Having a strong internet presence is pivotal to the financial well-being of your practice. Sure, you can go above and beyond to create a unique patient experience and send out an army of current patients recruiting new patients on your behalf. However, at the end of the day, those prospective new patients are going to use the "trust but verify" method when it comes to recommendations from their friends and family. And the verify portion will be done by typing your practice name into Google.
Go ahead, take a minute, and do the same. See what those potential patients see when they search for your practice. Do they find anything at all? And if they do find you, does what they see compel them to click on your website and eventually reach out to schedule an appointment?
The truth is that we can all get a little better. But the thing that most of us get wrong is thinking that we don't have the ability or experience to do better with Google.
Yes, it can be complicated, and we have the option to hire a high-powered marketing team to do the work for us. However, if you're low on marketing dollars, there are ways you can still move the needle.
Here are six ways you can improve your practice's internet presence.
1. Be sure to have good website fundamentals
There are two components to "good website fundamentals." The first is a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate site. The second is a site that Google can easily crawl and understand.
Let's start with the user-friendly portion. Here, our ideal website is one that immediately answers the patient's main questions:
- Is this a good office?
- Do they know what they're doing?
- Does it look updated?
- Where is the office located?
- How do I contact them?
Most of these questions can be answered by placing your phone number and address in an easily seen place and including a lot of pictures, preferably of your team smiling and conversing near or around updated equipment, a freshly painted wall, or just a well-lit room. Perception is reality with your photos.
Then, once you've done well to create a great patient experience and earn an impressive number of five-star reviews, make sure to let prospective new patients know by showing them. Include a link to your Google, Facebook, or Yelp pages and be sure to reference all your outstanding reviews!
The second component to creating a good website is to make it extremely simple for Google or other bots to crawl your site. Make sure that your menu bar includes links to all the relevant pages on your site, your pages are concisely and descriptively named, and you do not have broken links on your pages -- ensure that when patients click on a link that it takes them to the correct location.
2. Start a blog for your practice
Many tutorials, sites, and videos are available that teach you how to start a blog. Once you find one that answers your specific questions, simply dive in. You're not aiming to set the blogging world on fire here. However, you do want to make sure that any time you spend on blogging is used in an ultraefficient manner.
Do not focus on article length, use dentist-level terms, or write article after article displaying before-and-after cases. Instead, publish on a regular basis, use high-quality images (radiographs or regular photos), answer your patient's questions, and mix in some fun (more on these below).
Get started by asking your team what questions they get asked most often, then write posts to answer those questions. Keep your posts on point, lighthearted, and easy to digest.
3. Conduct interviews, write guest posts, and find other ways to get your name out there
Use your dental expertise outside of the office by sharing your articles with other sites, asking to talk about a specific topic on a podcast, or taking part in a video recording. These opportunities serve two great functions. By contributing content across various brands and media, it will help to boost your personal profile and credibility, which is a win. Additionally, by simply asking for a link back to your practice's website or blog in exchange for your time, you help to boost your site's power in the eyes of Google. Put simply, your site and blog articles will begin to rank higher when prospective patients search for offices or services in your area.
However, make sure you do this strategically because you have a limited amount of time. Work to get quality links from high Domain Authority (DA) websites. DA is a metric that measures a site's power and relevancy in the eyes of search engines. It's a logarithmic scale with 0 being a brand new site and 100 measuring in as Google. Moz has a great free tool for you to find the best sites and brands to target.
4. Answer your patient's questions with quality content
When we launched our practice's blog, I asked each of our teammates to write down the three questions they're asked the most by patients. From there, I took those questions, organized them, then interviewed our staff using my iPhone during breaks throughout the day. The questions and subsequent interviews became the first blog posts on our site.
This process allowed our team to practice explaining the ins and outs of their most common procedures. And now we have some great links and resources to send our patients when they would like to learn more about why x-rays are important or what happens during a deep cleaning, for example.
5. Get crazy and have fun
You want to give your patients, as well as prospective patients, a reason to visit your website and social media accounts on a regular basis. And honestly, articles and pictures of before-and-after cases aren't going to get that done by themselves.
Patients want to know who you are as a group of people and what makes you tick. If they are able to form a connection with you, through a blog, podcast, or social media posts, that will go a long way toward building trust with your patients. And, ultimately, being more successful at converting into appointments and successfully selling the treatment these patients need.
We build that connection in a variety of ways:
- Publish social media posts of your team in and out of the office having fun and helping your community.
- Turn your blog articles into videos and post them on your YouTube page.
- Do the same but in podcast form.
- Come up with "your thing." We ask our patients to snap a picture of them wearing our shirts at unique places, then post that picture to their social media page and tag us in it. We give something away for the "picture of the month."
It doesn't matter how you build a connection with your patients, just that you do -- and have fun in the process.
6. Be patient and stick with the plan
This do-it-yourself approach to boosting your practice's online presence won't happen overnight. Depending on how much time you devote to it, this may take many months to start gaining momentum. However, if you stick with the plan and start following these steps, in a year, you'll look back and thank your past self for the connection you've made and all the new patients you've been able to generate.
Mike Monfredi is the practice manager at Monfredi Family Dental. He also writes about entrepreneurship, finance, and fitness at MikedUp Blog.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.