These are the five things every dental practice must have to compete in today’s online marketplace. Without all five, you’re tying your own shoelaces together and slapping a “kick me” sign on your back. In other words, do these five things, and your online dental marketing results will improve dramatically. (You’ll get new patients.)
ONE: A GREAT WEBSITE
Don’t settle for a crummy, half-baked website.
What’s the difference between a good dental website and a crummy one? First, you have to define the end game. Why did you invest in a website in the first place? Was it to send out in your direct mail pieces or YellowPages ads? Or, and this is more likely, was it to drive qualified new patients to call your office and book an appointment? Most dentists invest in websites for the marketing value, not as a brochure. A simple YouTube video could provide an introduction to your practice. A website has much more power – power to get your name and services in front of people searching for what you offer.
So, a dental website is usually intended to increase new patient numbers.
To meet this objective, the site must be visible to potential patients searching for your services. That means, if you offer dental implants, porcelain veneers, and emergency dentistry, and your office is in San Diego, when any of the following terms are typed into Google Search in or around San Diego, your office’ website should show up on page one of the Google Search engine results page (SERP).
- Implant dentist San Diego (and San Diego implant dentist)
- Dental implants San Diego (and vice versa)
- Implant dentures San Diego
- Loose dentures San Diego
- Cost of dental implants San Diego
- Cosmetic dentist San Diego
- Porcelain veneers San Diego
- Smile makeover San Diego
- Dental veneers San Diego
- Cost of veneers San Diego
- Emergency dentist San Diego
- Dental emergency San Diego
- ER dentist San Diego
- Toothache San Diego
- Broken tooth San Diego
- Infected tooth San Diego
- Do I need a dentist San Diego
That’s a lot of terms for just three services. The only way to make sure your site comes up for all of these terms, and others, is to:
- Look at all of the influencing factors, such as site age, competitors, NAP citations, incoming links, on-page SEO.
- Continually publish original, well optimized webpages on these topics and supplement that content with blogs on the same topics.
- Check on your site’s position in Google results every 30 days for these keyword phrases to see whether your position is going up or down the list, then revise your SEO strategy accordingly.
The look and feel of your website are important. A site that looks like it was built in 2010 will send the message that the dental practice it represents is behind the times. A modern site, with nice photography and a natural flow, will send the message that the dentist behind the site is contemporary, educated, and interested in both patient care and beauty.
If you want a great website, you need both: intriguing esthetics and powerful SEO.
TWO: ONGOING, ORIGINAL ONLINE CONTENT
Keep publishing good content all the time, then share it everywhere with everyone, every day.
SEO can be complicated, but there’s one thing that all Google experts agree on: original copy on a website is the best way to get on page one. The problem is, dentists don’t have time to write blogs and website text, and most dental website agencies don’t invest the time and effort into a strong copywriting team. They’re more concerned with the technical side of web development than ongoing, high-quality SEO. I’ve actually worked for firms that produce little to no new text for their clients’ websites, but claim the sites require monthly SEO maintenance. So, the dentist pays the monthly fee of a few hundred dollars, but the web company isn’t doing any monthly maintenance to help boost the site’s rank.
The best practice for a dental office that wants high Google ranking for particular search terms is to:
- Expand the website with new pages each month. For example, if you have a Cosmetic page, create subpages titled Veneers, Bonding, Gum Shaping, Teeth Whitening, and Invisalign.
- Write original blogs every week, and publish them first on your website (include an image). The blogs should be well written and optimized for search. Ideally, the topics will correspond to the keywords you’re not raking high for at the time of publishing.
- Share your blog links across all of your social media profiles, and ask your team to share the post on their profiles.
TIP: The best social media profile for SEO is Google+, though many people don’t utilize it.
I mentioned the problem of not having time to write. That’s where I come in. For over a decade, I’ve helped dentists with SEO by writing original, optimized blogs and web pages. My team of dental copywriters is US-based, and English is their first language. They’ve been trained to write about clinical dentistry, observing the ADA’s guidelines for marketing, and they also know the latest trends in SEO copywriting. We can do all of your copywriting for you, so your website will rank high and you can take care of patients without worrying about your online dental marketing strategy.
