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search engine

Organic search engine optimization is all about making your website appealing to search engines – and snagging new visitors in the process. With the thousands (millions?) of SEO recommendations floating across the internet, it can be tricky pinning down exactly what’s going to make a difference. That’s just one reason why it always pays off to just pay attention to what’s currently working – and do your best to imitate the approach.

Google has us all in its thrall – but we’re not entirely powerless. There are definitive steps website owners can take to stand out among the pack. And featured snippets are probably the coolest payoff for properly-optimized, high quality website content.

What’s a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is the block of text above the list of regular search results that displays a relevant excerpt from the linked page. This is technically a search result, but it takes precedence over everything else on page 1 for a few reasons. One, it actually delivers a block of information, rather than linking the searcher to the website itself. And two, it’s the first thing you see on that page of results (with the exception of ads, which are always going to rise to the top because they’re a moneymaker for Google and other search engines).

Here’s an example of a featured snippet that answers the searcher’s question about tooth decay:

example of a featured snippet for a dental website

There’s more than just a single featured snippet, here – the list of related questions all open out to show additional featured snippets, with blurbs from sites above linked URLs.

Then, there’s the first of the standard search results – a link to a private practice’s site that has an informative and easy-to-read piece on common causes of tooth decay.

Featured snippets are Google’s way of getting searchers the information they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. As the behemoth continues making choices that enforce their commitment to a higher quality internet, we can expect additional user-oriented results that prioritize searcher intent.

So How Do I Get Featured Snippets for My Practice Website?

Take a look at your website and consider whether there’s room to work on the following:

  1. Use of targeted keywords and strategic content – If you’re a dentist with a single office, you’re most interested in marketing your services to the immediate area. But plastering your site pages with variations on “Chicago dentist” keyword phrases isn’t going to yield great results – it might even get you penalized. More importantly, those searching for “Chicago dentist” are likely more interested in location and convenience than viewing site content. Instead, you can capitalize on more popular phrases that are going to lead to real (and engaged) site traffic. Consider what searchers looking for dental advice might be typing, and build content around those phrases. Building a page about the causes of tooth decay, like the dentist below the featured snippet in the graphic above, isn’t a bad place to start.
  2. Q&A pages – Because so many search queries are questions or pieces of questions, building out an FAQ or Q&A page (or, even better, multiple pages organized by topic) is a great strategy. Be sure to mark the questions as headings and the answers as paragraphs to capitalize on snippet optimization (more on that below).
  3. Appropriate formatting – Diving up pages with subheadings, lists, tables and other HTML formatting that better communicates with search engines will help them understand where to pull from and increase your likelihood of being in a featured snippet. From basic SEO optimization to snippet-specific formatting, there are plenty of opportunities for adjustments.

Where Do I Even Begin with Snippet Optimization?

Don’t get overwhelmed – get active. If you’re looking for professional help, submit your website for a free evaluation and we’ll help you decide on next steps.

graphic showing responsive design elements on laptop, tablet and mobile phone

Is your website deisgn begging for retirement?

That’s a complicated question – and one that we’re happy to help you answer. In fact, there are a series of straightforward tools you can use to start diagnosing your site’s issues and considering whether they outweigh its strengths.

Deciding on a redesign should have you considering site appearance, function and versatility – and identifying which realm (or realms) your site is lacking in.

Looking for an expert’s eye? Request a complimentary website evaluation and we’ll provide an outside opinion as to areas for improvement. Sometimes, bringing in a stranger to take a look at a site you know so well reveals hidden problems that are begging for a fix.

Common Aging Website Problems – And the Tools to Identify Them

Poor Website Load Speed

When a website takes forever to load, a few things happen. One, the site visitor gets irritated and takes off without ever engaging with your site. And two, the search engines take this as a signal that your website is low quality – and alter their rankings to reflect that.

Site speed is always going to be crucial from both a user and bot perspective. And with our increasingly all-encompassing use of the internet, it’s only going to get more important.

So: how fast is your site? And is that fast enough to satisfy 2017’s demands?

