Bad Strategy: Review Manipulation

Whether you’re a dry cleaner or a dentist, you need positive online reviews from people who have used and liked your goods and services. The more of them you get, the better off you are: they help drive new business, and help you rank in Google search results.

google_01The quest for more and better online reviews has led some businesses to try to manipulate the process: engaging in shady practices that, in the long run, do more harm than good. These practices include paying for positive reviews, offering incentives to customers, and recruiting friends or family members to leave you glowing reviews.

Bad ideas, one and all. Trying to influence online reviews with contests or other incentives is against Google’s Terms of Service. When any business does it, it is almost guaranteed to result in Google deleting the reviews. They could also be fined by the Federal Trade Commission.

woman_01aIt’s tempting to think Google won’t find out, but the chances are they will. Someone will turn you in. It might be an unhappy customer, a former employee, or one of your competitors. But someone is probably going to notice, understand it’s against the rules, and notify Google. It happens all the time.

Strategies that run afoul of Google policy include:

  • Review contests. This strategy enters reviewers into a contest. Google explicitly prohibits offering incentives – products, money, or other prizes – in exchange for reviews.
  • Offering free or discounted services. Google forbids businesses from offering reviewers discounts or free services for their reviews, even if it’s something inexpensive.
  • Review-gating. With this practice, a business takes customer reviews, but only the positive ones are posted online.
  • Review swaps. You review my business, I’ll review yours: that’s the basic idea. It may not be a deal with the devil, but it too is against Google’s TOS, which says clearly that reviews should reflect a genuine customer experience.

Each of these practices will result in some kind of penalty from Google, usually the deletion of the reviews in question.

Google, as a search engine, loves fresh content. This is one of important things about reviews, and why you should be seeking new and positive ones. It just needs to be done within the guidelines. As we described in a previous blog post, there are simple, effective techniques you can use to boost the quality and quantity of your Google reviews.

Getting your practice noticed by potential customers is an ongoing challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm specializing in helping dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

The Growing Importance of Google Reviews

When all is said and done, a dental practice is a business. Patients are really customers, and they want to find the best dentist they can.

How does anyone find a local business these days? You Google it and check out reviews. As it turns out, dental practices are among the businesses most likely to have a review on Google.

google_03Google reviews is a feature that allows users to write their own reviews of local businesses. They appear, along with a star rating, in Google search results. Maybe it’s because everyone needs to see the dentist, but dental practices get more reviews than plumbers, more reviews than real estate agents, and more than lawyers. That’s according to a recent study by BrightLocal, the SEO and local citation platform.

Google is by far the most-used search engine on the Internet. That means the Google reviews your patients write, and the stars they award, are extremely powerful; they make a big difference in driving new traffic to your practice.

BrightLocal says that review signals are more important to local search rankings than ever before. “Review signals” is an umbrella term describing different aspects of a company’s review profile. The more positive reviews a business has, the better.

stars_01

Most of us do at least some online shopping. Think about it: before  anything goes into your shopping cart, you read the reviews of other customers, or at very least check how many stars a product has. They can be the deciding factor whether you buy something or don’t.

It’s the same with Google reviews. They’re a modern word-of-mouth. The experience others have with local businesses has a big influence on spending habits. A restaurant with poor reviews, and only one or two stars, means you’ll probably dine somewhere else.

It all begs the question, what can a dental practice do to encourage more, and better, Google reviews?

Ask for them. The direct approach can work wonders. It’s okay to ask your patients to review your practice.

But you don’t want to ask a patient (whose mouth may be numb) for a review right after an appointment. Instead, send an email a few days later, thanking the patient for choosing your practice. Include a polite, no-pressure request for a Google review.

Show them how. Some of your patients may need a pointer or two on how to leave a Google review. It’s really quite simple. All they need to do is:

  • Log into their Google account.
  • Google your practice.
  • Click on “Write a review.” Write the review, select a star rating, and click the Submit link.

That’s all there is to it!

Remind them. After the initial request, it’s okay to remind someone to leave a review. Don’t do it right away. Give them a week or two, and send a follow-up reminder.

There is one very big caveat to asking patients for Google reviews: never offer them any incentives. For one thing, it isn’t ethical. More to the point, it’s against Google policy.

Getting your practice in front of potential customers isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it on your own. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm specializing in helping dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

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See the BrightLocal report

Keep It Fresh: Your Dental Website

You’ve long since established a website for your dental practice, and it does everything you need it to do. It introduces you to potential patients, showcases your skills and the procedures you offer, has your location and contact information, and has a blog and social media component.

