It’s not a secret that an increasing number of patients rely on the internet to find dentists. According to Google, 77% of patients used a search engine prior to booking an appointment. At the same time, traditional SEO is dead, thanks to Google’s rapidly evolving algorithm.
How do you leverage the Internet’s great potential to bring you new patients?
We have identified three online trends that are re-shaping the marketing landscape for dentists. In this article, we’ll examine each trend and find out how you can leverage them to your advantage.
Trend #1: Google My Business
When searching on Google for local businesses, most people specify their locations. Google was quick to spot this trend and evolved itself into a local search engine through Google Places (Now “Google My Business”). Instead of keyword stuffing, link building and other outdated hacks, you can easily get your practice a high ranking on local searches using Google My Business, which is combination of Google+ and Google Places. The key is to complete your Google My Business profile 100% by filling out the appropriate categories for your dental practice and uploading photos and videos of your practice. In addition to creating a Google My Business profile, when you have an active Google+ presence, it greatly improves your prominence on Google.
Google Places + Google Plus = Google My Business = Better Ranking on Google
Trend #2: Online Directories
During the dot-com bubble of the ‘90s, the internet was flooded with online portals and directories of every kind. Luckily, even after the bubble burst, the core idea of online directories not only survived but thrived. For the medical industry, online directories are a valuable source of new patients because of the sheer number of people using them.
We have identified three online directories where you can place your listing, thereby creating a nearly automated marketing channel to bring in new patients. To an extent, these directories are solving your marketing problem.
- ZocDoc: ZocDoc is an online portal that allows patients to schedule appointments with healthcare professionals. ZocDoc’s online scheduling feature is a huge time-saver for both patients and dentists.
- Healthgrades: Healthgrades is another site that has an extensive listing of health-care professionals in every field. With a powerful local search function, Healthgrades can put you directly in front of patients eagerly looking for a dentist.
- Switchboard: Switchboard is a general online directory, not specific to the healthcare industry. It is free, however, and with firsthand data from over 2 billion annual searches, combined with fine targeting capabilities, Switchboard offers a great way to connect with potential patients.
Trend #3: Online Reviews
Online reviews increasingly play an important role in attracting new patients. There are several reasons for this:
- Reviews are social proof of the quality of your practice.
- Reviews raise your Google search ranking.
- Reviews build trust in potential patients.
Here is a great example of how it works:
I visited Google and searched for “Dentist in Colorado.” Immediately, Google returned a list of local dental practices. Quite noticeably, it displayed the profile of Denver Dentistry, which had 46 Google reviews, on top. Take a look at this screenshot: Denver Dentistry, with 46 reviews on Google as well as reviews on many other sites, received a better ranking than its peers. Google gives you better visibility when you have great reviews.
Google isn’t alone
Apart from reviews on Google My Business, Google also places high importance to reviews received on other sites such as Yelp, Yahoo Local and Kudzu.
- Yelp: Yelp is big! Residents who have recently moved to your area are more likely to search for dentists on Yelp than through any other online service. Even if your practice has just two or three positive Yelp reviews, it will encourage new patients to visit.
- Yahoo Local: Yahoo search is not as popular as Google, but it is an equally important local search tool used by a large number of people. Creating a great profile on Yahoo and collecting user reviews there is still worth the effort. It will reach a unique audience among those who still prefer to use Yahoo.
- Kudzu: Kudzu is the new kid on the block, but it has some great search capabilities. Easily one of the best platforms after Yelp and Yahoo.
Google My Business, online directories, and online reviews can together be a potent force in marketing your practice on the internet. I like to call them “automated lead-generation tools,” because once you set them up, you can start collecting reviews and business immediately. Once you do that, they do the hard work for you every single day.