In just 2015 alone, there were 195,722 practicing dentists in the United States. So how do you set your practice apart? Digital marketing is an effective way to bring in new patients in your area. Use some of the basic principles applied by big brands, just on a smaller scale.
SEO, or search engine optimization, means planting the critical words on your website that patients are searching for online. Google boasts an average of 63,000 searches every single second of the day, and of all these online searches people are 15 times more likely to use the phrase ‘near me’ in their phrasing. Tapping this search criteria can easily put your practice at the top of the list by following a few simple tips.
Using tools like Google Keyword you can determine the best keyword set for your practice. As a local business, you can research geographically defined keywords that are relevant to your area, such as dentist in Hanover Park or dentists in Chicago suburbs. Adding these keywords into landing pages throughout your site increases the chances local patients will find your practice over others in online searches.
Once you discover the amazing list of keywords at your disposal the tendency is to sprinkle them generously throughout your web pages. Be aware, that Google sees overuse of keywords as an illegitimate tactic and may penalize your site. This doesn’t mean you should be afraid of using keywords in content, just use them in creative variations. In other words, if tooth extraction is a keyword, try extracting decayed teeth as an alternative. 72% of dental agency marketers agree that relevancy is the single biggest factor for better SEO. Experts agree that writing for search terms rather than simply incorporating them into the content is pivotal for traffic.
Many patients will be searching for keywords relevant to specific needs. Research root canal and pain-free dentist as keywords that will attract patients. List insurance providers that you work with, your availability on weekends and kid-friendly or elderly friendly aspects of your practice. What is known as long-tail keyword searches help identify patients beyond the most commonly used words on dentist websites.
Most dental marketing companies will tell you that the most important part of SEO marketing is the meta description. This is the brief paragraph searchers see on the Google page before they click through to your site. A great meta description can make or break a small business in online search. Incorporating the most critical key elements of your practice in your meta description helps chisel your practice down to the most basic properties that are important to targeted patients. Define your location, your practice offerings and experience in 160 characters or less to capture patients in your immediate area.
Using subheads containing keywords kelps optimize your site while also creating a page that is easy to read for visitors. Using sub headlines throughout a web page also allows visitors to scan for what they are looking for quickly and easily.
Along with external links, internal links offer redirects to other pages on your site. As patients explore your content, they stay longer on your site and come closer to confirming you as their next dentist.
Google looks for websites that are true to their content. Backing up your information with links to dental associations, articles about dental issues and health insurance providers earns confidence from Google and helps build page ranking. This tactic also confirms with potential patients that you are ready to inform as well as treat patients.
Statistics show that video content is 50 times more likely to drive organic search results than plain text will. Adding videos that explains basic dental procedures or that introduce the staff also helps make your practice more engaging to new patients and more meaningful to Google.
Multiple page websites gain the most traffic from searchers and the most ranking from Google. Build each page of your site with unique title tags, incorporating keywords and keyword phrases. Best practices in SEO marketing recommend using a primary keyword like dentist, a secondary keyword like pain-free extractions and your company name and location, Jefferson Dental, Naperville, IL
With people accessing 69% of their online media on their smartphones, optimizing your digital content for mobile is critical. Most dental marketing agencies can help by reformatted site options for mobile screens, as well as offering other marketing opportunities like apps to assist with the growth of your practice.
As smartphones increase in sophistication, so too does the digital marketing tactics to make them important marketing vehicles. For example, more and more voice-driven searches are becoming critical to mobile marketing. 2017 saw the rise of voice searchers soar to 60%. That’s a 3400% increase from 2008! As you work with a dental marketing agency, explore how SEO is being used to capitalize on spoken searches.
SEO is more than just the words on the site. Citing content on other verified pages such as link directory sites and local listing pages helps Google verify your business across the internet and helps redirect potential patients to your home page.