You’re good to go, right?

Yes – and no.

desktop_01bYour site does what it needs to do, but is it producing results? Is it generating interest in your practice? Is that interest, measured by site traffic, bringing in new patients?

If the answer to either of these questions is no (or “I don’t know”), then it may be time to upgrade your site.

There are certain things that visitors expect from your website. Its appearance should be up-to-date. It should be easy to navigate. And perhaps most important, it should be mobile-friendly.

  • Appearance. Your site doesn’t need to be ground-breaking or trend-setting, but it should be modern. To put it plainly, if it looks old or outdated, visitors will assume that it is. An up-to-date appearance will gain their confidence.
  • Easy to navigate. Visitors should be able to see, at a glance, how they can find the information they seek. You’ve got a grace period of about five seconds. If visitors are unable to figure out where they need to go in that brief period, they’re going to lose interest and leave.
  • phone_01Mobile-friendly. People visit websites using everything from desktop computers to smart phones. As we have stressed before on this blog, the trend toward mobile is growing steadily, so your dental practice site has to look good and function properly on mobile devices. (It’s a strategy called mobile first.) If you haven’t designed your site for mobile devices, put that at very the top of your to-do list.

Content

Your website may meet all the above criteria. But is its content effective? If your site isn’t generating enough interest in your practice – too few leads, in marketing terms – improving its content with rewritten copy is often enough to correct that. In particular, better calls to action can address this issue. Get visitors to ask a question or make an appointment.

search_01Are you giving it fresh content on a regular basis? This is a must. Search engines love fresh content. Fresh content, like a regularly updated blog, attracts them. Your site will be crawled and indexed more frequently, which helps to improve your search ranking.

Search engines may love fresh content, but your website, at least ostensibly, is meant for users. And guess what? Users love new content, too. It keeps them coming back. And the more they come back, the more likely they are to convert from site visitors to new patients, and the more likely they are to recommend your site – and your practice – to friends and family.

None of this is easy, but you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm that helps dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Sunset: Google Ending Google+

Google is pulling the plug on its Google+ social networking site. Citing what it called significant challenges to maintaining it, the company announced it will phase out Google+ over a ten month period, beginning immediately.

google+_new_logo_01“While our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps,” Google said in an October 8th statement. “The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

The phase-out is expected to be completed by August 2019.

google-my-business-logoProspectaMarketing, a firm specializing in marketing dental practices on the Internet, has not managed Google+ pages in several years. Instead we actively manage Google My Business accounts for our clients, so that patients can more easily find their practices on the Internet. Google+ links remain on some client websites, but we are removing them.

Google’s announcement came on the heels of a reported security breach affecting up to half a million Google+ accounts. Although it just became public knowledge, Google discovered the breach early this year.

securityGoogle attributes the breach to a software glitch, and said it gave unauthorized third-party access to users’ private profile data, including names and email addresses.That unauthorized access lasted from 2015 until March 2018, when it was discovered and corrected, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also reported that Google chose not to make the security breach public, “in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage.”

Google launched Google+ in 2011 in an effort to make inroads in the expanding social networking market. “We aren’t trying to replace what’s currently available,” a company spokesman said at the time. “We just want to introduce a new way to connect online with the people that matter to you.” Though it underwent several changes, Google+ never really caught on, and is viewed by many as a major flop.

ProspectaMarketing helps dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

You Need To Chat

You’ve seen them before: you’re browsing a website and a little box pops up, asking whether you’d like to chat with a representative. And just like that, you’re able to interact with a business.

chat_01Chat features are emerging as an unbeatable way for dental practices to interact, in real time, with patients and would-be patients. Live chat applications work directly on your website, so site visitors don’t have to interrupt their browsing to ask questions. They get the answers they’re looking for. quickly and efficiently.

It’s the instantaneous nature of chat that makes it so appealing. Your site visitors don’t need to take out their cell phones to call your office. They don’t need to look at an FAQ that might not answer their question. And they don’t need to fill out any forms, which usually means leaving personal details, and then wait for you to get back  to them.

Live chat on websites isn’t all that new, but its value is increasing. Research shows that having live chat on a website is important to forty-four percent of site visitors. That number is likely to grow.

laptop_03Like any other customer support tool, live chat requires a human workforce. But chat operators are able to carrying on several patient interactions at once, by switching between windows on their computer screens. That means it takes fewer people to run the process, which in turn means reduced costs. To sweeten the deal even more, live chats don’t take the same investment in equipment and special toll-free numbers that telephone systems do.

