The Dental Internet Marketing 101 series is back! We had a few weeks’ lag here while Sabri and Greg got a chance to post on the MGE blog, but now we’re back in business.
For Part III, we’ll cover taking advantage of Social Media and the basics you need to know about “Search Engine Optimization.”
Social Media—Building a Foundation
Some simple rules here:
1. DEFINITELY get on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Optionally get on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. It’s good to be on as many as possible, but honestly the first three are MUSTS—the other ones you should be on, but it takes extra effort and the payoff isn’t as high. To be on Instagram, you really have to take in interest in capturing nice photos consistently, and Twitter and Pinterest take regular attention, as well, to really utilize. This can be made easier by getting an app like Hootsuite that will post to all of them at once.
One easy way to stay active on multiple social media platforms is to use an app like Hootsuite, where you can post a photo, video or written update and it will automatically post it on all the different platforms. That way anything you post on Facebook automatically posts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, and you don’t have to do it manually for each.
2. Facebook: Have a personal account and a practice page. You should absolutely create a business page for the practice, where you give the office a face, post special offers, news, PR stuff, and so on. Optionally, you could also link to your personal page, (for the doctor/owner), which allows the doctor to be much more…well, personal. On a personal page, you can post nondental related things, interact with people, comment on things, etc. Whether you want patients able to access/easily find your personal page – there are pros and cons to either choice you make – I’ll leave up to you. Some people do it, some don’t.
3. Flesh out all your profiles thoroughly. Provide all the information you can about the practice on any social media platforms you’re on. Take full advantage. Make sure you’ve got a good “About” page, office description, information about the doctor, map, hours, phone number, link to the website, photos of the practice, staff, and doctor(s), and so on. Make sure the totality of your page shows why you’re the best, friendliest, and most accessible practice in town.
3. Stay active! Optimally, you should post on Facebook every day, or at least several times per week. And when you post on Facebook, post the same thing on all other social media outlets!
These posts could be:
- Photos of the office, staff, events, happy patients, cute holiday activities
- Special offers, office events, or news about the practice
- Interesting dental tidbits or educational material
- Charity/community work you’re involved in (always good)
- A random interesting tidbit or current event (although, be wary of divisively political or potentially offensive discussions)
- Anything else you’d like to post that’s appropriate and professional!
4. Accumulate page “Likes.” On Facebook, you want to reach as many people as possible, meaning you want to have as many “Likes” as possible. People who “like” your page will see your posts in their News Feed, as they would from a friend. Then if they “like” or comment on that post, then it will be displayed to some of their friends, as well.
I DON’T, however, recommend buying “likes” from a questionable website that guarantees a certain number of “likes” (for instance, 10,000 likes that all happen to come from India or Eastern Europe). Not a good idea. It’s much better to grow your “likes” organically, by creating engaging posts, quality content, and interacting well.
I also recommend encouraging people to “Like” your Facebook page in other places – for instance, including a “Like” button in your emails, saying in written letters, or even displaying a small sign in your office.
If your number of “likes” aren’t growing fast enough for your taste, you may want to devote a little bit of money to “Promote Your Page” through Facebook (this option can be found on your Facebook page). This will simply display a photo and line of text to persons of your choosing (I recommend choosing people in your direct locale with certain demographics you’d like to target) with a button they can click to “Like” your page. This can be worthwhile for a small amount of money. As far as a marketing action, it’s not ultra-effective, because it doesn’t result in a direct response (e.g. a phone call or appointment request) – so don’t dip into your marketing budget very much for it. Just try a throwing a few bucks at it and see how it goes.
5. Paid advertising. I’ve found that paid ads on Facebook and other outlets can definitely be worthwhile—if done right. But that will have to be another subject for another time, when we can dig into it properly to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
Basic “Search Engine Optimization”
1. What is it? Search engine optimization is a broad term for all the things you do to get your website to rank higher on search engines (primarily Google, but also Yahoo, Bing, and others).
2. Make sure you show up on Google Maps. I covered this a bit more in Part 1. Maps is very important now, because many people go straight to Maps to search local businesses now, completely bypassing traditional search engines. And anytime you search something with local relevance on Google, local listings from Maps actually get displayed first. So make sure your Google My Business accountis done properly.
