Getting started with social media marketing

Where to begin with social media for your dental practice

facebook and twitter iconsThis article is aimed at providing a concise introduction to social media marketing for dentists – why it’s worth doing, how to get set up and, importantly, what to avoid.

Social media for dentists – is it worth it?

The short answer to this is “yes”, but if you do start, then it needs to be done professionally and consistently. The benefits of social media are covered in detail elsewhere in this blog, but to recap, it can bring new patient enquiries, help to spread your brand and influence in the local community, act as a broad-reaching platform for advertising and help with your search engine optimisation. So you should make every effort to incorporate social media into your marketing strategies if possible.

“Done for you” social media marketing – best avoided?

A number of dental marketing companies offer to run your social media as a fully-outsourced service, but is this really worthwhile? The short answer here is probably “no”. If you take a look at the output of these services you’ll see fairly generic material being regurgitated to multiple different accounts, often processed automatically. To be frank, none of this type of material is in the least engaging and typically won’t stimulate any useful enquiries. At best, it keeps you social media accounts active but not much else. Remember that one of the core principles of social media is personal interaction – and you don’t get much of that if your posts are generic and automated. So think twice before subscribing to such services.

Setting up your social accounts

Again we’ve covered the mechanics of this elsewhere in our blog and this is your first step on the way to getting your social campaigns moving. Most practices tend to use Facebook, Twitter and also professional profiles for key team members on LinkedIn. If time allows, you can also publish to the likes of Instagram and Pinterest, however, don’t spread yourself too thinly. It’s much better to manage a couple of profiles well than several done badly.

Setting up is usually quite easy but you can always ask your web designer for help. One key thing to remember is consistency of information and brand – so keep your colour scheme, logos, web, ‘phone and postal addresses completely consistent across all of the profiles.

Resourcing

Read more ›

Posted in social

New Dental Website? Avoid These Sales Tricks

Be sure what you are purchasing when it comes to your new practice website

mistake signEarlier this week I came across a couple of questionable selling techniques in use by well-known dental website marketing companies. In the interests of those dentists who are investigating a new website for their practice, it seems appropriate to raise awareness as to what these tricks are so that you can make an informed decision before jumping in.

Use of third-party website building tools

Whilst this may be a valid option for DIYers  and maybe even suitable for those who understand it and accept the pitfalls and limitations, the use of third-party platforms for building websites isn’t ideal. As we’ve covered elsewhere in this blog, hosted website building tools such as those you may have seen advertised on TV, may well get you on line cheaply, but what you get may not be exactly what you expected. For example, your site will not be portable in that it’s restricted to the hosting of the provider and simply can’t be moved elsewhere if you need to move supplier.

From a design perspective, chances are you will get a generic template which is made to look “dental” but is in no way truly bespoke. There are other downsides too, for example the facilities for SEO may well be much better than they once were, but still not ideal. Want to integrate a good blog? Well, you’ll likely struggle.

So there are quite a number of significant disadvantages of these DIY web builders when compared to professionally coded websites. It would be fine if these were made clear by the companies selling them, but unfortunately they aren’t. What you’ll actually find is companies pitching them as bespoke builds with all the features of pro websites, where in reality there are a number of significant downsides.

The advantage for the companies using these systems is that they actually don’t need a great deal of skill to develop – so you will often find print design companies deploying them at what seem like cost-effective rates. But when you understand the limitations, the value-for-money is highly questionable. We actually have a couple of recent new clients who fell into this trap and then subsequently had to jump ship several months later when they realised what they’d purchased.

So before you purchase your new website, be sure to understand what it’s built with, if it is really bespoke and just how portable it is.

Bargain practice package websites!

Read more ›

Posted in Website

Which factors help your website to rank better in Google?

The top four most important areas to prioritise.

Cheap SEO doesn't workWhilst Google advises that there are over 200 signals they measure to work out where websites are placed in the search results, consensus in the SEO community suggests that there are four key factors which move the dial more than the others.

So it probably makes good sense to prioritise those when it comes to working on your own optimisation campaign. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and how you might work them into your own strategies.

Content

Over the last few years, Google appears to have focused more intently on the quality and depth of content contained within a website. The days of being able to compensate for poor on-site quality with lots of off-site SEO, e.g. back-links, have largely passed. Indeed a simple inspection of the search results for various topics, tends to show websites with lots of high-quality, detailed information at or near the top. There are exceptions of course, but in general we can say that websites with lots of useful, engaging content tend to work better in search engines than those with more minimal content.

Perhaps the main thing to acknowledge here is that a website is not a “done deal” once it has been built and launched. If you want it to succeed, both for your visitors and in the search engines, then you should plan to update and add new content regularly.

Back-links

Read more ›

Posted in seo

Worried about starting SEO for your practice website?

7 questions and answers to help address your concerns

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is not a new concept and most dental business owners who understand the power of the web for delivering new patient enquiries will understand its importance.