The first tool to check out is Google’s Pagespeed Insights. Some of the factors they take into account are a little finicky, but the tool will give you an overall understanding of whether your site is sluggish. Then, check that score against a Pingdom speed test. We like this tool because it’s not logged down in Google-borne biases, and also compares your sites to others that have been recently tested to give you an idea of how it’s measuring up.

Technical Errors / 404’s

Are some of your site pages dead ends? If your site is old, it’s possible that some of the images and pages are no longer up and running. There may also be issues with certain browsers or devices.

In order to see exactly where users are hitting 404 errors, set up your website with Google Search Console. It’s easy to configure and will give you specific listings of which pages are throwing errors. All you need to set it up is access to your website’s registration account or the site files – here are some quick instructions.

Difficulty Navigating Website

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own website, there’s a bigger problem at hand. You want visitors, especially new ones who have no experience with your business, to be able to quickly arrive at their desired piece of information. But bulky (or overly minimal) menus get in the way, as do pop-ups and other distractions.

We wrote a post about site navigation last month – check it out for some specific pointers.

Non-Mobile Responsive Design

This is an absolutely huge consideration – especially in today’s SEO landscape. Simply put, if your website isn’t responsive, it’s not going to rank. What does it mean to be responsive? All elements on your website should resize and realign based on the screen size and device that it’s being viewed on. This allows for the best possible user experience – and less zooming, reloading, and frustrated abandonment of the site.

Google has another tool that allows for easy peasy evaluation of responsiveness – try out the Mobile-Friendly Test.

Outdated Design

This takes a bit of subjectivity – there’s no simple test you can run your site through to get a thumbs up or thumbs down on how current it looks, unfortunately. But what you can do is try to take an objective look at your home page. Compare it to other websites that you frequent on a regular basis – does it look like it was built in the same era?

Design trends change extremely quickly, and it doesn’t take long for a site to start looking like it was built years ago. That’s one reason why avoiding trendy design tactics and sticking to something tried-and-true can be a good approach, especially if you don’t want to keep having to invest in new designs.

Looking for help coming to a redesign decision? Just get in touch!

Dental Website Design | Website Design for Dentists | Dental Web Design Tips

man confused in front of his laptop

A website should make all the work simple for its visitors. But all too often, you wind up on a site that’s nothing short of baffling. As a site visitor, you’re not just confused – you’re frustrated. Because you didn’t sign up for a digital puzzle, you just wanted to get the phone number for your local Thai restaurant. But this site is taking you further away from that information, instead of delivering it to you.

The last thing you want as a small business owner is for your website visitors to fall into this trap. Attention spans are decreasing all the time. If a visitor doesn’t find what they’re looking for right away, they don’t work harder to get to that information – instead, they just navigate away and look for another provider.

Of course, there are many different ways to make sure your site design speaks to visitors’ needs. But today, we’re talking about the most basic place you can possibly start: site navigation. While every website has some kind of navigation, countless sites make big mistakes. And this isn’t just bad for the user, but it’s also sending a perplexing message to search engines trying to index your site.

Check out some of the most important tenets of site navigation below – and get in touch for an analysis as to whether your site is falling into organizational traps.

Don’t Get Too Experimental

With mobile site designs becoming increasingly crucial – and often more important than desktop – there are all kind of tricks popping up for displaying mobile menus. But you should never journey too far from the standard menu signifiers. After all, you need your visitors to understand what the symbols on their screen are telling them.

Whether on desktop or mobile, keep the menu in the standard position – if you hide it all in the footer or have it difficult to access, it’s going to irritate more than a few visitors.

  • What to try – If you’re using the now-standard three horizontal lines as a menu marker, consider adding text like “Menu” next to it for visitors who might not be as familiar with mobile navigational shortcuts. This is especially valuable if you tend to have older clientele.

