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Search Marketing

What Dentists Can Learn About Marketing from 2016

If you’re on the Internet (and who isn’t?), chances are you’ve stumbled across one of the hundreds of memes that mock how *interesting* of a year 2016 has been. From Bradgelina splitting to the very intense (dare we mention it) election, 2016 has been a year of change for many.

Back in the beginning of 2016, we wrote an article that discussed the top three anticipated social media trends. As we wrap up the year, we’re taking a look back to see which took flight and where we were not-so-right.

1. We predicted that social networks would adopt new algorithms making it more difficult to reach new patients for free; thus, increasing the need for paid social media advertising. 

The verdict? 

It turns out that we were mostly right about this. Facebook introduced an update that prioritizes content differently on people’s newsfeeds depending on the source. For example, posts from friends and family members will always have priority over content that originates from sources that are not personal connections. Forbes.com predicts that this will drive content publishers and small businesses alike to use Facebook’s ads, potentially causing ad bidding to become increasingly competitive. Naturally, when there is more demand for ads, bid prices are driven up, making advertising more expensive.

Whether this becomes a reality has yet to be seen. In the meantime, if you’re advertising your dental practice on Facebook take heart in knowing that it is still a relatively inexpensive option compared to more traditional marketing methods. Especially given its targeting ability.

In the Twitter world, now your current and prospective patients will see “tweets they might have missed from accounts they engage with the most” instead of seeing tweets purely in real time. This means the more your followers engage with your practice Twitter page, the more likely they are to see it.

Bottom line: These updates are proof that content is important in getting in front of your current and prospective patients on social media. These networks are increasingly watching the habits of your followers, and delivering the content they favor. The more they interact with your page, the more often they will see it.

For more help on creating a social media management strategy that incorporates the changes made in 2016, download this free guide to social media for dentists.

2. We predicted that content would remain king and search engines would reward great content with higher positioning in search results.

The verdict? 

Not so right. While it is still important to optimize your website’s content, this year we actually saw a greater emphasis on mobile and off-site (external) ranking factors.

Here are two major updates that Google made this year that may have impacted your rankings for the better – or worse.

    1. May 2016: Google’s update benefitted mobile-friendly sites, ranking those websites favorably in search results from a smartphone. Therefore, if you had a mobile-friendly dental website before May 2016, it likely impacted your search rankings for the better.
    2. September 2016: Google’s Possum update was released, impacting local listings (the list of businesses on a map in search results). Early analysis suggests local businesses that fall outside of the physical city limits are more likely to show higher in local listing rankings than before.

For example, a dentist just outside of Hollywood isn’t likely to rank in the local snack pack (set of the top three local businesses that match a search query, displayed on Google’s search engine results page) even if they are located in West Hollywood. Now, dental practices just outside of the designated city are more likely to appear in search results. This is encouraging since it has been a common pain-point for most dentists that need to expand beyond the neighborhood or city in which they are located.

3. We predicted that visual marketing would become even more important in 2016 (i.e. including photos and videos in your posts). 

The verdict? 

We were mostly right, with one slight adjustment – native video (videos uploaded directly to the social platform, instead of linking from YouTube) is surpassing images in terms of engagement.

Surprisingly enough, Facebook is closing in on YouTube as the number one source of video content. That’s likely because YouTube is so saturated that people now use it as a resource, rather than a way to kill time, making it less integrated in people’s daily lives.

While we’re not saying you should only post videos of your practice on social media, we do encourage you to think about adding video into your follower engagement strategy. As we mentioned above, the more engaged your followers are, the more likely they are to see your posts.

One way you can integrate videos is by experimenting with Facebook Live or Periscope (on Twitter). These allow you to broadcast instantly to your followers. Looking for broadcast topics? Consider:

    1. Community events
    2. Dental association shows and meetings
    3. Public speaking events
    4. Volunteer events, such as Dentists Without Borders
    5. Office celebrations

The list goes on and on. Check out these 30 ideas that dental practices can post about on social media, and adapt some of them for live broadcasting.

So there you have it – a rearview look at our 2016 predictions. Not bad, given that they were written without psychic ability or a Magic 8 Ball. With technology advancing faster than ever, we can say with certainty that you better buckle-up for 2017!

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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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Search Marketing

How to Improve Your Dental Website Rankings in 2016 and Beyond – Part 1

When it comes to getting and keeping your website at the top of search engine results pages, it’s not an easy task. Doing so involves local search engine optimization (SEO), and with algorithms constantly changing and more dental practices being created and marketing themselves online, it’s hard to keep up!

That’s why we’re starting a five-part blog series where we’ll break down exactly what you need to know about optimizing your website to improve rankings in 2016 and beyond. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Part 1: Understand overall ranking factors affecting your website
  • Part 2: Learn about ranking in Google’s top map listings in search results (snack pack)
  • Part 3: Discover how to get better organic rankings.
  • Part 4: Identify if your website has elements that are hurting your SEO, known as negative ranking factors.
  • Part 5: Understand how competition can influence your website’s SEO performance.

Before you get started, we’d recommend that you brush up on basic SEO lingo with your free guide to Local Search and How It’s Affecting Your Dental Practice.

