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Search Marketing

5 Dental Marketing Ideas to Attract and Convert Patients Through Search

Online search has become integral to our lives. Want to know where the nearest coffee shop is? Google it. Looking for Sunday brunch but don’t know which restaurant serves the best mimosas? Look it up on Yelp.

The same goes for prospective patients who are looking for your practice. They’re looking for the best dentist in their area by searching online. That’s why it’s important to prioritize your dental website’s online visibility.

Here are five dental marketing ideas that your practice can implement to improve its online visibility and attract new patients.

1. Write blog posts. Publishing blog posts on your dental website serves two purposes:
(1) It provides fresh content that search engine crawlers evaluate to determine relevancy and authority. The more relevant you appear to people searching for a new dentist, the more likely you are to show up for searches by prospective patients. And (2) blog posts help you gain credibility and showcase your expertise on a specific topic. When people see that you care enough to talk through a procedure or answer common FAQs they will immediately feel a greater sense of trust with you because it shows that you care.

2. Collect positive patient reviews. Did you know that 80% of people would trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation? Therefore, your practice needs positive online reviews to stand out among patients who are comparing you to other dentists in your town. And, having more reviews can help you stand out and rank higher on sites like Google Maps and other major online directories.

3. Claim and verify online business listings. Confirm your practice’s identity on various directories online such as Google Maps or Yelp. It doesn’t take much time (15 minutes per directory) but can have an amazing positive impact on your practice’s visibility. Plus, verifying your listing provides you with access to a dashboard that allows you to edit your information such as your practice name, address, and phone number which are critical components in ranking within the Google snack pack.

Verifying your listing also allows you to respond to reviews, list business hours, let’s prospective patients call you directly from search results, and provides driving directions through GPS.

4. Advertise through paid search. The first three to four search engine results are paid ads. Paid ads are used by dental practices to target prospective patients at the exact moment they search for services they offer. This is much more effective than traditional advertising where you’re typically interrupting someone. And, since search ads always appear at the top of results pages, they have maximum visibility to your target audience. Because of their design, users don’t always identify an ad and may think it’s an organic result.

Paid Search Result

Organic Search Result

Paid search ads are cost-effective when managed well, can improve your dental website’s online visibility within days, and provide easy-to-track analytics to help you understand your return on investment.

5. Remarket through paid search. Remarketing refers to ads that are shown to people who have previously visited your website. Visitors are identified by placing cookies (tracking code) in their search history which then triggers your ad to appear while that visitor searches for other services online.

Remarketing is useful because allows you to engage visitors that didn’t take a desired action on your site (e.g. contacting you and filling out a form). Additionally, remarketing is more cost effective because you’re targeting people who have already interacted with your practice in some way, shape or form – instead of targeting people who have never heard of your practice yet.

Using these 5 tactics can help improve your website’s online visibility to attract and convert new patients. For more ideas on how to improve your online presence, download How to Attract New Dental Patients Through Search Marketing by filling out the form below.

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Website Design

How Dentists Can Actually Get More Online Reviews from Patients

When it comes to online reviews, dentists have mixed opinions. Some truly understand their importance and want to get more, while others are a bit more hesitant. They view online profiles and reviews as just another channel they need to monitor, while fearing it opens the door for someone to complain publicly.

The truth is, online reviews are only growing in importance. And, simply not having an online profile to avoid getting reviews is no longer an option. Today, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. If your practice doesn’t have online reviews, it will seem a bit suspicious, and could make potential patients think “what do they have to hide?”

The good news is there’s a lot of opportunity to generate positive reviews. Below are the top ways to encourage positive reviews online with your patients:

1. In office, after their appointment. Once a patient is out of the chair and is checking out, train your front staff to ask them how their appointment went before they leave. This way, if anything was disappointing, you may have the opportunity to address and fix it right then and there, and avoid seeing a negative comment online later. Conversely, if the patient said everything went great at the appointment, this is an opportunity for your front staff to say “I’m so glad you had a good experience. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to leave us a review online?” Most patients will happily oblige.

Tip: You want to make it as easy as possible for patients to leave a review. So, if there’s a specific website or business page where you want a patient to leave their review, make that URL known and easy to locate. If it’s a lengthy URL, we recommend shortening it with bitly.com.

2. Follow-up via email after a patient appointment. Sometimes when a patient is leaving your practice, they’re in a rush to get back to work or cross off the next item on their to-do list. Follow-up with your patient via email (within 24 hours of their appointment) to see how they’re feeling and if they have any questions after their appointment. This is a perfect time to also ask them to leave you a review with something like “Thanks so much for visiting us. We want to provide you with the best service possible. Would you be willing to leave us a review online to help other people see what it’s like to work with us?” As noted above, make sure to include links to the website pages where you prefer the review left.

3. Post signage in your waiting room. Post signage in your waiting room that invites patients to leave a review online, with the URLs listed clearly on the sign. Doing so may encourage long-time, loyal patients to use their time in the waiting room to post a positive review before they even have their appointment.