Use Descriptive Labels That Make Sense to Visitors

When planning out your menu, look at your website content from the perspective of an outsider with no knowledge of your practice. What would they be most interested in? Which page is going to be the most helpful in giving them the information they’re looking for? Make the heavy-hitters the highlights of the menu – for a dental practice, this is usually tabs like “New Patient Information,” “Testimonials,” “Contact Us,” and “Our Services.”

  • What to try – Specific is usually better – vague labels that group together a variety of pages could confuse visitors not familiar with your services.

Limit the Number of Items in Your Menu

Don’t overwhelm a new visitor. Not only do fewer links increase the likelihood of a visitor finding what they’re looking for, our short-term memories literally can’t handle too much at a time. Research suggests that the human brain can keep seven items in mind at once (plus or minus two). So try to limit your menu to seven or fewer items. If you’re stuck with a ton of absolutely necessary items, you can always split them up into groups.

  • What to try – If you’re struggling to limit the menu items in your main navigation, have a friend or family member take a look and pinpoint what they’d be most likely to click or find useful.

Order Your Menu With Priorities in Mind

Items in the middle of lists tend to get lost in the shuffle. Those at the beginning and end are most effective, because the viewer’s attention is strongest. They’re also more likely to retain these items’ names.

  • What to try – Most menus put the primary page as a link at the very top/beginning of the menu. Since many visitors enter the website through the home page, this gives them a simple way to find it again without a lot of back button clicking. The last item is ideally your contact form and information.

Looking for some expert guidance with your website organization? Reach out today for a complimentary site analysis.

Dental Website Design | Dental Website Navigation | Design Tips for Dental Websites

ssl and site security for dentistsWith data protection and online privacy continuing to play a role in world news and U.S. politics, more and more small businesses are looking at site encryption. But when you’ve already been running a WordPress site without an SSL certificate, how do you switch over without missteps?

As with many WordPress updates, there are going to be some hiccups along the way. But that doesn’t mean you should skip SSL. Getting your site more secure is an important step for any business – and https:// may even become a ranking factor for search engines in the future (Google’s hinted at this for years and now marks non-https sites that collect sensitive information as “Unsafe” in Google Chrome). And human visitors appreciate https, too – browsers show an indication of site security in the left hand corner of the URL address bar, and getting a green lock is always preferable to a grey or red one.

Installing an SSL Certificate on Your WordPress Site

At Doctor Web Solution, we host all our clients’ sites on WP Engine. This server is WordPress-specific and already makes a big difference in improving site security by blocking unsafe plugins and automatically updating WordPress versions – we haven’t had a single hack since we made the migration to this server. And adding SSL certificates helps keep WP Engine websites as secure as possible – a top priority for any hosting provider.

With WP Engine, adding an SSL certificate is free and relatively simple. As of October 2016, SSL certificates are free to add through Let’s Encrypt and available to all WP Engine installs. You simply add a certificate to each of your installations and then configure the settings. If you have any issues with redirect loops or broken plugins, open up their chat support for help.

When updating our sites, the most common obstacle we ran into was issues with older slider plugins not being SSL-compatible. This was usually because they continued serving http:// versions of photos over https:// – rendering the images broken. If you’re looking for plugin alternatives, shoot a us a quick note and we can discuss more about updating your current theme.

WordPress Plugins for Easy SSL Migration

Now that you have your certificates set up, it’s time to make sure that your site is serving content properly. What does this mean? Now that you’re serving visitors pages over https://, you need to make sure that images, iframes and other elements within those pages are also being served over https://. This usually means updating the html – and you don’t have to go through and do this by hand. Plugins like SSL Insecure Content Fixer help you identify and fix insecure html so that you don’t get the dreaded broken lock on your browser address bar.

How to Update Your Analytics & Tracking

Now that you’re serving traffic over https://, your Search Console and Google Analytics tracking should follow suit (if you’re not tracking traffic and conversions via Google tools, just send us a quick email and we can help you get set up). Updating these settings will ensure you’re still correctly recording traffic and not missing out on https:// activity.

