Internet Search: More than Search Engines

Google has been the search engine of choice for years, and there is no understating the importance of getting a high ranking in its search results. But there are other search functions out there, and they too are important to the marketing of your dental practice.

smartphone_11a_vidAs a case in point, consider YouTube. As we have described elsewhere on this blog, video embedded into your dental practice website is an essential part of its content. To put it plainly, most of your site visitors will prefer watching a short video than to reading.

YouTube is by far the most most-used video site on the Internet. Industry observers say it is searched three billion times each month, making it second only to Google in search traffic. Your videos may be embedded on your site, but they should live on YouTube. They need to be properly optimized so more people will find them when they search there.

Your videos should be built around a keyword, an informative word that indicates what content is about, and that search engines identify. Did you make a video about teeth whitening? Then “teeth whitening” should be its keyword. It should appear not only in the video’s title, but in its filename and its description.

laptop_06a_vidProperly optimizing a video is probably more important than the video’s appearance. A do-it-yourself video shot on your smartphone, and uploaded with minimal editing, is fine. After all, you have an excellent subject matter expert: yourself. Video is the driving factor between most Internet search traffic. So draw on your expertise and make informative videos. Embed them on your practice website, and share them on social media, too.

ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm specializing in helping dental practices reach their audience. By using the tools of Internet search marketing we help you reach key prospects who are 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.

Texting: An Ideal Communication

We still call them smart phones, but they have become much more than a mobile telephone. In fact, text messaging has emerged as the most popular form of communications – not just among teenagers, but all Americans. If your dental practice isn’t using text messaging to communicate with your patients, you’re not taking advantage of cost-effective technology.

text_01aTexting is a highly efficient way to communicate with your patients. At your end, there are texting apps that run from a laptop or desktop computer. It’s a simple way to make things a little easier on everyone involved.

One of the best uses of texting in dentistry is an appointment reminder. It’s an uncomplicated strategy: send a patient a brief text reminding him or her of an upcoming appointment – when it’s, say, one week away. Request a reply: the letter Y for Yes, confirming the appointment, or N for No, indicating a need to reschedule.

Simple and effective, right?

Alternately, you might text a patient to say you have an earlier slot on the same day of a scheduled appointment. “Would you like to move your appointment to 2:30?” you might ask. Once again, request a Y or N reply.

text_02aWhen it comes to text messages and your practice, though, there is one catch: be sure to get the consent of your patients before adding them to your text list. Legally speaking you don’t need permission to text something like an appointment reminder, but you do need it before texting marketing or billing messages.

It’s a good idea to keep texting etiquette in mind, too. End any exchanges with a polite thank-you. And send your text messages during normal business hours. Who wants to get a reminder of a dentist appointment at 10pm?

ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm that specializes 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.

Your Dental Website = Online Presence

Not so long ago, business websites weren’t much more than electronic pamphlets that listed contact information, the goods or services a place had to offer, maybe a picture or two – and not much more.

code_02aThat all changed in the early 2000s, with the advent of Web 2.0. The Internet became more dynamic; website design could seamlessly integrate audio and video along with text. Sites became more visually exciting, and – perhaps above all – placed a greater emphasis on the user experience.

But the web has continued to evolve, and today many small businesses, including some dental practices, wonder whether they even need a website anymore. This is largely due to the influence of Google. Search results today include its Knowledge Panel: those boxes on the right side of results pages that include a business’s address and phone number, operating hours, and other basic information.

Some have gone so far as to call Google the new home page for small businesses.

We heartily disagree: you still need a website for your dental practice. Google’s Knowledge Panel can be useful, but there is a complete lack of content that is relevant to your practice and to your patients. And you need to have good online content.

under_construct_02aYour dental practice website remains the center of your online presence. In most cases it is the first impression that potential patients get of what you have to offer, and the place where you set yourself apart from every other dentist in town.

Equally important: the more site visitors you get (what is called traffic) the higher you’ll rank in search engine results, which in turn means more patients.

Your website is also your most important tool for networking with other local businesses, which further establishes you online and in your community. As we discussed in a prevous blog post, your online reputation is critical to the success of your practice.

Relevant, fresh content is essential, and you must keep your dental practice website up to date. With search engine optimization, your site’s content is written and presened for maximum efficiency in localized search results. People who find and visit your site become interested in your services.

Modern websites are faster and better than ever. They are designed with the industry’s best practices, meaning your patients have a better online experience browsing the site and booking appointments. They are also less vulnerable to security breaches, so patients feel better requesting sensitive information.

ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm that specializes 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.

High Expectations: New Patients For Your Dental Practice

Dentistry is an excellent profession in many ways. Dentists are respected members of their communities who get the satisfaction of helping others, and if you own your own practice, you get to be your own boss.

dentist_20aBut it’s also increasingly competitive. Just getting through dental school took a lot of effort, but once you hang out your shingle you’re competing for patients with every other dentist in your area. That means you’re going to have set your practice apart with services that not everyone offers. It also means you must market your practice to build a solid patient base, and so potential patients know you’re there.

