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Search Marketing

3 Ways to Leverage Your Marketing this Winter

When it comes to marketing your dental practice, there are countless options available. Here are three things that you can do to improve your marketing and make an impact on your practice:

1. Update your website design. When was the last time you updated your website design? If you’re like most small business owners, it’s probably been several years. However, design trends are constantly changing and it’s important to keep up with the times. Even little things, like not having a mobile-friendly website, can make your practice appear outdated – making potential patients question if you really are the dentist they should trust.

Ask your website provider if they have recently released new designs or features that you can add to your website. And, if you’re a ProSites member, you can easily update your website design at any time. Pick a design that reflects your practice’s brand, provides a thoughtful user experience, and is mobile-friendly (since most of your web traffic is likely coming from a smartphone).

2. Write a blog post one time a week. Blogging can play a pivotal role in how you interact with current and prospective patients. Your practice’s blog can be both be used as a controlled news outlet and act as the voice of the company in a less formal, relatable manner.

Plus, by adding useful and interesting content, it can help improve your ranking on search engines. This is because search engines love fresh, relevant content that’s updated frequently.

Use blogging as a platform to educate prospective patients on new dental technology and bolster your practice’s relationship with the community. It’s also an excellent way to encourage engagement on your social media profiles such as Facebook or Twitter. By sharing your blog posts on social media, you are creating a dialog between you and your followers (or potential patients).

Finally, blogging encourages search engines to visit your website more frequently because it’s fresh content on your site. Ensure to include search phrases prospects are likely to use when searching for your services when creating new posts.

3. Reach out to your most loyal patients. Write a thank you note, give them a call, or send them an email. Attracting new patients is much more costly than retaining loyal patients, so be sure to take the opportunity to go the extra mile – provide recommendations, touch base and let them know you value their business.

To get more ideas on what you should be doing to market your practice online, get 25 other ideas on this free infographic here. Or, request a free demonstration of our online marketing services by filling out the form below.

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Search Marketing

3 Dental Marketing Tactics that Should Stay Dead

We all know the story; a doctor develops a cure for cancer, but a deadly side effect of the treatment causes the brain to function at its more primitive level, the heart stops, and the patient develops a taste for humans. Next thing you know, the protagonist is flash-mobbing in a graveyard alongside zombies!

Like the doctor attempting to make the world a better place by eliminating cancer, you may find yourself wanting to improve your marketing by bringing back some classic marketing methods. However, you may find those strategies are only a husk of their former selves.

Avoid having your marketing strategy eaten alive by these scary tactics:

  1. Advertising in YellowPages – Ask anyone born before 1995 what YellowPages are and they’ll probably point you to Google. Truth is, YellowPages aren’t being seen my many. Instead, maximize visibility among potential patients with search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. SEO helps your website get found higher on search results when potential patients search for the services that you offer. The higher you rank, the more likely a visitor will find your website and click your name to see what your practice is about.
  1. TV Advertising – While traditional marketing still has its perks, TV advertising is expensive, difficult to measure, and likely won’t be seen by your target audience. Instead of wasting precious advertising dollars on ad space that potential patients likely will not see (or simply tune out), consider pay-per-click advertising; a digital marketing method that allows you to target specific audiences in various locations, set your own budget, and only pay when someone clicks your ad. Make sure your PPC campaigns direct visitors to a special landing page about your practice and its services for optimal performance and ROI.
  1. Newspaper Ads – The world is long past the point where people pick up a physical newspaper to get information. Instead of searching through ads, prospective patients rely on their social networks for recommendations because they know they’ll be able to pull from a broad audience they trust. That’s why it’s crucial for you to create and maintain an online social media presence by updating your profiles and collecting reviews that give prospective patients an inside look at your practice. Additionally, you can incentivize your existing patients with a referral program so they’re more likely to recommend you the next time their Facebook friend reaches out.