Complete these steps in Search Console:

  • Click Add a Property (from main Search Console dashboard) -> choose Website -> enter the https variant of URL. Example: https://mysite.com
  • Choose the appropriate verification method (whatever is simplest for you to complete – if you already have the http:// version verified, this also may not be necessary)
  • Check your Search Console messages and complete setup for the new variant.

Next, complete these steps in Google Analytics:

  • Update the preferred versions. Admin -> Property Settings (under the Property column) -> Set Default URL to https version.
  • Update the search console settings. Admin -> Property Settings -> Scroll down to “Adjust Search Console”. Click “edit” next to the associated URL. Select the appropriate site with https prefix.

And with that, you’re on your way to a more secure website & happier site visitors.

SSL for WordPress | WordPress SSL Installation | WP Engine SSL for WordPress

Business woman sending email marketingHow do you get patients back in your office for their next exam? More importantly, how do you show them available treatments that they might be interested in trying? Selling to your patients is a delicate business, and your staff has an in-office approach that informs and educates them. But backing that up with digital efforts is never a bad idea.

If your practice has never tried email marketing, now is the time to start. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide below – and if you’re looking for expert guidance, just get in touch to discuss your practice’s needs. There are many approaches to take when emailing your patient list – make sure yours is effective.

Ask Yourself: Why Am I Sending Email Campaigns?

Never email just for the sake of emailing. Make sure that there’s a clear message you’re sharing with your email list – and that each email has something unique to offer. The last thing you want is to be written off as a spammer or damage your reputation with your patients. It’s a great idea to do a little thinking and planning before you initiate your first campaign. Identify your goals, and plan out each email so that they build interest in the service you’re promoting.

Kissmetrics has a great article on planning your email marketing mindset – check it out for more detailed guidance.

Protecting Against Spam Complaints

When someone receives an email, they have to be given the option to unsubscribe. Their email server also gives them the option to report the message as spam. If you get too many spam complaints, your email marketing platform could forbid you from sending to that list any longer. This screws up your campaigns and can lead to larger problems with your email marketing.

There are a few ways to make sure you’re only emailing people who are interested in receiving messages from your business. One, you can use an opt-in form. This is a form on your website or in your office that asks for the user’s information. It should have a clear message about the types of emails they will receive, and how often. This helps establish appropriate expectations from the start.

If you use an existing client list that you import into your email platform, you can follow up your first email with an extra opt-in email. This will also help ensure that your messages end up in the primary inbox, as opposed to Gmail’s Promotions tab or the spam folder.

Writing Great Subject Lines

Countless emails languish away in inboxes without ever being opened. Many recipients will delete your email without opening it, or just leave the messages and not interact with them in any way. How do you combat this? With a killer subject line.

There are so many different directions you can go with your email subject. Overall, remember that you’re trying to convince recipients to open the email. You can take any of these approaches:

  • Appeal to their curiosity (“Our patients can’t believe what a difference this one treatment makes”)
  • Tantalize them with a special offer
  • Get personal by using merge fields to automatically add the recipient’s first name to the subject, and make it clear why the email is something they might be interested in
  • Inform them with a practice update or educational tidbit

…and so many more.

Great Starter Campaigns for Dental Practices

These campaigns increase in difficulty – if you’re looking for help implementing one, let us know.

  • Easy Event Announcement – Hoping to get signups for an open house or other practice event? Build a quick form and registration page on your website, then build an email around a prominent link to that page. This way, you can make the event known to your full email database and have your site handle the registrations, saving time for your staff. This is easy to implement because it’s just a single campaign sent to your entire list. You may also want to set up event reminders for those who have registered once the event draws nearer.
  • Automated Follow-Ups – Set up your website’s contact forms so that new leads receive quick responses with more information about how and why to schedule an appointment or consultation. This usually isn’t too difficult – you need to integrate your website forms and your email service. WordPress’ Gravity Forms has a built-in MailChimp integration to make this simple.
  • Effective Appointment Reminders – This email marketing tactic is a little trickier because you will need to integrate your scheduling system and your email platform. Depending on the services you’re using, a third-party service might be necessary. But once you get automated appointment reminders up and running, you’ll see a drop in no-shows and more time for your staff to spend on something other than daily emails.

