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How UK Dentists Can Find Private Patients Using Low-Cost Local Online Advertising?

Updated on February 24, 2014

How to find a dentists practice online – your dentist practice!

In the past, it has been possible to rely on telephone directory listings, listings in the Yellow Pages and other local publications such as Thomson's Local to provide telephone enquiries.

Although these methods still exist and can still bring in a few enquiries, the emphasis has shifted from off-line sources such as those mentioned above to online searching and other Internet-based lead generation.

The place to be

So how can a dentist based in, say, Leeds, ensure that he or she receives their fair share of online enquiries. This is a particularly important question if you are thinking of selling a dental practice, or indeed buying one.

A quick look at the Google map result on the right for the search “Dentists in Leeds” on Google returns the following result, (please note that the same result will probably never re-occur, it changes at the detail level every time but is basically the same).

You will note that there is a cluster of dental practices in the central area of the map, approximately 17 in the above example.

Given such a relatively high number of results, is it just a case of “pot luck” as to whether any particular dentist receives the enquiry? The answer is, unfortunately, “yes” in most cases.

Your dental practice will probably be listed in Google’s “Places for business” database and featured on their extensive mapping system. If this is not the case then you should take steps to get it listed because this is free advertising that your competitors will undoubtedly be taking advantage of.

If you want to list your business for free on Google’s “places for business”, here is the link

http://www.google.co.uk/business/placesforbusiness/

If you are thinking of selling a dental practice, be aware that most prospective buyers will want to be sure that the practice is listed and if you are buying a dental practice it is also important to ensure that the listing is there and correct.

Whether or not you have a listing on the above there are two methods of obtaining enquiries that you must not miss, these are:

  1. Enquiries that are generated by your website as it appears on Googles “natural” search listings, (unpaid)
  2. Enquiries that are generated from people who see an advert at the side of the above listings with a specific and carefully targeted message that is relevant to the search that they made, (paid advertising known as pay per click or ppc).

It’s only natural

In order to get your website featured more prominently in the natural search results it is necessary to have it optimised for the search engines so that they can easily decide whether it is relevant to the search that has been made. This process, known as SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation) is something that all businesses should be aware of and should budget for.

SEO is not an instant fix however, it is a gradual process requiring small changes applied over time – any attempt to rush and overdo it will be interpreted by the search engines as attempts to game the system and the site’s ranking could be adversely affected.

PPC, on the other hand, is virtually instant and you can start to see the results in a day or two. It is a paid form of advertising whereby you set a daily budget that you are comfortable with and select a list of key words or phrases that, if searched for by a potential patient, would indicate that they were actively looking to find a dentist.

Here are the top performing keywords for dentists at the time of writing:

  • dentists near me
  • dentist near me
  • free dental care
  • find a dentist
  • root canal cost
  • tooth implant cost
  • emergency dental care
  • dentist in London (substitute your own location)
  • tooth extraction cost
  • walk in dentist
  • nhs dentist
  • nhs dentist charges
  • nhs dentist finder
  • nhs dentist prices
  • find nhs dentist
  • nhs dentist costs
  • nhs dentist London (substitute your own location)
  • emergency nhs dentist
  • find an nhs dentist
  • nhs dentist near me

How can you use this list?

Well, first of all let’s do a visibility check on your business:

  1. Go to google.co.uk and search for any one of the above phrases, make a note of where you appear and of any website that appears above you. Now, repeat this but remembering to put your town or city at the end of the enquiry. The results should have changed.
  2. If your website shows within the top 3 results, repeat for the other phrases.
  3. If your website does not show on the first page of google for any of the above phrases then you are going to have problems attracting enough traffic onto your website to make it a viable source of new business.
  4. If, on the other hand, you are appearing for some of the above phrases, but not all, then make a note of those which you appear for, and those which you do not.
  5. If you don’t appear for any of the above phrases, or only one or two of them, then your website needs to be thoroughly optimised using optimisation methods which comply with Google’s policy – see our article on SEO for Dentists practices for more details.
  6. If you are appearing for all, or most of the above, then it may still be worth having some SEO carrying out to pick up on the ones which are not working for you.

How to pick up traffic to your website if it is not appearing in the natural search

The way to pick up traffic to your website, if it is not occurring naturally, is to use Google’s ppc service known as AdWords.

AdWords works as follows:

  • You define a list of key words for which you would like your website to be visible
  • Write at least one text-based ad for the google search page, (see examples on the right hand side of the google search results page).
  • Decide on a bid for each keyword – this is the amount referred to in the “pay” of the pay per click process. This is what you would pay every time someone searched for one of your keywords and clicked on your ad.
  • Decide on a daily budget, how much each day you are willing to spend. Your ads can be stopped at any time and there is no contract.

It’s very simple really and, more importantly, it’s instant. Traffic will be coming to your website right away – people who have seen your ad because they have searched for a relevant word or phrase that you have decided upon. In other words, people who are highly likely to be looking for your services.

When thinking of selling a dental practice, most prospective buyers would look at your website and would want to be sure that it is bringing new patient enquiries to you at an acceptable rate. When buying a dental practice, it would also be important to know that people were able to find you easily and make enquiries.

Take a look at our other articles for more help with getting more enquiries for your dental practice, selling a dental practice or buying a dental practice.

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      Andy Acton 3 years ago

      Great article. If you get your marketing right this will bring you all the patients you will ever need. In turn this means that your financial performance (and security) improve and when the time comes this will filter through to your goodwill value when you come to sell.