More Americans than ever rely on Google and other search engines to find new dentists. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that looking for health or medical information is one of the most popular online activities for consumers. Over 81% of internet users have researched their health online, and 21% search for a doctor or medical facility using the internet. These figures are projected to only increase in the future.
Medical providers' most reliable means of patient acquisition have transformed from physician referrals, Yellow Pages ads, and word-of-mouth recommendations, to search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing.
In fact, the first page of Google results garners 92 percent of total clicks, with more than 50 percent of all page clicks going to the 1st and 2nd listing. Dental focused SEO is the best way to ensure your practice's website is in one of these prime positions.
If you're unfamiliar with the world of SEO, you're not alone. But taking just a few steps to optimize your web presence can have a big impact on your dental practice.
Six Ways to Use SEO to Attract Dental Patients
For those who have more traditional dental marketing experience—relying for years on word-of-mouth referrals, repeat customers, and targeted mailers and newspaper ads—making the shift to an SEO friendly marketing strategy can seem intimidating.
Without being a master of dental SEO, there are a few steps you can take today to significantly expand and improve your reach.
Start with Local Online Directories
Before you put your SEO efforts toward attracting new customers, you'll want to cover your local bases by increasing your digital visibility in your immediate area. Utilizing local business directories can allow you to provide both prospective and current clients with a brief description of your business, positive reviews, location, and contact information.
These local directories are a little like the yellow pages used to be. Search engines provide local directories for people to find out information about local businesses. But instead of a phone book, these directories are all online with names like Yelp, Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Consistency is the key to all types of SEO services, so creating a single master listing that controls all of the online directories is the way to go. Without this master listing, online directories are left to guess your data. Do you want the directories guessing your phone number or website? And it’s not just one directory that would be guessing. It’s all of them.
From Google to your local Chamber of Commerce, creating a master listing is less labor-intensive and more likely to yield marketing success.
With a master listing whenever you make any changes like moving to a new address, tweaking your website name, or adding a phone number, you'll need only to update your master listing to ensure this information is disseminated everywhere.
The last thing you want to do is worry that your customers are viewing outdated information after specifically seeking out your practice; operating from a master directory prevents this.
Improve Your Web Content
One of the biggest SEO mistakes you can make is believing you can fool search engines with substandard web content. No matter how many optimized search terms you attempt to sprinkle throughout a page, if it doesn't offer unique value, uses a misleading headline, or just doesn't make sense, it's not going to rise to the top of search results.
Google and other search engines have complex and constantly-updated algorithms that are designed to weed out bad content. Keyword stuffing is the practice of loading keywords into a webpage's visible content, meta tags, or other places in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage in search engine rankings. You can often tell when a page is trying to stuff their keywords if they have sentences or titles that don't make sense.
Search engines will disqualify keyword stuffed content from being ranked, which is why it is best to trust a professional to do the research and intelligently write content that will rank for keywords the right way.
Well-written, value-packed content is the key to dental marketing using SEO the right way.
By blogging about new dental techniques or using video to debunk common dental misconceptions, you'll be able to draw in not just potential customers but gain a reputation in your community for being an expert dentist.
Optimize Your Web Presence
Your website isn't just a digital brochure or billboard. It's the online extension of your dental practice. If you've been guilty of treating your website as an afterthought, it's time for change.
Something as seemingly small as a slow-loading website has the potential to torpedo your dental SEO efforts, with research showing that most page visitors will click the "back" button if a website fails to load within 2.8 seconds.
Are you hosting with Wordpress? Double check your speed and security. The platform you host your website on must be mobile responsive, and secure. Many platforms lack these essential features, and a website migration to a faster and better platform may be necessary.
Open Customer Channels of Communication
Even enthusiastic web users will acknowledge it's tough to replicate the "personal touch" of in-person and telephone conversations. Make it easy for future patients to strike up a two-way conversation online by offering live chat as a primary form of communication.
Live chat can help your dental practice convert leads into patients while providing a more personalized communication experience.
Be a Helpful Resource
Internet users turn to search engines when they're looking for quick and accurate answers to their questions. Content marketing efforts aim to answer questions and provide resources to website users. Going back to the concept of well-written, value packed content, creating resources for your audience will do wonders for your marketing efforts.
Well-researched blogs, a Q&A page, engrossing videos, and other web content will provide website visitors with the resources they need to answer their questions. This will help them see your brand as a reputable source for their needs, and eventually their business.
Incorporate Video Into Your Website
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Post video answers to common questions, introduce your staff through short, upbeat video profiles, or even participate in viral challenges to optimize your dental practice's web presence and searchability.
Web hosting platforms like HubSpot even offer their users a way to create video that cuts out production costs, scripts, and other limitations that small businesses and dental practices often associate with video creation.
Stay Up-to-Date on SEO Changes
It is important for your dental practice to stay on top of SEO changes and make adjustments accordingly to avoid slowly slipping in the rankings from year to year. Unfortunately, many dental practices are too busy practicing dentistry to devote their full-time focus to SEO services.
This is where bringing in an agency that specializes in dental marketing and SEO practices proves beneficial. While you tend to your growing practice, they can focus on the digital aspect of your business.
Whether you need an entire digital marketing plan, want a website with a fresh new look and feel, or need some help from a customer service perspective, our inbound and dental marketing experts at The Diamond Group are ready to help.