9 Reasons Dentists Need SEO (and what to do about it)
While a good dental website is key to your success, it will only get you so far.
Imagine for a moment you commissioned a master artist to build the sign that hangs above your practice doors.
You wait for weeks as she works tirelessly. You can’t wait to see the result.
Finally, the day is here. Your commissioned sign is waiting under a white sheet.
Your artist looks at you, enjoying your tense excitement.
With a flourish, she pulls the sheet from the sign.
You look it over closely…and…it is PERFECT!
You couldn’t have asked for better. Surely this sign will bring you more patients than you can shake a stick at.
Bubbling over with excitement, you tell your artist to hang the sign.
She takes her precious piece of art and promptly walks around back and hangs the sign where no one can see it.
What a waste.
Do you see the metaphor in the story?
A stunning website is really only half the battle. The rest is all about placement.
If you create the world’s best-looking website and no one sees it, did it really happen?
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization.
It is the equivalent of hanging your practice sign facing the busy street instead of the back alley.
Many of the DDS’s that I work with personally have questions about SEO. Some don’t know the name but understand the concept.
Think about the last time that you needed to find a mechanic or a restaurant. Where did you go?
Statistics indicate strongly that you, like many others, are going to look for local results using a search engine (think Google or Bing).
Chances are you are going to search for something like “Best Mechanic [insert city name here]” or use Google’s “near me” search.
The same process is true for potential patients looking for a good dental provider.
SEO is the strategy that goes into helping your clinic stand out on all the major search engines (Google and Bing are the biggest).
Search engines will check how close your clinic is to the person searching. They will check to see how many reviews you have.
They will check your website to understand what services you provide.
If they feel that you are reputable and well represented, they will place you higher than your competitors.
In short, SEO is the strategy and process of getting your website as high as you can in the search engine listings.
“So what?” you ask, “Is this really that big of a deal?”
You bet your sweet bippy it is!!!
Still don’t believe me? Read on.
Finding Local Providers (some statistics)
Are you still wondering if SEO is important? Here are some staggering statistics.
- 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
- 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same.
- 18% of local searches on smartphone lead to a purchase within a day
- 65% percent of people use their phone to make purchasing decisions.
Let those numbers sink in for a moment.
Have you ever wondered why search engines are everywhere? It’s because they are so integral to finding what we want.
What’s the take away from these statistics?
Local SEO can make or break growth goals for any dental practice.
Search and Compare – a look at reviews
The average consumer is a comparison hound.
They will sniff out the best pricing and services they can find before making a purchasing decision.
84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal reviews from a friend.
Getting those results from your customers should be done in a timely manner.
Ideally, the whole process should be automated with an email or text messaging tool.
Just send a link to them and ask them to rate their service.
Too many dentists (and other business owners for that matter) are afraid of negative feedback.
Assign one of your staff to check reviews for your business once a day. 10 minutes should be more than enough for the task.
Have them monitor and respond to ALL reviews.
Just in case you didn’t catch that I said. EVERY. SINGLE. REVIEW.
For positive reviews, simply thank them for taking the time.
For negative reviews, take the time to understand their problem and respond.
You can’t always fix the issue, but other customers will see how responsive you are. They will think better of you for it.
After Hours Info
Like many other Doctors of Dental Surgery, you very likely have an answering service for after hours.
I had occasion to speak with answering services. I rarely feel that they are all that valuable.
Sure they can answer basic questions and take messages in a written format, but so can electronic answering services these days.
I think we can all agree, however, that making sure information is available after hours is important.
Having a Search Engine business listing is much the same as having an answering service…except it’s FREE!!!
Google and other search engines allow you to enter your business information in an easy to read format.
You can list your hours, areas of practice, location, and even photos and video of your practice.
Setting this up can be simple and free. Did I mention it’s free?
Simply go to your search engine of choice and search for something like “local listing. claim my business”
Just to make it easy for you here are the links for Bing and Google’s local business listing. I’ll be adding a video tutorial to this listing at a later time.
For Bing, click here.
For Google, click here.
There is some nuance here. Don’t be worried though.
If you don’t want to pay a professional to optimize the listing, just be as complete as possible.
Add photos of your clinic.
Take a quick selfie style video introducing yourself. Put that up there.
Take the time to be complete. Your customers will notice and appreciate the effort.
Competition and success
There is no denying that the internet today is vastly different than the internet of yesterday.
There are more internet users than ever before.
As of last year (2018), 52% of all internet traffic was mobile
The scales have finally tipped.
