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October 2016

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Search Marketing

Decisions – How to Choose the Best SEO Provider for Your Practice

You already know that search engine optimization (SEO) is key to driving prospective patients to your practice’s website. And, to ensure it’s done correctly, you’ve decided to go the professional route – but how do you pick the right SEO provider for your practice? The selection process can be daunting because it’s not your area of expertise. Nevertheless, you’ve invested in your office’s online presence and SEO has the power to either expand your reach or hide you on page eight of search results.

The questions you should ask are not too dissimilar from those involved in choosing an undergraduate school. Back then you knew there was a lot riding on your decision, but you didn’t exactly know what to look for. To help you select the best SEO provider for your practice we’ve created the following tips – no admissions interviewed required.

1. Get the inside scoop – Client experience is a central component in selecting an SEO provider. To ensure you know what you can expect from a company, take your research beyond their website. Search the Internet for reviews and reach out to users for feedback. After all, there’s a reason that college brochure showed polo-wearing students engaged in mind-broadening conversation, instead of the quad littered with red Solo cups. Sometimes you need to do a little digging to get the full picture.

2. False Promises – Beware of SEO providers that claim to know Google’s algorithm or promise to remedy your SEO woes in six weeks or less. Similar to assuring your parents that pledging a sorority/fraternity won’t affect your grades, providers that make these claims are simply saying what’s needed to get a ‘yes’. Google’s algorithm changes between 500-600 times a year and given the amount of revenue tied to it, we can safely assume those in the know are few and do not include SEO providers. These changes, combined with an ever-evolving online landscape are also why successful SEO takes time. If you’re in the market for immediate results, consider adding pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to your online marketing strategy.

3. What’s your major? For some of us our college short list criteria was simple. On-campus Taco Bell? Done. Others took a more formalized approach – how much will it cost to graduate dental school? Just as you wouldn’t attend a school for culinary arts if your interest was dentistry, don’t select an SEO provider that doesn’t specialize in your field. SEO and content are closely linked, so the more dental practice knowledge your provider has, the better able they are to optimize your content.

4. What’s the tuition refund deadline? Don’t forget to check the fine print. Ensure you’re familiar with the provider’s cancellation policy and what it means for your practice specifically.  For example, if the optimized content is “owned” by the SEO provider and your practice loses it, your search engine ranking will suffer. Also, in the event of cancellation, be aware of synced content sources, such as your blog and Facebook feed. Remember, if your blog is no longer updated, neither is the synced feed.

5. How about a degree from International Correspondence Schools (ICS)? Many of us are still haunted by Sally Struthers’ ICS commercials from the early 90’s – “Do you want to make more money? Of course, we all do.” Struthers voice of desperation would then tout a long list of learn-at-home programs practically guaranteed to catapult you into success, like TV/VCR and gun repair. No word on the number of injuries sustained by those majoring in the latter. Obviously, things aren’t always what they seem and ignorance can cost you. In recent years, search engine ranking methodologies have become more stringent, but not all SEO providers have updated accordingly. Black hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, target search engines rather than a human audience resulting in a poor user experience. At first, you may see a jump in your website’s ranking but, just like those who spent time learning TV/VCR repair, you’ll soon learn it wasn’t worth the effort. That’s because search engines base rankings primarily on user experience, and your site will be blacklisted faster than you can request your academic transcript. Remember, like a good education, there are no shortcuts to quality SEO.

Just like large universities are a good fit for some and small liberal arts colleges work better for others, there’s an SEO provider for every dental practice. A little due diligence up front can save you a headache down the road, but remember, it’s always better to transfer than drop out altogether.

To learn more about search engine optimization and common terms used, download our free whitepaper, The Search Engine Optimization Dictionary for Dentists today by filling out the form below.

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Website Design

New Dental Market Research Report

The Results Are In – How Do You Compare to Other Dentists?

As the owner of your dental practice, it’s not uncommon to wonder how your colleagues and competitors are managing and growing their practice and what they are doing to acquire and retain patients. For example, how many of your colleagues are using social media to market their practice? Who in their practice manages their online marketing?  What ROI are they realizing? And, do they share the same concerns when it comes to practice marketing?

To get a pulse on the dental industry’s marketing activities, ProSites commissioned an independent third-party to survey U.S. dental practices. Dentists representing a cross-section of practice specialties shared information about their practice marketing activities. Participation was 100% voluntary and was conducted between June – September 2016.

You may be surprised at some of the information that we discovered! Get insight into the top methods for attracting patients, common marketing concerns, and popular marketing investments that other dentists are considering.

To view the full report, please click here.

Interested in learning more about dental marketing industry trends? Register for our webinar on November 17th to see how your experiences compare with those of your peers when it comes to practice marketing. Click here to save your spot!  

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Search Marketing

How to Improve Your Dental Website’s Rankings in 2016 and Beyond – Part 4

Up to this point in the series, we’ve covered the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), how to improve your rankings in the snack pack on Google, and how to get maximum visibility in local organic listings on search results.

Now, we will focus on factors that can negatively impact your rankings and what can be done to fix them.

