By Daniel A. Bobrow, MBA (University of Chicago) & MBA (K.U.L. Belgium)
Success with Web-Based Dental Marketing
This is the second of three Issues devoted to success with web-based marketing. Each Issue addresses one of the three keys to success, namely:
• Effective Dental Design
• Effective Dental Marketing And
• Effective Follow Through With Website Visitors
In this Issue we tackle the second key to a successful website, namely, Attracting the visitor. Before your website can encourage patients to visit your office, they first must find your website. For this to happen, you need to position yourself so that, when people and businesses in your community are searching for dental care, it’s your website, or a page within your site, that they find.
A simple way to attract people to your website is to include your website address (URL) everywhere prospective patients will see or hear it: on stationery, business cards, external signage, your on-hold message and, of course, all conventional marketing channels such as; direct mail, TV, radio, billboards, etc. Another way to get your website noticed is via online search or search engine marketing. Online search is sub-classified into SEO (search engine optimization, also called organic search) and paid (sometimes termed pay-per-click) search. The advent of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, etc.) and online review sites have revolutionized the way consumers learn about and select a vast array of products and services, including dental care. The goal of all online search tactics is to get your website ranked high on search engine listings when the web surfer looking for dental care enters words or phrases (called keywords and key phrases) that are a match for what your website (presumably, as an accurate representation of what your practice) offers. It is also vital to ensure the ad copy, that is, the verbiage comprising your ranking on search engine results pages is compelling, and that it directs the visitor to the appropriate page on your website. If the visitor does not find what they are looking for very quickly, they’re unlikely to spend much time looking for it (at least, not on your website). This is where the art and science of effective website marketing come into play. Online search, while not new, is assuming an ever greater “local” character. It is also rapidly gaining in importance. Even analysts who work for the Yellow Pages reported way back in 2006 that individuals used the Internet 70% of the time vs. only 30% for the Yellow Pages when searching for a local service.* That percentage is now closer to 100% in favor of Internet Search.
Pay To Play?
A reasonable question to ask is: Should I employ a pay-per-click strategy and, if so, what should my investment be? Anyone is permitted to set up a pay-per-click program. However, it can be a complicated and tedious process to build, maintain and update the list of terms that reference your site. More important, if managed by anyone other than an expert, it can be unnecessarily costly, especially when the wrong terms are selected, and the price paid for the correct terms is too high. When done by a professional, high-quality patient leads are captured by purchasing ads with Google®, Yahoo®, Bing® (formerly MSN) , and perhaps other search engines. As a practical matter, most online search is performed on Google, so that’s where most paid search specialists focus. This lets you target people within the desired radius or other boundaries of your office who are searching for the dental services you offer. These are qualified prospective dental patients by virtue of the fact they have taken the time and effort to find you. Your goal with a pay-per-click campaign is to maximize qualified site visits by directing local individuals and families searching for dental care right to your practice website. When a potential patient searches for, say ‘(your city) dentist’ on a search engine, your site must show up at, or very near, the top of the SERP (search engine result page). This was always important, but never more so than now. Just ask yourself how often you click past page one of search engine results and you’ll get the idea. And you’re not only competing with your esteemed local colleagues. There are dental products, search directories, specialists, insurance companies, and more with which to contend. As many of these represent large commercial interests, they have, often on staff, professionals specifically trained in search engine marketing. The bottom line on paid web advertising is that it can be a great way to quickly get your website noticed. Even if your site already ranks high for certain search words and terms, it can also help get you ranked more highly for additional terms and phrases of relevance. The only way to know is to try it. Fortunately, there should be no lengthy commitments and you should be able to increase or reduce your monthly outlay with a single phone call or email.
Web Marketing, Take 2
(Excerpted from an interview with Bradley Epstein, Campaign Manager at 1&1 Internet). At the core of…sites qualifying for the moniker [Web 2.0) are simple, yet compelling, designs with well-chosen visuals, and…tools that let users interact with, and construct content in, unique ways. In addition to creating useful sites, the principles behind 2.0 can be used to increase organic traffic to your site, retain visitors and convert those visitors to customers, hence, Web 2.0. Incorporating a well-structured Web 2.0 design into your site will improve search rankings by both improving the informational architecture of your site (cleaner, simpler code makes your site more easily indexed)…(it)…also improves the probability that high-quality sites will link to you. A simpler, more streamlined design will make your site easier to read for engines and users as well…Now, more than ever, you can please both “search bots” and visitors by keeping Web 2.0 principles in mind when designing your site.
With limited space on a site, especially ‘above the fold’ (what a visitor sees without having to scroll down), you should aim to maximize the effectiveness of the visual communication: each graphical element should convey a message, and the textual content should be concise. The more logically organized your site is, the easier for both search bots and web visitors to find relevant information. Specifically,* a simpler 2 or 3-column, central layout structure will convey a simpler, bolder message that communicates more clearly with your visitors. The central column is the ideal place for your key message, with highly targeted and compelling text.
* Use your top header section to clearly present your site and navigation options to draw in your
visitors with a bold, opening statement on what they can find on your site.
* Keep your navigation simple: this will create a logical structure for your visitors, and translate
well into a clean sitemap, which search engines can use to index your site.
Local, Local, Local
Search engines continue to focus more of their attention on their local search directories. As noted earlier, Local Search is growing exponentially, and so is your need to be sure the search engines know the location of your practice, and the community to which it caters.
Whoever markets your website should be adding it to the local search engine maps and directories, and devote significant time and resources to ensuring that your Google My Business (GMB), also called Google Local site, is optimized. Our company had, until recently, used a list of local web directories we compiled over the past years to be sure our Health Partner (Client) sites were listed locally. We have discarded that list as we now use a resource that constantly updates its listing of local directories. We also focus heavily on optimizing our Health Partners’ GMB. The need for this is demonstrated by Google’s announcement of its commitment to help consumers locate and compare local services of all kinds. Here is an excerpt:
“Many people come to Google.com to navigate the web, but are you aware that you can use it to navigate the real world as well? Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work making it easier to find and compare local businesses and services right from the standard web results page. Here’s what we’ve come up with: Find and compare local businesses.“
This development actually dates back to 2007, and Google’s commitment to assisting consumers connect with local businesses has steadily increased. You now see the Google Local Listing every time you search for a business or other local information. “In addition to providing the basic contact information and map locations for several choices at the top of the page, we also show ratings and provide one-click access to reviews on the search results page so consumers can make more informed decisions about where they want to go.” What it means for you dear dental practice owner is this; if you are not listed in Google’s local business directory, you may not receive prominent placement at the top of its search results. To test it out, type your city, state, and service in Google and you’ll see the big map they created and are emphasizing. The businesses that are in this local list are the sudden recipients of a huge gift from Google – qualified and desirable traffic to their site. A recent article in Clickz.com cited a keynote address by the Internet media and marketing, managing director for Piper Jaffray who had some interesting points, among which are that local search was second only to e-mail in importance on the web (though, as of this writing, text messaging may well have surpassed email in relative usage). He continued that satellite mapping will (has) become an integral part of local search marketing.
Two Down, One To Go
While a nice-looking website and even high traffic are necessary, alone they still cannot guarantee success. The next key link in the success chain is what happens once the patient finds your website. But that will need to wait until our Next issue.
AIM DENTAL MARKETING
Daniel A. ‘Danny’ Bobrow,