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August 2015

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Search Marketing

3 Keys to Increased Dental Practice Search Engine Visibility

The internet is a very crowded marketplace of ideas, information, conversations and business. Getting your dental practice noticed by potential patients is difficult to say the least. Too often searches for your dental practice don’t lead to your website. Sometimes the top listings have similar names, but sometimes they’re simply unrelated. How would you like to know three ways to upgrade the online visibility of your dental practice’s website?

Bigger Is Better. Believe it or not, search engines tend to rank sites with more pages higher in search results. Is there a magic number? No, but any expansion helps. Begin with basic pages – about, contact, services, insurance, bios, etc. Then follow a strategy to add more – blog, links, testimonials and so on. The deeper page structure of your site should help increase your search engine ranking. It’s important to make sure your site maintains a well-planned hierarchy and clear navigation. Each new page should have unique titles and meta descriptions as well. If search engines get confused while cataloging your site your search results will suffer.  Finally, create useful, interesting and relevant content on your new pages. You want to give your visitors a reason to click through to each of them. The stickier your website the better it will reflect on searches.

Blog is a Verb. Having a blog doesn’t do you any good if you don’t blog on a regular basis. Do not use a separate domain to host your blog. Put it on your dental practice’s domain. This will help you easily increase your website’s page count. It’s not necessary to blog every day to get noticed. A couple new, original posts per month will work – more will work better. Google’s search engine algorithm measures frequency of updates as well as how recently you last updated your blog.

Blog about things your patients and potential patients find interesting. While you may be an expert on crowns, your patients may be bored by an article on the different processes for fitting a crown. However, articles such as Types of Smiles and How to Read Their Meanings, When It’s Time to Consider Braces for your Preteen, or the Best Toothpastes and Brushes for your Money might get some shares and likes. Don’t be afraid to turn comments on. Patient engagement is very important. Plus, you can delete a comment if you get trolled.

Make it easy for your patients and potential patients to share your articles. Cross-promote your posts on all of your dental practice’s social media platforms. You want shares, likes and links. The shares and likes will boost your social media presence and the links will boost your site’s search ranking.

Reviews Matter. The importance of review sites for your home page’s search engine optimization (SEO) is gaining attention. These sites increase your online footprint. The more reviews you have on a site the higher it may rank during an online search. Review sites offer an opportunity to create synergy between your onsite and offsite SEO efforts with reciprocal links. Be sure to ask visitors to your website to follow the link and leave a comment about their experience on the review site. Search engines will not rate these links as highly as natural link building through editorial, but they will take notice so long as you don’t duplicate the reviews on your practice’s website. Search engines don’t like duplicated content.

Yelp and Google+ are popular review sites which often perform well in searches. They also happen to be free. Claim your listing and set up your practice’s profile.  With that step finished you’re ready to have patients leave reviews. Yelp and Google+ have policies prohibiting the solicitation of reviews and use algorithms to limit how many reviews can post over given time periods. However, there are ways to encourage your patients to leave reviews. These two are usually effective:

• Place a notice on the backside of your patient’s appointment cards requesting that they leave feedback about our service.

• Send follow-up emails to patients shortly after their appointments asking that they rate their experience.

Many small businesses find it difficult to keep up with website management, SEO and online marketing. After all, time is limited and boosting your online presence is a process that takes time. The steps above are just three of many possible ways to make your dental practice more visible. Based on case studies and experience a qualified digital marketing firm can tailor an online strategy to your dental practice’s goals and expectations. To learn how ProSites can help you boost your online presence, contact us for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

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Social Media

8 Simple Rules for A Dental Pracetice’s Facebook Success

There are nearly 1 billion daily active users on Facebook. About 163.5 million of those are in the United States. Racking up followers and likes for your dental practice isn’t really the hard part. There are numerous articles floating around the net with quick-fix tips to increase your followers. The real trick is building strong relationships in your market area – engaging with both your current and potential patients. This is where brand equity and loyalty are built.

So how do you make Facebook work for you? Follow these eight simple rules and you’ll be off to a good start.

1. Know Your Goal. This rule is often overlooked. Set a goal for your Facebook marketing plan. [Note: It should not be to generate revenue.] Facebook marketing is all about building a community that reacts to and engages with your posts. It’s about brand recognition. A good goal is to increase followers by a specific percentage. The more specific the goal, the more likely you can develop a Facebook marketing plan to accomplish it.

2. Establish a Brand Style. What do people think of when they think of your dental practice? Is your practice family-oriented, professional, fun-loving or something else entirely? Remember, what you post on your updates is what you project to potential patients.