What does this mean for you as a practice owner?
First, more people have more access to the internet than ever before.
You’ve probably noticed.
Faces glued to mobile screens at the coffee shop, grocery store, and even in their cars.
Don’t text and drive people!
Seriously though, think of the implications.
You don’t have to wait anymore.
You want to find a local baker?
Guess what it takes about 10 seconds or less to do that. The same goes for finding dentists.
If you don’t take the steps to position your business, you will get left behind.
With more information than ever before, consumers are becoming increasingly critical.
Your online presence will either engender trust and confidence or leave your customer wondering if you know what you are doing.
Before you go running off because this section is all doom and gloom, hear me out.
You can take actionable steps to do this.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform ever, and this doesn’t have to consume your every waking moment.
Find someone you trust. Someone with experience.
Let them help you. Shoot give me a call and let’s go over strategy completely free.
My point is to own your online presence, and you will benefit.
If you don’t, your inattention is sure to bite you in the proverbial shorts.
So team up with someone, or take the time to learn. Either way, take control of how people see your image.
A better user experience
Back in the old days, all it took to rank a website in Google was LOTS of the right keywords.
Today, Google and Bing are more discerning.
One of the metrics that major search engines track is bounce rate.
No that’s not the rate at which a spherical object bounces at various inclines before rolling…you thought you were back in college physics, didn’t you?
No, a bounce rate is simply a person who leaves your site after only viewing one page.
For example, a customer has “bounced” when they visit your homepage and then leave without looking for more information.
Search Engines want to show content that is relevant.
Luckily good SEO equates to a lower bounce rate.
When a website is designed with the user in mind the results are much better.
What are some concrete things you can do to lower bounce rates?
I thought you’d never ask.
- Use video – video is an engaging format. Informative video piques interest.
- Have a strong call to action – For example “schedule a cleaning” or “Call now” are strong calls to action. These should be immediately visible.
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly. Bounce rates skyrocket when the site is too big for a mobile device.
These are the basics.
Try them. They will certainly improve your customer’s experience, and by extension your SEO ranking.
Search Engines are Always Changing
Ever watch a child grow?
It kind of takes you by surprise.
One day they are cradled in your arms. The next you have no idea how they got so big!
Search engines are very similar.
One day you are on page 1. Everything is great.
You slack off for a few months. Then a few more.
In the meantime, Google and company are hard at work. They are making changes to the way they serve their search results.
A little tweak there. A little teak here.
Over time the darling little search engine that was so good to you has grown.
You check your rankings.
You aren’t on page 1 anymore. You’ve drifted down to the Siberian winter land of page 3.
The phone stops ringing. What happened?
Google outgrew you.
Keeping up to date with the algorithmic changes requires constant attention.
The rewards for that effort can be astounding.
Organic Website Traffic
First of all for those who don’t know, What is organic website traffic?
There are two main categories of traffic. Organic and Paid.
Paid traffic is fairly self-explanatory. You pay the cost of advertising and companies like Google or Facebook or many others will send traffic to your site.
Organic means that someone else found you based on some other method.
For example, a friend sees a social media post. They are sure you’ll enjoy it. So they tag you in it.
That same post shows up in your notifications. You click to view it. Your view is organic. Nobody paid to get in front of you.
For Google, and most other search engines, paid search results are listed at the top of the page. The organic listings are located a little farther down.
51% of all traffic comes from organic listings on Google. They put you in front of an audience because they have decided you are valuable to a customer.
Without having spent a penny on advertising costs, you are getting up to 51% of all traffic on Google’s platform.
Considering they hold 75% of all internet traffic that is significant.
SEO – trust and credibility.
“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” – SETH GODIN
Seriously though. All business is based upon trust.
Think about your own teeth. They are kind of like a calling card.
Your teeth represent the work that you can do for others. Chances are you’ve spent no small amount of time and money having the best-looking teeth you can.
Because you know your clients are going to look at them. It’s important for your business.
SEO is similar. Time or money (sometimes both) will leave with a great online impression.
Local SEO is trending up
We live in a global economy.
Jobs in technology are being increasingly outsourced to cheaper parts of the world.
You know what jobs can’t be outsourced? You guessed it. Local business.
Plumbers, electricians, mechanics, doctors, and yes dentists. These are all jobs that cannot be outsourced easily.
A local skilled workforce is the backbone of any local economy.
Why do I mention this?
While other types of work are leaving our shores, local business is thriving.