The greatest mistake most small businesses make is to build their site and forget about it. Websites need to be updated and maintained. Google rewards new and relevant content with higher page rankings. Many dental marketing agencies will provide a clear plan of strategy as well as a maintenance plan for your digital footprint. This plan will observe key metrics through Google to determine what content is working best. The data will also help decide what pages need work through optimization to help them perform better. A healthy website with engaging, fresh content will continue to drive traffic and rise in the Google ranks.
Along with SEO, social media is another helpful tactic for engaging your audience. Speak to your audience in a friendly voice and use social media as an opportunity to present interesting news about your practice. Every social media channel is different, so it is important to gauge which one works best for you. Maintaining numerous channels increases your reach, but also requires time to manage, which is why a dental practice may turn to a dental marketing agency for help. If you choose to manage your own social media here are some tips to follow for building a robust social community.
Facebook works like a secondary website for many small businesses. From this portal you can deploy localized, geo-targeted messaging and engaging organic free messaging as well. One of the often-overlooked key components of Facebook marketing is the group pages. Here, dentists can reach out to other local members, all potential patients who live in their neighborhood. Don’t be intimidated by group pages, they are a great way to discuss dental issues with your community.
Facebook makes your staff friendlier. When you show how friendly and engaging your staff can be, you create an opportunity to build awareness with local patients. Knowing the hygienist and other dentists in your practice and even the receptionist creates a neighborhood bond that can only occur digitally on Facebook.
Twitter is primarily a newsfeed social channel without the friendliness of Facebook. But as the second largest social channel after Facebook it should not be overlooked, even for a local dentist. One of the most popular features on Twitter for marketing your business is the hashtag.
Twitter hashtags affiliate your content with events in your area. Align yourself with national days and remind parents when children should start coming in for cleanings and checkups. You can geo-target your posts on Twitter to reach key audiences. By incorporating hashtags about more national or global issues you also enhance your authority with local patients.
You don’t necessarily have to create your own videos, but you can acquire the video demos of products you might be offering. After all, consumers only know dental products through TV commercials. If dental product companies have created videos on YouTube, you can use them to promote your brand. If you offer those products through your practice, you can share that demonstrated procedure or technology through your own channel. You are essentially taking ownership of existing brand videos, which only enhances your appeal to local patients. Let your patients know you provide alignment products, whitening products and other dental technologies that they may not know you offer.
Discussing important new dental procedures or even reviewing a new dental technology is a way to build your local patient community. Video can be added to your YouTube channel and helps put a face and voice to your practice and help drive traffic to your site.
Along with organic social media efforts, paid ads on channels such as Facebook and Twitter can reach new patients in your surrounding area. Paid ads are relatively inexpensive and can be geo-targeted to reach key customers in a specific radius. Use social ads to offer promotions.
Create promotional days. Researching and promoting key days across your social media channels keeps customers aware of your local brand. Most dentists may not see themselves as retailers, but they are. After all, you need to bring patients through that office door. Use social media to offer product giveaways, free dental screenings and promote appearances at local events. The more you offer your community, the more they will come see you.
News stories are the most popular and most viral content on social media. When news channels broadcast health stories, such as the correlation between dental health and heart health, you can use your social media platforms to offer dental screenings to new patients. The urgency of the news story becomes an opportunity for driving new business.
If your practice engages in any kind of charity, promote it on your social media channels. Patients love to know that their dentist is a caring person who gives time to local causes. Charitable events help round out your social media plan so that it is not just about promotional content.
The great thing about all social media is that it is a numbers game. You can see what is working and what isn’t, based on engagement and click through rates. Use this data to modify your content to create the most efficient digital marketing for your practice. Look at times of the day and week when your social media activities are engaging with your audience. Social media platforms are constantly changing and new ones are growing in popularity. Experiment with different platforms to determine what works best for you. Google+ for example does not do as well as other social media platforms in terms of engagement, yet may still help with rankings as a Google product. Image-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow with younger audiences and can be used creatively to promote offers or short content. Pinterest is a highly graphic site, which can be used for promoting certain types of content such as infographics.
