Digital Marketing Internet

SEO or SEM? What’s the Difference?


At the most basic level SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the use of key words and other techniques to help get your website high in the “organic” results on Google. That was the big thing a few years ago when we first started to understand how the Internet and Google works. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the next step and uses paid ads PPC (Pay Per Click) and other techniques to get your site in front of potential customers.

Just like traditional marketing Internet marketing costs are determined by how large the market is and the potential return.

Dentists in a small town don’t need to spend much as they will show up on any search just because there aren’t a lot of dentists in town. All you need in a small town is a decent web site.

Dentists in a big city with thousands of dentists will need to spend big bucks to outbid the competition. In New York City a dentist is spending over $100,000 a year to stay on top. Is it worth it?

Mid-size towns of seventy-five thousand to several hundred thousand people and twenty to one hundred dentists seem to be the best fit for SEM. There are too many dentists in town for you to appear on page one by default yet the cost to get listed with SEO and SEM should be no more than $1,000 a month.

Beware of firms selling these services. I have seen and heard of dentists being taken advantage of by vendors who do not understand the dental business. Two of my favorites I am comfortable recommending are TNT Dental and Sesame Communications.

Digital Marketing Internet Management

Website “Git er done”

Your dental practice website could make or lose you tens of thousands of dollars every year. What do you need to do to “git er done” when it comes to your website?

Obviously, you need to start with a professional and creative web developer. However even the best developers cannot create a web site without your help. They need to start with the basics, your address, phone number, logo and branding. Then they need professional photos of the doctors and staff. They need biographical information of every team member. They need a description of the practice, your philosophy and your areas of expertise. They need your financial options, credit cards, financing and insurance. They could also use videos, patient testimonials, before and after photos, services provided, special technology and more.

Your practice web page will only be as good as the information you provide the developer. If you choose to use DIY (do it yourself) team photos you take on the fly between patients or amateur videos you take with a phone, then your web site will look DIY and amateur.

According to my friends at TNT Dental it is this critical step that derails most dental web sites. The doctor and team have the best of intentions but the tyranny of day to day urgencies keep them from following up in a timely fashion.

The result is endless delays in creating the site, out of date photos and information, poor key word optimization and ultimately lost patients and income.

Tim and Tim, the founders of TNT (and the source of the Ts in the company name) have a two-step plan.

First, they send a professional video and photography team to your practice to create the needed videos and images. Second, (this is the best part) They invite the doctor and key team members to a three-day, high impact, creative retreat in Dallas to generate then fine tune the details. The retreat is like a working (tax deductible) vacation. You will spend some serious time developing your site including marketing, practice building, access to exclusive data, call listening, sharing of best practices and more, combined with free time for recreation and relaxation Think golf and spa. At the end of the retreat you will have everything you need for a world class dental website.

Of course, professional video teams and creative retreats cost more than DIY. However, Tim and Tim believe the fast turn around and quality result will quickly pay off with more satisfied patients.

If you are ashamed of your website, or worse yet do not even have a practice web site it is time to “git er done” and TNT can help.


Do You Own Your Website?

Sometimes when a business contracts with a web development company to create a web page the domain is registered in the name of the web developer not the name of the business. This can be a very big deal if the web developer goes out of business or if the business owner wants to change from one vendor to another. There is an online tool called whois you can use to check to see who owns a domain name. You can access whois from Go Daddy or any domain registry site. Just type in the domain and whois will tell you who owns it.

Also be sure and check the web development agreement. It is not unusual for the developer to claim ownership or copyright to all your web content.

Sadly I have heard from a number of dentists who report trouble from the vendor when they try and change providers. In some cases they even needed to get a lawyer involved and are still having problems.

Digital Marketing Internet

Own Your Own Name

weburlIf you have not done this yet run, don’t walk, to your nearest domain registry and register your name as a web domain. My favorite registry is Go Daddy.

Type your name into the box and see if it available. If it is buy it immediately. It should cost no more than $30.00 and will likely be much less.

