There are many moving parts to market a dental office, and dentists frequently neglect a powerful tool that they already have at their disposal. The problem is that they don’t even know it’s there or that they have control over it.
It’s a shame that this marketing tool, which often gives patients their first impression of the office, is so lost in the shuffle of business and marketing for dentists.
This tool is not the dentist’s website but the dentist’s Google Business profile. Here’s how you can leverage your Google Business Profile (also called Google My Business) to improve your online visibility and attract more new patients.
Why Should Dentists Optimize Their Google My Business Profiles?
Dentists can easily step things up when it comes to their online presence because, many times, their Google My Business listing is lacking. Let’s take a look at this one:
There are a couple of good points about this listing:
- 5.0-star rating with 7 Google reviews
- A working phone number that does direct to the office
A 5-star rating for a dentist is fantastic. We’ll get more into online reputation later. Still, the stellar rating is probably why this doctor is showing up well on Google despite not doing any of the following things that I recommend for dentists in more competitive markets than Mansfield, MO.
You can see that this doctor’s Healthgrades listing is beating out the Missouri Ozarks Community Health website, which is the only competition in the area. Google doesn’t really know who to trust in the area. It’s slim pickings as far as the search giant is concerned, but they trust Healthgrades.
If this doctor had a decent website with original content and some basic dental SEO in place, he’d almost certainly outrank everything else for a dentist search in the area.
Correct Your Name and Business Information
If you’ve got more competition, you need to stand out. You don’t do that by having YOUR NAME WRONG ON GOOGLE. Yep, “Harkey Daniel R DDS” is not Dr. Harkey’s correct name, nor is it his practice name, which is Harkey Family Dentistry.
Dr. Harkey did not create this Google Business Profile. Google did.
If your name is messed up on Google, it’s probably because a robot built your listing out of things it found lying around on the internet. This is not a good first impression for patients to have.
Most people have had the experience of trying to use an old, broken page they found on the internet. The information is almost always wrong with a disconnected phone number or broken website link.
If your name is wrong and your profile is dysfunctional, people aren’t likely to go out of their way to contact you. They’ll click on the next profile down.
You want information accurate and consistent on Google My Business and any other profiles on the internet:
- Your full name
- Your business address
- Your business phone number
- Your website address (be consistent with or without WWW)
You should have a separate profile for your dental practice as a business. This comes from Google’s recommendation for people in professional services.
This work on the internet is called citation management. We include citation management tools in Online Practice Center, and we manage business listings for our members as part of our marketing memberships.
Optimize Your Google Business Profile With More Information
Google loves information. That’s their product. If you give them more information to “sell”, they’ll leverage it to your advantage.
Look at all these blue links where they are asking me, Joe Schmo, to help this doctor complete his Google My Business listing:
Dentists should optimize their Google Business Profiles by providing more information that Google can use to send new patients to their practices.
The above blue information pieces are just some of what you can add to your profile. Not pictured are:
- Appointment scheduling links
- Building or shopping complex information (ex. Located in City Shopping Center)
- Health and safety information (ex. Staff wears masks)
- Links to your services page on your website
- Category selection for secondary categories (ex. Cosmetic Dentist)
- Links to other profiles you manage
- A description of your business
- Much more!
You can manage all of this by claiming your Google My Business profile using a Google account that you control. Don’t leave it to your marketing company alone, or you can lose access to your profile.
Select the Right Category for Your Dental Practice
Most of the time, you’ll want to use ‘Dentist’ as your primary business category, but you have to make that call on your own. If you select ‘Cosmetic Dentist’ as your primary category, don’t be surprised if you don’t show up well for general dentistry searches.
On the other hand, if you are a fee-for-service practice that does not want a lot of insurance-driven, general dentistry inquiries, then ‘Cosmetic Dentist’ may be more relevant.
If you are a specialist, select your specialty as your primary category and then select a secondary category that may help you attract more patients (ex. Periodontist as primary, Cosmetic Dentist as secondary).
Optimize Your Profile With Activity and Engagement
At Pro Impressions Marketing, we consider a dentist’s Google Business Profile a social media marketing opportunity. As such, we recommend that you post regularly to your Google My Business profile.
Didn’t know that you could post to Google My Business? We’re not surprised. Posting to Google My Business can be very effective. Businesses that regularly post photos to their Google Business Profiles profiles get better rankings.
As part of our social media marketing services, we share blog post content and other goings-on at the practice to our clients’ Google My Business profiles. Google will even remind you when your last post is stale and needs a refresher.
Google also allows users to ask you questions via your Google My Business account. They figure that, if one person asks you a question, others probably have the same question.
Engage with people who ask you questions by providing the answers.
Dr. Harkey currently has this opportunity:
You can also respond to the reviews on your Google My Business profile. Reply to positive and negative reviews [see how dentists should respond to negative reviews]. Even if the reviews are old, responding to reviews is essential. Respond to new reviews as soon as you can.
Keep Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
Keeping your online listings updated with the correct information is an ongoing struggle. Google and other search engine and business directories are always trying to do the job of keeping your profile updated for you. They do a terrible job of it most of the time.
Your struggle will usually consist of undoing the work that the robots do. They pull in old or incorrect information. Sometimes they take in spam or inaccurate information supplied by their users and take it as the “new” information, replacing the correct information.
Without ongoing optimization work, you’ll find that incorrect profiles will pop up like weeds.
Maintain a Great Rating on Google
Your online reputation is possibly the most influential factor in your online visibility. Without reputation management, you are leaving a lot to chance. Dentists need to cultivate new reviews from patients and do everything they can to avoid negative reviews.
Negative reviews will happen and are NOT the end of the world. If you handle situations that might lead to negative reviews well, they are unlikely to snowball into a trend of negative reviews that will sabotage your marketing efforts.
Use Online Practice Center to send review requests to patients and watch your Google review numbers bump up each month.
Here’s an example of the kind of text message that you can send, asking people to review you:
Consider the Future of Google My Business
In April 2019, the author of a Search Engine Land article shared an email where Google asked for input about how he would feel if Google Business Profile introduced a pay-to-play model for their service. The proposed shift seemed to offer added visibility and features for a monthly fee, not unlike Yelp’s Enhanced Listing service.
Some of the features in the screenshots of the survey were:
- Adding video to your Business Profile
- Certified background check
- Adding offers
- Google guarantee
- Verified reviews
- Featured reviews
- Removing ads from your Business Profile
- Promoting your “Book” button
The proposed fee ranges featured in the article were from $25-$60 per month.
All of those features are still in varying stages of development, and except for a tie-in to Google Ads, there is no cost to claiming and managing your profile on Google My Business.
Pro Impressions stays on top of Google developments. But, if Google were to adopt the above pay-to-play model, it would further reduce the free, organic exposure that is already dwindling in availability—and not just availability but effectiveness, too. Until that day, optimizing your Google My Business profile is one of the simplest ways that a dentist can attract more new patients.
Get Help Marketing Your Dental Practice on Google My Business
Unless you are not interested in adding more new patients to your practice, you need to regularly work on your Google My Business profile. It takes work, and you probably need help taking care of it as part of a larger marketing campaign. Start with a free audit of your Google My Business and overall citation accuracy.
I can send you a free report once I get your information. Send me an email on our Contact Us page or call (970) 672-1212 and we can have a quick chat. You’ll be on your way to cultivating new patients before you know it.