However, social media is more than short content that drives patients to your site. More substantial content is also necessary to ensure patients you are an expert in dentistry. Covering topics through content marketing helps patients realize you actually know your stuff.
People turn to the internet for information. When you provide content that informs you build a reputation and a relationship with your patients. By answering questions, offering insight and delivering detailed content, you can establish new visitors to your site and new patients for your practice. Use these strategies for creating powerful content.
Learning what potential patients are searching requires some thought and investigation. Take note of what patients ask from you most often to gauge what content needs to be explored. Listening to conversations on your social media also helps gain insight into what patients want to know. You can also use content research tools which give a clear picture of what dental-related content is being shared the most on social media. Once you know your topics, you can begin writing or turn to a dental marketing agency for help creating content.
As part of your online research, review competing dental practices to see what they are doing. You may find some brilliant ideas. Also look at the performance of other small businesses in your community. How do they handle the content on their websites?
Frequent blog posts keep audiences engaged with brief topics. Create blogs that range from 300 and 500 words typically, though some may be longer. Frequency of posts and length of content should be watched closely to see what works best with your audience. Write on topics such as what to do about a cracked tooth or what whitening product works best. Blogs can be shared on social media and help establish subscribers who care about the content. Add essential keywords to your fresh content to capture searches on your relevant topics. To maximize traffic, dental marketing agencies usually post at least 16 blogs a month. This strategy nets 3.5 times more response than posting less than 4 times a month. If you don’t consider yourself much of a writer, you can invest in professionally written content.
Use pages on your website to address lengthier issues. Look for dental content on other sites to determine the best length and subject matter. Make sure your content has keywords to draw traffic to your page based on searches.
Explaining how to take care of teeth and gums, how to floss and other step-by-step topics are valuable to patients looking for information. Optimize these pages as well with keywords and use your own experience as a dentist to choose topics.
Addressing all the questions a patient might have helps bring people to your site as well begin personal engagement in an informal way. Question and answer pages can answer questions from insurance coverage to dental procedures.
Eye-tracking studies show internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page. With the help of a dental marketing agency, you can create engaging visual guides for patients that will bolster your content strategy.
Great content may be tools that keep visitors to your site engaged as well. Consider creating survey pages that gain feedback from patients while also collecting data for later direct email campaigns. Quizzes that help site visitors gauge their dental health by answering questions and then scoring their results is another way to steer potential patients to your practice.
Defining your practice with Google My Business literally puts you on the map. As Google curates business addresses, they float like ghosts in cyberspace waiting to be claimed. Claiming your business address immediately lets searchers find you through Google Maps. And Google is just the beginning. Search the internet for other map sites like Bing, Yahoo and MapQuest and find and claim your address there as well. For any dental marketing agency, this digital tactic is considered low hanging fruit.
These address pages do require verification, but it is worth the time and effort. Once verified, you can add additional content similar you your own website. Often, you can include fields for hours of operation, a dental practice description, including dental specialties and services, as well as links to your website. Many local business pages may also include photos and links to your social media accounts.
The most important part of Google My Business is the ability for users to find exactly where you are located from their home and how far. This convenience gives you prominence over other dental offices that might be further away from a potential patient’s residence.
Google My Business also allows users to leave reviews of your practice. Glowing five star reviews help boost your business. Be sure to answer positive reviews with appreciative comments. Most importantly, do not ignore negative reviews. Because review capabilities are a double-edged sword, you must take the good with the bad. Be polite and try to address the negative reviewers with solutions. This practice gives transparency to how you work with customers and can have a positive impact.
As a dentist, you already know much of your business is driven by positive word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to ask your patients to leave a review on your local page. Personalizing your page with positive patient/doctor relationships helps build your brand.
Once your local page is established you can also begin promoting it with paid ads on Google. You can choose from video ads, static display ads, as well as ads that appear in apps and ads that appear in customer searches on Google. Unlike many ads that reach audiences nationwide, Google My Business advertising offers a mix of high quality ads targeting your local market of potential patients. This helps round out your digital footprint and reach out on a local level without breaking your small business budget.