Looking for guidance for your email campaigns? Get in touch today!

Email Marketing for Dentists | Dental Email Marketing | Email Marketing Tips for Dentists

graphic of targeted dental lead in group of prospectsFeel like your ads are adrift in a digital sea, no lifeboat in sight? Let’s make sure they’re getting found by the people you’re hoping to target in the first place. Google AdWords is changing all the time, and offering up more and more options for small businesses looking to build detailed audiences for their ads. Between location, language, income, general interests, and so much more, there’s a way to target the leads you want, not just hope your ad comes up in front of someone likely to click through.

Below, we’ve put together a quick guide for dentists hoping to up their pay-per-click game. Whether you’re advertising on Google, Facebook, the Display Network, or somewhere else, take another look at your ads and see where improvements might be possible. Feeling a little lost in the great PPC advertising ocean? We’re here to help – reach out today to learn more about what we could offer your ad efforts.

Setting Up Detailed Targeting For Your PPC Ads

Google AdWords and Facebook are the most popular advertising networks for healthcare professionals. We’ve broken down simple ways to adjust ad settings for each one – Google instructions are below, and check back in a couple weeks for Facebook guidance. The two interfaces work very differently – if you need help setting up your initial account, check out this AdWords guide and this Facebook guide.

AdWords Ad Targeting Settings

From within the All Campaigns view, click the Settings tab. In this view, you can see the broader settings for all of your ad campaigns. This is useful if you’re making larger changes that will affect all campaigns. You can check this view to see how all your campaigns are currently set in terms of

  • Daily budget
  • Language
  • Location targeting
  • Networks ads are currently running on (Google Search, Display Network, Youtube, etc).
  • Schedule
  • Bid strategy

If you’re trying to make changes in this view and getting confused, click through to the campaign you’d like to adjust. Some settings, like Budget, can be adjusted in this global view, but most need to be edited within the Settings tab for a particular campaign.

Once you’ve clicked through to a campaign, you can get really granular. This is where you’re able to set targeting by income and interests – explore these options when setting your location targeting. Click through each of the Locations, Ad Schedule, and Devices tabs at the top of the Settings window to access all your options. This is also where you’ll set a tracking template to add parameters to URLs and use a call tracking system or other advanced tracking options.

How to Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords can seem a little complicated. How is it that you’re setting a group of terms that you don’t want your ads to come up for? Well, it all comes down to similar phrases that don’t actually apply to your services. For example, if you provide porcelain Lumineers, you don’t want to come up for searches for “Lumineers band,” where searchers are actually looking for the popular music group. This is also a great way to disqualify leads before they make it to your website, such as those looking for “free dental work.”

It’s easier to set negative keywords once you’ve been running ads for a month or two. You can check the keywords by clicking the Keywords tab in the main menu, and clicking Keywords again in the sub-menu (you’ll notice that Negative Keywords is right next to it – we’ll get to that in a second.

Here, you can browse the keyword phrases that have triggered your ads. By checking the number of clicks against conversions, and using some common sense, you can figure out which keywords aren’t a good match for your practice.

Once you have a list ready, click through to the Negative Keywords menu and add the keywords. You can do this at the ad group level or campaign level, depending on how specific your keywords and ad groups are.

Ready to implement these tips but not sure where to begin? Get in touch for expert PPC guidance!

Dental Search Advertising | PPC Management for Dentists | Dental PPC Ads

danger box illustrating mobile pop up penalty from Google

With 2016 reigning large as the year of indecipherable algorithm updates, it was almost refreshing to hear about its clearly delineated “intrusive interstitials” penalty. In August of 2016, Google announced that it would begin rolling this out in early 2017. The guidelines were fairly clear (at least at first glance) – mobile site designs with obnoxious pop-ups or overlays that interfered with the user experience would experience penalties.