Indeed, without SEO, a website is very likely not going to rank well in the organic (free) Google search results and without that, web visits and consequently new enquiries, simply won’t happen. Of course you could set a big budget to use the AdWords pay-per-click system as an alternative, but longer term, a prominent organic ranking position is undeniably very valuable and more sustainable.

The bottom line is that SEO is usually necessary to establish and maintain great search engine results, and a key initiative for any business looking to harness the web to help grow their dental business.

With the reasons (and rewards) for doing SEO really very clear, why don’t more dentists pursue it for their own websites? The reasons for this are varied and very often misplaced, resulting in huge benefits being missed, simply through the lack of a clear understanding of the subject. With that in mind, here are seven concerns which we often hear expressed by dentists who are considering SEO, together with answers which will hopefully allay their fears.

It’s a scam

To be frank, there is a huge amount of nonsense talked in the world of SEO, some of it just wild speculation, some of it deliberately designed to confuse the unsuspecting and to leach their cash. Indeed, many dental business owners will have been at the wrong end of this type of activity, paying out for months and realising few returns. Unfortunately there are numerous examples involving well-known names in the UK dental marketing community; for example, claiming that comprehensive optimisation is delivered as part of glorified, expensive monthly maintenance contracts, where in reality, the SEO component is minimal.

So the “scam” reputation is understandable, however there are also lots of examples where SEO has been done diligently and delivered exceptional results. So the key is to understand what needs to be done and then find the right partner you can trust to carry it out.

It’s too expensive

Read more ›

Posted in seo

Marketing for established dental practices

Where to start?

basics for a dental web marketing planWe are currently working with several long-established dental businesses to help them bring their marketing up-to-speed and fit-for-purpose for an increasingly competitive market place. The interesting aspect of all of these cases is that the practices concerned all have large patient lists built over many years of successful trading.

However, the business owners have realised that times have changed and that new patient acquisition is becoming increasingly challenging and not keeping up with “churn” (loss) of existing patients. Rather than watch their businesses stagnate and then contract, the practices sensibly approached us for advice and to assist with establishing marketing systems to drive new patient enquiries. So what are the basic steps required to get moving?

Assessment

It would be easy to jump straight in and set up a suite of typical marketing systems, but this is rather haphazard and potentially counter-productive. For example, dumping an off-the-shelf dental marketing engine on top of a practice which is unable to support it, wouldn’t be a smart move. Indeed I often see this type of “packaged” approach espoused by dental coaches and trainers who are pulled into practices for advice. Feedback from clients who tried this approach historically but ditched it, suggest that they had been overwhelmed and often felt that the advice was formulaic, rather than specifically tailored to their needs.

So before any work commences, a full assessment must be conducted to understand the precise objectives of the practice, the target market, history and more – in fact a thorough discussion about all key elements of the business. There is no such thing as “100% done for you” marketing, so one of the key factors is to understand what resources are available to support the marketing systems and, indeed, the capability of those nominated to assist with the work.

First steps

Read more ›

Posted in Advice

Website Topic Modelling

Help Google to understand your website and boost your rankings

optimising website designThe architecture of a dental website is particularly important, not just to ensure that your users can easily find the information they need, but also to help Google understand what the site is all about. If you do this well, you will also help your search ranking results. So why is this?

Don’t jumble your information

Imagine the situation where a dentist has a tight budget when having a new dental website designed and in an effort to reduce the scope and cost, tries to incorporate all of their treatment information on just a couple of pages. Whilst this may appear to be a logical step to take, when it comes to how Google interprets the site and decides where to place it in the search results, things start to go wrong very quickly.

Whilst Google is becoming increasingly “intelligent”, it still uses key structural elements on a web page to tell it what the page is all about. Digital marketers use these elements, e.g. the page title, to optimise the page for a specific topic e.g. teeth whitening. Where several topics or treatments are incorporated on a single page, it is very difficult to use the structural elements on a page to tell Google what to prioritise; in effect the on-page search optimisation is diluted. So what is the recommend approach?

Content Siloing and Topic Modelling

Read more ›

Posted in Website

My Google Positions Are Great….

So can I stop my dental website SEO?

rising Google positionsThis is another question we’ve been asked a few times by dentists whose websites we promote in Google. Comprehensive SEO campaigns are not cheap and understandably the costs of running them get reviewed periodically, either by the practice managers or dental principals themselves.

So even where search ranking positions are excellent and the associated influx of new patients is high, it is reasonable to expect questions to see if savings are possible.

However, ramping down a successful SEO campaign is never really a good plan for the following reasons.

Google changes all the time – in its quest to deliver the most appropriate answers to user’s search queries, Google is forever adjusting the way that they determine the order in which websites appear in the search results. The so-called “algorithm” they use to evaluate this is multi-faceted and uses hundreds of different ranking signals. This changes frequently and even well-optimised websites are subject to flux within the Google results. One of our jobs as digital marketers is to try to interpret these changes and adjust our dental client’s websites and SEO accordingly. If there is no SEO programme in place, these dynamic changes cannot be assessed and responded to.