Don’t make a bad first impression or waste your marketing dollars with scary and ineffective marketing strategies. If you need help bringing your marketing strategy back to life, download the free whitepaper, The Definitive Guide to Online Marketing for Dentists by filling out the form below or call (888) 932-3644 for a free demo.

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Search Marketing

Dental Marketing Trends: Checking In

It seems like just a few weeks ago we were penning our New Year’s resolutions and vowing to eat less processed food, but here we are soaking up the last of summer – hot dog in hand. Before year-end lists dominate the headlines, we thought we would take a moment to dust off our Magic 8 Ball and check-in to see how some of the Top Trends and Recommendations for Dentistry & Marketing in 2017 are tracking.

1. Trust of authority and experts is decreasing. When we asked our Magic 8 Ball if this was still a thing, “Signs point to yes” quickly appeared in its foggy little window. While the prevalence of unsubstantiated news stories is disturbing on its own, it also results in a decrease in general trust of authority and experts which has a different set of ramifications. A great example of this is how the Associated Press article titled, Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven quickly transformed into an anti-floss movement promulgated by headlines such as, Dentists Forgot to Study Flossing For a Century, Recommended It Anyway (published by website, Ars Technica). Now, if that were actually true, we would be all for a full-on dental floss boycott. Of course, that’s not exactly accurate but in the frenzy of Shares and Likes who can be bothered to fact check?

What does this mean for you? While we don’t recommend burning your dental school letters to show the masses you’re not one of those out-of-touch experts, we do suggest demonstrating that you care what patients think. Aside from requesting feedback through satisfaction surveys, try social listening on your practice’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Once you understand what’s on patients’ minds you’ll be able to address concerns and focus on topics of interest – both of which will help to carve out your niche as an expert who can be trusted.

2. Belief in crowds and social networking is increasing. Is this trend still going strong? The Magic 8 Ball says “Without a doubt”. Despite the influx of documented “fake news,” we just can’t stop ourselves from passing along salacious headlines. After all, who has the time to read an entire article? It’s much easier to take your Facebook friend’s word for it – besides, they probably verified it anyway.

What does this mean to you? As belief in crowds and social networking continues to increase, it’s more important than ever for dental practices to find a way to insert themselves into the conversation. This means that having a social media presence isn’t enough; you need to participate. Don’t worry, this isn’t as daunting as it might sound. Simply responding to comments on your practice’s social media pages helps to set you apart and makes users feel like you’re one of their social network friends, and not just another dental clinic.

A great way to expand your social footprint is to provide incentives for your patients to share information online about your practice. Depending on your patient base, this might include raffles or giveaways for Liking your page or referring a friend. Whichever method you choose, the first step is to make sure patients know you’re there. Use your patient newsletter, waiting room signage, and website to announce your social media presence and encourage patients to connect online.

3. Everything is going mobile. Do we even need to consult our trusty Magic 8 Ball for this one? The fact that a Magic 8 Ball app exists should be a good indicator (insert winking emoji here). This trend is one that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, 80% of adult Internet users own a smartphone, and 25% of them can’t remember the last time it wasn’t next to them.

What does this mean for you? This is one trend that’s pretty cut and dry. You need a mobile website – full stop. Without it, you run the risk of alienating over 50% of the prospective patients that visit your website from a mobile device. We don’t think you need to consult the Magic 8 Ball to see if that’s a risk you should take.

4. Video content is becoming necessary to engage your audience. The Magic 8 Ball’s take on this trend? Outlook good. The move towards video content is indisputable; we’ll let you decide if our insatiable appetite for the screen (4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it) is rooted in Netflix or the Disney Junior app.

What does this mean for you? Just as having a Facebook page is no longer enough (remember, participation is key), having a website alone doesn’t guarantee visitor engagement. Video is a great way to raise the bar. Try creating a library of how-to videos that address common concerns (i.e. the fruit of your social listening labor), such as “How to help my child manage braces”. Plus, video has been shown to keep visitors on your site longer, with the average time spent on a website jumping from 42 seconds to 350 seconds when video was present.

