Transcription of Episode

Jonathan: If you’re a dentist, you probably have trouble keeping track of all the changes that go on in marketing on your average year. Well, today, we’re going to do a 2021 Year in Review on Marketing Chairside, stick with us.

So thanks for joining us on Marketing Chairside, and today I am joined by Director of Search Marketing at Pro Impressions Marketing, Bob Weber. Bob, thanks for coming on again.

Bob: Jonathan, it’s good to be here. Nice to be back on the show. I think pretty excited to talk about what we’ve got going on and what we had for SEO changes in the last 2021. It’s been a wild year.

Jonathan: It really has. And I thought we’d probably want to go over some of the news headlines, but maybe start off with some of the results that we’ve seen. So, I’m going to pull up a graphic here and just ask you to walk us through what we’re looking at.

Bob: Yeah, this is a report we put together internally that’s of organic traffic for local searches. Most of the patients our dentists are seeing and what we’re trying to get in front of the people we’re trying to get in front of are the local people in their market. Sometimes a patient will travel across multiple states or a long distance for really great dental care, and that’s good and we want to reach out to those people, but the majority of what we’re really interested in is their local community and the local market.

So, this is organic searches from a client’s local market. And as you can see here, the traffic dropped off a lot during the lockdowns, When the COVID first hit March, April, everyone is staying home, staying safe. But as we got into the summer, things opened up a little bit, a lot of the dental offices reopened, whether it be for emergency or other services. And so through the summer there was a little bit of pent up demand. People just couldn’t get their teeth taken care of for a couple months there, so they were really interested and we actually had a really good summer last year. But when we started into January of this year, we just saw some big traffic jumps from local searches and the sites just really performed well. As you can see here, this client, even in October, which is often a slower month, we saw a 40% increase year over year on traffic. And last October was actually a pretty great month as well.

So really been some good results. And if you look down here on the bottom, this red graph here, this just shows the same thing, the organic traffic going back as far as we’ve got data here in January ’17 and the traffic levels were pretty constant for the whole time. And just here in January, they just really shot up, had our best traffic levels ever. And even September/October, we’re still looking we’re in the 90th percentile over the traffic we’ve recorded over the last several years. So this is great. This has been a really good year for us because of that.

Jonathan: Yeah. I’m super proud of it. And I know the client’s very happy, but of course that’s not a one-off either. We’ve, we’ve got another example here. Let’s walk through this one.

Bob: Yeah, this is another client and you and they saw the same thing. Once they kind of hit the lockdown period there in March really stayed high and just got higher over the summer, kind of really hit a high point there in August, and then hit another high point in October, which again is kind of could be a slow month. So 74% year over year. Great traffic and in the midst of a time when we’re seeing a lot of things with supply chain and economics, and obviously the COVID still with us, so a lot of stuff going on, but we’re still seeing some really good organic traffic.

Again, look down here in this historic graph, traffic levels were pretty much the same. We kind of grew here and there had some good spikes there in January 2020, but really when we hit 2021 and really March, it just took off. And last month, October was our best month ever. Really great organic traffic results, really excited about that for this client, and for many of our clients, probably the majority, there may have been a few that are a little kind of stayed even, I don’t know if we really had anybody that dropped off, but really for the majority of our clients, we saw some really good activity on local search which is really what we’re after.

Jonathan: It is definitely because that’s where the patients are. You know, in the SEO Year in Review, we’ve got to look at some headlines because that’s really what led to this video is just trying to keep track of all the different things that have happened in the year. Here’s one, Google’s Summer Updates rolling out. Forbes caught wind of the update that I guess hit in June, the page experience update.

Bob: Yeah. The page experience update was really the big one. And like that previous graphic said, Summer of Updates feels like Google’s been doing a lot this year, but the page experience update was really, really the big one that everyone was concerned about. Google was initially going to roll it out in the spring and in April maybe, and they kept pushing it back, pushing it back and they started rolling it out in June and it phased in through August. And this is something that we were very aware of and our development team was really working hard over the last couple years to just really streamline our sites and make them just as fast as possible. And I think that’s had a big impact. I think that’s part of why we’ve had such a successful year because our development team’s done a great job, just making the sites very fast, very efficient, really hitting those benchmarks in the core web vitals and in the page speed insights, really getting those numbers where they needed to be.

Jonathan: Right. And so Search Engine Land, and a lot of others kind of picked up on this. Here’s one, “Google postpones the page experience update”. And then in November there was another update, a core update. And at the bottom of this, we’ve got Danny Sullivan tweeting and we’ll just kind of zoom in on that. “We have updates all the time.” Can you tell us a little bit more about that, Bob?

Bob: Yeah. Google’s really kind of changed their strategy a little bit. They used to just kind of just show up with updates, you know, you just wake up some morning and oh, there’s a Google update. And they’ve become much more visible, much more talking about what’s upcoming and a little more transparent about what they’re doing. They’re obviously not telling us everything, for sure, but they’ve kind of given us some warning.

And just more information and that particular Twitter, you know, they’re asking Danny Sullivan about these updates, why there’s so many, and he’s just saying, you know, we always do updates and this is just something we have with Google. But it really has felt like a very busy year. They’ve had the passage update where they were looking for… They’re indexing content further down in the page.

And I think that’s been something that’s been really good for us as well, because we’ve really taken the strategy in the last couple years to really focus on making our content the best marketing content, best dental content we can. Try to be the best, have the best dental content for every page that we have on a site. Obviously a lofty goal, and there’s a lot of competition, I’m not going to say we’re perfect, but we’ve really focused on that. And as a result, they get down there and, you know, Google gets down this passage index and they can pull out things that they can actually give us ranking for. So I think that’s been good too.

Jonathan: Yeah. And I think that all just kind of preps us for when these things hit, you know, there’s one person here “Is this all? Is that at the end?”. Well, no. I mean, just today, we got this tweet from Google Search Central saying, “We’re releasing another broad core update. We do this several times a year.” And I think that’s the key piece here is that you want to build not just for the latest update, because now at this point you can’t keep up. It’s impossible, but you want to build a website that’s ready to take whatever comes at it. And so without bearing the lead too much, Bob, I want to ask you a tough question. What is the number one SEO recommendation you have for 2022, if a dentist is trying to prepare?

Bob: Really, I think my number one recommendation, and this would probably be my number one recommendation every year is to make your site as fast as possible and deliver the best content possible to the visitors. Don’t get caught up in a lot of flashy things that are going to slow your site down, work with good professionals that are giving you great, you know, paying attention to your site, making it faster and making it more efficient. If you’re doing that and if you’re giving potential patients a great experience, you’re going to have success in SEO.

Jonathan: Right? Yep. And that’s been our philosophy for a long time. It’s one of the reasons why we retain our clients, I think it’s just that we’re not trying random fly-by-night things. We’re trying proven principles and sticking with them and, and promoting quality. So Bob, thanks for helping us kind of look back over what’s gone on in 2021 and giving us a good start to the new year, sir.

Bob: Sure thing. It’s great to be on the show, always. Good to see you.

Jonathan: And thank you at home for or at the office, I guess, wherever you are. Thanks for joining us on Marketing Chairside. We have a video, well, I don’t know, a couple times a month. So if you want to get a notification when those come out, please subscribe to our channel or like the page. We have this on a lot of different platforms, so click whatever relevant button there you can. And if you have a question that you’d like to ask about your marketing and what’s working for you or what’s not working for you and you want to know what we think, I’d love to have you comment on the video and you know, who knows? Maybe we’ll even have you on the show. Thanks so much for joining us. We’ll see you next time on Marketing Chairside.