Negative On-page Ranking Factors

Negative ranking factors are things that may be making your website lose its rankings. The more ranking factors you’re doing (whether on purpose or by mistake), the more they’re harming your visibility. Here are the most common on-page (website) issues that may be hurting you.

1. Your page titles do not include city and state. Your page title is a type of metadata and should include your city, state, and keywords (e.g. Dentist or Dentist in [City, State]). Page titles are shown on search engine results pages. Therefore, it essentially works to persuade visitors into clicking your website over the others listed on the page.

2. Your meta descriptions don’t include your city and common keywords. Your dental website’s meta descriptions should include common keywords that searchers would use when they’re looking for your services. For example, “Family dental services in [City]”. Similar to a page title, meta descriptions appear on search results pages to help searchers understand what the web page is about, and may impact their decision to click through to the website.

3. You don’t have H1 tags on your web pages. An H1 tag creates a header for the copy on your page. Usually, the copy is enlarged and bolded to look like a title. And although enlarged copy vs. copy in an H1 tag visually look the same, a real H1 tag can be identified by <h1></h1> tags on the back end. To really nail your H1 tags, remember that they should include keywords that are commonly used in searches and only one should be included per page.

4. You don’t have ALT tags on images. Anytime you have an image on your website, you should include an ALT tag to provide a clear text alternative of the image. Be sure to use keywords where applicable, too. (Note: These types of tags need to be coded in, so ask your webmaster for help adding these in.)

For example, an ALT tag on a firm’s logo could read John Doe, DDS, Dental Practice Logo. This way, both “DDS” and “Dental Practice” are keywords, but also accurately describe the image.

5. Your page is not optimized for Google My Business. If your Google My Business profile points to your website’s homepage (most dental practices do), make sure your homepage includes your name, address, and phone number exactly how it appears on Google My Business. Google relies on this information to triangulate it with the address on you Google My Business profile and understand your geographical location.

6. Your website copy is not optimized for local search. In addition to highlighting your services, your website copy should include contextual references to your firm’s location (city and state). This way, when someone searches “Dentist in [City]” your website is optimized for that area. Make sure to read your website copy out loud to ensure that any mention of your city and state sound natural.

Negative Off-page Ranking Factors

Negative off-page factors are things that occur outside of your website, but could still be harming your rankings.

7. You have inconsistent/duplicate name, address, and phone number information in online directories and on your website. Your business is likely listed in numerous online directories. You want to ensure that all of your name, address and phone (NAP) data is identical and accurate across all directories to avoid confusing the search engines. In addition to having consistent NAP data across online directories, it’s important that this information matches the contact information on your website too.

You can check for consistency using Moz Local’s Listing Scanner. Simply enter your practice’s name and zip code to get a consistency score. With the results, you can claim and optimize listings that have wrong and/or missing information.

8. You list virtual offices, P.O. boxes, and toll-free numbers in directories. Listing this type of information goes against most directories’ guidelines because it does not specify where you are located the same way that a physical address and area code would. If you do have a toll-free number, make sure to only include it in addition to a local phone number. Solely using a toll-free number prevents search engines from identifying where your practice is located.

9. You selected the wrong business category. Most online directories (including Google) ask you to select a business category from a pick-list. Most dentists should list their primary category as “Dentist” or “Dental Clinic.” You can choose additional categories as well but always choose your most important category first.

Note: Use this guide to help you decide which to choose.

10. You do not have backlinks. Backlinks are links on other websites that link back to your website and are essential to helping you rank well organically on search results. It’s extremely time-intensive, but well worth it in the long run. To start building more backlinks, reach out to associations that you are part of and see if they have a membership directory where they can list your website.

Note: Download this free whitepaper for additional ideas on how to obtain more backlinks.

Stay tuned for our final part on How to Improve Your Rankings where we will explore how competition can influence your rankings.

Find out more about getting better rankings on search engines, call (888) 932-3644 to speak with an Account Advisor.

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Practice Marketing

Share your advice and be featured in our next eBook!

Have you ever implemented a program at your practice that resulted in an influx of new patients? How about a change that made existing patients even more pleased with your services? Interested in sharing practice marketing suggestions with other dentists?

We’re compiling a list of the top dental marketing tips to be published in a comprehensive eBook at the end of this year. The goal is to provide unique, ideas on how to enhance patient experience, and bring new patients through your door.  

In order to make this eBook a success, we need your help! Share your ideas, and you and your practice could be featured.

What’s in it for you? Three reasons to share your story: 

  1. Be recognized. Your words of wisdom will be shared with peers around the country, showcasing you as a thought leader in dental marketing. Your name, practice name and public profiles will be listed (if you choose).
  2. Increase your website ranking. Being featured will provide a quality backlink to your website, and more backlinks help improve your website’s rankings. 
  3. Give back. By sharing your experience, you’ll be providing peers with fresh ideas to try at their practices.  

Sharing your advice takes just a few minutes. Click here to get started! 

Thank you in advance for your time and help with this piece. If you have any questions, please email Melissa Mickelson, Sr. Marketing Manager at melissa@prosites.com

 

Editor’s note: Due to space and editorial restrictions, contributions are not guaranteed inclusion.

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