It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, that’s right, the time when we, as a team sit back and reflect on some of the ways that online dental marketing continues to evolve with marketing best practices, technology trends and of course, what Google prefers your site to look like at the moment in order to reap the necessary SEO rewards.
In 2013, we saw Google’s Hummingbird update make some pretty sweeping changes in how (and why) it chooses certain webpages to serve users searching for dental services. We also saw Facebook add some new, dynamic elements like Graph Search, which allows users to search for dentists or dental specialists that their friends have “liked” within the Facebook platform – offering an instant recommendation. We also continued to see the number of people choosing their mobile devices over laptops to search for the local services they need climb higher and higher.
While this year hasn’t had as many high profile “announcements” made by Google or any other online entity, best practices for online dental marketing continue to evolve at nearly a day-to-day rate. It’s just the nature of our industry. As 2014 comes to a close, instead of counting all of the changes that were made this year, we decided to keep you updated on strategies we think continue to be the staples of online dental marketing – to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Festive, isn’t it?
So hum a few bars of this timeless holiday classic and brush up on the basics of successful online dental marketing:
”On the first day of Christmas, my online dental marketing company gave to me….”
1 – …a responsively designed website that displays on all devices. – A 2014 Pew Internet Research survey found that of all American adults who own a smart phone, 60% use it to access the Internet and 49% go to their chosen handheld device to find directions, recommendations or other location-based services. That is a significant number of potential patients using their smart phones to find services (including dental) in your area. If you assume your website will show up on a smart phone just as beautifully as it does on your website, you’re mistaken. It may show up, but your potential patients will have to pinch and zoom the screen so much they’ll more than likely get frustrated and move on. If you want to ensure they’ll be able to find what they need when they view your site on their smart phone, you need a responsive website. It’s one website that automatically adjusts to the screen it’s being viewed on. Our design team recommends that all dental websites be created with responsive design.
2 – …two PPC campaigns to target specialty procedures. – Pay per click advertising (also known as PPC) still remains one of the best ways a dentist or dental specialist can ensure their website will display on the first page of a Google search, as well as jumpstart your new patient flow. Why? Research shows that more and more, your patients can’t discern the difference between a PPC ad and an organic listing. A good dental PPC campaign includes a well-written ad, displaying for keywords that make sense for your practice and market and plenty of consistent testing to see what’s working and what’s not along the way.
3 – …three landing pages to convert my visitors to patients. – A key piece of any great PPC campaign is ensuring that when your potential patients do click on your ad, they will be taken to a landing page that is carefully crafted to convert them from someone “just looking” to a patient receiving treatment in your chair. Landing pages are carefully designed mini-sites that are written a bit differently than your primary website. They include more information about the procedure they are looking for and the content is designed with only one thing in mind – to increase your calls and patient flow as quickly as possible. Additionally, our PPC team utilizes call tracking numbers on each landing page so you know exactly how well your campaign is working.
4 – …four optimized online videos to showcase my practice. – Video is quickly becoming a very important piece of any content marketing strategy – primarily because research shows that people prefer it over any other piece of marketing content. In fact, we process visual information around 60,000 times faster than simple text and overall, 60% of people prefer video over text when searching for information online. To engage with your patients, we’ve found that dentists who create simple videos that showcase themselves, their practice, provide video patient testimonials and highlight any specialty procedures will definitely reap the marketing benefits – especially if they are uploaded to online search engines like YouTube.
5 – …five dynamic social media posts to engage my patients and potential patients. – Social media continues to be a dynamic piece of the dental marketing content “pie.” Certain research found that social media signals (Facebook likes, Facebook shares and Google +1’s), can affect your website’s online visibility and if you post interesting and helpful content daily, can be a great way to stay in touch with your current patients. What’s most important is that when potential patients are researching your practice online before booking an appointment – they’ll certainly head to Facebook to see if you are there – and you definitely should be.
6 – …six carefully-crafted responses to online reviews. – Dental patients continue to have the upper hand with online reviews – but that doesn’t mean that dentists doesn’t have some power, too. Online reviews continue to be compelling, as recent studies show that 90% of consumers trust recommendations of others and 79% of people trust online reviews from complete strangers as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. If your practice does receive a negative review, the best thing you can initially do is to respond to it publicly and ask how you can make it right. Don’t start an online fight or become defensive – and finally ask to speak about the details of the issue in private.
7 – …seven unique keyword selections to steer your marketing campaign in the right direction. – Keywords can make or break any online marketing campaign. If you rely on keywords that are too generic (like dentist, dentistry or dental) AND live in a large community, you may find yourself (and your marketing budget) stuck in a losing battle. Most general dentists are competing for those keywords so it will take a pretty penny to ensure that your site comes up for those keywords alone. Our team recommends you choose a few keywords that highlight specialty procedures you offer and get to the heart of what people are actually searching for when they are looking for a dentist or dental specialist online. For example, many people search for “cost of dental implants” as opposed to the generic “dental implants.”
8 – …eight key elements for a successfully branded dental practice. – Don’t forget that your dental practice is still a business and a business’ most valuable asset is its brand. It doesn’t matter if your practice is in one of the largest metropolitan cities or one of the smallest towns in America – you still need a brand. A great brand sums up what your patients can expect when they walk through the front doors and extends into what they see when they Google you or your practice. It has to make sense to them – and it must be compelling enough for them to choose you. The eight most important elements are – your website, social media sites (including content style), online reputation, office/practice design, signage, customer service techniques, practice name and logo.
9 – …nine quality images to populate your website. – Quality is everything in the world of online marketing. Not only does Google reward quality content (including videos and images), your patients do too. Today’s discerning dental patient wants to see site that captures a practice that they feel is modern, updated and trustworthy of their family’s dental needs. We recommend that dental websites use only high quality stock images or better yet, high quality pictures of your patients, your staff and you (the dentist) to populate your site. Of course, you need explicit permission from your patients to use any images of them online.
10 – …ten compelling call-to-action statements on each service webpage. – Don’t assume your potential patients know how to make an appointment when they visit your website. While yes, most will – there will be some that don’t and you shouldn’t take that chance. A dental website should have separate webpages for each service you offer (Google likes this and so do your patients) and on each page should be clear instructions on how to book an appointment. We recommend that your phone number or “click to book” link be placed near the top of your website.
11 – …eleven 100% accurate submissions to online local listings sites. – Many dentists are unsure of exactly what we mean when we say that we spend a lot of time submitting, updating and keeping your local listings correct at all times. Essentially, local listings are an online version of directories and certain listings have the ability to carry a lot of clout when it comes to how Google weights the validity of your website – which in turn, determines where it ranks when someone searches for dental services in your area. It’s important that each listing is complete, 100% accurate and matches all other listings – especially those on Google entities.
12 – …twelve blogs to keep my website fresh. – Blogs have been a great way for dentists to provide Google with a steady stream of fresh, relevant content that the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates deemed necessary. But beyond that, blogs are a great source of content that you can share on your social media sites and provide potential patients with a great source of information about your viewpoint on certain dental procedures. Our content team recommends at least one blog per month, totaling twelve blogs per year.
Our online marketing team is continually researching the latest online dental marketing strategies as they continually change. If your marketing plan needs updating or just a fresh look, contact our today or in the New Year!