Mellow Yellow

Sept. 1, 2007
I think it’s time to stop paying for my ad in the Yellow Pages. We have reduced the ad to just a listing of my name, address, and phone number...

by Paul Feuerstein, DMD

I think it’s time to stop paying for my ad in the Yellow Pages. We have reduced the ad to just a listing of my name, address, and phone number, as well as including the same information for my esteemed associate, Richard Pierce. We are still paying $1,932 per year for the ad.

People who seek dentists (or just about anyone or anything) today use the Internet. As a last gasp, the Yellow Pages has gone digital, selling preferred listings and even creating simple Web sites. I would venture to guess that the majority of “hits” for the Yellow Pages come from another search source. Since they pay big dollars to get high rankings on such a search, the Yellow Pages comes in the top 10.

Now that everyone seems to have 411 access on his or her cell phone, and many people have Internet access in their pockets with Web-enabled phones, there might not be a reason to flip open the company’s book. If you go to the Yellow Pages site, you have to contend with listings that are “weighted” with the most expensive ads appearing first, similar to paid ads on Google and other search engines. You may as well just stick with Google or other large search engines

Looking for services such as tooth whitening, dental implants, or cosmetic bonding will not be found by flipping open the Yellow Pages book. The best you can hope for is a giant eye-catching ad under “Dentists.” If you still think that it is helpful to have this large listing, it is imperative that you have a good Web site to accompany it. The Web site address should be plainly visible in the print ad. The Web address not only provides a method for further information, but it shows that the office is up to the new age. For a fee, the Yellow Pages will link to the Web site if someone does navigate to it.

The Verizon Yellow Pages is now run by Idearc, located in New England. Now there is a simple name to remember! This company operates Superpages.com (not Yellowpages.com). It seems to me that a Web savvy person would not go to Superpages.com and sort through a series of menus to find a dentist or dental services. This discussion now returns to ongoing musings about setting up your office Web site. Should you do it yourself, go to a budget commercial source, or to a strictly dental Web company?

There are pluses and minuses, many of which are related to costs. But some dentists I speak to don’t want to “fool” with the site or have anything to do with it. They just hire someone. This goes along with those who repair their dental equipment or computers and those who want a service contract. There are many great companies that will handle the setup. If you conduct the searches, look at the sites that come up. Assess the quality of the site and the position in the search list. Usually, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a link in small type that will lead you to the company who maintains the site where many companies have examples of their work. Most dentists will be glad to answer questions about their Web designs and hosts.

You also have to be somewhat careful. First, when you pick an office name or domain, be sure it is not being used anywhere else. There have been a couple of instances where a dentist created a site like “Jewishsmiles.com” only to find out that - years before - another dentist had secured a copyright for the name but did not procure the actual Web name at the time. There have been lawsuits that have resulted in dentists having to shut down sites or pay a ransom. I have been on both sides of this scenario, and can attest that neither side is fun.

Also, when setting up a site, be sure to use images that do not belong to someone else. My friend Mike Barr (palmbeachsmiles.com) has developed a great practice and wonderful Web site when he is not off racing cars (racingdentist.com). He found a dental site that was using his “before and after” photos. This dentist - or Web designer - apparently just “right clicked” on Mike’s images. Using “copy” and “paste” commands, he then placed the images on his Web site.

Unfortunately for this dentist, instead of “lifting” the photos and renaming them in the “home directory,” the cut and paste operation maintained the link to Mike’s site. So, when the Web site “retrieved” the photos, it was actually still obtaining them from Mike. Upon learning this, Mike, who is Web savvy, substituted photos of baboons in his directory. These, in turn, then ended up on the dentist’s site. This situation was quickly rectified, and apologies were exchanged. So, to quote from the old television show, Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there.”

Dr. Paul Feuerstein installed one of dentistry’s first computers in 1978. For more than 20 years, he has taught technology courses. He is a mainstay at technology sessions, including annual appearances at the Yankee Dental Congress, and he is an ADA seminar series speaker. A general practitioner in North Billerica, Mass., since 1973, Dr. Feuerstein maintains a Web site (www.computersindentistry.com) and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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