Having A Bad SEO Month? Take A Look At Search Trends

It’s easy to grasp the fact that most e-commerce sites will have various cyclical trends throughout the year. Maybe an uptrend before Christmas, maybe a downtrend for the summer, but other kinds of businesses have trends as well that may not be so apparent. Sometimes they are not yearly events, and the business owner may not even be aware that a trend exists.

An attentive business owner may notice that they are getting fewer phone calls or lead form submissions. They might check their web traffic and see that there have been less visitors for the last few weeks or months.

What do you do when they start asking questions about why they are getting less business?

It’s not good when your client starts to question the value of your work. You need to find a reason that explains what is going on. Chances are you will find the answer in their traffic data, so let’s get into it.

Had A Bad Month For Your SEO Results?

While looking at your GMB data for the month do you see numbers like this and start to freak out?

Lower traffic in Google MY Business Insights

Both of these panels show the GMB summary data for their listings during November 2017. It’s not fun when it’s time to give your monthly report to a client and you are looking at these kinds of numbers. However, it just so happens that these two businesses are both dentists for completely different cities.

thinking face emojiHmm, maybe it’s not me (and what I thought was my expert SEO work) after all…

Search Trends Not On Your Radar

Let’s take a look at the general search trends in one of the cities included in the previous GMB Insight panel. Using Google Trends, I’ve typed in the broad search term of ‘dentist’ and filtered it to the specific city I want to look at, in this case Los Angeles.

If your city is not large enough and does not have enough population, the graph may look jumpy, it’ll probably be better to use a larger geographic area, like the entire State, to get smoother lines.

You can see that for the period we are interested in, there is a definite downtrend in general searches for the term ‘dentist’. For two weeks in November, the amount of search drops 25%! Well, that certainly could explain the drop in exposure of the GMB listing and in the organic search results.

 Fewer traffic searches for dentists in November


Seeing this prompts me to investigate a little further. Was this a one time deal, or is this a cyclical trend? Let’s take a look at a longer time frame across the whole country this time to get a good picture.

Search trends for dentists

Aha, looks like the Thanksgiving holiday is the cause of the lower search volumes for dentists in November. There is a definite spike downwards the third week of November every year. This is enough to skew results for the entire month.

Holidays Do Not Always Drive Search Trends For Businesses

Although, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas might be obvious times to look for disruption in search volumes, whether it be up or down, there are certainly other factors that affect the number of people looking for local business services.

Let’s take another example, this time a lawyer in Houston Texas. This is his GMB Insight panel for the month of November. Ouch!

Lower November traffic for lawyers


This lawyer in particular focuses on immigration law, and when we take a look at the general trends for that, we see a general downtrend starting from January and coming to it’s lowest point so far in November. A 50% reduction in searches for ‘immigration lawyer’ during the year!

immigration search trends for Houston Texas

In fact, this is a general trend for across the entire United States. 20% fewer searches for ‘immigration lawyer’ starting from Sept 2017 and continuing till the end of November.

Search trends of rimmigration lawyers for 2017

It’s difficult to know if this trend explains the entire drop in traffic we see for the GMB Insights panel shown above without looking into more detail into the analytics of the specific sight. But obviously, in this case the political arena has changed concerning immigration and is causing this trend down for the entire country.

Explaining Away Poor SEO Results

I wouldn’t try to use trends to explain away all poor SEO results. Obviously looking at the search phrase rankings will let you know if you have lost positions for major traffic search terms to your competitors. A deep dive into the analytics data might also be warranted to see if there are any specific pages that are more affected than others.

Also consider the opposite direction as well, and don’t necessarily take all the credit for your ‘awesome SEO work’ when you see increased traffic if has been during a good uptrend.

Finding Search Trends That Affect Businesses

All businesses, even local business, can be impacted by trends. General search trends caused by seasons or holidays may be obvious to a business owner. But as we see in the case above, even Federal politics can affect local businesses.

This is something that the business owner might be aware of already, they might have a general sense of what’s going on in the news that could be impacting their business, but as digital marketers, we have access to data and we need to use that data to drive our decisions.

By using Google Trends, we can quantify that search trend a bit more for the business owner so that they better understand impacts to their business. It possibly also gives you a bit more breathing room as well for your SEO efforts when they call you up asking why they have had less sales or clients during the past month.

This article originally posted to Joy Hawkins SEO Blog.

21 Basic Tips For Marketing Your New Dental Practice


Like any small business, marketing your dental practice can be difficult, especially when your attention is pulled in so many directions. Dealing with your everyday responsibilities like taking care of your existing patients and managing your hygienists and receptionists, finding new patients through marketing can fall low on your list of priorities.

But as we all know, good marketing can have huge payoffs. And being a good dentist, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a good marketer.

So, here are a few ideas that you might want to look through that might help spark an idea that will help you get a few more clients.