If you have a common name type it in and add your initial. If it is still not available add dds to the end and or dr to the beginning. For example robertjonesdds or drrobertjones. Immediately buy any that are available. For now only consider domains with the dot com suffix. There are dozens of other options like dot co or dot net but the public overwhelmingly prefers dot com.

Don’t stop with your actual name but register your practice name and any variations you can think of.

Once you own a domain it is yours for life as long as you pay the annual registration fee. You can use it yourself or sell it in the future.

Have your web site provider set up a system so that all these domains will re-direct to your primary dental office site. You are not limited to one domain but can have any number all directed to one primary site.


Digital Marketing Mobile

Dentalfone – From the Chicago Midwinter

On of the dentists at my Chicago lecture told the group that 80% of the people accessing his web pages were doing so with a mobile device.

Patients love their smartphones. Your image on mobile is everything. The battle over patients using smartphones in your office is over – the patient won.

How can you embrace the smartphone and leverage this device to your success? Dentalfone turns your patient’s smartphone into an extension of your website. It becomes a tool that you can leverage to increase patient referrals, generate more 5-Star reviews, and improve your level of service with easy to access information such as post-op instructions.

Source: Dental Marketing Companies | Web Marketing for Dentists

Dentalfone is a mobile optimized dental web page. The designers have created unique, easy to use, visually compelling web sites, like the sample shown here, designed specifically to be used with a mobile device. This is not an app that the user needs to download but it looks and acts like one.

Typically web designers have started with a web site designed to be viewed on a full size screen. That full size version is then re-configured to fit smaller tablet and mobile screens as a responsive web site.

Dentalfone takes the opposite approach and designs for mobile as the primary device. Sites can be customized to feature the items important to each office but they all have a clean contemporary look with easy to use mobile optimized navigation

Digital Marketing e-Services Internet Social Media

Google Results

When you Google some dentists by name you find a direct link to their web site at the top of the page. To the right is a big box with the address, phone number hours of operations and lots of patient testimonials.

This does not happen by accident. The big box is created by Google Business (was Google+). Reviews are generated by happy patients. But not just happy patients happy patients who have been asked to write a review.

Any dentist with a stellar online presence like the one described above created it with good planning, time and money. It is possible for a dentist or dental team member to create a positive online reputation using SEO (Search Engine Optimization), reviews and social media. However for most dentists it is much more effective and efficient to use a service such as Sesame Communications, Action Run or Lighthouse 360.

Digital Marketing Internet

Outdated Websites

According to the Smile Marketing Blog here are three items that indicate your web site is out of date:

  • Broken links: One of the biggest visitor deterrents on any website is to have “404: Page Not Found” messages and other errors all over the site. A dysfunctional dental practice website will limit the amount of visitors that actually convert into new patients. Scan your website on one of the many free online resources to identify any broken links.

  • Dated formatting: Attention spans are dwindling. Pages with huge blocks of text are going to send your visitors running. You want easy-to-scan copy that will keep readers engaged with your content.

  • Date-sensitive content: Events, promotions, holiday hours, and other content relating to past occurrences shows patients you aren’t maintaining your website. So whenever adding date-sensitive content to your site, be sure to set yourself a calendar reminder.

Look here for the rest of the article.

Outdated sites are less likely to show up on a Google search. But even worse a potential new patient will be turned off by a dated site and may decide that you are not keeping up. Your website will be seen as a reflection on your clinical skills.

For help check out my friends at TNT Dental. 

Digital Marketing Internet

Old websites never die… But they could be killing you

According to Futuredontics 64% of dental websites are over 3 years old and 32% are over 5 years old.

Older websites do not have the design, features and functionality patients expect of a modern business. For example, online bill pay, online appointment requests, and online forms are all feature patients want.

The number one feature patients value in a dentist is quality of work. But how can a patient evaluate the marginal integrity of a restoration or the cleanliness of a root surface. They can’t. What they can evaluate are the external features of a practice, including the practice web site.

