© Pressureua | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime Xxl 23351039

Should dentists stop SEO during COVID-19?

May 1, 2020
Adam Yang gives dentists a cost-benefit analysis on whether cutting their dental practice's SEO-building efforts now is a good idea. He also offers DIY solutions for maintaining your search engine ranking if your marketing budget has been slashed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. Many dental practices remain closed, and those that are open are seeing fewer patients. This has left many dentist-owners to wonder how they should be adjusting their marketing budgets in the days ahead. From what I've observed, the responses have varied greatly. Some practices have decided to increase their marketing, while others are halting everything completely. Since every practice is different, it's smart to ask what strategy makes best sense for you.

This article will focus on marketing as it relates to search engine optimization (SEO), an essential strategy for any modern, thriving dental practice. Many practices have questioned whether they should continue their SEO-building efforts during this time. Some have put their SEO efforts on hold, thinking it is a way to minimize expenses. However, what these practices may not know is that stopping SEO efforts can disastrously affect a practice's current search engine rankings.

If you are a dentist-owner, it's imperative you keep in mind that we will recover from COVID-19 and your practice will fully reopen. If you decide to shut down your SEO efforts during the pandemic, be prepared to accept the fact that your business may not recover as fast as those who kept SEO active or upped their SEO campaigns.

Yet, if you have decided to reduce or stop your SEO efforts, all is not lost. Here is a word of advice: you can still do SEO yourself now that you have some free time. To that end, here’s a step-by-step, DIY guide.

OK—let's begin!

1. When you reopen, be ready to hit the ground sprinting

Although the current circumstances are difficult, you don't want to lose traction for current business and future opportunities. Without an appropriate marketing strategy, including SEO, it's difficult to keep your head above water. Marketing drives awareness and profits.

As you reopen, your business needs to hit the ground sprinting. You may not see immediate ROI from SEO as you did before COVID-19. However, in time SEO will still help bring in business and help you overcome what you have lost. Also remember this: Halting your SEO gives your competitors an opportunity. They will be able to recover at a faster rate than you.

2. Say goodbye to page two, three, four, and so forth

While things are uncertain, it's important to remember why you're doing SEO in the first place. Here are the facts:

  • 91.5% of web traffic goes to the first page.1
  • 75.1% of traffic engagement goes to the top three spots.2
  • 75% of people never scroll past the first page.3

3. People are searching 24/7

Because COVID-19 is keeping the general population at home, making content available for them is crucial. It's likely that people are searching the web for information at a higher rate than at any other time in history. That's the reason why you can benefit from putting additional time into the content element of SEO. Right now is the best time to improve awareness about your practice and get high rankings.

Yes, the majority of information being searched is about COVID-19. But you can still create content based around your practice, your services, and how you are combating this pandemic. Don’t forget about all those potential patients who now have the time to research big-money elective services, such as implants, veneers, and full-mouth reconstruction.

Also, think about these strategies:

  • Adding “telehealth” to your content library
  • Transforming your old blog posts into e-books
  • Turning articles into online courses or graphics
  • Adding online consultations

4. Beat the competition

Your competition may or may not have halted their SEO campaigns. If they have paused their SEO efforts, this would be your opportunity to increase your rankings. But if you have paused your SEO and they have not, by the time everything goes back to normal, they’ll be far ahead of you. Be the dental practice that takes full advantage of the current situation.

5. SEO is a continuous process

Unlike pay-per-click marketing, SEO is a continual course of action. Think of SEO as you do your practice. You are constantly making improvements to respond to internal and external forces. Not only are you up against other dental practices, but Google continues to update and change its algorithm.

Yes, it's a fact that SEO does not offer instant gratification. You may see improvements after a few days, but it will be a hard-fought battle to get into the top five spots or even onto page one.

Done properly, SEO can help maintain favorable rankings after you stop your efforts—for a time. But pausing it would, again, give your competitors time to catch up or possibly even overtake you in the rankings. Moreover, improperly maintained websites can and will lose their current rankings, thus wasting your invested time, effort, and money.

6. Patients will still need your services

During the pandemic, who will a patient call if they need emergency dental care? I hope they find your dental practice and call you. Potential patients haven't gone anywhere.

Most people know that dental care remains necessary now and in the aftermath of COVID-19. The fiscal downturn may, however, reduce their purchasing power. So, if you pause your SEO campaign, you aren't simply falling behind the competition today, you are losing money that you need to make up later.

Said another way, by falling to the second or third page of Google, you are robbing yourself of new patients today and thousands of dollars later.

The takeaway

SEO is a continuous process. It may not seem like it, but now is an opportunity to better position yourself in search engine rankings. Take control of what you can today and put yourself on the path to recovery.


  1. Goodwin D. 60+ Mind-Blowing Search Engine Optimization Stats. Search Engine Journal. Published December 29, 2017. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-101/seo-statistics/#close
  2. Dean B. Here's what we learned about organic click through rate. Backlink. Published August 27, 2019. https://backlinko.com/google-ctr-stats
  3. Agrawal AJ. How to optimize your SEO results through content creation. Forbes. Published August 30, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2017/08/30/how-to-optimize-your-seo-results-through-content-creation/#4a64521f2aa3
Adam Yang, MBA, is the founder and digital marketing expert of Beyond Marketing Solutions, LLC, a digital marketing agency that specializes in teaching and helping dentists to scale back their marketing budgets while increasing their patient volume and revenue through digital avenues. With his marketing experience in corporate dentistry, private dentistry, and dental laboratories, Yang has taken his passion for both digital and dental marketing to the next level by founding the first-ever e-commerce digital marketing agency to streamline and simplify the marketing and purchasing process for dentists. For more information on this topic and additional resources, email Yang at [email protected].