Now that we’re past the update rollout, we’re left wondering: what happened, exactly? The uncertainty comes from the lack of penalties faced by even sites with problematic pop-ups. Webmasters are reporting little to no impact on rankings, no matter the state of their interstitials. So is it time to learn back and relax? Not quite.

As always with SEO, we want to be proactive. Learning more about what kind of design practices Google is trying to dissuade (and why they’re cracking down on pop-ups) is a perfect intermediary activity while we wait for the full effects to take hold. Read on for what this could mean for your dental website.

What Google Does – And Doesn’t – Want You to Serve Your Website Visitors

Pop-ups are useful for many different reasons – announcing flash sales or other ecommerce opportunities, presenting visitors with a newsletter or eBook signup, or providing livechat support. But the ways in which each website provides this content can vary wildly. There’s an unbelievable difference behind a respectful pop-up that can be easily closed, and one that blocks out all navigation and refuses to budge until you’ve promised it your firstborn child.

This is doubly true on mobile. The screen you’re working with is a small one – there’s just not enough real estate there to allow for both pop-ups and navigability. This is why Google is taking this newest step in their battle to make the internet a higher-quality, user-driven experience. As the ruler of all we do (lest we make a misstep and be banished to the long-distance rankings tier), Google is working harder and harder to make websites more friendly. If the user is irritated, Google isn’t going to look fondly on that domain.

The intrusive interstitials rule doesn’t outlaw pop-ups entirely – rather, it dictates their size and their annoyingness factor. Take a look at the graphic below to see Google’s official statement on the update:

In short, as long as the pop-ups don’t detract from navigation or cover the content which the user is hoping to access, they’re ok. We’ve seen live chat providers change chat boxes from mid-screen and floating to a small ribbon at the bottom of the mobile browser.

Why Do Dental Websites Benefit from Pop-Ups?

Wondering why any healthcare professionals like yourself would be using pop-ups? In truth, live chat feature are becoming more and more popular on medical websites. This is a great way to capture leads who aren’t quite ready to fill out a contact form, but are interested in learning more about your practice. Many chat providers are fairly inexpensive and will provide basic information to the user before forwarding their inquiry and information to your front desk.

More competitive practices like med spas and cosmetic dentists can also make good use of pop-ups to provide newsletter access. Lock visitors into your email campaigns, and you have a much higher chance of re-engagement (and future business) down the road.

Whether your site design currently makes use of interstitials or not, the pros and cons are plenty. Overall, pop-ups can be a useful tool for engaging site visitors at the beginning of the buyer’s journey – just make sure those pop-ups don’t annoy them along the way.

Looking for help with your site design? Worrying that your website interface isn’t pulling in leads the way it should? Reach out today for a complimentary website evaluation. We’d love to help you move forward & take your practice to the next level!

holiday gift card showing marketing options for dentistsDuring the holiday seasons, your opportunities for online marketing explode. But you need to plan ahead to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s not too late for a boost to December business – follow our tips below to get some new patients into the office before the new year. The best part? This won’t take a ton of effort on your office’s part – just make sure to set aside a little time this week and you’ll see the results come January 1!