Research tells us patients are making a judgment — right or wrong — about the quality of your dentistry based on your website. Ask yourself: Does your website convey that your practice is high quality, up to date, warm and friendly?

Ideally your website should be updated continually then completely modernized and redesigned every three to five years.

Need help? My favorite dental web site companies are TNT Dental and Sesame Communications.

Digital Marketing Internet

Dental Website Redesign

When did you last update your practice web site? For most dentists the answer is…I don’t know.

Do the people in the team photo actually work at the practice? Does your homepage have a whitening special from the summer of 2013?

As a general rule websites should be updated at least once a year and the best sites are updated constantly. Google (and other search engines) favor new material.

Then every two to three years you should consider a complete web makeover. Follow the link for some help from TNT.

Digital Marketing Internet

5 Must-Ask Questions for SEO

naomi-142x150From Naomi Cooper:

Question 1: Do they guarantee your website will rank number one on Google?

If they do, run the other way. A true SEO expert should clearly explain that it is impossible to make such a guarantee

via 5 Must-Ask Questions When Hiring an SEO Professional | Patient Engagement & Dental Marketing | Sesame Communications.

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.

Dental Speaker

Texas Meeting


I will be presenting a Hands On session for the Texas Meeting May 8 in San Antonio. The topic is Google and how patients use the Internet to find a dentist.

Digital Marketing Internet

Choosing a Dentist in the Age of Google

Selecting a dentist it is a very personal choice. All the research indicates a good majority – 60 to 70% – of people choose a dentist based on a referral. They are not just looking for a dentist; they are looking for a personal connection. They want a dentist they can trust, someone that their friends know and trust.

For that reason most people looking for a dentist do not simply search using a keyword like dentist. They search using a name.

If a patient gets a great referral to Dr. Steven Adams, he or she will type “Steven Adams dentist’, into the Google search box. They are searching not for a random dentist but for the phone number and address of a specific dentist.

What shows up when you type in your name is more far more significant than whether or not you show up with a generic keyword “dentist” search

Be cautious when spending on web SEO. Spend the time and money maximizing the results of a name search before worrying about keywords. The best and easiest way to get good name search results is to claim and develop your Google+ business page.

Digital Marketing Internet

New Google Rank Algorithm

google-toothThere is considerable buzz in the tech world about the new Google ranking criteria set to launch April 21. Do you need to panic? Will your website disappear from Google? Relax, the big changes aren’t really that big and should not have much effect on most dentists. Especially if you have been following our advice when it comes to dental web pages.

The first change is to add rank value to web sites that are mobile friendly. The best way to do this is to have a responsive site. That is a site that detects the device on which it is being viewed and displays itself accordingly. This has been good advice for years and now Google will be rewarding you for doing it.

The second change is to penalize sites with multiple doorways. These are pages designed explicitly to attract specific Google search terms that then direct users to another site.

For some help with the mobile site issue Forbes has a good article here.

For web site development including mobile responsive sites I like TNT Dental and Sesame.

Digital Marketing Internet

Google Doesn’t Rank Dentists 

It Ranks Websites!


Is your online information easy to find?

From Angie’s List:

According to a recent white paper published by Health Leaders Media, 8 out of 10 prospective patients will visit a hospital website before actually committing to it. With that said:

  • 5 out of 10 visit other provider websites.
  • 6 out of 10 find your website confusing.
  • 3 out of 10 dissatisfied with your website go to another provider.
  • 4 out of 10 dissatisfied are less likely to return.

via Online presence: Is your information easy to find? | Angie’s List Business Center.

The data is for hospitals and physicians, never the less I imagine it translates fairly well to dentistry.The numbers I think worth looking at are:

80% of potential new patients will look at your website. If they are unhappy with the site 30% will look elsewhere,

For website help check our Sesame.

Digital Marketing Internet

What Dental Webmasters Need to Know

…know what Internet users want – speed and ease. Ensure your website loads quickly and keep pages as close to the homepage as possible. Don’t make the users have to click more than three or four times to get to their desired destination. It’s also important to avoid publishing duplicate content.This includes copying content from another website or using the same article on your website twice.

via What Search Engines Really Want Webmasters to Know.

