Marketing your practice in a digital age: Start with a web presence

A strong online presence presents an incredible opportunity to market your practice through a variety of web-based mediums...

Glenn Lombardi

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A strong online presence presents an incredible opportunity to market your practice through a variety of web-based mediums, including search engines, social networking, blogging, and patient reviews. With so many steps involved in building a successful website, how can a practice achieve its much needed online presence without exhausting time and resources?

When you work with an expert in dental websites and Internet marketing, you will find that launching an integrated, all-encompassing website and online marketing plan is both an easy and highly effective way to grow your practice.

If you build it, can they find it?

Once your website is up and running, make sure potential patients can actually find it when searching for dentists in your local area. One long-term strategy known as local search engine optimization (SEO) should be the cornerstone of any website’s marketing plan.

SEO involves optimizing the internal elements of your website, implementing a strong link building campaign through article and press release distributions, submitting your practice to the top online directories, and verifying your Google Place Page. When combined, each of these steps plays a critical role in whether or not your dental practice earns a spot on the first page of major search engines.

Pay per click advertising is another way you can position your site on the search engines. This type of campaign allows you to market specific services/specialties — such as teeth whitening or Invisalign — to prospects outside of your practice’s physical location, thus reaching patients in a five-, 10-, or even 50-mile radius of your office.

Through a bid and budget process, results are nearly instantaneous, placing your ad in the sponsored listings at the top and right side of the search engine search results page. Campaign performance can be measured at every step of the process for continual refinement and ROI tracking.

It’s a social web — start connecting

Increasingly, popular social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow users to easily connect and share in a virtual space. It’s a referral network, and with every contact you make via social media, your online presence is exposed exponentially across that individual’s network of followers.

Many dental practices recognize the need for a social media presence, but when it comes time to execute a social strategy, the task can be overwhelming. A dental website provider can streamline the process, integrating your entire social network with your website for seamless maintenance.

Post to your blog at least every few weeks to not only keep your entire network fresh, but also to help boost your search ranking. If you don’t have time to blog, designate a web-savvy staff member to manage your social media sites, or turn your campaign management over to your website provider. A social networking expert can handle your blog content creation, updating your blog regularly so you don’t have to worry about it.

Take responsibility for your reputation

When it comes to the Internet, your digital footprint may be at risk for harmful reviews, whether you have a website or not. That’s because patients are talking about you and your practice on major review sites and directories.

A dental marketing expert can help you implement a technologically advanced solution that allows patients to review you right from your office. Through the dentist’s mobile-compatible website, patients have the ability to easily review their dentist from their mobile phone without having to deal with cumbersome QR codes. With a simple click, patients can populate Google — the most important aggregator of reviews — with positive citations about their dentists.

For less tech-savvy patients, dentists can offer an out-of office solution that includes simple step-by-step instruction cards that walk patients through the quick review process from their home computers. Generate five or 10 new positive reviews each month. Over the course of a year, you will generate enough positive patient reviews to negate any damaging reviews that will undoubtedly appear from time to time.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated more than a quarter of a million appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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