Did you know that 80 percent of all non-referral based leads for dentists come from major search engines like Google and Bing?
For dental practices to grow, it’s imperative to show up on the first page of search engine results. Today, it’s more important than ever, especially when you consider how many people are searching from their smartphone or tablet.
Good dental marketing is the best way to connect with potential patients when they need your services the most. This is a party you need to show up for.
While good digital marketing is an ever-expanding process that needs almost constant attention, there are five crucial steps that any dental practice can begin taking right away to start attracting new patients.
Think of these pointers as the foundation of your digital marketing success. Trying to succeed in the competitive online marketplace without the fundamental tools will only lead to frustration and lackluster results at best.
Let’s dive right in to the five critical factors that will make or break your online marketing efforts.
1: Your Website
It’s safe to assume your dental practice already has a website. But does that website tick the right boxes when it comes to attracting new leads?
- Fast load time
- Optimized for SEO rankings
- Optimized for conversions
- Clean Coding
Let’s take a look at how each of these aspects play a role in the performance of your website.
Everyone in the web design world is talking about responsive design, and for good reason. Every year, more and more users are searching the Internet from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Responsive design means your website will scale to look great and function well on any device.
Google realizes that responsive websites provide people searching from mobile devices with a much better user experience. That’s why the search engine giant uses mobile responsiveness as a ranking factor. The bottom line is that a responsive website will provide your visitors with a superior user experience and help your practice rank higher on Google and Bing.
Internet users share a universal hatred of websites that take forever to load. In fact, if you’re your site takes more than a couple seconds to load, it’s safe to assume a good portion of your visitors are going to bail. The result is the digital equivalent of slamming the door on potential patients.
Search engines also hate slow loading websites. As you probably guessed, Google will be far less likely to rank your practice on the first page if your web pages don’t fire up with a quickness.
Slow load times also increase your bounce rate, which is determined by calculating the percentage of visitors who leave your website as soon as they get there. Getting your site to load faster is one of the most effective ways to keep your bounce rate down (and yes, bounce rate is also considered a ranking factor). Check out Google’s Speed Tool and see how your website is performing.
Having a website that is vulnerable to attack is a digital nightmare waiting to happen. Google recently announced it is giving a ranking boost to websites that switch from HTTP to HTTPS. The difference is adding an SSL key, which is a 2048-bit key certificate that provides secure transmission of data over an internet connection.
Aside from the marketing benefit, adding an SSL certificate is just good practice, especially if your patients will be submitting any sensitive information online.
Optimized for SEO
On-site optimization plays a crucial role in the ability for your website to rank well. It involves everything from your content to the urls and meta information. website structure, coding, load time and even photos all play a role in creating a fully-optimized website.
Optimized for Conversions
The name of the digital marketing game is conversions. If you’re not familiar with this term it’s an easy one to grasp: conversion = lead. That means every time a potential patient who lands on your website and either fills out an online form or picks up the phone has been “converted” from a visitor, to a lead.
Optimizing your website for conversions involves driving visitors to take a predefined action, such as filling out the form, or calling to schedule an appointment. That means you have to have strong copywriting (with a killer call to action), a prominent form fill and a nice big phone number. Make it easy for your potential patients to get in touch.
I like to think of a website’s code as the engine under the hood. Your site may look flashy as hell and hit all the conversion elements, but if it’s not firing on all cylinders, it simply won’t perform.
Good clean code means your website not only loads faster and functions better, but also makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl and index your website. Search engines use an algorithm to determine what your website is all about and which search queries your site should show up for. This is done by crawling your content and source code.
2: Local Search Engine Optimization
Local SEO helps ensure your search results are appearing to visitors in your area who can easily travel to your office.
The first step is making sure you have a Google My Business and Bing Local page set up. These pages should have accurate, up-to-date location and contact information as well as a good description of your business (with a few of your most desired keywords thrown in) along with some good photos.
Next, you’ll want to list your practice on relevant and valuable local directories. On your website, check to ensure your content mentions the areas you serve and target localized keyword phrases. One example of a localized keyword phrase would be “cosmetic dentist in Billings, Montana.”
Make it easy for search engines to understand where you are, what you do and what locations you serve. This will help you not only rank higher in the traditional search results, but in the coveted map results as well. Check out our article here to learn more about on page optimization in 2017.
3: Online Reviews
You should assume that any potential patient will not only look at your website, but online reviews as well. Five-star reviews on your Google and Bing business pages will tell search engines that you are trusted and have a good reputation with patients. Your reviews are a crucial factor in ranking higher.
If you want to get on the fast track to higher local rankings, encourage your patients to leave reviews on your Google, Bing and Yelp profiles. This will build credibility with potential patients and show search engines that you deserve a place on the first page of results.
Never fall into the trap of paying for reviews. If you work with a digital marketing agency who encourages this type of tactic, sever ties immediately. This will only hurt your reputation and could hurt your rankings in the long run.
4: PPC Marketing
Both Google and Bing display paid search results above organic results. The result is organic listings for competitive keywords are now only found below the fold. The paid results you see are known as pay-per-click ads. You pay a small fee every time someone clicks on your ad and visits your website.
PPC provides the benefit of instant search results. That means you’ll show up in the paid listings, even if you don’t rank organically for certain terms. SEO is an ongoing process and results take time. Investing in PPC will keep leads flowing while you work to build your organic results.
5: Social Media Marketing
Connect with new patients and maintain relationships with your existing ones by engaging in social media. Did you just write an engaging blog post about oral hygiene? Push it out on Facebook. For a few extra bucks, you can run it as a sponsored post to expand your reach.
Getting Started: Pick Your Priorities and Timeline
Taking the right steps to get your online presence on track can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Set a timeline for yourself and don’t try to tackle too much at once. I’d recommend focusing on your website first to address the critical issues that will build the foundation of your marketing efforts.
Discuss your timeline with a reputable digital marketing agency, preferably one that focuses on marketing for dental professionals or the medical field. This will help ensure the professionals you choose to work with are experienced in marketing for new patient acquisition.
Addressing the five critical factors in the article will allow your practice to scale your marketing efforts as you continue to grow. There’s a lot of opportunity for new patients if you get your campaigns started off right.
About the Author
Ben Norris is a copywriter and Google Certified PPC manager for My Digital Dentistry, a web design and digital marketing agency for dentists. He enjoys helping local businesses drive leads through compelling copy and optimized pay-per-click campaigns.