Easy Holiday Dental Marketing

  • Try out holiday specials – Some of the most popular specials tend to revolve around whitening or new patient exams – and you can stay along these lines. Just make sure to tie in the season to your offerings. December has plenty of opportunities for gift purchasing (and receiving), and January 1 brings a new year and resolutions for self-improvement. Patients hoping to give their health a little more attention or to brighten or straighten their smiles will be very responsive to special pricing. You don’t have to promise enormous discounts, but make sure to promote your specials as if they’re the best ones available and patients will respond in kind. Use social media to connect with your current followers; tag any relevant brands and hashtag treatments to grow your reach.
  • Don’t forget to update your hours online – This might not seem super important, but prospective (and current) patients take note. The holidays bring special closures that aren’t consistent with your typical hours. If a patient is trying to reach you, they’ll appreciate seeing that you’re closed as soon as they pull up your listing on Google. Not sure how to change your hours? Google My Business is one of the easiest (and most important) places to make an adjustment – follow their instructions for setting special hours and you’ll be all set. Including some kind of note on the contact page of your website is also a good idea – ask your web developer for help.
  • Offer giftable treatment options or packages – Like we mentioned, December brings droves of frantic searchers looking for the perfect gift. Why shouldn’t that gift be of the dental variety? Packages for teeth whitening, Botox or dermal fillers, or other cosmetic treatments are incredibly appealing and offer a special opportunity for buyers to go above and beyond in their gift-giving. Bundle units of Botox or whitening + Botox for smile and skin-boosting opportunities.
  • Tweak your PPC wording to fit the season – One positive of PPC advertising is that it’s always out there doing its job, with or without your input. But this makes it all too easy to forget to update your ad text. Whether or not you’re offering holiday specials, frame services with the time of the year in mind. This will help your ad listings stand out, even among a sea of local options. It’s always better to be specific, no matter what you’re marketing.
  • Use the new year wisely – Now is the time to get patients in the office. The start of a new year is a unique time when we’re all taking a look back at what we accomplished in the prior 12 months. Send out appointment reminders to patients who haven’t made it in since early 2016, or didn’t make it in at all. Now’s the period when they’ll be especially motivated to make positive changes to their lives – and they may have resolutions to get their teeth cleaner and healthier moving forward.

Holiday Marketing Help for Dental Practices

Looking for a little assistance fine-tuning your practice as we head into 2017? We’d love to be a part of your marketing team – just get in touch for details on how we could power up your online presence.

Holiday Dental Marketing | Dental Marketing During the Holidays | Dental Marketing Tips

taking a photo with a smartphone to create content for dental marketingPromoting your practice can be as easy as pulling out your smartphone!

How’s your practice’s social media presence? Do you post on a regular schedule, or just when you remember to, or have you lost the password to your Facebook account? No matter your current approach, there’s probably room to improve your patient engagement. Social media might seem frivolous, but it’s become a driving force for small businesses. Many patients actually ask questions and even schedule appointments via Facebook – if they can find your office’s page. But how do you make sure you’re out in front of current and prospective patients?

Don’t get overwhelmed by the social media machine. The practices with the most engaged followings are the ones posting personalized photos and other content that relates to the individuals connected to the office – both staff and patients. While an educational, eye-catching infographic or a goofy comic can go a long way, patients want to feel a connection to your practice’s community. And that means thinking about online content during the workday.

This doesn’t have to be tedious or time-consuming. By putting some steps in place, getting valuable photos, blurbs, testimonials, and other social media (and website) gold will feel second nature.

 Capturing Your Office’s Personality in the Digital Realm

  • Make posting simple – First off, you need to make sure that it’s easy to connect with your social platforms. Make sure the staff member responsible for gathering content has the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps on their phone. For Facebook, they can be added as a user to your business page, and then post while logged into their own personal account. For Twitter, it’s simple to add multiple users if they already have a private account, and switch between the two – Instagram is the same. This will all make it easy to upload photos and videos, since everything will be ready ahead of time – there’s no reason not to share!
  • Take before and after photos – Have a release form on hand that patients can quickly sign after completing cosmetic or restorative work. Snap a picture before they get started, and one after treatment is complete. Then, upload both photos in a single post or tweet so that visitors can see your beautiful work. These are also crucial for your website – after posting, forward them to your website manager and ask that they add to the Smile Gallery page.
  • Capture fun moments – Is it a staff member’s birthday? Is there a puppy stopping by the office? Satisfied patient sent flowers or a thank you note? Take a quick photo and share online. Your audience will appreciate seeing the human side of your business, and these types of posts receive far more engagement (likes, shares, and comments) than others.
  • List events – If there’s something special coming up, make sure everyone knows. It’s always good to be on a patient’s mind and appearing in their social feeds. Plus, this helps pull in RSVP’s for open houses or sign ups for specials.
  • Ask happy patients to be in brief videos – When a patient has loved their experience at your office, they’re usually thrilled to be a voice for your practice. Ask patients if they’re interested in being in a quick video testimonial. Have some questions ready ahead of time so that they have necessary guidance.