Your competitors are working on their own SEO – even if you have great search positions, you can be sure that some of your immediate competitors have their own SEO teams trying to catch and overtake you. Whilst it can be tricky to overtake a comprehensively optimised website, if the SEO is ceased, then inevitably that will happen. Whilst it might take several months to achieve this, then you’re on the back foot and trailing. So if you are ahead, the sensible play is to continue with your own campaign.

Balancing the cost with the reward

Read more ›

Posted in seo

Website strategy for multi-location dental practices

Do you deploy a single website or one per location – and why?

Google local businessWhere a dentist has several practices in different locations, does it make sense to incorporate all of them on a single website or deploy a unique site for each? This is an interesting question and one which deserves very careful consideration if you are to gain maximum benefit and optimise new patient acquisition from Google.

The key driver for this is down to the way Google has evolved and how it presents search results differently for different users. Much of this relates to something called “localisation” and particularly how Google presents local businesses to local users in the search results. So for example, based here in Derby, if I search “dentist Derby” I see local business presented on page one and particularly in the three local (or map) results near the head of the page. This localisation aspect is incredibly important for SEO these days and drives many of the decisions we as digital marketers make, when developing strategies for our dental client’s websites.

Multiple locations – one website

This can be done and has some benefits from a management and cost perspective. However, there are also significant downsides, not just search optimisation related:

  • Including multiple locations on a single website dilutes the location signals Google uses when building ranking results. Even where you develop several distinct sections on the website to represent each of the different practices, you are still compromised when it comes to optimisation for search ranking
  • The different practices may have different objectives and services and it can be very difficult to differentiate this on a single website
  • Patients are easily confused and whilst you may think it is obvious which section of your website represents which practice, it’s easy for fickle users to get lost in the navigation and frustrated

Sometimes it’s simply not practical to deploy multiple websites and a single “umbrella” site has to be used – however, it is much more difficult to optimise these for Google than where each location has its own dedicated website.

Multiple locations – multiple websites

Read more ›

Posted in Website

Is a confusing website costing you new patients?

Try the 5 second engagement test

confused website userHave you ever wondered just how well your website works when a new visitor lands on your home page? You may be confident all is well, but do you really know?

For example, you may have data from Google Analytics which shows general overall performance, but chances are it doesn’t drill into specific performance at page level?

So is your home page working well, about average or perhaps really quite badly? Frankly, most dental website owners don’t really have much insight at all, so if you don’t really know the answer, you’re not alone. But that’s not good, particularly given how important a high-functioning website is for new patient acquisition.

Perhaps it might surprise you to suggest that for most websites, well over half of the visitors never make it past the first page and simply leave the site immediately, whether through confusion, disinterest or both. What’s more, this figure can be even higher depending on the source of the traffic; for example, web visitors from social media are generally much less interested in your website than those who have searched with specific intent in Google.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The configuration of your home page, or indeed any landing page to which you are directing traffic, can make a massive difference to how users react when they reach there. Will they be immediately engaged and compelled to look further into your services, or will they be confused and look elsewhere, possibly at your direct competitor’s website?

Let’s get some deeper insights and see how you can make a positive difference, starting out with the ‘5 second test’.

So what is the 5 second test for dental websites? Read more ›

Posted in Website

How To Encourage Positive Patient Reviews

Don’t disregard the review process – it’s a business priority!

Google 5 star reviewYou’ll probably know from your own experience just how powerful reviews are when it comes to selecting new products or services. We all do it – whether it’s a product from Amazon, your local restaurant, car repair or holiday destination, most of us will scour the web to check out what other people have to say before we make a commitment to purchase.

There is plenty of research covering the subject of reviews with the vast majority of people suggesting that they are influenced pretty much in equal part by positive as well as negative feedback. Bad reviews can really have a negative effect on your business and it doesn’t take long for a solid reputation to become trashed. Good reviews act as a “third party”, independent validation of your services and are much more powerful than saying it yourself!

But it’s not just about demonstrating your worth to potential new patients, it’s also about convincing Google to rank you higher in search results. Google also recognises the critical importance of reviews as an overall “quality indicator” and there is a high correlation between the number of good reviews a business has and its positions in the search engines; particularly the local/map results on page one. So it’s a virtuous circle – the more reviews you have, the better your chances of ranking well and the more traffic you can expect to your website. More traffic equals more patient enquiries and more opportunity for reviews!

So with all the evidence abundantly clear, you might imagine that all dentists would be fully bought-in to the process and busy installing procedures and motivating their teams to seek out reviews proactively and consistently? However, you’d be wrong. Unfortunately there are still lots of dental businesses out there that shun the review process, missing the benefits that positive reviews bring whilst being compromised by the poor reviews which appear about them. It’s a conversation I’ve had numerous times and it can be quite frustrating to have the evidence dismissed.

Of course there are also lots of dentists who completely understand the review process and how important it is for their business. This blog will take a quick look at some of the techniques they use to build a steady stream of reviews across the platforms which count.

Ask for a review

Read more ›

Posted in Advice