Local Dentists & Dental Practices – Are You Being Found By Your Patients Online?
By: Patrick Whitson
"Am I being found online by my target patients?" should be a question that every dental practice needs to be asking – especially in today's economic downturn. The truth is, most experts are predicting that if you are not easily found online or even have your dentist practice online, that you may be OUT of business in the next 3-5 years.
That's a sobering thought – isn't it?
Why Your Dental Practice Needs To Have An Online Presence
Because your patients are going to Google, Yahoo and Bing to search for the treatments they need – such as "your city dental implants" or "your city cosmetic surgery". Google, of course, being the 800lb. gorilla in this marketplace. Let's take a look at a couple of hard facts:
- There are 51 million searches per month for DENTAL SERVICES
- Only 14% of those searches come from the phone book
- 39% of people who use a search engine to find a local business are looking for medical/dental services
Another way to say that, is for every one time someone opens the Yellow Pages there are 3,387 searches for local services on Google. Don't you want to be in front of that traffic? I know that you do as that would bring in more patients to your practice.
Through research and study, I have been hearing that many dental practices are on the brink of going out of business or they are struggling to get new patients in the door – consistently. This poses the question "how can your dental practice be found online ahead of your competition so that you can grab the lions share of the patients?"
Your Biggest Source For Patients Finding You
There are a plethora of ways to make sure that you are being found online. There is the social media, video, articles, search engines and directories. Utilizing all of these should be a part of your online strategy. But there is one source where your prospective patients turn to when they are searching for dental services – the search engines.
A large portion of people go to Google, Yahoo and Bing when they are searching for local services. It's quite easy to start up your browser, type in google.com and enter what you are searching for. If, for example, you were looking for a dentist in Dallas, Texas you would see that people are searching for dentist or dental services over 12,000 times per month. That's just in the Dallas area!
As you can see, the search engines are the source which people use to search for services locally, and what you want to be able to do is put your dental services in front of them when they are read for what they are seeking.
What You Need To Know To Get Your Dental Practice To The Top Of The Search Engines
Once you understand that search engines are the source of you getting new patients, you will need to implement an online strategy so your practice will be found when people search for dental services. Outlined here you will find three ways you can do that:
1) Build a website - In order to be found online you need to have a website that is the central "hub" of your dental practice. If you are a dental practice and you do not have a website, I highly recommend that you take that leap and do it now. This gives you an online presence that provides a way for your prospective patients to learn and know what you offer them (Read: What's In It For Me). Your website will also be tailored to your employees and vendors as well.
If you already have a website, then congratulations! But is it performing the way it should – meaning are your prospective clients finding you for the services they want, or are they finding your competitor.
2) Get on the map - The map? Yes, Google, Yahoo and Bing offer a local listing resource where you can add your dental practice. When people search for "your city dentist" (or a variety of other terms) and you have properly setup your local listing, your practice will show up on the map at the top. This allows you to get found for the more competitive searches such as implants, cosmetic and sedation.
The most popular of these local listings is Google Places. If you are not showing up here, you are losing out on patients every month.
Just recently, Google has changed how local listings are displayed on their search engine. Go read this in-depth article on how this is going to change local search drastically.
3) Focus on marketing - Any business, if it is to survive needs to market. It's the lifeblood and source of consistent income. Your website and local listings have to be marketed on a consistent basis – or you will not be found. And being found IS the goal. You can do this by properly optimizing your website and local listings, creating content through video, articles and other online properties that bring traffic to your website.
This gives you a quick run-down of what you will need to do to get your dentist practice to be found online and bringing in new patients within a short period of time. It's not the whole enchilada that you should be doing, but this is the foundation to get you in front of those prospective patients that want what you are offering them.
Take this information seriously as it will help you become the premiere dental practice in your area. Please leave a comment below and let us know how your online presence is coming along.
Patrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Marketing & Design.