03 May 5 Essential Things You Need To Know About Building Your Web Presence
Have you noticed how much easier it is getting to find exactly what you are looking for on the internet? Ask Google a question and they try to answer it. They continue to focus on providing the best answer and that is changing the way to approach your digital marketing.
Think about the last major purchase you made either for your practice or home. I bet you spent at least a few hours researching on websites. If you were looking for office furniture you probably compared different models look, the cost and most importantly what others said about them. You probably didn’t contact the company until you narrowed it down to one or two choices.
This is exactly what your potential new patients are doing to your practice. So the first essential you need to know is that the buying process is changing. Buyers or potential new patients are more sophisticated and have much more information available to them.
You may still get most of your new patients from referrals but they are likely to be on-line. Consumers like to see that others have had a good experience. So online review management becomes really important.
The good thing about digital marketing is that it lets you be found by more people. The downside is that it works the same for your competitors. This is the second essential that everything is more competitive.
Have you noticed how the concepts of web design have changed? If your website is more than 2-3 years old it needs an update. The third essential is that things are changing so quickly in the digital landscape. Best practices from just 2 or 3 years ago are no longer the best strategy. Google changes its search algorithm often so it is hard to keep up, even for a marketing professional. Google now has over 200 factors it considers in its ranking algorithm!
The fourth essential is that more searches are happening on mobile devices than on desktops. This switch is also driving the fifth essential, Google’s ‘near me’ searches. They are now prioritizing search results this way. This becomes a very important factor for a dental office.
If you’re not a marketing professional
If you find it hard to know what the best ways to market your practice are, try to think of things in a strategic sense instead of tactical. Don’t do SEO just because your friend is or that you read that you have to. I’m not saying don’t do SEO. It is very important especially for a location based business like a dental office. I’m saying develop a real strategy before trying any tactics. I speak to many dentists who complain that their marketing is an expense, ‘something they have to do’. Your marketing should be an investment with a return. If your marketing is not expanding your practice then stop it, take a step back to figure it out and develop a strategy that will work.
To develop a strategy think about who your ideal new patient is and how to reach them. And don’t just say everybody with teeth. Every practice is a little different and targets a slightly different new patient.
Once you have your overall strategy you can start to think about how to build your web presence. Yes, these days it’s not enough to have just a website. Social Media is playing an increasingly important role. Review sites and business listing aggregators control results in different search engines.
Web Presence Vs. Website
What exactly is ‘web presence’? It is the sum of your website, social profiles, business listings and review sites. A robust web presence is essential these days for good search rankings. Just having a good website is not enough. One of the most important web assets, especially for a local business, is a well rated ‘Google my Business’ page. After Google my Business comes the other social media platforms. Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram are all viable channels to market your practice. Beyond social media are business listing sites like Bing for Business or Infogroup. You also need to manage your listings in professional, referral and review sites. I need to catch my breath!
If it seems like quite a lot to keep track of you are right. But the fact is that all of these elements contribute to how your practice will show up in search rankings. If you’d like to check out the state of your current web presence go to https://moz.com/local/search enter your practice and moz will calculate a score for your web presence.
Change has affected SEO more than any other digital marketing tactic. Keywords may not quite be dead yet but they are much less important in determining rankings than they used to be. Google has gotten much better at reading and understanding context. Google doesn’t even always use the vaunted meta descriptions in search results, using actual content from the page that it knows is relevant.
These days to be successful at SEO you need to think like Google. If they are focused on returning the most accurate search results design your SEO strategy to make your web presence as attractive as you can. Instead of trying to game or fool Google by stuffing keywords give them what they want. Here is how we prioritize different tactics for SEO for dental offices.
- Up to date and optimized website
- Google my business page
- Consistent Social Media Profiles (more is better)
- Business Listing and Citation Sites
- Professional Site Listings
- Content creation
- Social Media publishing and Monitoring
Here are search results for a dentist in my hometown. The three highest ranked offices have a healthy number of high reviews. These reviews are the ones that reside on your Google my Business page. The takeaway from this is that reviews matter. Google thinks that if a business has a lot of current good reviews it must be the top rated business. More and more Google is relying on these types of signals in search rankings. Notice I said current reviews. Freshness and frequency both matter to Google.
Keeping this in mind is one of those little things you can do to help your marketing. Google reviews aren’t the only ones that matter. Third party sites like Yelp have some influence as do some of the dental listing sites. Part of your strategy has to deal with review management.
Do you need someone to help you?
The great thing about digital marketing is that the biggest investment is time. You can do much of it yourself or buy a service like Yext or Moz to help you with certain parts of your web presence. However, as I mentioned before using tactics outside of an overall strategy can limit the chances for success.
Digital marketing is evolving at a rapid pace. It is hard to keep up not only with the changes but also how they affect your strategy. A qualified marketing pro definitely helps you stay abreast. Unfortunately, even in marketing, not everyone has kept up. I am often surprised by the number of marketers preaching tactics that are no longer effective or as important as they once were.
We start our conversations with new clients about strategy and identifying their ideal target new patient. From this information, we develop a strategy and decide which tactics to use. If someone starts discussing tactics first they may not be as successful as someone taking a more methodical approach.