And as long as your website is connected with your Google My Business account, anything you do to improve the Search Engine Optimization of your website will also help your visibility on Google Maps.
3. Get lots and lots of positive online reviews! It is especially important to get lots of reviews on Google, but it’s also good to get reviews on Yelp and other review sites. Google tracks the number of reviews you get, and the higher that number, the better it will impact your ranking. I discuss how to get more online reviews in this video tip:
4. Figure out which “keywords” you want to target. Keywords are the terms that people type into a search engine. The most basic term you want to target is simply “dentist.” When someone in your area searches “dentist,” Google will pull up websites of dentists in that area. So again, make sure your address is listed correctly, and feature the name of your neighborhood throughout your site.
Beyond that, you’ll want to choose other keywords depending on your practice. If you want implant patients, target “dental implants” or something along those lines. Same goes for “invisalign,” “teeth whitening,” “veneers,” “emergency dentist,” “periodontist,” “teeth cleaning,” “oral surgeon,” and so on. Pick terms that will be best for your office.
5. Create content for each keyword. By content, I mean webpages with text on a certain subject. If you want to rank on search engines for the term “veneers,” you’d better have at least one page all about them, with “veneers” appearing in the title and several times throughout the page. Preferably you should have three or four pages about veneers. One explaining why your office is the best place to get veneers done, another page with more educational material, and perhaps another page with even more educational material or videos, or testimonials from patients. Each page should have at least 300400 words as a minimum.
6. Use YouTube. Search engines like videos. So videos about the practice and videos about keywords you’re targeting are great. Make sure the video has the keyword in the title. And YouTube is the best place to post your videos, because YouTube has been absorbed into Google, so your YouTube account can integrate with your Google+ page. Plus, Google likes it when people use Google products, and it never hurts to make Google happy.
7. Keep adding more content. Search engines want to see that your website is “alive” and currently relevant. They want to see new content and recent additions to websites, meaning the site it most likely uptodate. If a website hasn’t changed or grown for five years…Google figures it’s probably not relevant to what people are searching for today. So keep adding pages, preferably one new page per week, or at least twice per month. This could be a blog post, or news page, a video, or a new patient testimonial. You can get creative with the type of content you add, but don’t just swipe existing content from somewhere else. Search engines want new content, not copied content that already existed on the web somewhere.
8. Get your website listed around the web. I mentioned in Part 1 that you should take advantage of online directories to list your address and website. Well, having other websites display a link to your website is particularly important. In the SEO world, these are called “backlinks,” meaning links on an outside website that someone can click to go to your website.
Search engines scan the web for these links, and the more links you have from more places, the more prominent the search engine considers your website to be.
BUT…search engines also look at the quality of these links. Meaning that if these links come from a rinkydink, shoddy little website nobody knows about, it’s not worth very much. In fact, it could harm your SEO.
You want links big, to reputable websites. Social media is a good place to start, which is another reason it’s good to create pages on each of the ones I listed above. You’ve also got directories, like YellowPages, Yahoo, Bing Places, Yelp, WhitePages, SuperPages, MerchantCircle, CitySearch, FourSquare, Mapquest, ZocDoc, Healthgrades, rateMDs…the list goes on. Getting a guest author spot on a popular blog is good. Getting a blog post, news story, or press release on featured on an online news outlet or other sharing platform is also handy.
A little trick SEO people use is offering a discount for veterans, government employees, or students, which allows you to post your site on large, reputable government or educational websites. The same may apply to certain membership organizations like AAA.
Here’s another trick: find out which backlinks other high-ranking dental offices have. There is software that allows you to see all the backlinks another site has (and if you’re paying a web company to do SEO for you, they should be able to do this for you). Some dental office is ranked ahead of yours? Take a peek at their backlinks and see if you can get some of the same ones. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Whew! We’re finally done. I’m sorry if that was exhausting, but if you made it this far, you know the simple things you can do to create a solid web presence. If you go through and check off each point I mentioned in this series and make sure they’re implemented, I think you’ll find that you’re already ahead of the vast majority of your competition. Then it’ll be time to start looking into advertising options.
Good luck! And feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions along the way.