Once upon a time, patients who were actively looking for a new dentist had only a few ways to find us. They might open the phone book, seek recommendations from their friends and families, or look for a welcoming sign outside our practices. We could also pay for the privilege of appearing in their mailboxes or on a billboard on the side of the road in hopes of catching their attention. Such were the ways of traditional marketing.
The internet, social media, and smartphones have changed everything. The tried-and-true ways of marketing are still sound (except for the phone book), but our digital presence and online reputation have become critically important. Regardless of how patients hear about our practices, they will often enter our practices’ names into a search bar to learn a bit about us before they pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. Alternatively, other patients may have no knowledge of our practices beforehand. Instead, they will enter terms such as “cosmetic dentist” or “emergency dentist” into the search bar as their primary means of exploring practices in their area.
I mention search engines, but of course there is only one that reigns supreme: Google. According to StatCounter, Google accounts for over 88% of search engine market share in the United States and over 92% worldwide.1 As potential patients search for us online, the rules of Google’s game are the only rules that truly matter.
In this issue, Jasmine Naderi, DDS, will walk you through the basics of claiming your Google real estate (p. 20). David A. Hall, DDS, discusses the history of the Google search algorithm and how it has recently changed (p. 24). Kristie Nation, who has written extensively in Dental Economics about how to create engaging social media content, discusses how video can be used to boost your Google profile (p. 34).
There are many marketing channels that can help us educate the public about what makes our practices special. But regardless of which ones you and your patients use to find one another, it is safe to assume that Google is involved along the way. We must all play the Google game in some fashion, so we’d better learn the rules.
Chris Salierno, DDS
1. Search engine market share worldwide: October 2018–October 2019. StatCounter GlobalStats website. https://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share.