Things get more complicated over time. It’s a simple fact. As life and business evolve, they become more complex, and what used to be easy becomes more difficult. Take cars, for example. If you were standing in front of a Ford Model T in 1920 and popped open the hood, the engine compartment would have just enough parts to keep the car running to get you where you need to go.
Fast-forward 100 years: Open up the hood of a 2020 Ford Mustang, and it’s like you’re staring at the inner workings of a Stealth Bomber. There’s so much tech in there now that if you were to drop a quarter into the engine compartment, it would have nowhere to go. There’s so much packed into that space because modern cars and their corresponding systems are increasingly complex.
The same goes for search engine optimization. If you’ve been in this business long enough to remember the good ol’ days of SEO, you know that it was once absurdly easy to get ranked on search engines. Toss up a website, do some backlinking, and boom—you’re the king or queen of Google. Those days, my friend, are long gone.
As important as Google reviews are for getting high-quality patients through the door, never has it been more important to have a comprehensive dental marketing system. Like any other well-designed, well-executed system, a marketing system should provide predictable and sustainable results. That means you should be able to know, with a strong degree of certainty, your revenues, patient numbers, marketing and advertising expenses, and more.
Most doctors don’t have a solid marketing plan. They put up a basic website and then throw something at the wall to see what sticks, or they toss money here or there with fingers crossed in hopes that they’ll get some kind of return. That’s like playing the dental marketing lottery.
Instead, you should implement a plan that is designed to safeguard the future of your practice, based on experience, logic, and data:
SEO: Search engine optimization is the act of making your content as search engine friendly as you can so that you rank higher. This includes having a website that’s easy to read, relevant, and appropriate to your audience. It’s not a simple prospect, either—there are entire companies focused on providing SEO services.
Google listing: Your Google listing should be your bread and butter. Google is now the most trusted medium on the planet.1 It’s where your patients go to find a dentist (and not just millennials—Grandma and Grandpa are searching there too). They don’t look at only your reviews but your entire listing. It’s a matter of trust, so claim your Google listing immediately. Build and nurture it with office pictures, and make sure everything is correct. Double-check that there aren’t duplicate listings of your business as well.
Videos, plus fresh content on blog sites: This is where I see doctors fall short. Your patients crave information, and they are programmed to look for it from “influencers,” or people who position themselves as experts. If you don’t take the steps to be the one delivering information to your patients and prospects on their families’ dental health, they will find someone else to provide it—someone who is likely less qualified. So write blog posts periodically. Start a YouTube channel. Produce valuable content that’s easily consumed and understood and that positions you as the community expert in dental health.
Directories: Tedious? Sure, but submitting to internet directories is a key to high search engine rankings, more visits, more patients, and more profit.
The make-or-break secret to implementing that system correctly
Now that we have the four keys to a patient delivery system laid out, I have some bad news for you: it’s really easy to screw it up if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you submit your Google listing incorrectly, you could get penalized or even not appear in certain searches. The same goes for submitting to directories incorrectly. And if you don’t have the right keyword density or certain types of links in your blog posts, no one will ever see them. You’ll have wasted your time.
That’s why I always recommend that doctors get a professional team to do these activities for them. This isn’t a set of tasks you should be passing off to some college student, the office manager, or someone else in your practice, who is probably too busy as it is. Make room in the budget for a professional marketing team.
I’m saying this not as the owner of a professional marketing agency. I’m saying this as someone who has worked with thousands of dentists over the last 10 years and who has seen the same problems happen repeatedly. Fixing it is so simple.
You can have the reliable income and patient numbers and security that you think about late at night when you can’t fall asleep. You can take one easy action to make these problems go away. Hire a team to do your online marketing the right way, plain and simple. Why? Because it’s too important, and it’s gotten too complex for you to do it yourself.
1. Miller M. Search engines and brands most trusted for news (and you can be, too). WordStream website. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/01/28/search-engines-trusted-news-source. Published January 28, 2015. Updated April 9, 2018.
Graig Presti is CEO of four-time Inc. 500/5000-recognized company Local Search for Dentists (LSFD), one of the fastest growing companies in dentistry. LSFD helps dental practices all over the world gain dominance in their local markets. Presti's proprietary marketing systems have helped thousands of dentists achieve more freedom, increased new-patient numbers, and the ability to reach their income goals.