Dentists, it’s time to brush up on your online marketing!

by on January 8, 2014

People-talking-searchingImagine a patient seeking quality dental care. Most want a nearby dentist with a solid reputation and many patients with positive experiences. How do they find a good dentist? Fewer people today open a telephone book or ask friends because it’s much easier to consult a cell phone or computer that immediately makes suggestions.

Whether your dental office is in a big or small city, your online marketing efforts should use similar techniques. Target your local audience and be aware of the strategies your competitors employ. Practices in large or competitive cities need a wider variety of marketing techniques and must publish more content, as compared to small or less competitive markets.

Potential patients often start with a search engine like Google or find reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List. They might check Facebook to consult with friends, or search on Twitter using #dentist. Some even respond to ads on their phones. Their searches occur at their convenience, whether it be on the lightrail, the couch or in bed. What does this say about where and how your practice needs to be visible? Are you prepared?

Where do you start?
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When you advertise, do you ask the prospect to do something such as call your office? Do you prompt them to do what you want on your website, blog, ad, social media page or local profile? This is your “call to action” – a clear request to take the desired action. There are many types of requests that will initiate relationships such as offering a “how to” or newsletter in exchange for their e-mail address or encouraging a response to your social media post. Make it unbelievably easy and attractive for a patient to contact you.

SmartPhoneCommon Website mistakes

Is your phone number prominently displayed on your website, without the need to scroll, squint or read? If a quick skim of more than three seconds is required then the call is often forever lost.

Your home page should state your business name, city and state. Your full contact information should be available on your home and contact pages, including full address, phone number and an embedded Google map. When visiting your website by phone, there should be easy access to a map and directions to your office.

The most undervalued online marketing
How can your dental practice begin ranking in Google’s search results? Claim your online listings and profiles. Many dentists neglect this effort either because it’s undervalued or unknown. It’s similar to being absent from printed directories a decade ago.

This isn’t necessarily fun or easily done, but it’s important. Check your listing score on GetListed.org. Creating an account may take up to 48 hours. Next, boost your score by claiming and correcting the suggested listings.

If your office is located in a big city or competitive area, you’ll likely need to claim even more listings (citations). How many you need depends on the competition. You usually need to add citations for your locale (newspapers and associations), industry and general directories such as review, social media and mobile websites.

Building authority, relevance and familiarity
Publishing a blog shows that you care about communicating with patients and keeping current with the healthcare industry. Answer your patients’ common questions and offer tips that are interesting and useful. Use a conversational tone in words understood by those outside the industry.

Publishing fresh, useful and unique blog posts builds authority. Google visits these blogs, increasing rankings and visitors. The value of a quality blog has increased recently due to changes Google made in its search ranking algorithm. Weekly or biweekly blog posts often suffice for practices in smaller cities or less competitive markets, while dentists in more competitive markets should post at least weekly.

Pandering to Google, e-mail newsletters and social media
You can improve your search rankings by using relevant dental search terms. Some people believe that pandering to Google is passé. Keywords and descriptions, however, contribute to rankings and search results, and help Google categorize your website correctly.

Dentists are often surprised that e-mail newsletters are a profitable marketing medium. To remind patients about your services, distribute an E-newsletter regularly with helpful tips, promotions, coupons or seasonal reminders.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media are valuable for customer service, prospecting and public relations. Facebook is a direct line to patients and their friends. Ads on Facebook can economically boost your visibility and connections. Twitter connects you with patients, dentists and other professionals. You can add followers and lift search rankings by sharing interesting articles, images and advice.

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Mary W. Brophy is a principal consultant at Web Ranking Sherpa, an online marketing company located in Fort Collins, Colo. Contact her at 970-372-2230, or visit WebRankingSherpa or her blog at EffectiveMarketingStrategies.

Reprinted/Posted with permission by the Journal of the Colorado Dental Association (originally published in January, 2014).

What have you found most effective for online marketing you practice? Please comment below!

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