How You May Be Sabotaging Your Online Presence!
By: Adam Mortimer
Director of Marketing
(Note: This is part one of a series on the basics of building an online presence for a dental practice.)
Want a great online presence?
As the Director of Marketing for MGE: Management Experts, my first responsibility is to oversee MGE’s marketing. From time to time I’ll also work with clients, which I take a special interest in because local business marketing can be a lot of fun!
And the marketing questions I get from clients the most? You guessed it—internet marketing and social media. And many people—not just the clients I speak with—want to try the “new hot thing” with advertising online. Some “miracle” marketing idea that will instantly teleport their website to the first page of Google or overrun the practice with new patients from social media. Or on the flip side, get Yelp or Google to delete an unfair review from a nasty patient.
BUT…when meeting with a client (or any small business owner I’ve worked with, for that matter) regarding their online presence, I find almost one-for-one that their current online profile isn’t even ready for a miracle!
What do I mean by that?
Well, imagine there was a miraculously effective advertising method online, which is guaranteed to attract the interest of thousands of people. But then…these people can’t find your website online because it’s listed incorrectly…and you don’t have any good reviews…and your website doesn’t make it easy for them to set an appointment…and the address is actually your old address…and, well you get the idea.
There’s a slew of BASICS that must be in place to lay the GROUNDWORK for a respectable online presence. Once this foundation exists, THEN you can build on it/market with social media gimmicks, online advertising, advanced “search engine optimization,” and so on.
And while it’s often ignored it’s about the easiest thing you can do. All you need is a little time and a computer with Internet access.
When I show someone how to fix these things, they’re usually shocked with how quickly things improve!
So here’s a little checklist you can use to establish a FOUNDATION for online marketing. Once you have this in place, go ahead and explore online advertising—go crazy with it!
WEB PRESENCE CHECKLIST
Practice Website Basics
- Is your website attractive and functional? This one is pretty self-explanatory. It should look nice, welcoming, and most important, be usable. It’s really just a matter of having a competent web person build your website. Keep in mind, what looked good ten years ago may not look good anymore. Redesigns are a regular thing—for that matter, we at MGE are currently in the process of a redesign.
- Does your website motivate a prospective new patient to call now to set an appointment? There should be an enticing new patient offer displayed prominently on your website. Heck, if it were me, I’d display it clearly on every page. It’s up to you what kind of special or discount you want to offer, but somehow make the patient feel like they’re taking advantage of an incredible opportunity by coming into your office – and they’d better set an appointment now.
- Do you have a Google Business account? Creating a Google Business account is essentially how you register your business with Google. That’s what shows up on Google Maps. This page also shows up in search listings. There’s a few additional points here:
- Google may already have a business page for your practice. If that’s the case, you should claim it. Google will want to verify that it’s really your business, which can be done via phone or mail.
- Make sure there’s a link to your website on your Google page. You want your website to be recognized by Google as the official website for your business, so make sure your website address is listed properly
- Use Google+ like you would use Facebook. If you’re unfamiliar, “Google+ (Google Plus)” is the social media site that Google created in an effort to rival Facebook. That didn’t exactly turn out as they planned, but it’s still important for you because it’s Google. Use it like a social media site. Post photos, comments, interesting links, etc. Anytime you post something on Facebook (which should be daily or close to it), also post it on Google+. In Google’s eyes, being active on Google+ shows that your business is alive and relevant, which means they’re more likely to display your site higher in search listings.
- Address and description. Again, this is how you show up on Google Maps, so make sure your address is listed correctly. Also, you need to select the correct industry category. If you’re a pediatric dentist or cosmetic or specialist, make sure you’re categorized that way. Also, take advantage of description or “about” sections to use keywords or services you’d to target.
Your Street Address—It’s More Important Than You Think
- The more places your street address appears, the better. Search engines want to see that you’re a real business. They want to display Maps results that definitely exist in that location. One of the keys they use to determine this is by scanning the internet to see how many times that street address appears. If it appears one time on some random website…not very reaffirming. On the other hand, if your address (and preferably your web address along with it) appears in ten healthcare directories, ten general online directories, yellowpages.com, Google+, independent websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on and so on…that is doubtlessly a legitimate business in the eyes of a search engine.
- Additionally…spell the address correctly. Search engines use computer programs to scan the internet, not humans. These programs don’t think about things or allow for human error. So if your address is “123 Main St, Suite B” in one place and “123 Maine St, Unit B” in another place, the search engine might think those are two entirely different places. You won’t get credit for the address.
- Don’t have outdated locations. If your office moved, update the address everywhere. Having an old address and a new address just confuses the search engine, and you won’t get credit for listing the old address anywhere. This also applies to having multiple profiles. I’ve seen dentists who accidentally have two Google+ profiles, two websites, or two Yelp accounts (one created by them and one created by Yelp in times past), often with different names or addresses. You’re always better off consolidating them into one official profile with everything listed correctly. Presenting a clean, simple face for search engines is best. (If you have multiple practices or locations, that’s a bit of a different story. How you list those will depend on your unique situation.)
Well, we’ve run out of space for this blog post, but we’ll continue the checklist next week with online reviews, social media, and search engine optimization basics. Until then, get started on what I listed above. I hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org