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Is advertising on Yelp worth the investment?

Many of our dental clients are being approached by Yelp to include paid advertising in their marketing mix and we’re often asked if we think it's worth the extra monthly spend - which starts at $350/month with a minimum six month contract. We’ve pulled together the results so far to give you a better picture of what you would get for your investment.

Before we get into this post we have two disclaimers:

  1. We have very limited data so the results are by no means conclusive - but they are interesting.
  2. We love Yelp as a source of patient reviews and would encourage you to fill out your profile completely in order to take advantage of their free options

We have hundreds of clients in Canada and United States, which gives us insight into the marketing strategies that work for most practices. However, we have only had two clients who have decided to advertise on Yelp and, so far, the results are poor. Both clients have chosen the medium investment option of $500 a month with Yelp promising a minimum of 1200 impressions of the ad per month.

Yelp advertising aims to get you more leads through advertisements. Ads show up in your targeted geographic area when someone searches for keywords related to your services or when they visit your competitor’s Yelp page. Ads will only appear on the yelp.ca or yelp.com domain.

A lead is defined as a mobile check-in, mobile call, user uploaded photo, directions & map view, click to your website, Yelp bookmark, deal sold, call to action click, or message. Over the course of three months we’ve seen an average of 2.5 leads from Yelp per month per client and an average of 32 views to the Yelp page/month. Those numbers are pretty low.

The first thing that’s problematic with Yelp is the broad definition of a "lead". You might decide to buya Yelp package because you assume that every lead becomes a patient... but that’s not actually true. A potential patient may call your practice but the call might not be answered (maybe your receptionist is already with a patient) or a potential patient may click to your website and decide it’s not what they were looking for and click away. Moreover, someone that uploads a photo, completes a mobile check-in, or bookmarks the Yelp page is most likely already a patient.

The second issue we have with Yelp is that the number of "leads" is a fraction what you would get for a well-optimized Google AdWords account. Our average client spends between $400 and $500 a month on Google AdWords. For that amount of advertising, the ads are shown an average of 7000 to 8000 times in a month. For the average client this generates just over 110 clicks to their website and an average of 13 calls per month. Again not all of these "leads" will result in getting a new patient in the door - but your odds are much better with 110 people visiting your website than just two.

Yelp vs. AdWords Summary

This table is based on numbers from September to October 2014

Yelp Google AdWords
Average impressions per month 1200 7000-8000
Average ‘leads’ per month 2.5 110 website clicks + 13 calls
Average spend per month $500 $400-$500

This is very early in the Yelp advertising process and we expect the results to improve over time. We’ll update this in a few months*, so check back to see if the results improve.

If you’re advertising with Yelp, and it's working for you, we’d love to hear from you to create a better picture. Please send your feedback.

If you’re looking to take a step into the world of advertising, we’d advise you to go with Google AdWords for now to give you the best chance of getting new patients through the door.

*Last updated December 1st, 2014

Brent Parr
Brent Parr
Brent is the CEO and co-founder of Optio Publishing. Most days he can be found deep in conversation with customers or partners about the best ways to market their business. Brent loves outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee and camping.
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