When requesting an online review in your communications, there are a few golden rules that will increase your response rate:

  • Let your patient know that you’re asking for a “favor”
  • Help your patient understand how you benefit from this favor (i.e. your review will help new patients see what it’s like to come to our practice)
  • Make it easy for the patient to get to leave a review

Subscribe to our blog and receive our upcoming blog post this month which will also cover how to respond to positive and negative online reviews. And, if you haven’t already, take advantage of the ProSites Reputation Marketing feature which helps you showcase your positive reviews directly from your website.

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Search Marketing

5 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make to Grow Your Practice

Every year, around this time, people think about their New Year’s Resolutions. Then they wonder how long they can keep them. According to Statistic Brain, around 45% of Americans make resolutions. Only about 8% successfully achieve them (statistic brain). This year we’ve got five resolutions we think you’ll want to make and keep.

1. I will grow my presence on social media and stay engaged with my followers.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all about connecting with your community. Sometimes you will be connecting with people who are already your patients, and other times it’ll be potential new patients. What matters is that you represent your dental practice in a professional, approachable, and friendly manner.

Social media is also one of the key ways that you can gain more referrals now. Facebook is commonly used for status’s requesting recommendations on service providers from friends. If your practice is on social media, someone can reply by “tagging” your practice, making it super easy for people to instantly visit your social media page to learn more about your practice.

Begin the New Year by reviewing what your practice has been doing on Facebook and other social media channels. See what has been working and what has not by revising analytics data available to you. Set goals as to what you would like to accomplish with your social media pages and use your analytics data to support those goals. Eliminate whatever doesn’t represent your practice the way it should by defining what “working” means to your practice. Perhaps you had more engagement on Instagram over Twitter and determined that next year your practice should prioritize your time on Instagram. Then think about ways to engage your community better. One way to do this is by asking more questions and consider the answers.

Post content that is likely to engage your audience such as images, memes (if appropriate) and articles that can be easily shared with others. If you have a good photo, ask your community to supply captions and monitor the engagements well.

Want more ideas on social media marketing for your dental practice? Read this whitepaper.

2. I will increase positive reviews online.

According to a recent study, over 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.1Therefore, it’s more important than ever that your practice has as many reviews as possible!

Start by asking your patients during their appointment to leave a review on your website, Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp pages. It also helps to have a sign in your office that points patients to the direct link where they can leave a review. Remember, the easier it is for patients to leave you a review, the more likely that it’ll happen.

You can also write follow-up emails to patients that request them to leave a review on your website and/or other third party sites. With ProSites, your website also includes a Reputation Marketing feature, which makes it simple for patients to leave a review right on your website and then share it on other sites. Plus, you have full control over which reviews are showcased on your actual website.

Make sure to respond to any and all reviews, too! If it’s a positive review, thank them for their time and let them know how happy you are to hear about their good experience. If it is a not-so-great review, make sure to thank them for expressing their concerns, apologize if necessary, and work toward a resolution while taking it offline as quickly as possible.

3. I will have a mobile-friendly website.

As of 2014, more than 50% of online searches occur on a mobile device. In addition to providing a better experience for visitors, mobile-friendly websites are also now favorably ranked by Google, when a user searches from their smartphone.

Make sure your website loads quickly on smartphones, avoids the need to zoom in or out on text, and has thumb-friendly buttons with navigation that makes it easy to find the information someone would be looking for.

4. I will start blogging.

Blogging provides tremendous benefits for your practice. First, it’s a great way to educate current and prospective patients on the various services that you offer. It also gives you an opportunity to convey your expertise in dentistry. Whether you’re writing an article on the newest equipment that your office just got, or expressing your thoughts on a new method of dentistry, by creating a blog with meaningful, relevant, and educational content – you’re building trust among current and prospective patients.

Blogging is also one of the best things that can help your website’s search rankings. Search engines like Google love to see new content on websites. Therefore, by consistently posting new content on your blog on topics related to dentistry, it’ll help your website have more fresh content that includes key terms and phrases that will help your rankings.

5. I will experiment with search marketing techniques.

Whether your practice prefers to start with a solidified search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to help your organic rankings or wants to experiment with pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, testing is key to finding out which marketing methods work best for your practice.

While there are many differences between SEO and PPC, you will never know what works best for your practice until you try. Make it a goal to test at least one of these search marketing techniques for at least 6 months to see which one provides the greatest return for your practice.

While each one of these resolutions can help you build a healthy growing dental practice, they each take a good amount of time and effort. As a successful dentist who needs to remain focused on patients, don’t be afraid to hire a trusted marketing provider to take care of your online marketing needs. A quality internet marketing firm can tailor a marketing strategy to your dental practice’s expectations.

To learn more about marketing your practice online, call ProSites at (888) 932-3644. You may also be interested in this whitepaper which takes you through the best practices and key items to consider for each main pillar of marketing your dental practice online.

Sources:

  1. Moz: New Study: Data Reveals 67% of Consumers are Influenced by Online Reviews
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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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