In 2010, microsites were the up and coming concept for ranking higher in Google, and dentists were able to jump on that train with sites about cosmetic dentistry, implants, and sleep apnea treatments. By 2014, the tracks had corroded and that train derailed. Google decided it’s far more important to have all of your content on one heatlhy, robust website.
Around the same time, maybe in ’09, mobile sites became the one thing that could transform a dental practice’s marketing response. Dentists invested $500-2000 in buiding separate websites that were visible only on mobile devices. Now, we simply build sites responsively, and no separate mobile site is required.
Dentists have hoped that social media would provide a new avenue for generating patients, but it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — at least for dentists and physicians. Restaurants and retailers can do quite well on social media. I still stand by my statement that I’ve not spoken with a dentist who claims to have acquired a new patient directly from Facebook.

Best Advice for Internet Marketing

So what works NOW, and what no longer works? How can you guide your marketing efforts (and dollars) toward proven strategies in the coming year? What you need is new pateints, not gimmicks or fly-by-night trends that may or may not pan out.
Spending over a decade in dental marketing, I believe that the best way to buy a ticket on the Internet success train is to look at the strategies available and their record of ROI (return on investment). Here are my to 10 recommendations for dentists looking to grow their practice through online marketing in the coming year. They are listed in order of importance, with the best saved for last, of course.
  • Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn Profiles and Activity: Social media will not directly lead to new patient calls. However, I have seen that social media interaction, on a regular basis, can improve Google rankings and lead to the acquisition of more online reviews. Your dental practice should have social media profiles that are complete and accurate, and posts should be made to those profiles weekly, at a minimum. If you do not have the time or inclination to do this, we can do it for you. Our social media packages range from doing a little to doing a whole lot, so we’re sure to have something that will fit your needs and budget.
  • Incoming Links: Perhaps nothing is more time consuming and difficult than generating high-quality incoming links (backlinks) to a website. The process involves identifying businesses and blogs on which a backlink would benefit your website, then contacting the site owners and requesting the link. I do have some advice for this, but it involves a good amount of effort on the dentist’s part. Backlinks of good quality  continue to have an impact on search rankings, and rightfully so.
  • Good Reputation Management: I literally “wrote the book” – or at least the chapter – on reputation management for dentists, in the ADA Practical Guide to Internet Marketing. Knowing what’s said about you online, and responding publicly (and wisely) to both positive and negative feedback, are imperative to online success. Now, more than ever, online reviews are read and believed by consumers, and public reviews influence search engine result rankings. We offer a package to monitor and respond to online reviews, for our clients.
  • More and More Online Reviews: I cannot stress the importance of generating a steady influx of reviews across the Web. If you’ve not had success at getting online reviews, call me to talk about an email program that will lead your patients quickly and simply to leave feedback online. One benefit of the program Identiwrite Creative uses is that only good reviews are fed to the Internet.
  • NAP – Accurate and Plentiful Citations: Google knows a lot more than we give it credit for. In an effort to provide solid, accurate information to searchers, Google tries to identify all listings, sites, and links that have to do with a person. Let’s say Dr. Smith has a few websites, social media profiles, a listing on Yelp! and Healthgrades, and various listings across the web, to market his practice. Google tries to understand that all of those links and listings belong to the same person/business. The business with more information on the web gets higher rankings in Google results. Therefore, it’s important that wherever your professional name or practice name are listed, the name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent with what’s on your website. We have a program that helps us identify incorrect listings so that we can then correct them for continuity.
  • Regular Blogging & Content Marketing: Nothing does more for a dentist’s search ranking than publishing a ton of quality information online. Blogs should be all original content, with an image, and posted weekly, at a minimum. They should also be shared across social media networks. (If you have the opportunity to write a column for your local newspaper or magazine, your blogs can pull double duty.) In addition to blogs, your website should be ever-expanding. Each month, your site should grow with two or more new pages. These pages do not have to be in the main navigation, but they can be subpages to  build out content on particular procedures. Blogs rank high fast, but lose their standing quickly. They never go away, and embedded links lend credit to their destination pages. Webpages rank more slowly, but they tend to hold rank longer. They also expand a site to provide more opportunities for long-tail keyword benefits.
  • A Properly Optimized and Coded Website: Since the beginning of Google Search, websites have been the primary way for a business to be found online. Over time, however, what constitutes a “good” website has changed dramatically.Today, a website must:
    • have lots of original text
    • have multiple, optimized pages
    • be built responsively, to be fully functional on devices of all sizes
    • be built intuitively, meaning easy to navigate and find information
    • feature images, with alt tags for SEO benefits
    • include action and interaction elements (movement on screen + forms, testimonial feeds, sign ups)
    • have a prominent phone number and call to action on every page
    • be searchable by topic, on page
    • include a blog (Don’t pay an extra $500 for this – it should be standard!)
    • have Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools installed – two free tools that show insights into what Google sees

Bad Decisions About Dental Practice Marketing

A few bad decisions could add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars wasted. Don’t jump the gun and invest in something that none of your friends have tried — the shiny, new thing that’s a “sure bet.” Instead, first do what you know will work, even if slow and steady isn’t the pace you prefer. Next, think twice before spending thousands of dollars on trends like lead generation modules and re-marketing. I’m not so sure either of these have a valid place in online marketing for dentists (though they can work well for other industries). Show me the ROI, then I’ll get on board!

Also, don’t commit to more than you’ll do. If a vendor offers an e-newsletter program free with your patient communication software, be sure to find out if YOU have to provide the content and send out the emails. If so, either opt out or commit to doing your part, which may involve assigning or outsourcing the task. Likewise, having blog functionality on your website does little good if you only make posts once a month – or once a season. Fortunately, Identiwrite Creative can manage all content for you, writing your newsletters and blog posts, so you don’t  have to worry about it.

How to Prioritize To-Dos

Start at the bottom of my list, above, and work your way up from a great website to social media profiles. What you cannot or do not want to do yourself, outsource to experts. Call me with all of your questions abotu Internet marketing, or for a complimentary online presence analysis and review.
940-395-5115 or [email protected]

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