If you’re ever looking for help with your social media, we’re here to offer expert tips. Just get in touch!

Dental Marketing Guide | Dental Marketing Tips | Dental Content Marketing

html code on a computer monitor begin evaluated for SEO analysisDon’t get bogged down in code – here’s what the symbols within are saying about your SEO

How strong is your website? There are so many ways to go about answering that question, so the process can feel understandably weighty. What is “strength” when it comes to a website, anyway? And where do you get started with the evaluation process? The answers to your website’s strength might seem hidden away, but there are free tools and expert tips that you can try on your own before deciding on next steps.

We’ve compiled some of the most valuable below to help you along the way. These will determine how effectively your website appeals to both search engines and users, the two audiences that determine your online success. Once you’re paying attention to both fronts, your site is firing on all cylinders. But in order to get there, you’ll need to perform a thorough analysis first.

 Evaluate Your Practice Website With These Helpful Tools

  • Pull up your page source – The page source, accessible in most browers by right-clicking anywhere on a web page and clicking “View Page Source” from the menu that pops up, has a lot to say. Don’t get overwhelmed by the code that comes up – instead, use “Control+F” or “Command+F” to look for a few phrases. You should check on your h1, h2, meta title, and meta description. Each web page should have a single h1 and a single h2 – both are big signals to search engines on the content of the page. If you have multiple h1s or h2s, that message could become muddled. Your meta title and meta description tell search engines how to display listings that link to that page, and the title plays a particularly important role in classifying your site’s content. All of these entities should be well-written and contain phrases that properly identify your business.
  • Search for your own practice – Perform a Google search for your practice. What results come up? How is your site listed, in terms of both its title and description? It’s also wise to take a look at how your search listings are structured. The metadata on your practice’s website pages communicates with search engines and tells them how to portray the business, and the specific page. A properly optimized site will inform users and appeal to their interests with each section of the listing:

list detailing parts of a search engine listing

  • Check online directories – Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Bing Maps are the heavy hitters. And Google accounts for anywhere from 67%-90% of search traffic, so that should always be your top priority. Try pulling up your business on local listings directories like these, and you can see how it looks and what needs to be fixed. The location of your practice plays a big role in convincing new patients to convert, so these maps listings are crucial.
  • Take an objective look at your content – Most prospective patients are going to read your website (or at least 1 page of your website) before calling or clicking to contact you. If your site has copied text (if you’re not sure, you can check its originality with a free plagiarism tool), it’s not going to rank as well, and users aren’t going to get a feel for what makes your practice unique. Make sure your content reflects your practice’s mission statement! Photos and videos are also extremely important to have on each page – these improve page quality in search engines’ eyes and also provide visitors with strong visuals.
  • Perform a mobile-friendly test – Analyze your URL to see whether your website is responsive. This will not only win over users, but now leads to serious rankings consequences for those who do not comply.
  • Steal your competitors’ secrets – Their online secrets, that is! Tools like SEMrush will allow you to check on what other dentists in your area are doing on their websites, and where they’re building links. You can also check on their rankings vs. your own for key local phrases.
  • Check page speed – Another free tool for site managers, Google’s Pagespeed Insights will tell you what you might be doing wrong and whether your site is running too slowly. Site speed is imperative for a positive user experience and high rankings alike.
  • Check for broken links – We recommend setting up a Search Console account with Google to do so, but this is only possible if you have access to your website files. You can easily check for 404s, 403s, and other link issues under Crawl → Crawl Errors. If you don’t have access, use a free tool to crawl your site and find any problems that need fixing.
  • Consider your online reputation – Which review sites show up, and where they are in the  rankings? How positive are your online reviews? Making sure these profiles are strong is essential in building a presence that will have prospective patients feeling comfortable and trusting in your services.

Need help performing your analysis, or implementing any improvements? We’re here – just request a free website evaluation for a detailed rundown of where to get started.

 Dental SEO | Digital Dental Marketing | SEO for Dental Websites
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