You’ve heard me say it before; the most important marketing you can do for your dental practice is to get your “Google house” in order. In other words, the best way to procure those ideal pay/stay/refer patients is to make your web presence as Google friendly as you can. Do it right, and your potential new patients will see your name at the coveted top of page 1.
However, you’ll notice I said web “PRESENCE”… not just your website. Why? Because these days, your website is pretty much a glorified brochure. Necessary, but not the most important part of the puzzle when it comes to attracting fresh and better new patients.
It hasn’t always been that way, though. In fact… let’s have a quick history lesson.
The (Very Brief) History of Search Engine Optimization, a.k.a. “SEO”
You may think that Google is just trying to mess with everybody and make it intentionally difficult to get your website ranked on their search engine. However, they aren’t that masochistic. Instead, their true goal is provide the most RELEVANT and USEFUL results to each searcher’s query.
Let’s say your practice is located in Buffalo, New York, and you’re trying to target new patients who are searching for the term “buffalo new york dentist.”
Back in the “good ol’ days” of SEO, it was easy. Some “gray hat” (semi-ethical) web designers would simply code the words “buffalo new york dentist” into your website as many times as they could – 20 times into every blog post, 30 times on the front of your site, etc., and Google simply assumed you were the most relevant choice for new patients searching for that term.
However, two things happened. First, Google caught on that people were gaming the system. So they changed their algorithm so that what’s called “on-page” (on your website) text became less important. You could still put whatever you wanted on your site, but it was less likely to garner top rankings.
Second, the rise and proliferation of social media entered into the fray. This became VERY important. Google started taking into account what people were saying about you on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (not a coincidence that Google owns YouTube), as well as how much you were participating in the conversation by responding to reviews and posting your own content. Google’s own review system (that five-star rating deal that shows up whenever you search for your website) became a HUGE part of it, as well.
Now, all of this is far from arbitrary. It’s a simple matter of trust and believability. In his landmark book Influence, author Robert Cialdini asserts that one key factor in influencing the behavior of others is through a concept called “social proof.” In other words, when somebody vouches for and recommends somebody else for something, you are more inclined to believe them than if they were to brag or boast about themselves. Therefore, the more mentions and reviews you receive, the more Google believes you are a trusted, liked and valued service provider in the community, as the community has actually gushed on how great you are.
Ergo, higher rankings on Google’s search engine pages.
Now, this is a drastic simplification of the changes we’ve seen over the course of the last two or three decades. In fact, Google’s algorithm changes SO frequently, companies like mine devote our entire business to staying on top of it so we can provide the best service to our clients. I’ve hired some of the top data engineers in the country to do just that. We study thousands of data points and ranking mechanisms every single day.
So, proper SEO is NOT an easy endeavor, nor can you “set it and forget it.” Whether you hire a company like ours or another industry expert to get and keep your site ranked well on Google, you owe it to your business, your staff and yourself to do it right.
// The old rules of Dental SEO have changed. What you were doing a few years ago doesn’t work anymore. // The focus is now on “social proof”; in other words, you need positive reviews and mentions from your patients in order to show you are trustworthy to potential new patients.. // This results in higher rankings and more organic referrals, which turn into those coveted pay/stay/refer patients. // Google now wants to see you participating in community conversations on forums like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their own review/comment mechanism on Google. // Even if you are staying on top of social commenting and responses, Google’s algorithm still measures THOUSANDS of complicated data points.
Even if you have a marketing person on staff, that person probably doesn’t have the time nor inclination to stay on top of all the granular adjustments that Google makes. So, my recommendation is to go with a team that does just SEO… and ONLY SEO. It might cost a little more, but the result will be real and lasting search engine rankings for your practice, and a potential flood of the patients you need.
Graig Presti is founder and CEO of four-time Inc. 500/5000-recognized company Local Search For Dentists™ (LSFD) located in the heart of the tech mecca, Austin, Texas. Local Search For Dentists™ is a full service dental marketing agency that has helped thousands of dental practices just like yours gain dominance in their local markets and attract new patients with proprietary online marketing systems that have helped thousands of dentists achieve more freedom, greater new patient numbers, and the ability to reach their income goals. Local Search For Dentists™ (LSFD) has ranked on the national Inc. Magazine Top 500/5000 FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES list for the FOURTH year in a row!
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