How to map out the perfect, integrated, online marketing strategy for your practice

July 1, 2012
It goes without saying that in today’s web-centric world, you must have an online presence if you want to grow your practice.

By Glenn Lombardi

It goes without saying that in today’s web-centric world, you must have an online presence if you want to grow your practice. As the central location for information, the Internet has revolutionized how patients find, gather, and digest information, how they engage with your practice, and how they make decisions about treatments.

It begins with selecting a reputable website provider who is well versed in all facets of online marketing for dentists. There’s tremendous value in choosing a firm that can create, manage, and measure all aspects of your marketing plan.

You will gain the benefit of working with an expert who truly understands what there is to know about marketing your dental practice online. This eliminates the hassle of having to juggle a multitude of vendors. Most importantly, it allows you to integrate your marketing solutions into one cohesive online plan that seamlessly works together to bring new patients to your practice.

Start with a website

By now, you should at least have a website for your practice. It’s the foundation of your online marketing communications, and often the first real impression a potential patient has of your practice.

Today, an attractive, interactive website that performs on your work or home desktop computer is not enough. It is imperative that you choose a provider who can not only design and develop your desktop site, but one who can also create a full version of your website for smartphones and tablets by using the latest in HTML-5 mobile technology. By next year, mobile will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide, and you will not want to be the last to adopt this important digital trend.

Increase website’s search ranking

Just as you would not build a car without an engine, you cannot launch a website without search marketing. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a necessary practice that uses strategic keyword placement to help Google find and rank your site.

Content, keyword selection, link building, and Web design methods contribute to SEO success and a boost in your search ranking so that new patients can find you online. The same company that built your website should also be the most qualified to optimize your site for search since the structural makeup of your website is intricately tied to SEO.

Equally important to getting your website to the top of the search results is making sure your practice is represented accurately on the Web. Local online directories and review sites gather and host information about your practice, some of which may have false information if you have not claimed and verified the listings.

Additionally, patients can review and rate your practice on these sites. Good reviews lead to more phone calls, but too many negative reviews can hurt your reputation and your search ranking. That’s why it’s important that your website provider not only specialize in SEO but also in managing your reputation. A good strategy to improve your image includes having a high-ranking website that truthfully represents your practice online, enables submission of your practice to top online directories, and provides a strategy to garner positive reviews from your most loyal patients.

Similarly, social media is an important and powerful reputation management tool as it harnesses the power of word of mouth. Today, it’s one of the best ways a dentist can connect with existing patients while exposing the practice to thousands of potential new patients.

Your website provider should be able to integrate your social platforms — Facebook, Twitter, and blogging — with your website. This will help direct visitors back to your site where they can learn more about your services, while allowing you to easily track, edit, and manage content for your entire social network.

An integrated approach to online success

Marketing your practice on the Internet is a multifaceted approach, not a mix of standalone strategies. There are many parts that serve a purpose, and each complements the others most effectively when they are connected.

You will not want to waste dollars on website development from one firm, search marketing from another firm, and reputation management from yet another provider. Select a company that can do it all cost-effectively with a centralized approach that interweaves each element for maximum effectiveness and return on investment for your practice.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, such as social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built more than 7,000 websites that have generated more than half a million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www. officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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