (whatever is simplest for you to complete – if you already have the http:// version verified, this also may not be necessary)
  • Check your Search Console messages and complete setup for the new variant.

Next, complete these steps in Google Analytics:

  • Update the preferred versions. Admin -> Property Settings (under the Property column) -> Set Default URL to https version.
  • Update the search console settings. Admin -> Property Settings -> Scroll down to “Adjust Search Console”. Click “edit” next to the associated URL. Select the appropriate site with https prefix.

And with that, you’re on your way to a more secure website & happier site visitors.

SSL for WordPress | WordPress SSL Installation | WP Engine SSL for WordPress

Business woman sending email marketingHow do you get patients back in your office for their next exam? More importantly, how do you show them available treatments that they might be interested in trying? Selling to your patients is a delicate business, and your staff has an in-office approach that informs and educates them. But backing that up with digital efforts is never a bad idea.

If your practice has never tried email marketing, now is the time to start. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide below – and if you’re looking for expert guidance, just get in touch to discuss your practice’s needs. There are many approaches to take when emailing your patient list – make sure yours is effective.

Ask Yourself: Why Am I Sending Email Campaigns?

Never email just for the sake of emailing. Make sure that there’s a clear message you’re sharing with your email list – and that each email has something unique to offer. The last thing you want is to be written off as a spammer or damage your reputation with your patients. It’s a great idea to do a little thinking and planning before you initiate your first campaign. Identify your goals, and plan out each email so that they build interest in the service you’re promoting.

Kissmetrics has a great article on planning your email marketing mindset – check it out for more detailed guidance.

Protecting Against Spam Complaints

When someone receives an email, they have to be given the option to unsubscribe. Their email server also gives them the option to report the message as spam. If you get too many spam complaints, your email marketing platform could forbid you from sending to that list any longer. This screws up your campaigns and can lead to larger problems with your email marketing.

There are a few ways to make sure you’re only emailing people who are interested in receiving messages from your business. One, you can use an opt-in form. This is a form on your website or in your office that asks for the user’s information. It should have a clear message about the types of emails they will receive, and how often. This helps establish appropriate expectations from the start.

If you use an existing client list that you import into your email platform, you can follow up your first email with an extra opt-in email. This will also help ensure that your messages end up in the primary inbox, as opposed to Gmail’s Promotions tab or the spam folder.

Writing Great Subject Lines

Countless emails languish away in inboxes without ever being opened. Many recipients will delete your email without opening it, or just leave the messages and not interact with them in any way. How do you combat this? With a killer subject line.

There are so many different directions you can go with your email subject. Overall, remember that you’re trying to convince recipients to open the email. You can take any of these approaches:

  • Appeal to their curiosity (“Our patients can’t believe what a difference this one treatment makes”)
  • Tantalize them with a special offer
  • Get personal by using merge fields to automatically add the recipient’s first name to the subject, and make it clear why the email is something they might be interested in
  • Inform them with a practice update or educational tidbit

…and so many more.

Great Starter Campaigns for Dental Practices

These campaigns increase in difficulty – if you’re looking for help implementing one, let us know.

  • Easy Event Announcement – Hoping to get signups for an open house or other practice event? Build a quick form and registration page on your website, then build an email around a prominent link to that page. This way, you can make the event known to your full email database and have your site handle the registrations, saving time for your staff. This is easy to implement because it’s just a single campaign sent to your entire list. You may also want to set up event reminders for those who have registered once the event draws nearer.
  • Automated Follow-Ups – Set up your website’s contact forms so that new leads receive quick responses with more information about how and why to schedule an appointment or consultation. This usually isn’t too difficult – you need to integrate your website forms and your email service. WordPress’ Gravity Forms has a built-in MailChimp integration to make this simple.
  • Effective Appointment Reminders – This email marketing tactic is a little trickier because you will need to integrate your scheduling system and your email platform. Depending on the services you’re using, a third-party service might be necessary. But once you get automated appointment reminders up and running, you’ll see a drop in no-shows and more time for your staff to spend on something other than daily emails.

Looking for guidance for your email campaigns? Get in touch today!

Email Marketing for Dentists | Dental Email Marketing | Email Marketing Tips for Dentists