Human Interest Marketing – Part 3

Let me begin by saying that I know nothing about the science of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

A term which I suspect most people who run their own business would use at least weekly and about which we all seem to know enough to be incompetent and seldom more.

SEO is like life insurance. We all know that we need it, we don’t really want it and have no idea how it really works – so we are left in the hands of experts (Actuaries and Optimisers) who can basically tell us what they like because we will never understand their equations.

Of course, like life insurance, the results are blatantly obvious – you are either dead or alive – you either rank on page #1 or you don’t.

When I worked in the life insurance business I used to enjoy telling my clients that mortality rates were not improving – still at one death per person. The same goes for organic search – there is only one Google Page #1 place.

It does surprise me that any Google search still produces all of those sponsored links around the top and sides. Surely people don’t click on sponsored links? They must do – or else Google (and Facebook) wouldn’t generate most of their revenue that way.

So I ask – when was the last time you clicked on a sponsored link and for what? My guilty secret was the relentless appearance of Mahabi slippers on my Facebook profile – eventually I gave in – but that’s the only time I can recall the seduction working.

It remains a mystery to me who is generating all that sponsored traffic.

I do spend ages, however, in organic search – primarily looking for dental practices before I talk to them or visit. I’m surprised at how often it can be difficult to find a practice’s web site, even if I have the correct business name, address and the name of the owner.

Although not directly related to the subject of human interest, there are a few tips I wanted to share about SEO:

  • Location, location, location. You really do have to stand over your Optimiser and be VERY specific about the geography of searches within which you want to appear. I’ve noticed a couple of classic cases of unsupervised SEO going wrong in recent months. In both cases, my client’s practice was in a market town with limited local population density so, in order to utilise an agreed budget, the Optimiser had deemed it wise to extend the search to local major cities. In one case the city was 10 miles away and in the second case, two cities had been brought into the mix, each almost 100 miles away from the remote epicentre. The well-meaning Optimiser didn’t “get” the local attitude to travel and there was no chance in either case that potential new patients from the cities would travel out;
  • Modality, modality, modality. Be very specific about the treatment modalities you want to attract and use search terminology that is familiar to the public and not dental jargon;
  • Demographic, demographic, demographic. Decide who exactly you want in the door and think, also, about the device each demographic is likely to use to make that search;
  • Review, review, review. A Google Analytics report makes about as easy a read as an actuarial review of mortality rates. Meet with your Optimiser every month, face to face and ask them to interpret the Analytics and make suggestions as to how you can improve. Every month. No excuses.

I’m a great fan of SEO done properly and I suppose today’s human interest story is to make a friend of your Optimiser.

You may never understand what she is telling you but at least make sure you are one of her favourite clients.

She can make a big difference.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.