But it’s the rapid response time that is live chat’s most compelling feature. People just don’t want to wait anymore. Research shows that taking even fifteen minutes to respond to an inquiry means losing a potential lead. They’ll go back to Google and click on the next search result.

Live chat enables you to engage with new patients faster and more directly, and in real time, than ever before. They’ll find out whether you provide a particular service or procedure, or the availability of appointments.

ProspectaMarketing specializes in marketing dental practices on the Internet, and can help your practice reach its audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Keep It Current! Your Dental Practice Website

Virtually every dental practice has a website these days. It’s all but impossible to succeed without one. Yet a lot of dentists don’t take the time to keep their sites current, and as a result, they lose ground to their competition. It is essential to stay on top of online trends to set your self apart from your competition.

smartphone_06aInvesting in your website may, in fact, be the single most important thing you can do to stay competitive. At the top of the list is making your site mobile-friendly. It’s essential for any website to be compatible with smartphones, but the web is increasingly mobile-centric, so the smart move is to convert to a mobile-first strategy.

Google has always used the desktop version of a website to rank it in searches, but no longer. “Since the majority of users now access Google via a mobile device, the index will primarily use the mobile version of a page’s content going forward,” the search engine giant announced on its website earlier this year. “We aren’t creating a separate mobile-first index. We continue to use only one index.”

That means websites that are designed mobile-first – designed for mobile devices – are going to rank higher in search engine results than sites designed for desktop computers. We are increasingly mobile device-oriented. Research shows that people are five times more likely to leave a website if it isn’t mobile-friendly.

tablet_01aA site that is mobile-first is, for one thing, designed for smaller displays. It is also intended to be a company’s primary website. Some businesses, such as Uber, target mobile devices almost exclusively. Their desktop sites are more of a landing page.

Chances are, your own experience bears this out. Do you really want to do a lot of zooming, pinching, and scrolling, just to get at the content you’re looking for?

If your dental website is designed with desktops in mind, don’t despair: you will not fall off the map. Google says that while it primarily crawls and indexes web pages made for smart phones, searches will still give users the most relevant search results, whether it’s desktop or mobile.

But the shift is on, and you should not ignore it. ProspectaMarketing specializes in marketing dental practices on the Internet, and can help your practice reach its audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Lights, Smartphone, Action!

Your dental website is your most potent tool for promoting your practice: it’s where patients and would-be patients find out about you and the services you provide, and perhaps most importantly, your office hours and location.

smartphone_vid_03As we have described elsewhere, video remains the most popular type of content on the Internet, and is a huge factor in local search success. It is something you should take advantage of, and by using the smartphone you probably have in your pocket right now, you can create professional-quality videos and share them on your website.

What sort of videos, you may wonder? As a trained dentist, you can start by drawing on your own expertise. Your site visitors would love to hear your thoughts on topics in dentistry, from simple subjects like checkups, to popular procedures like teeth whitening. You might create a Q&A with questions drawn from real patients, or create a video centered on your dental team.

smartphone_vid_02What you don’t want to do, however, is share poorly-made video. They don’t have to be perfect, but by learning a few simple techniques, you can make quality, effective videos that work to your advantage.

Good lighting. This is essential. You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment, but try to always shoot in brightly lit areas. The resulting video will be crisp and clean.

Stay horizontal. Turn your phone sideways, in what the pros call “landscape” orientation. When you play back the video it will fill the screen, and give it a professional look.

Get close. Don’t be afraid to move close to your subject. (The subject might be you, so remind your videographer!) Image quality will be improved, focus will be better, and – again – your videos will have a quality, professional look.

Be steady. It’s hard to hold any camera steady, and smartphones are no exception. But shaky video detracts from the content, and looks amateur. Use a tripod or some other stabilizing device.

smartphone_vid_04_editEdit. Some people are satisfied to put “raw” video clips on their sites, and there is nothing wrong with that. But you may do multiple takes, and only one will be right. Simple editing software allows you to trim out any rough edges. There are plenty of inexpensive video editing smartphone apps.

Remember, eighty-five percent of Internet users in the United States watch videos online, and it makes up one-third of all Internet activity. By incorporating simple but informative and well-made videos on your dental practice website, you boost your chances of reaching many more potential patients.