Local SEO Ranking Factors Overview

Each year, industry thought-leaders analyze thousands of small business websites to understand and weigh the factors that have the biggest influence on your local search rankings. Local search is different from regular searches because users are specifically looking for products or services near their geographical location. Here’s what influencing your rankings:

  • On-Page Signals 20.3%
  • Link Signals 20.0%
  • Google My Business Signals 14.7%
  • External Location Signals 13.6%
  • Behavioral/Mob Signals 9.5%
  • Personalization Signals 8.5%
  • Review Signals 8.4%
  • Social Signals 5.0%

Now, we’ll cover each signal category and explain how they pertain to your practice’s website.

On-page Signals

On-page signals are keywords within your website’s copy and metadata. On-page signals are used by search engines to determine if a searcher is looking for services near their geographical location. It’s essential to include keywords in your website’s title tags and meta descriptions (types of meta data), because those appear on search engine results pages and will help searchers decide if they want to continue to your website.

Your title tags should include a list of your services, city, and business name while sounding natural. For example: Find a Dentist in Los Angeles | John Doe, DDS. Also, ensure that your practice name, complete address, and local phone number appear throughout your website so search engines know exactly where you are located.

Link Signals

Link signals are hyperlinks that connect from other websites back to yours, known as backlinks. Search engines scrutinize backlinks because they use them as a “reference” for your website, just like a reference you would provide to a potential employer. In order for search engines to deem it as a quality backlink, they should come from websites that are relevant to yours, such as being in the same industry or location.

Here are three types of links you should pursue for your website:

  • Location-specific links from directories, including:
    • Directory listings from a local chamber of commerce
    • Links from your local college or local news station website
  • Industry-specific directories like the ADA or your local state association
  • Authority sites like top dental blogs or magazines

Google My Business Signals

This refers to your Google Maps listing and is considered the most important signal for ranking in Google’s snack pack. Google uses the information from your website and Google Maps listing to triangulate your proximity to the searcher. It’s imperative to verify your Google Maps listing and fill out all the information to improve your chances of ranking in the first three positions of the snack pack.

External Location Signals

These are directories that Google looks at to triangulate your name, address, and phone number (NAP) to identify your location. The most common directories Google looks at are Yelp, Yellowpages, Manta, and CitySearch. It’s essential to ensure NAP consistency by using the exact same name, address, and phone number in each directory. Doing so helps Google avoid any confusion when they compare your NAP data from each directory, your website and Google Maps listing.

In addition to being consistent, it’s important to not have duplicate listings in any online directory. Duplicate listings can confuse search engines, as they won’t be able to differentiate whether you have multiple businesses or locations. You may have to go through a verification process for each directory to edit your NAP info and report any duplicate listings within the directory.

Behavioral/Mob Signals

This refers to how many visitors click your website from the list of organic search results. Remember, using the right keyword in title tags and meta descriptions influence a searchers decision to click your website. If a searcher recognizes their keyword within the blue text (title tag), they are more likely to click on your site. The more people who click, the higher your click-thru-rate, which signals the page’s popularity to search engines, and thus improves your chances of ranking higher down the road.

Personalization Signals

Personalization happens when a search engine customizes the list of results based on the users search history, physical proximity to a business, and past behavior with other websites. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to get around this with local SEO. What you can do is consider pay-per-click advertising (PPC). It’s paid ads on search engines that gets you in front of searchers who may not see your practice in the organic results. PPC is an excellent way for dentists to target prospective patients in different markets. Where SEO takes weeks to see results, PPC campaigns can drive traffic to your website within a matter of days.

Review Signals

While it is still largely debated whether reviews directly help your rankings or if they simply influence engagement, they are still important to your practice’s online visibility. From a marketing standpoint, potential patients are more likely to contact you if they see reviews for your practice. And, Google lets searchers to call a business directly from their results pages. Collecting reviews can be the difference of searchers immediately contacting you, or visiting a competitor.

Social signals

Do Likes, comments, and shares actually do anything for your rankings? It’s debatable. However, they do add credibility to your brand. Google takes into consideration how many times your business is mentioned throughout the Internet. Be present and active on social networks while including information about your services and location within your profiles.

Now that you understand overall ranking factors affecting your website, you’ve taken the first step to learning local SEO. Continue to Part 2 of How to Improve Your Dental Website’s Rankings in 2016 and Beyond, where we’ll cover ranking factors affecting your practice’s presence in Google’s snack pack.

Remember, you can always download Local Search and How It’s Affecting Your Dental Practice for a complete glossary on SEO terms.

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Search Marketing

How to Get Better Rankings on Google & Other Search Engines

The most common questions we hear from dentists are around why their practice isn’t ranking on page 1 of Google, and why their competitors are appearing in the “maps” listing of search results, and they are not.

As competition in the dental industry continues to grow, so does your need for effective search marketing techniques. Basically, ways to get your website ranking as best it can on Google and other search engines.

We created the Search Marketing Flipbook to give you quick answers to today’s most common dental marketing questions.

Download your free copy here or call ProSites at (888) 932-3644 to learn more about how we can improve your rankings to help bring  more new patients to your practice.

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