A very important aspect of using social media is measuring success. Most of the time dentists do not do this. Tim Healy of TNT Dental makes the very good point that true success is new patients and added income not just activity. If 137 people “like” your post but no new patients or additional income results the post was not really a success.
Word of mouth or in other words a personal referral is still the way most people find a dentist. Contrary to what some web sellers are telling us the population does not generally find a dentist with a random search.
However, even when they get a word of mouth referral most people still use the Internet to connect. That is to get your number and address.
The conclusion is that controlling your Internet presence – what shows up when you Google your name -and having a practice web site are important. Spending thousands on monthly SEO fees…not so much.
No one really knows the exact process Google (or any other search engine) uses to deliver organic results. At best they are making educated guesses based on observations. Many web companies claim to be able to give you more juice, to improve or optimize your chances of a high search engine ranking. They sell this service as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
At one time SEO for specific key words such as “dentist” may have been useful. Today in any big city it has very limited utility. The organic results for a keyword search like dentist will be less than 1/5th of the page and includes very few dentists. Instead of dentists the organic results trend to pages with much more juice than any dentist could ever acquire. Sites like Wikipedia, Yelp and the ADA.
Naomi is pretty sharp, I can tell because I agree with everything she has written 🙂
Her five questions are really five warnings about what to watch out for. Question 3 is especially significant. I find many dentists are paying web companies to produce a web page for them only to find in the fine print that they do not own the web content or the web site URL.
If the only thing your web site is designed to do is to attract new patients then people have the need to visit the site exactly one time in their entire lives.
Good web sites provide both information for potential new patients and services to support existing patients. One of the primary items patients look for on a dental website is information and help in paying for treatment. One of your main navigation buttons should be Finances and it should take the patient to a page that looks something like this:
Notice the page give insurance information, talks about Financial Arrangements and then lists credit cards the patient can use. However the most important option is CareCredit right at the top.
The CareCredit logo should be an active link that will take patients directly to the online application. You should then direct patients to this link on your website in order for them to apply for credit. You can do this over the phone, via e-mail or even sitting with the patient in the office. You should direct existing as well as new patients. Making payments easy helps your patients choose good dentistry over neglect.
Not only does having this link and then pushing patients to it provide a service it creates Google Juice. Two of the many factors Google examines in determining your page relevance, and therefore your ranking, are the number of users and the number of active links in and out of the site. Using your own site as a conduit to CareCredit helps with both those goals.
In case you missed it: This Dentalcompare article from May.
Are you net savvy? Take this quiz to determine your online footprint…
The quiz has two purposes. The first of course is to give you a score to evaluate yourself in order to determine how well you are doing and where to put future resources. The second purpose of the quiz is to demonstrate that having an online footprint does not simply mean you have a web page or an office Facebook page.
Growing your online footprint means tapping into the power of dynamic, interactive web sites, social media, e-communications, search engines, social networking and more.
We usually think of the Internet as the World Wide Web, but that is just part of it. The Internet also includes e-mail. Are you using it to communicate with patients? If you ask 66% prefer e-mail to snail mail or phone calls.
Social Media is not just Facebook it includes Google+, Twitter, YouTube and more.
If you do not control your online presence you will still have one it will just be left in the hands of others.
In addition to appointment reminders, automated reminders have many other uses. These tools allow your practice to automatically send financial reminders, process payments, secure referrals, and more. Automating these processes will save your practice time and improve efficiency.
For example, financial reminders. Calling patients about past due payments is time-consuming and can be awkward for your staff and the patient. Sending an automated payment reminder is much less confrontational and embarrassing. More significantly, it is less expensive and has been shown to be much more effective than traditional calling.
Sesame Communications’ research has shown that 50% of patients will make an online payment within 48 hours of receiving an automated reminder about a past due payment. Among the members surveyed, 66% stated that, on average, their patients paid online faster than those who paid via check.
Some of the 13 ideas overlap, like create good content, use good keyword optimization and be there for the long haul. Keywords and links are important but one enormous factor that is often missing in dental websites is traffic. The more people go to your site the more significant it is.
If your site is just for new patients people will only visit it once. Give patients a reason to visit the site often. For example, check on an appointment make a payment of fill out a form.
Adobe’s data suggests tablet use patterns make it a more likely PC replacement than the smartphone. For example, when people browse the web via a tablet, they visit 70% more web pages per visit than when they use a smartphone. This means that even though there are substantially more smartphones than tablets in the world, it is the latter that drives more website traffic.