ProspectaMarketing uses the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. We bring a unique and thorough approach that provides visibility, financial accountability and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Your Dental Practice and Reputation Management

dentist_18

As a highly trained professional, the dental services you provide should be enough to establish your reputation, and your reputation should speak for itself. In a perfect world that would be the case.

But in practice it doesn’t work that way: in today’s world, your professional reputation is largely based on your Internet image. Furthermore, there are a lot of dentists out there: nearly 200,000 as of 2017, according to the American Dental Association. That averages out to sixty-one dentists for every 100,000 people in the United States.

So there’s a lot of competition.

The vast majority of would-be patients make up their minds about your practice based on what they find about you on the Internet. You can influence your Internet reputation with strategies known collectively as Online Reputation Management, or ORM.

smartphone_01It begins with the information you choose to present on your website: your services in particular, but also your bio, and what you share on its blog. Your website combines with what others have said about you on review sites, message boards, and so on. Taken together, it forms your Internet reputation.

A technique called search engine optimization, or SEO, helps your practice to rank higher in search results. When it comes to search engine results, the first page is the gold standard. It’s the most important, because most users don’t go beyond it.

SEO and your Internet reputation have a direct impact on the profitability of your practice. Together they increase traffic  to your website, and in turn bring new patients to your office.

ProspectaMarketing uses the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects seeking what your dental practice has to offer. We bring a unique and thorough approach that provides visibility, financial accountability and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Mobile First! Your Practice Website

smile_woman_09aEveryone wants to keep their teeth and gums in good working condition. When they find a dentist they like and trust, patients are likely to not just stick with that practice but to tell their family and friends, all to the benefit of that practice.

But word of mouth is no longer enough. A dental practice’s website remains its most important marketing tool. It’s important to remember that your website should not be a static thing. It’s more than just a digital business card.

smartphone_04bA new website design strategy is known as mobile first. That means a website is conceived and built with smart phones and tablets as the primary devices accessing them. Google is leading the way in this idea. The search engine giant says its algorithm will be changing to index mobile websites first. They’ll continue to index desktop sites, but the trend is clear: if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you are likely to rank lower in search results.

Another trend to pay close attention to is online chat. Did you know there by one estimate, a staggering eight and a half billion text messages are sent every day, in the United States alone? If you haven’t already, your practice can take advantage of this by sending appointment reminders and other messages via text. Chances are your patients will be expecting it.

We described in our previous post how video is more important than ever to your practice’s website. Nine out of ten users say that they have been influenced in their decision-making by the videos they’ve watched on practice websites. The lesson from this is clear.

You can keep up with these and other online dental trends with ProspectaMarketeing. , a company specializing in using the Internet to find new patients for dental practices. We bring a unique and thorough approach that provides visibility, financial accountability and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

Video Content And Your Website

News flash: no one uses the Yellow Pages anymore.

laptop-phone_01All right, so that isn’t exactly news. Those heavy old phone company listings have long since gone the way of the dinosaur. To find information about virtually anything, including local dental practices, everyone turns to search engines like Google. And that means the online presence of your dental practice is more important than ever before. In fact, it can make or break you.

The centerpiece of your online presence is your dental practice website. This is where you strut your stuff: you describe yourself and your team, the services your offer, and provide your office hours and location.

It is also where you share useful content that site visitors can access for free. This content is important, and it comes in several forms. One is your blog. If a site visitor finds something free and useful via your blog, you just might get a new patient.

smartphone_vid_01aJust as important as your blog, and maybe more so, is video. In fact, it can be integrated into your blog. Video is, across the board, the most popular form of content on the Internet. Studies show that website visitors spent up to 88% more time on a site if it contains video, and increases organic traffic from search engines by more than 150%.

What kind of videos can you incorporate for your own website? Draw on your expertise. You can go on camera to answer questions about dentistry, or about your staff and office. You can ask patients to describe some of the procedures they have undergone in your office, and their successful outcomes. Videos like this, inserted strategically throughout your site, are a compelling way to deliver your message.

They don’t need to be fancy, either. You don’t have to hire a movie crew – you can shoot them with your smartphone. Upload the finished videos to YouTube and embed them on your site. It won’t cost you a dime, and has great potential for bringing in new patients.

And who knows? Your video just might go viral!

You can keep up with these and other trends in dentistry with ProspectaMarketeing.  We specialize in using the Internet to find new patients for dental practices with a unique and thorough approach that provides visibility, financial accountability and ongoing refinement and improvement. To find out more, contact Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

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