THREE: ACCURATE CITATIONS (takes work – very helpful)
Get your NAP in order so you credit is paid where credit is due.
If you’ve changed any aspect of your practice’s contact information, you’ll need a web tech to update your name, address, and phone (NAP) number globally across the web. This takes time and can be a frustrating task. However, if your NAP are incorrect, potential patients cannot contact you!
We offer an NAP update service to check the top listings with your practice and professional name, all addresses and phone numbers listed for your office, and any former doctors or practice names associated with your practice. Our techs can work with the listing services to correct most discrepancies.
FOUR: POSITIVE ONLINE REVIEWS
Online testimonials are the now and the future of Internet success.
Second only to having original, informative website content, having positive testimonials is imperative to your Google Search rank and overall online dental marketing strategy. Reviews on sites like Yelp!, Google+, Health Grades, and Facebook will help you rank higher in search results. Beware, though! Bad reviews will also improve your rank. If a bad review is the first listing a potential patient finds for your practice, that person will probably keep looking. Because of this, you need to address negative testimonials as much as you need to initiate a plan to acquire good testimonials.
I wrote a chapter about online dental practice reviews in the ADA’s Guide to Internet Marketing. My company offers consulting on both acquiring online reviews and handling negative reviews. We also offer a patient communication module that sends an email request for a review after a person visits your office. We have the capability of publishing only the positive reviews on the Internet, and you can personally address any negative reviews, if you choose.
FIVE: INCOMING LINKS
Those incoming links are priceless, but they’re incredibly hard to secure.
Incoming links are hyperlinks from other websites to your website. These links can be to any page of your site. Outgoing links are hyperlinks from your website to other sites. Incoming links are very valuable for SEO when they come from a site related to dentistry or located in the vicinity of your dental office. Outgoing links are not very helpful for SEO, but they can be helpful for web visitors if used in the correct way (open in new window).
For quite a few years, link building companies would sell incoming links from link farms – sites without credibility that ran on ads and junk articles. Google became wise to this tactic and altered its search algorithm, so links from link farms are now harmful for a website. Many site owners saw their ranking plummet after Google made this change.
With that said, legitimate incoming links are still beneficial to a site’s ranking. If you have links from associations, respected publications, health-related blogs, and best of all, high ranking “authority” sites, your website’s credibility will be enhanced. Generating these links is time consuming and tedious. If you pay someone to link build for you, expect to pay a hefty sum for limited results. I would suggest that a dentist only employ a link building campaign if someone on staff has free time and can take over the duty. If you need advice on how to manage a link building campaign, I can offer consultation, but Identiwrite Creative does not offer link building services. It is one type of online dental marketing that’s simply not cost effective.
The best way to build natural links is to submit well written articles to respected third-party sites, with a link to your website in your author byline. The Identiwrite Creative team can write articles for you to submit to publications, but we do not submit on behalf of our clients.
Don’t try to do it all yourself. (Most people fail miserably, work too much, or drive themselves crazy.) Instead, get a professional’s help with online dental marketing, and prepare for success!
I’m Shauna Duty, owner of Identiwrite Creative, a content marketing agency that caters primarily to dentists. We build and manage WordPress websites, create and manage text-based SEO strategies, and ghostwrite blogs, webpages, articles – and print publications, like office manuals, job descriptions, and post-operative procedures. We also help dentists with reputation management (testimonials), social media, e-newsletters, and other online marketing strategies.
If you’re ready to implement The Big 5 and improve your online dental marketing strategy, call me for help. I’ll look at what you’ve got going for you now – your website, testimonials, and overall online presence – and we can discuss a plan to get you where you need to be, which is Page One of Google for your primary services and service area. Call me at 940-395-5115 or email [email protected], and let’s get started on an SEO strategy that will actually work in your market, for your practice.