This makes perfect sense to me. A smart phone is an amazing on the go resource but not a great web browser. On the other hand my iPad is much easier to use as a web browser. I can see fuller more robust pages and of course the larger screen is easier to see.
For dentists: make sure your web pages are optimized for phones and for tablets. There is a difference, and a smart web site can tell from what device it is being viewed and display itself accordingly.
Phone users probably want just a phone number and directions to the office. Tablet users may want more options including filling in forms.
BTW, We are using an iPad at my office for patient forms and it is working well.
There’s been a huge shift in the social media landscape. It’s no longer the duopoly that we’ve assumed it was for so long. The third big social media platform has truly arrived and it’s blown Twitter out of the water… GlobalWebIndex’s latest report on Social Media usership is the finding that Google+ has overtaken Twitter and become the world’s second most popular social network.
A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.
Google has recently implemented a redesign of their search engine results page (known as a SERP). Previously, the menu for additional search tools such as images, maps, shopping, and news was located in the far left column. These options can now be found at the top of your SERP in a horizontal row. While this might not seem like a significant change, there are some important implications for search marketing.
For organic (non-paid) search results, the primary improvement resulting from this change is that the Knowledge Graph will be expanded. This is the area in the far right column that (1) features commonly sought after information related to any search, and (2) provides a preview of websites within a search results page. Expanding this area can actually decrease clicks for information based searches (since users can find the information they’re looking for right in the search results), but searches for products or services will still likely result in clicks.
Paid search marketing can significantly benefit from the extra room in the right-hand column. Whenever a Google search indicates a high level of commercial intent, the Knowledge Graph space is immediately utilized by Product Listing Ads. These larger, picture based ads let potential customers see all the necessary information required to make a purchase. Once these ads are enabled, either through Merchant Center or Adwords, the designated products are displayed whenever a relevant search is performed.
The expansion of the Knowledge Graph is part of Google’s ongoing effort to make search engine results pages dynamic and more efficient in delivering the information users are looking for. Additionally, through Product Listing Ads, there will be both an increased revenue for Google and an even more powerful way for advertisers to reach consumers.
Start small. Youve got to walk before you can run. Start by testing small visual changes on your site. After all, sometimes the biggest conversion gains come from tweaking the smallest things. Test elements like:Button colors red vs. green, button text or link colorsPage headline variationsSales copy length: shorter vs. longerContent width usually between 480 and 600 pixelsImage placement, image type, even whether or not to have images Social Triggers has a great overview on images and conversion rates.Font families, font colors, font sizes
The vast majority of dental office web sites are fit to a template with a bit of custom graphics thrown on top then they are ignored for months or years at a time.
Most dentists (and sadly the web site designers who work with them) have no idea which features patients click on most. (It is “about the dentist”). They don’t know what features drive them away. (Flash “enter here” pages). And they have no idea how many web site visitors become patients.
However one of the great things about digital marketing is that all these things and more can be easily tracked and tested. For example some of the information shown above comes from research done by Sesame Communications.
The linked article gives some simple marketing tips and tests you may consider with your web page. Which gets more results the page with the blue background or the one with the yellow? That’s A/B testing.
Does it matter? Let’s say the blue site brings in just one more patient a month. That’s twelve a year and if each new patient generates $700 on average the blue site is $8,400 better. Good to know.
As a general rule anyone using your web page should be able to find what they are looking for in three clicks or less.
There are several vital items patients are looking for and several vital items you want them to find and use. For example you want them to find your phone and address. Patients are very interested in “about the doctor” and “about the team”.
Plus you want them to pay online and fill out forms such as medical histories online.
Make sure all of these pages and functions are three clicks or less from the home page.
Hmmm, does that mean a dentist is in violation if he/she uses the video camera to record a patient testimonial and puts it on a dental practice website?
…something very important, that the vast majority of both consumers and video professionals don’t know: ALL modern video cameras and camcorders that shoot in h.264 or mpeg2, come with a license agreement that says that you can only use that camera to shoot video for “personal use and non-commercial” purposes (go on, read your manuals).
The link below is to a dental practice marketing website. Web forums or user discussion boards can be very powerful tools to create customer involvement. However as Jonathan Fashbaugh points out in the article he sees little to suggest people would be very interested in participating in a cosmetic dentistry discussion. Maybe too personal? Or too episodic? I am not sure I believe people are very interested in hearing about the experiences of others before making major decisions, like having veneers placed.
People may not be engaged enough to participate in a general ongoing forum however I believe it is quite possible and a very powerful tool to have patient reviews or testimonials.
Is an Online Forum Right for Your Website?
Forums are successful on websites that center around topics that carry a community following.