It’s okay to be an expert authority in a content-heavy post one time and a light-hearted friend in an image-driven post another time. The key is making sure your posts always seem to come from the same voice. This can involve setting rules for image types, colors and more. Before you go too far with images and colors, try this: think about the words and phrases that represent your practice. Establish a list of words or phrases you won’t use and a list you like to use. Disney is a great example of this approach. Employees are always cast members and customers are always guests. It’s a small touch, but one that changes the entire demeanor of a conversation, experience or ad.

3. Create a posting schedule and stick to it. It’s important to understand your followers and potential patients. When are they on Facebook and what do they look at? If you’re not sure about the answers, try running a few Facebook ads and study the analytics. This is the kind of information that can help you create a posting schedule that will get results.

Did you know that companies posting more than seven times a week actually see a negative return? According to Facebook, users get annoyed by business posts crowding their feeds. So a couple times a week may be all you need. Just make sure your posts are relevant to you and your patients.

Once you have the information, plan your posting schedule accordingly. Followers like to know when and where they can expect posts. So be reliable. If they can’t count on you, you won’t be able to count on them to share or like your posts.

As you can see, the first three rules are organizational in nature and allow your dental practice to understand the who, what, when and where of your strategic approach. Now let’s look at content.

4. Keep It Short and Simple. It has been shown that short posts get two thirds more engagement than longer posts. People on Facebook might be learning about world events, but they’re also being social and having fun. Try to develop a mix of content that offers fun and enjoyment as well as information that may solve a problem for free.

5. Use Pictures. They’re worth a thousand words. It’s an old saying, but it’s very true. All of the highest rated posts on Facebook include images and videos. They’re eye-catching and can be understood quickly (see #4.). If you can get Facebook fans to stop their scroll for a moment you might just get them to engage.

6. Create a Clear Call to Action. This doesn’t mean you have to ask for followers. It means that you need to give people on Facebook a reason to engage with your post. Ask a relevant question that prompts a conversation. Offer a quick fill-in-the-blank that entices followers to give their two cents. Ask a poll question – people are always curious about the results. Remember to be clear about the action you want from your followers and state it in your text.

7. Offer Contests. Thirty five percent of Facebook users like pages so they can enter a contest. The good news is you can easily increase your followers. The bad news is that they may not be qualified followers. Limit the bad news by carefully crafting your contest offer. Although your target audience may think iPads are cool, they don’t relate to your dental practice. Maybe you should consider offering half-price crowns or discounted teeth whitening. These are items that relate both to you and your potential patients.

The final rule is all about service.

8. Always Respond. It may be time consuming and difficult, but the reason people are active on Facebook is to build relationships. You can’t do that if you don’t respond. Take the time to like responses to your posts. Respond with a comment when possible. Respond with a blanket comment when your time is limited and there has been a good discussion on one of your posts. This validates your followers and encourages them to continue engaging.

For companies that utilize Facebook for marketing their services it’s becoming an invaluable tool – helping to build brand recognition, encourage customer loyalty and draw in new clients. Follow these eight simple rules and give it a go on your own or see how we can build a Facebook strategy for your dental practice. Contact ProSites to schedule a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

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Search Marketing

How to Choose the Best SEO Agency

Want people to easily find your dental practice in an online search? You may have heard that search engine optimization (SEO) can solve your problems. Unfortunately search engine marketing is an ever-evolving beast that can make doing it well very difficult and time consuming. Where does that leave you? It’s time to find a SEO provider to focus on your business’ needs which will give you time to focus on your patients and simultaneously help you grow your business.

Finding the best SEO agency for your dental practice can be difficult. Before you begin you should first learn to separate SEO fact from SEO fiction.

FICTION: SEO can guarantee specific results. First page here we come!

FACT: If a company guarantees you first page placement, they’re lying. SEO cannot guarantee specific results. However, a legitimate SEO firm can implement white-hat SEO strategies based on your business goals, specialties, geographic location and competition.

FICTION: Optimize keywords and add meta-tags – you’ll be at the top of searches in no time.

FACT: First, there is no such thing as a quick fix in SEO. Second, it’s important to find a SEO provider that stays up-to-date with SEO standards. While updating meta-tags won’t hurt your visibility, search engines don’t place as high of a priority on all meta-tags. The ones that do still carry weight are title tags, H1 (heading) tags and alt tags.

Hire a SEO firm that can speak to changes in search engine algorithms and the associated impact on your SEO campaign. They should be able to communicate in layman’s terms the essential components of their strategy and what are the associated key performance indicators. You should expect to receive regular reporting that shows you metrics on traffic, visits, referrals, bounce rates, keyword ranking, and top performing pages. They should also be able to explain positive or negative trends and actions taken or recommended to achieve strong performance.