Dental Marketing Ideas

  1. “Welcome to the neighborhood” greeting cards—Lists of new homeowners are available from many sources, sometimes at a cost. Take advantage of these lists and send out a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” card to these new potential patients.
    Similar, are the ‘welcome wagon’ services that visit people who are new to town.
  2. Getting involved with your community—Patients are more likely to feel connected to a dentist they encounter outside of the dentist’s office. Sponsor local events, from charity events to school athletics, by buying advertising, donating items with your logo on them, setting up a booth, or just making your presence known.
  3. Start a blog—Don’t underestimate the power of a blog to connect with potential patients, to give them interesting information that’s relevant to their lives.
  4. SEO friendliness—Make sure that your website is heightened with SEO content. SEO content drives people to your page by listing it higher in search engines.
  5. Offer free or discounted exams/cleanings/whitening—Everyone loves a deal, but do your research first. Make sure you’re not offering the same incentives as every other practice in town. Your advertised specials should be different enough to catch patients’ attention.
  6. Offer a pre-pay 5% bookkeeping discount—Discounts always attract patients, and this one has an added bonus in that patients will be more likely to keep an appointment if they’ve prepaid.
  7. Engage on social media—Social media is a must in today’s society. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest, social media platforms offer unique and engaging ways for your dental practice to interact with patients. Make sure the content is interesting and relevant. Quotes and humor usually work well, but whatever it is, try to make it something readers will want to share.
  8. Advertise in the local flyers and newspapers—Although people won’t be looking for an add on a flyer everyday to choose a dentist, if you are consistent with your marketing, eventually week after week, your logo and practice name will soak into the reader’s mind. When comes time that they need a new dentist, your name will be familiar to them and you’ll have a good chance of acquiring them.
  9. Facebook marketing—What’s the best place to remind people they’ve been to your practice and need to book an appointment, or read reviews about your practice? Facebook. If you get 2,000 clicks per month to your website, you can re-target the Facebook ads to drive incredibly cheap, targeted clicks to your site.
  10. Create cross-referral alliances—Forming cross-referral alliances with other doctors and businesses in the area can be a great way to find new patients. Make sure it’s a doctor or you’re comfortable sending people to or this strategy could backfire.
  11. Send a monthly e-newsletter—Keep in contact with current and potential patients by sending out a monthly e-newsletter with dental tips, new technologies and information, and maybe something “fun.” E-newsletters work as a gentle reminder to make your next appointment without being pushy or overt in the call to action.
  12. Grow and manage patient testimonials and reviews—Reviews are steadily becoming more important as new patients conduct online searches to find a new dentist in their area. Kindly ask patients to write reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp and make sure to respond to reviews, whether good or bad.
  13. Optimize your website for mobile—A lot of people search for local services, including dentists, from their phones or tablets instead of a traditional computer. Make sure your website is optimized for these devices so that it is easy to navigate and gather information, no matter how a potential patient accesses it.
  14. Develop a referral incentive program—Incentivize current patients to refer their friends and family to your practice with discounts on future services, gift cards, or special prizes.
  15. Be an expert—Patients want to know they’re in good hands. By writing occasional articles for magazines or newspapers and then featuring them on your website and in your office, you give patients a sense that you’re an expert in your field, which builds confidence in your abilities.
  16. Identify and engage your target audience—You can’t reach everyone, everywhere. But you can decide who your target audience is and find unique ways to reach them.
  17. Use videos to market your practice—There’s no doubt about it: videos are more engaging than plain text. Speak to potential patients by posting a well-made video on your website, which maybe features a tour of your office. Visuals tend to work better than other marketing schemes.
  18. Use a unique and consistent logo and tagline—This may sound obvious, but consistent and attractive branding is one of the most important elements involved in gaining new patients. It will create brand recognition and a sense of awareness among your patients and any new clientele.
  19. Always have a call to action—Don’t forget to put a call to action and phone number at the bottom of every page of your website and on every piece of marketing material!
  20. Market results, not services—No one is spurred into action by hearing about having cavities filled or getting a cleaning. They’re inspired to call your practice by remembering they want a beautiful smile, white teeth, and a healthy mouth. Remember the message, and wait for the calls to come rolling in.
  21. Pay Per Click (PPC)— PPC advertising is a great way to get the most from your marketing plan. These purchased advertisements help develop a clientele and recruit new traffic based on paid placement on a search engine. It targets consumers based on their searches, and leaves you in a position to attract new people to your page.

One of the most important things is to be consistent and measure your results. The easiest way is to get your front line people answering the phone to make sure that they ask the referrer when a new client has called. That’s what makes online marketing so powerful, is that is it highly measurable so you can determine your ROI.

Obviously this is just a quick rundown of marketing activities that a dental practice can initiate. The details of any marketing effort are what matter most however. If you have any questions concerning your dental practice’s online presence, feel free to give me a call or email and I will be glad to help.