Running a small business is difficult for anyone. And you didn’t study business, you studied dentistry. How are you supposed to know how to run your practice so that it is profitable? You’ve got to administer a budget and manage a staff, all as your main focus stays on providing excellent dental care.

It can be intimidating, and even overwhelming. Marketing a dental practice today is not what it used to be. Consumer expectations are high, and you must have a sense of the marketplace. Did you know, for example, that women make more than ninety percent of all dental buying decisions? As a group, they also make purchasing decisions differently than men; they want to be fully informed before committing to a particular dental practice.

dentist_21aPut another way: consumer expectations are high. Your would-be patients want the best they can get – for themselves, and for their families. They also expect information about you and your practice at their fingertips.

Attracting new patients to your dental practice is not easy, but you don’t have to do it on your own. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm that specializes 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.

Recent is Better: Online Reviews

By now, it is well known that online reviews are important to any small business, whether it’s a coffee shop or a dental practice. Maybe they’re extra-important for dental practices: as we described here in a recent post, dentists are among the most-reviewed small businesses on Google Reviews, and ninety percent of consumers read them before they ever set foot in your door.

12-15-18aOnline reviews can have a huge impact on your bottom line. They are one of the fastest-growing local ranking factors.

But it’s more nuanced than just having plenty of good reviews. In a new survey, the SEO company BrightLocal found that the vast majority of consumers – eighty-five percent of them – disregard online reviews that are more than three months old. That’s up from seventy-seven percent last year.

Forty percent of those responding to the BrightLocal survey said they only care about reviews that are no more than two weeks old. Reviews older than that carry no real weight.

This is a measureable trend. BrightLocal says that as 2018 draws to a close, more than twice as many consumers are relying solely on fresh reviews than in 2017.

smartphone_10aWhat is it about online reviews that makes them so important? For one thing, it’s the way potential customers find out about what you have to offer. They learn about what their friends and neighbors have experienced. It may also be the first time they’ve ever heard of an establishment, so recent positive reviews are critical.

Another thing that makes online reviews so important is that they are really easy to find. Thanks to mobile devices, search engines, and social media, online reviews are ubiquitous. In addition to Google reviews there are dedicated sites like Yelp, and aggregate sites that combine review data from multiple sources. Online reviews are everywhere, and it’s no wonder that most people trust them as much as they do personal recommendations.

The BrightLocal survey also found some differences in the way men and women read online reviews. Men, it says, read them more often than do women. And there is a clear difference in the way men and women see negative reviews: most women believe they require a response, while most men think responding to positive reviews is more important.

If nothing else, you must pay attention to the online reviews your practice gets. Should you respond to them – good or bad? This same BrightLocal survey says that eighty-nine percent of consumers read replies to online reviews. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that responding to customer reviews, whether they are positive or negative, can actually improve an business’s online reputation.

A word of caution about responding to negative reviews: do so with care. The Internet is well-known for its shoot-from-the-hip mindset. An angry reply to a negative review can make you look bad. Customers will read that along with the original negative review; it might make a bad situation worse. Instead, assume the customer is offering valid criticism that you can learn from.

Presenting a positive online image of your practice is a never-ending challenge, but you don’t have to do it by yourself. 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.

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 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.

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.

Trending: Reviews and Reputations in Dentistry

crystal_ball_01Industry prognosticators are constantly looking into their crystal balls to identify social and business trends – and that includes dentistry. The dentistry trends that many of them see include the ever-growing importance of online reviews, and the online reputation of your dental practice.

Every dental practice loves to see new patients coming in the door, and leaving the office happy enough to tell others about their experience. But dentistry is more competitive than ever, so word-of-mouth is no longer enough.

smile_man_03How do you go about getting more positive online reviews for your practice? The best place to start is on your website. It’s essential that your site provides enough interesting and useful information to give visitors a reason to stay.

It also needs to be easy to navigate. One effective review technique is to include links on images that take visitors to a section for posting reviews. Listings on third party sites like Yelp and Angie’s List is also a good way of increasing your visibility.

A downside to encouraging reviews, of course, are the negative ones. They are inevitable. What should you do when you get one? The best response is to write a professional, non-emotional reply that acknowledges the issues raised. If it needs to go beyond that, take it offline.

It is perilous to ignore negative reviews. To do so suggests you don’t care, and impacts your online reputation. Consider this: vast majority of consumers who were asked – ninety-four percent – said a negative online review turned them against a business. That statistic did not address dental practices specifically, but it is safe to assume that it applies.

The bottom line is that reviews matter, and negative reviews have an impact on your online reputation. You can stay ahead by monitoring your online reviews. There are various tools for doing this, including Google Alerts, a free service that lets you search the Internet for any mention of you or your practice. Once you’ve set yourself up, Google Alerts sends you an email whenever you’re mentioned.

You can keep up with trends in dentistry with ProspectaMarketing. 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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