As a general rule I believe SEO is over hyped and has limited value for dental websites. Never the less the linked article from Dr. Leonardo has some good points regarding content and ease of use. Speed, content and ease of use are not good features simply because search bots might like them, they are good because actual people…you know…patients like them.

Remember nobody really knows the secret sauce Google uses to rank web pages. Most Google engineers do not know. The people who sell SEO services can make some good guesses but no one can guarantee you the first page of a Google search.

Most potential new patients (60% -70%) start with a referral and will search you by name. Most of your SEO efforts should be designed to optimize the site to your name or practice name not to a generic keyword like dentist.

For help check out my friends at TNT Dental.

Digital Marketing General

The first rule of web design

 Tell me where to click.

Just about every web page is designed to cause me to connect, to buy, to approve, to move to the next step. Okay, great. Where is the button to do that?

via Seth’s Blog.

Follow the link to Seth Godin’s blog for the full article with several bad examples.

More often than not dental websites fail this basic rule. The patient or potential patient has landed on your website for a specific purpose. Make it easy for them to click the right button and take the next step.

Often all the web surfer wants is a phone number or address yet many dental web pages hide the number and fail to have the address on the home page. New patient’s number one click is “about the dentist” yet this is often hard to find buried under less than descriptive buttons like “Our Team” or “About Us”.

Ask yourself the basic question (or better yet ask your patients) why has someone landed on this page? Then make the next step easy.

Dental Speaker Internet

TNT Rocks

Check out the new updated Emmott on Technology Website:

16 modified

My friends at TNT Dental did all the work. They are easy to work with and very creative.

There is an updated section for meeting planners with all my new topics including HIPAA and Google. As well as links for dentists looking for some one on one consulting help.


What to do if your web designer registers your domain in their name

whoisThis is a potential problem first pointed out to me by my friends at TNT Dental:

Your domain name is a business asset

It has value. It is as much a part of your business as the name, the logo, and the client list. You should always be in control of your domain name. Never let anyone else register it for you. If you ever decide to sell the business, the domain name is a part of the assets included with the business.

via What to do if your web designer registers your domain in their name – Massage Therapy World.

The problem arises when a dentist (or any small business owner) contracts with a web designer to create a business web page and the web company registers the domain in their name not in the name of the dentist. There are several well known web site companies in dentistry who do this routinely. The linked article explains it all well.

To find out who owns your domain you can look it up using an online data base called Whois. Just follow the link, type in your domain (that is your web site address such as and submit. Look for Registrant.

Dentalcompare Digital Marketing Internet

Does Your Dental Practice Website Have a Purpose?

building_a_website_imageIn Case you missed it: Dentalcompare from July 2013.

Do you need a dental website?

Do you need a high speed handpiece?

The folks who sell websites to dentists have focused on the marketing and advertising potential of web pages, and as such, many dentists think that is the sole purpose of a website. If you do not feel the need to market your practice then you do not feel a need to have a practice website.

However marketing to new patients is only one of three primary website purposes.

The Purpose of a Dental Practice Website

  • Promotional to generate new patients

  • Manage your online presence

  • Support your existing patients

via Emmott On Technology: Does Your Dental Practice Website Have a Purpose |

Website developers do not want to merely build you a web site they want you to buy SEO from them on an ongoing basis. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and some vendors will charge $$ thousands $$ a month for it.

SEO may help if a random surfer is looking for a generic dentist. However at this time it is questionable if SEO has any value for most dentists in a large metropolitan area.

On the other hand most new patients still start with a referral and will type your name into Google rather than a generic key word like “dentist”. That is what you need to worry about, what happens when someone types in your name.

Two items that will give you great “name” results are Google+ and a well-designed web site.

Finally what about established patients? If your site is just for new patients then everyone has a need to go there once per lifetime. Good web pages offer patient services such as online payment and forms.