If there is one thing that we know about online dental marketing, it’s this: The more things change the more they DON’T stay the same. And it seems that no other online entity changes more frequently than Google and it’s plethora of products. For the past few years we’ve heavily touted the benefits of an active Google+ page for dentists who want to gain more patients searching for their services online. It was necessary; after all, Google attempted to integrate nearly all of their products (Gmail, YouTube, etc.) with their version of a social media site. But, as we venture further into 2015, Google+ is slowly transforming from the absolute most important and largest piece of the Google product pie to something a bit more “bite-sized.”
While users were admittedly slow to join and share on Google+ like they do on Facebook or even Twitter, it did become an important place for businesses or brands that depend on online traffic. Why? Simple. It’s a Google product. And if you want to be visible in a Google search, your practice had better participate in all Google products. Here is why Google+ was specifically important for dental practices:
- Reviews – Patient reviews left on your Google+ page show time and time again to have an impact on SEO – even more so than reviews left on other sites.
- Patient Engagement – Google+ became one more entity for your dental brand to interface with patients and potential patients. It was one more place to share your marketing message.
- Google+ Activity Affected Google Search Placement – Many SEO experts professed that your practice’s Google+ activity had a direct effect on where your site ranked in a Google search. This was reason enough for dentists to take Google+ seriously.
Now, the above Google+ activities have always been a bit more related to correlation rather than causation, but nonetheless, we felt they were important for dentists who want to be more visible online. Google was and continues to be the juggernaut of search and if potential patients are searching for dental services in your community, chances are good that they are doing so on Google.
Last year the head of Google+ Vic Gundotra left the company and with that, many marketing gurus speculated the demise of Google+. You can read our article about that here. Since then, Google+ is still very much alive and kicking, but based on some recent changes, it seems that Google may be backing away from their social media experiment. However, just to be clear, our online dental marketing team believes that while Google+ may not be the primary focus of Google anymore, it’s still a Google entity and it shouldn’t be ignored or overlooked.
Here are two of the most important changes to Google+ going forward:
- No more forced integration – Integration with Google+ is no longer required with all other Google products. This is a big one, because it essentially signifies that Google recognizes that it’s users didn’t like being forced to create a Google+ profile to create a Gmail or YouTube account. By Google no longer forcing the creation of Google+ accounts, it’s unclear how much more growth there could be for Google+.
- No more Google Authorship – As of August 2014, Google Authorship profiles will no longer affect SEO rankings. A recent Forbes article reported that low adoption rates by content creators and low value for Google users were the primary reason that authorship was ditched. Since Google Authorship was highly tied to Google+, this doesn’t fair well for it’s future.
So, what does this mean for dentists? Don’t jump to conclusions and ditch Google+ completely. Until Google puts the final nail in the Google+ coffin, we recommend that dentists carry on with their Google+ activity by posting content to your page, asking your patients for reviews and ensuring that all of your practice information (including location and contact info) is 100% accurate.
Our online dental marketing team keeps a close eye on any changes to online marketing practices that an affect your practice’s marketing strategy. For more information on how we can help, contact us today.