Even though Labor Day is on the horizon, you still have time to catch-up with these trends. For help on how to get started, contact ProSites at (888) 932-3644 because before you know it you’ll be revising those New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

Have you read about the other top trends that we predicted? Download the whitepaper using the form below.

"Marketing
Social Media

We Went to Dental Digital Marketing Conference So You Didn’t Have To

Attending conferences are a great way to stay on top of current dental digital marketing best practices, but we understand that you must be selective about the times you’re out of the office and which conferences you attend.

This year we went to the Dental Digital Marketing Conference and learned about some key takeaways for your dental practice.

Below are the top three takeaways from the conference that can be used to benefit your practice: 

1. New patients are important, but retention is key to practice growth. You’ve likely considered search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing to help your practice attract more patients. However, your efforts are wasted if the patients you worked so hard to get don’t continue to stay loyal to your practice. This is where data and digital marketing come into play.

You can use data to determine if your practice needs to more effectively collect pre-appointments by examining how many you already have scheduled. Getting patients to schedule their next appointment before they leave your practice is crucial as they are far less likely to remember after they’ve left your office. Digital marketing help remind patients via email, text, or phone calls thus reducing no-shows and saving you time trying to reschedule.

2. Social media is the new(ish) word of mouth marketing. The best way to stay top-of-mind to patients year round is through a strong social media presence. Not only does this help build brand equity and loyalty, but it helps patients view you as a trusted expert and forms a stronger relationship with them.

Social media also helps you increase referrals.  When someone on social media asks their network for recommendations on a dentist, people can comment and tag your practice, directing users immediately to your profile. If your Facebook page has been set-up correctly, when someone tags you, it’ll show a profile picture, aggregate review rating, and practice address.

Once people click through to your social media profile, you’ll want to include basic information such as hours, contact information and a website address, in addition to a consistent, steady stream of relevant posts and content.

3. Reviews are more important to consumers than ever before. Prospective patients live in a world where other people’s opinions and experiences with your practice can be found instantly and rely on this feedback to help them decide if they want to contact your practice.

Collecting positive reviews is now a must-have, seeing that 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision. Here’s a step-by-step way to collect more reviews:

    • Step 1: Identify two or more patients per day that you request a review.
    • Step 2: Ask the dental hygienist to ask the patient what their highlight was from their visit at the end of the appointment.
    • Step 3: Inform the patient on why it’s important for them to share that experience with other people online. For example, “more people would get the help they need if they heard from people like you.”
    • Step 4: Ask the patient for “help” by leaving an honest review.
    • Step 5: Offer to walk the patient through the process of leaving a review by pointing them in direction of your directory of choice (Google, Yelp, Review Marketing Page, etc.)
    • Step 6: Set a goal for how many reviews you want to collect, and measure against it to ensure you stay on track.

Following this review collection process will take time, but can pay off when building patients’ trust in your practice.

Patient retention, social media management, and positive reviews are all must-haves in today’s era of dental marketing. To learn more about how ProSites can manage this for you, call (888) 932-3644 to talk to an Internet Marketing Advisor. You can also download the Definitive Guide to Online Marketing today. 

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Social Media

California Dental Association: Post-show Recap

If you live in California or surrounding states, it’s likely that you attended CDA Presents Anaheim last weekend. We love tradeshows because it gives us a chance to meet with our members and dentists face-to-face rather than our typical conversations over the phone.

This year we had a lot of excitement at our booth, which was packed with educational tips and ideas for dentists to grow their practice.

Check out the video below to see our VP of Products talk with Dr. DDS about the latest in online marketing:

Have a bit more time to catch up on your online marketing education? Our Founder and Co-Chairman, Lance McCollough, gave a full-day presentation on today’s top online marketing trends. Topics spanned across all-things dental marketing related and, best of all, you can get your own copy of the slides here.

