“I’ve never seen a local dental practice in the world ranking as much as we are now, I’ve never seen a local practice in the world with as much traffic as we have. We are ranking nationally. Because of the tool. Simple as that. And I still don’t use even 50% of it.”
Ed Challinor, Co-founder and CEO, Smileworks Liverpool
Smileworks are Liverpool’s most popular dental practice providing dental and medical aesthetics to beautiful, health-conscious and committed patients. Smileworks collected together some of the finest dental minds Europe has to offer who all share a common aim - to provide better care for their patients. Both general and specialist dentists utilise a multi-disciplinary approach to ensure each patient gets the highest standard of care possible. The business has grown in less than four years from nothing to a turnover of 1.5M making it not only the most popular but the largest practice in Liverpool. Being the fastest growing independent dental practice in the UK they have plans to double in size.
It was 5 years ago that Ed Challinor and Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann set out to establish a privately owned dental practice. He had all the right resources: expert dentists, a niche in the market, and the drive to learn how the business works. He quickly learned paid media, and back then getting new patients seemed easy at first. However, as time went on: “I wrote and wrote brilliant content that was original but nobody seemed to want to read it. I had about 980 users a month and that was definitely not enough.”
Outbound marketing was becoming more and more inefficient: “Our outbound strategy involved leads from PPC and Facebook that would land in a sales software system and the ladies on the front of house would need to spend hours of their day almost cold calling these people who had given up their details in exchange for lead magnets and infographics etc.” These were not the committed patients the business needed; they were just showing a passing interest. It put enormous strain on the front of house and people began to leave.
Ed even trailed a sales manager but it still led to patients who the clinical teams felt didn’t really want to be at the practice.
At that point, he realized that the website needed to be optimized and carefully crafted with the users and engines in mind.
It was a revelation that what patients really wanted was not outbound but inbound. “People want to search and buy on their own terms – not be sold to,” emphasises Ed. “Our outbound marketing costs at one point were £5,000 on paid media and £700 per month on a PPC agency. Then there was the front of house time, sales manager salary and 20-30% conversion rates from bookings to clinical treatments. We were barely breaking even.”
This is where SEMrush came into play.
Less than 10 months ago Smileworks turned to SEMrush and ran their first audit.
“Competitive analysis is the best there is. Other tools vastly overestimate traffic, SEMrush gave me a precise idea of how I ranked against other sites. It was spookily accurate!”
Essentially what Ed wanted was to outrank his local competitors. The analytics project relating to Local Pack was worrying: Smileworks’ competitors were ranking for 30% of their keywords, while Smileworks was at only 4%. Initially Ed thought the huge number of keywords Smileworks was ranking for diluted the percentage of map results, but he drilled down data and found out they were actually badly underrepresented in the map pack.
Ed did a local citation audit based on the SEMrush data and increased map pack listings dramatically in a short period of time: 300% increase over a 4-week period!
“Page rank is like power,” continues Ed, “so that and Domain Authority were always on my mind. I use the Top 10 benchmarking tools but discount the sites with huge DA90 and big page ranks.” If a small local practice is on page 1 amongst a bunch of big players then that’s who you should be looking at doing your benchmarking against.”
How are they ranking now? “We are outranking DA90 domains with our DA28 site,” indicates Ed.
When it comes to content management, one of the projects Ed did purely using SEMrush was about the cost of veneers. Smileworks have pages on all sorts of products and services they provide, however there was a problem with cannibalization on the veneers costs page. “I wasn’t ranking for any veneers cost terms, and cost is huge in veneers!” recalls Ed. SEMrush helped him to discover that ‘costs’ was a separate topic where veneers are concerned and that led him to introduce pages dedicated to both, and they are now linked to one another. “Insights like that have been invaluable,” says Ed.
The results have been truly impressive. In under a year, Smileworks’ organic traffic has grown 24 times. They are at 25,000 users a month now and this is mainly from some national results. “We are a local business and the data from Analytics is showing a good portion of this is from our local area and also from all over the world. But SEMrush taught me that traffic and national appeal helps enormously with local rankings too. The two are inextricably linked.”
Usually such growth would imply an increased marketing budget. The case with Smileworks was the opposite. Shortly after starting to use SEMrush Ed dramatically decreased paid media activities, reduced marketing expenses, and saw a 20% increase in Net Profit Margin.
“I used to spend around £10k in total to make £80k revenue,” recalls Ed. “When overheads were taken into account we were sometimes losing money. Now I simply use paid media to retarget our local SEO users and my ad spend has gone down by an order of magnitude. The return on investment for us is incalculable. The app is quite literally the first one I open in the morning and the last one I look at before I finish in the evening.”
Customer base grows 24-fold while Organic Traffic skyrockets.
Since implementing SEMrush suite Smileworks’ customer base has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of online traffic as well as actual customers who book appointments. If a similar business enjoys an average of 2 leads a day, Smileworks have 12. “My biggest problem now is I cannot hire dentists fast enough.”
Revenue increase by 100% in under a year.
Ed has grown their practice from a margin of -5% to +38% now, with an increase in top line revenue of 100%. They have paid down all debts, minimised reliance on agencies, and cut ad spend by 90%.
The most important thing turned out to be patients that are genuinely interested in the company; they come to the practice with a strong buyer intent and get the treatment they want. Booking conversion for Smileworks reaches 1 in 3 users as opposed to 1 in 10 in the recent past, and conversion on taking treatment is at 60% rather than an average of 20%.