Marathon Man

You know you’ve got a problem with blogging when you’re high on nitrous oxide smelling the burning fragments of an old filling that’s being drilled and all you can think about is how this would make a great post about local search.

Last year I moved to Pleasanton and needed a new dentist. I was referred to Dr. G. by someone I didn’t know well. Within five seconds of looking in my mouth Dr. G. told me I should have my old amalgam fillings replaced. He said they were “leaking” and contained mercury which was dangerous. My old dentist, whom I loved, never mentioned this problem. My immediate reaction was Dr. G. was trying to sell me something I didn’t need.

I went home and hit the Web. There was a ton of information out there about amalgam fillings but it was impossible to draw any conclusions because there were too many points of view. And to top it off, the sites that promoted replacement all smelled a bit too much of sleazy direct marketing (e.g. get a set of Ginsu knives with your new fillings).

I spent a lot of time researching and worrying about this and whether or not my dentist was even credible. After a lot of frustrated digging for the facts, I decided to go for it.

The procedure worked out fine (especially the nitrous oxide part), but while staring into Dr. G’s glasses through the smoky haze of ground up filling debris, I couldn’t help but think:

1. If this guy had a website with a FAQ section, he could have told me to read it when he first suggested the procedure. He could have linked to authoritative articles on the subject and I would have felt a lot better about things –and his credibility — a lot sooner.

2. If this guy had a website with a FAQ section I might have found it when I was searching Google for information since the popular keywords often found in FAQ’s are powerful SEO elements.

3 . I should try to barter my next filling or cleaning for a little SEO consulting.

The moral of the story: Your website is more than a way to market your services. In the right hands, your website is probably the most cost-effective and efficient way to connect with current clients and help them make decisions to use your services.

And one more thing: According to Dr. G., I am a “60 percenter”, meaning it takes up to 60% N2O v. 40% O2 to get me to dental chair nirvana. I guess 50/50 is the average. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

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25 Response Comments

  • Charles Lewis  October 18, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I totally agree. FAQ pages are great for optimization and they definitely provide additional information in regards to what the person searching may be looking for. I also believe a testimonials page can be great for optimization too, especially when it’s well written and the person giving the testimonial has mentioned the product or service in the testimonial.

  • Andrew Shotland  October 18, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    An added benefit of testimonials is that it’s possible to rank for the customer’s name which can act as a kind of word of mouth referral when found in a search engine.

  • Menachem Livni  October 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Just to address issues raised in this well written post, pls see the dentist digital directory web site at

    Web site in Israel as demo for vertical directories –
    1. Vertical deep search (use the List)
    2. Search for any data including text in Print based ads
    3. Will be soon launched in main metros linked for SEO with major search engines

  • Andrew Shotland  October 31, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Shalom Menachem! Not sure what “dafdef” means in Hebrew but you may want to rebrand for the US version.

  • Chuck McKay  November 6, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve been saying for years that the greatest benefit a website offers for professionals is credibility.

  • Hayden Dell  November 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    No question that one of the last hold outs of the online revolution are those in the professional services industry. Doctors, dentists, etc. Our firm happens to specialize in this area and there is a lot of opportunity right now. That being said, it is still very difficult (for some crazy reason) to convince many that they need a website.

  • Julie Christopher  February 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Becoming an information resource is one of the best ways to use a website. It helps your potential customers trust you even if they are not yet ready to use your services. When they are ready, you have a better chance of getting the business.

  • Cristina Tomescu  May 17, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Interesting post! I agree about the FAQ section on a dentist’s website, it’s better for patients to know exactly what to expect from a particular procedure!

  • Phoenix Jay  June 30, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Agreed on the credibility – and I like your number 3. I’ve bartered a good deal of stuff to local small business owners for really simple seo work. It’s always worked out pretty well.

  • Virginia Dentists  July 5, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I totally agree with you. Not only dentists should better inform the patients about common procedures, all service providers should do so. Everybody would be a lot more confident.

  • Portland Dental  August 1, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Very interested that you would write a post about a dentist lacking in the “website” area. I have a dental office in Portland Oregon and until recently didn’t have a website. But oh man has it helped, as I can direct patients to read up on procedures, see referrals from past patients, and photos of my office.

  • Thornhill Dentist  December 4, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Hmmm. after reading you post, I come to realize how beneficial it might be to have a FAQ page for my dental office website.

  • Andrew Shotland  December 4, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Yep David, I would recommend getting on your own domain and sprucing things up a bit.

  • Tom  February 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    We are actually in the process of creating a video FAQ section on our dental website for the exact reason pointed out by Andrew on this post. We are looking forward to seeing the results!

  • cosmetic dentistry guide  April 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Andrew we have a lot of dentists that work with us and one of the things patients like about our site is that it is very informative and just like you mentioned here a lot of dental offices link to us because we offer patient friendly guides on procedures. We are thinking of taking this further by having an independent reviews and ratings system, do you think this would have helped you in finding the right dentist?

    I certainly know when looking for a hotel reviews and ratings is something I rely on.

  • Andrew Shotland  April 23, 2010 at 7:35 am

    We are thinking of taking this further by comment spamming blogs by asking bogus questions about dentist ratings and reviews

  • Dave  August 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I totally agree with you on every point. A friend of mine sells books, and he receives tons of calls every day from people inquiring about price, condition of the books, location, etc. If he sets up a website, he can advertise his URL rather than his phone number, and get peoples questions answered before they call.

    While its not dentistry, I think the idea is the same. I believe every business no matter what needs a website.

  • Andrew Shotland  August 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Welcome to the blog Dave. Thanks for joining in on the conversation.

  • fresno dentist  September 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

    FAQ’s are not only a great tool for SEO but they help with the consent nagging that many people do. I have found that by simply directing people to the FAQ page I have almost eliminated calls and emails for simple questions.

  • Tucson Dentist  September 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    We believe that education of our patients is one of our biggest roles. We always take the time when we are with patients to make sure they understand everything. However we haven’t thought of a FAQ and will definitely be creating one very soon.
    Thanks for the great ideas.

  • Andrew Shotland  September 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments all of you dental fans. To any other dentist SEO practictioners out there, please remember your links are being tagged with “nofollow” so give the comment spamming a rest. Thanks.

  • Assure a Smile  November 23, 2010 at 4:28 am

    EVERY business needs a website. Especially dentists. We traditionally did print advertising but found that online advertising was the much better route to go.

    Thanks for the insightful article, Andrew. Let’s not let too many of our competitors know this though!

  • Lansing Dentist  March 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I would consider to add a FAQ pages to my clients. thanks for the great advice!

  • Philadelphia Dentist  August 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I like the FAQ page idea. Sometimes it better for people to call in with some questions though. What are your thoughts on calling a practice vs. reading/booking online?

  • Dr. Drosu Dental Centre  June 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I think in addition to have a FAQ section I’m a bit believe in Resource pages. Pages that include videos, white papers, case studies, ect. I think it goes a long way in not only building credibility but also providing important information for potential customers.