Watch Lance’s lecture to learn:

  • Top 10 trends in dentistry and marketing
  • Online marketing best practices for your website, social media, and search marketing strategies
  • Common mistakes dentists make when marketing their practices
  • How to effectively manage your online reputation
  • And much, much more!

To learn more about how ProSites helps dentists like you grow their practice, call us at (888) 932-3644.

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Website Design

The M Word- Part 3

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Management guru, Peter Drucker

You don’t have to be a guru to know that something left unmanaged rarely achieves the intended results – and nowhere is this truer than the ever-expanding world of Internet marketing. The previous articles in this series have covered the importance of defining your practice goals and patient lifetime value (if this doesn’t sound familiar, check out part 1), and the critical role website analytics play in measuring campaign performance (for a refresher, review part 2).  But settle in, because we’re not done yet.

While your goal will determine the marketing methods used, your ability to measure performance and adapt your strategy accordingly will drive results and allow you to replicate success. It’s often easier to focus on short-term results (maybe it’s society’s lacking attention span or the fact that you have a million other things on your to-do list), but that doesn’t negate the need to track the results of longer-term strategies. Two important online marketing methods that take longer to cultivate results are search engine optimization (SEO) and social media outreach. Read on for ways to effectively measure the performance these essential pieces of the marketing pie.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Where do you rank for key search terms? If a prospective patient searches for Your City and Dentist, is your practice at the top of page 1? How about Your City and Invisalign (or other key service)? Search engine optimization isn’t just about ranking, it’s about ranking for the right services. If you’re looking to bring in more families, it’s going to be important that your practice appear for the search terms parents are most likely to use when looking for a dentist. While page ranking may be the most visible, there are several SEO performance indicators that should be taken into consideration. These include growth in organic website traffic, bounce rate per keyword (this can help you understand how content is perceived by different segments), increase in organic conversions, and increase in click-thru-rate among others. For most doctors, SEO can be more complicated than the DAT. The good news is that outsourcing is now completely acceptable, unlike when you were trying to get into dental school. ProSites has a number of free SEO resources, including whitepapers such as Local Search and How It’s Affecting Your Practice, and on-demand webinars like How to Get More Patients from Your Website.

Social Media – What started as a fun way to stay in touch with your college friends and stealthily look up and old flame has morphed into one of today’s most powerful marketing tools. According to Smart Insights , Facebook increased its market penetration in 2016 to 89% of US Internet users. Oh, and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) came in second with 32% penetration. While other social media platforms exist (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) Facebook is by far the most widely used. Since you like the odds in your favor, your practice has a Facebook page, but how do you know if it’s working? Insert redundant reference to the importance of defining practice goals. If your goal is to increase awareness, track reach and exposure (the number of people who follow your Facebook page and see your posts). On the other hand, if your focus is on increasing follower engagement the number of comments, likes, and shares are good indicators that your messages are resonating. And finally, if your goal is simply to direct visitors to your practice website, it makes sense to track the number of visitors coming directly from Facebook, as well as clicks and conversions. Now that you have a sense of social media’s potential, you may be second guessing your decision to have your nephew handle the page in his spare time. Don’t worry – just like chewing gum while wearing a retainer – under estimating the value of social media is common mistake. For guidance on how to harness the power of social media, download our free whitepaper, Running a Dental Practice in the Age of Social Media.

There’s no doubt about it, measurement can be bear – especially if you don’t have the aptitude for it. Nevertheless, it’s critical to ensuring your valuable time and resources are used wisely. Whether you’re looking for help in creating a strategy to achieve your goal, or are still in the process of determining what your goal is, ProSites is here to help.

Call an Internet Marketing Advisor today at (888) 932-3644 to see how we can help you achieve measurable practice growth. Life is complicated, but marketing your dental practice online doesn’t have to be.

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Social Media

Today’s Top Dental Marketing Trends [Video]

Ever wonder how your practice compares to other dental practices? Watch this video to learn the top three marketing methods being used by dentists, interesting trends among your patients, and what is the best way to stand out from competition online!

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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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