Remember, SEO is not magic. Rather it is part art, part science. A solid SEO strategy takes three to six months to gain traction with the search engines, reveal trends, and produce competitive results.

FICTION: SEO is SEO. If we did it for one company we can do it for any company.

FACT: One size does not fit all. Every industry has different clients, competition and regulations. If your agency doesn’t understand one of these, how will they understand your practice? Your SEO agency should grasp the specifics of your industry and your business goals. Don’t waste valuable time bringing them up to speed on what is, and what isn’t, acceptable in your industry. If you choose a SEO agency that’s well versed in your business niche they can show you case studies from businesses similar to yours and clearly explain what it takes to get results.

FICTION: The more links the better.

FACT: Yes – links are good, but an improper link strategy can actually get you banned from Google. Your SEO agency should have a plan to engage appropriate third-party sites. Blindly blasting out links, spamming forums and making comments on blogs will only raise red flags and could get you penalized by the search engines. Make sure links are relevant to your business, and then accumulate them naturally. It will take time to do it right.

FICTION: Cool site. It looks like a winner!

FACT: Looks can be deceiving; they can also be wasted unless you have relevant content, written for the user experience, not just to attract the search engines. The search engine algorithms place incredibly high value on relevant content. This also makes the difference in terms of site visitor engagement. First you need to get them to your site, then you need to keep them. Make sure your pages include appropriate calls to action and multiple methods of contact.  After all, what’s the point of increasing traffic to your site if you can’t convert that traffic into new patients?

The more users engage and click through your site the more your SEO will improve. These are measurable indicators.

BE CHOOSEY

Don’t put off finding a SEO firm. You’ll only be putting off business growth. Do your research and ask direct questions to gauge whether they’ll meet your expectations. A qualified SEO firm won’t be intimidated. If you’d like to learn how ProSites can tailor a SEO strategy for your dental practice, contact us to schedule a personal consultation at 888-932-3644

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Search Marketing

An SEO Strategy for Dentists that Works

Search Engine Optimization takes time. But there’s a way to make an immediate, positive impact on the results you’re getting from search engine traffic.

While you’re using all the right technical, SEO best practices to please Google – you should take a step back and think about how you can improve user experience.

Most of what you (and your competitors) are told about optimizing your website for search engines deals with making changes to the site to make it more appealing to search engine algorithms. That is, many tips deal with giving the search engine what it wants in order to improve your organic rank.

But there’s another side of the SEO coin – and it’s especially important for dentists.

Search engines don’t make dental appointments – people do. So, while focusing on what the search engine wants, also consider what your prospective patient wants.

Whatever organic traffic you get now is not likely to change overnight based on improvements you make for search engines – but you could improve the number of leads that turn into patients based on changes you make for the user.

Here are three specific ways to immediately make your website more user friendly – and get more out of your existing organic traffic:

1)      Include an urgent, obvious call to action on your website.

When a prospective patient lands on your website, give them a clear action to take. Even better, direct a call to action at new patients by including a special offer.

Something like: “New patient special offer: enter your email here to get an appointment within the next 10 days.”

New patients don’t want to wait months and months for an appointment – so give them a reason to schedule one immediately and they’ll be more likely to take that action.

2)      Display your contact information on all pages.

Make sure all of your web pages have at least a phone number and address prominently displayed near the top of the page. That way, no matter what page someone ends up on, they have the opportunity to reach you by phone or see your location.

3)      Update your meta-descriptions to be more personal and informative.

A meta-description is the text within your website’s code that search engines use to generate your search engine results listing Changing your meta-descriptions is a little more technical than some of these other suggestions, but it can have a big impact.

You can change your meta-descriptions in your website control panel. When you do, keep in mind the key-words that your prospective patients may be searching for. When updating your content on your website, make it personal to you, your staff and the environment of your practice and what you stand for. Keep in mind you only have about 160 or so characters to work with, so keep it short and to the point. Depending on the search engine, you may get more room.

Introduce yourself in the first person, using “I” phrases. Most dental meta-descriptions use “we” phrases, which is much less personal. Talk about what you do, where you do it and why.

Example: “I’m Dr. Smith, a periodontist working on 124 Pine St here in Springfield. I specialize in quick, trouble-free implants for every budget. My appointment turnaround time averages under 10 days.”

One More Bonus

When you improve user experience and begin to get more clicks and activity on your webpages, search engines will take notice and will also improve your search engine ranking. Think of it as user-experience based SEO.

In the end, user experience and search engine rules are converging towards the same goal: making search engines a place where people can find and use exactly what they’re looking for. 

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