Are you being found where it counts ... online?

What is the “Local Web” and how does it affect your practice?

by Lee Firestone

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What is the “Local Web” and how does it affect your practice?

You already know about the importance of having a Web site in today's market. In this column, we'll take a look at how to use your Web site and the many other Internet resources available to help customers find you. It's about getting patients into your practice.

There are many things a dentist can do to build this client base. In some aspects, dentistry is no different than any other product or service out there. It's a very competitive market; customers have choices and access to information more than ever before.

Listed below are some tips to get your practice in front of the right people at the right time — when they are looking for your services and are ready to make buying decisions:

1) Your potential patients are researching more and more online.

You need to be where your customers are, and more and more customers are on the Web — the “local Web,” that is. It's how the Internet helps them connect with people and places in their hometown.

You can seize this trend by making detailed practice information accessible on your Web site. And of course, it's more important than ever that your advertising leads to the proper content with sufficient service detail and clear calls to action to motivate people to choose your practice.

2) Local business results.

Have you ever done a search for a dentist in your area and found about 10 doctors come up on the top of the search in “Local Business Results”? How did these practices get up there? It's part of a solid search engine strategy put in place by companies marketing them. This section is searched more often than any other place in the search engines. Make sure you're coming up in the “Local Business Results” too.

3) Deals DO matter.

When times are tough, go in search of a bargain! You can benefit by adding more promotional content, even specific coupons, to your advertisements.

When patients ask questions related to price, don't be offended. The fact that they are asking questions shows they are interested, and it's your job to educate potential patients and get them to your practice.

4) E-newsletters.

One of the most significant impacts of the Web has been that it enables anyone to become a publisher. First, we published Web pages. Then came blogs, which enabled us to create constantly updated journals, and now we have podcasts, videocasts, and who knows what's to come?

Interestingly, one communication tool that has not changed much over time is the newsletter. It is still an effective way to stay in contact with your patients. Consistent contact with your patients has a number of advantages. First and foremost is the “share of mind,” which simply means you need to constantly keep your name in front of your patients as often as you can.

An educated patient is also a loyal patient. Make sure to include interesting information your patients will forward on to friends and family. Word of mouth is one of the strongest marketing tactics available.

So heed these insights to check and make sure you are giving your potential customers what they need to choose your practice.

  • Use your local Web to target your advertising to the largest and most relevant audience.
  • Get found in the “Local Business Results”!
  • Make sure you test multiple versions of an ad and gauge its influence on buying decisions to find promotions that work best for you.
  • Utilize e-newsletters to keep patients loyal and referring your practice to friends and family.

The bottom line is if you want to grow your business in your local area, you need to be found online.

The next time someone searches for products or services in your local area, be sure your practice is found.

There were more than one million local searches for dental services last month!

Was your practice among those found online in the “Local Business Results”?

TheOnlinePractice.com has no set-up fee and costs just $39.95 per month. We offer customizable Web sites and full search engine strategies to get you found in the only place that matters ... your local Web!

Lee Firestone is vice president of sales and marketing at TheOnlinePractice.com. He has been doing dental marketing and consulting for more than seven years. His expertise lies in the Internet space, as well as internal and external practice growth and development. You may contact Firestone by e-mail at Support@theonlinepractice.com.

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