My clients and I have something in common: we tend to focus on the end goal of new patients to their practice. For a long time, this was something that organic visibility did a great job of achieving. You built a great website, filled it with great content, and Google would almost do the rest for you when it came to making the phone ring.
But over the last ten years, Google has continued to build its revenue-generating machine (hey, aren’t we all?), and the ads continued to grow in their above-the-fold dominance of the Google search engine results. This has forced us to go back to the basics of advertising, and that starts with eyeballs.
Location, Location, Location
The hottest hot spots in your town are hot because they are great AND because they’re usually not too far off the beaten path. Convenience matters. A good location does more than make it easy for people to get to your location when they need you. A good location also doubles as advertising. People drive by and see you regularly- daily- maybe even multiple times per day if you plan it right. I’m not talking about your building, although a great building location in your city certainly helps. Where are you located online?
If people have to wander too far down the page of Google’s search results, and I’m not even referring to page 2, but just going down too far on page 1 of Google’s search engine results, you’re not going to be a ‘hot spot’ on the internet.
My friend once invited me to this cool little coffee shop to meet and talk about business. The coffee was great, as was the decor and service. I could have seen myself breaking out my laptop and working there at times, but I haven’t been back since that day. I remember when I used my GPS to find the place, I put in the name of the coffee shop. I didn’t search for coffee shops in my area. I only went to it because my friend told me. That’s great for that business that my friend was willing to recommend it, but since it was tucked away in a side street of my little town, I’m probably not going to be back any time soon. I just don’t drive by that way much.
Your dental practice can’t afford to just show up when people search for your name. Nor can you subsist on the odd patient who happens to find you one time when they search for a peculiar dental-related phrase. You need to show up for both of those things. Your name is your brand. Niche services are what may just make that patient a raving fan about you. But you need to have consistent visibility for the main-street-equivalent phrases for your most important services. If you’re a general dentist, this means ‘dentist near me’. If you’re a cosmetic dentist, that means ‘cosmetic dentistry’. And yes, dominate the side streets of ‘porcelain veneers’ and ‘TMJ treatment’.
Your office needs to show up everywhere it can. In that way, it has something that your physical office never could – not unless you’re a DSO like Pacific Dental Services or Comfort Dental – a location at every major intersection. That’s where the eyeballs are. That’s where you get drive-by visibility.
Google now evaluates your business in a way that goes far beyond a set of keywords strategically placed to trigger Google’s appreciation of your website.
Organically Speaking, is SEO Worth It?
We still strive for good organic placement, but Google has almost entirely taken that out of your control. Google now evaluates your business in a way that goes far beyond a set of keywords strategically placed to trigger Google’s appreciation of your website. Now, your website is only a part of how they assess you as a local business. Google now runs a sort of background check combined with an election. They inspect you, the dentist, for quality. In addition, they use computer programs to slice and dice your online reviews, ingesting the words and sifting through them to understand whether or not you are well-liked by the people of the internet who, presumably have done business with you in some way.
They use this same language processing system to “read” your website and online profiles, including social media, and decide whether or not you know your stuff and whether or not you can be trusted. They look at your physical location, compare that to the physical location of the user, that user’s search and web history, the user’s account information and social media usage, along with hundreds of other bits and pieces of criteria, and decide whether or not to include you and, if so, in what rank, when someone has performed any search on Google.com or one of their apps. Is that search relevant to you? That’s not for you to decide anymore. Google decides that too…unless you’re advertising with them. In that case, you have some say in the matter.
So What Can I Do?
It doesn’t make sense to fixate on organic exposure and organic exposure alone anymore. Instead, you should focus on creating repeat exposure to potential patients. This means putting yourself out there across the internet. Focusing on pay per click in addition to SEO can help you pop up multiple times on page one for different keywords. You should also make sure you’re putting yourself out there on social media by posting consistently and doing ads to reach more potential patients.
The more exposure you have online, the more people will recognize your brand. Even if your dental office is located down a side street that nobody knows about, if they hear about your dental office everywhere they visit online, they will feel intrigued enough to visit. According to the rule of 20, your audience needs to be exposed to your brand at least 20 times before they pick up the phone to make an appointment. If you lack visibility across the board, it’s going to take a long time for a potential patient to call you.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re looking for a way to increase your online visibility across the board, I encourage you to check out our all-inclusive dental marketing package: the Pro Membership. The Pro Membership gives you access to the tools you need to take control of your marketing campaigns like advanced reporting and tools for reputation management, social media, and advertising analytics.
The Pro Membership is much more than that, though. We do it all. We design for you a winning website with custom copy, lightning speeds, and ongoing optimization for every device. We optimize your website for search engines and manage your social media, Google search and display ads, and online reputation. You never have to second guess if a potential patient will struggle to find your practice again. Even if you’re dental office is on a hidden side street, we’ll take care of putting arrows in your direction by managing your online exposure.
Your takeaway: Repeat exposure is the key to your online marketing. Be everywhere online, often and try not to fixate on your organic search results as much.
Does the Pro Membership sound like the perfect solution to your lack of online visibility? If so, please schedule a consultation with Pro Impressions today.
As Google and other search engines change, we must change. Google updates (which will undoubtedly be followed by other search engines) force us to look at our marketing strategies and say, “Where can we improve?” “How will this update hurt our member offices?” and “How will it help?”.
Like any other business, Google continually tries to improve its user experience. That means more analyzing user behavior, finding out what they really want, and searching for content and businesses that are relevant, reputable, an authority on the market, and near. Early this year, Google released a new “Vicinity Update” that we’ve been working hard to manage for our member offices. What does this latest Google update mean for dentists?
Google’s New Vicinity Update: How it Helps and Hurts Dentists
The Vicinity Update changed how Google qualifies dental practices that are “near” or surrounding a particular area. For example, Manhattan isn’t Queens, and Queen isn’t Staten Island. This update allows Google to be more specific according to user searches.
But that isn’t all.
We also noticed that proximity weighs more heavily on Google’s algorithm than it used to, and it may even devalue keywords in the practice name in favor of proximity. The local map pack that shows nearby businesses has zoomed in, and more businesses that were invisible before are now displayed.
The Good News
The good news for dentists is that other practices ranking simply due to a keyword in their name or ranking for locations where they don’t reside are taken major ranking hits, and local practices have moved up. That means that your main competitors on Google are those practices nearest you. Not the big insurance-driven practice 40 minutes away.
The Bad News
The bad news is that it’ll be more challenging for your practice to rank the further users are from your physical location. Google will favor dental offices that are physically closer to the user.
Even more than in the past, you have less say in where your dental practice shows up organically on Google.
Your Dental Practice’s Next Steps
With less and less control over Google organic rankings, turn your sights to something you can control: Google Advertising. Dental advertising on Google might just be the last real place where you can control whether or not your practice will show up high on Google’s rankings. We aren’t saying organic ranking and SEO are dead (they’re not), but it makes sense to concentrate your budget in an area where you know Google will show your listing—because you pay for it!
Do the constant updates and changes seem overwhelming?
Sign up for Pro Impressions Marketing’s all-inclusive membership. For one price, one budget, and no contract, we’ll get you more new patients, and you can focus on dentistry.