Online marketing changes about as quickly as the months pass, and 2013 has been no exception. In this year alone, online marketing specialists saw drastic changes to the way Facebook users can search for local information and watched Google make the most dramatic change to its search algorithm since 2001. Needless to say, we’ve been busy adapting, changing, tweaking and refining our client’s online marketing strategies to better fit the ever-changing rules and best practices in online dental marketing.
For dentists and dental specialists who want a larger share of patients searching online for dental services, a nimble online marketing strategy can be an asset. Search trends change and you want to be sure your practice’s marketing strategy adapts with them. But which trends should you pay attention to and which should you brush aside? To help you out, here are the four most important changes to online dental marketing in 2013 and what they mean for your practice’s online marketing.
1) Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update – As we indicated earlier, Google’s Hummingbird was (and is continuing to be) a pretty big deal. Essentially, Google learned that people aren’t searching for local information the way they used to. More and more, people (including your potential patients) are typing in full sentence questions instead of using keywords. So, instead of typing in “clear braces Dallas”, they are entering things like, “Where can I get my child clear braces near my home?” Google took notice of this and overhauled their search algorithm to return better results for these kinds of searches.
What does this mean for dentists? A couple things:
- Google will probably start returning custom blog posts that are tailor-made to answer conversational-style search queries instead of website homepages. Make sure your website has a blog that is posting unique, good quality and correctly optimized content on a regular basis.
- Internal Service pages of your practice website (ie – the dental implant page, the teeth whitening page, the braces page) will start to show up when someone searches for that service in your area. Make sure each and every one of your internal service pages has a couple paragraphs of good content and a compelling call-to-action or what they should do to make an appointment.
2) Facebook Graph Search – In 2013, Facebook dipped its toe into Google’s territory by adding what they call the “Graph Search” function. But, they’ve taken it a step further and combined search capability with their unique version of a positive online recommendation. Here’s how it works; Facebook users can search for things like, “Photos of my mom and I after 2005” or “Photos taken at the Grand Canyon” or a little more on topic, “Dentist offices my friends like.” Yes, your potential patients can now search within the Facebook platform and find dentists that their Facebook friends have “Liked” on Facebook. Essentially they can now find an online version of a word of mouth recommendation coming straight from their family and friends. There’s never been a better time than now for your practice to get active on Facebook.
3) Mobile is Moving on Up – We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Mobile search is not influencing the way people search for local goods and services; it’s revolutionizing it. Here’s why:
- No one screen size (laptop, tablet or smartphone) has more than 20% of market share. That means your potential patients are accessing the online information they need via their smart phones, tablets and laptops, including which dentist to book an appointment with. It’s very important that your practice website displays correctly on each. We recommend that dental websites be built with a responsive design, which adapts your website to show up beautifully and correctly on any device – without creating a separate website for each.
- Mobile use is positioned to overtake desktop use in 2014. More and more people are turning to their iPhone or Android device to find what they need on the go. This includes accessing your practice website to book an appointment.
- According to Facebook, more than 819 million people actively use Facebook from their mobile devices each month – a 51% increase from just last year. That’s right, we said each month. Whether they are in line at the grocery store or sitting on the sidelines of their child’s soccer game, we seem to always be scrolling through our Facebook newsfeeds. It’s never been a better time to get your practice its own Facebook profile to connect with your patients and potential patients.
4) The (continued) Rise of Social Media – Are you tired of hearing about social media yet? We hope not, because it’s not going away anytime soon; in fact, it’s becoming more important for online dental marketing by the day. Why? Because it’s where your patients are spending a good portion of their online time AND it may have an effect on your overall SEO. Here’s how…some studies (though debated) have found that social media signals (Facebook likes, Google +1s, Facebook shares and Twitter RTs) are something that Google considers when they rank websites, particularly Google+ and Facebook.
But, according to a recent article from Searchengineland.com, Google’s head of Search Spam Matt Cutts said that Google+1’s on their own do not affect or influence your website’s search engine rankings. However if your website is producing good content that people like, they will link to it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. Essentially, correlation does not equal causation. Does your practice website that produces likable, sharable content on a regular basis? If not, it might be a good idea to put it at the top of your 2014 New Year’s Resolution list.
If you’d like a fresh perspective on your online marketing strategies, contact our dental, digital marketing team today to learn how we can help.