Let’s start off by defining “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” because there are a lot of companies, marketers, and others selling dentists on these jargon type terms that have been watered down over the years.
SEO is just a tool. You can optimize anything online these days and some are beneficial, while others are a waste of time and money. You can optimize a website, a photo, a directory site, a google review, a video on Youtube, or your social media pages. Optimization is the hammer in your tool belt, but you should only be hitting nails with it, not screws! Let me explain… 🙂
Google is somewhat of an enigma. We all know they’re around to help dental practices like yours get found. But very few doctors know how to get them to do it.
Even if you start to crack the code and your site climbs to Page 2 or even the sought-after Page 1, don’t expect to stay there.
See, Google’s algorithm – that hunk of code that tells them how to rank your practice name (not your website) and its relevance to people – changes dozens, if not hundreds of times PER DAY. They are constantly updating and changing that code so that they can provide the best service to their clients (users).
In that spirit, we wanted to let you know that, if you think you have Google marketing figured out, odds are you don’t. In fact, the whole focus and shape of search engine rankings have shifted over the last several years. That’s why I pay top dollar for the best engineers to come work for me, so we can have a cutting edge “Google relevance” for our clients because their results always come first.
So, let’s hit some of the basics. What follows is not designed to be an all-encompassing list by any means; rather something to help you understand the basic landscape of modern Search Engine Optimization (“SEO” for short).
And through it all keep this in mind: while Google’s algorithm may be a mystery, their philosophy behind it is not. They want to provide searchers with the most RELEVANT results to what they’re looking for.
Knowing that, let’s dive in.
“OLD SCHOOL” SEO
Go back 10 years or so, SEO meant taking efforts to try and get your full website URL (www.YourSite.com) to show up as high as possible in search engines like Google.
There were a variety of methods to do this, but they mostly fell under two categories.
“On-page” SEO basically meant making the copy (words) and images on your site as relevant to a searcher’s query as possible. For instance, Google would assume that if a user searched for a keyword like “implant dentist in Boise Idaho”, and the words on your site had the most mentions of that phrase, that you were the most relevant choice and should be listed at the top of the heap. Believe it or not, there are some VERY well known and popular website companies still practicing this methodology, most likely out of laziness, development cost and the expense of messing up their “templated” websites. They tell you that they’re ‘working on the backend”, which is code for burning your hard earned money.
Now, add in “Off-page” SEO, which basically means other sites websites linking to yours. It’s the theory of social proof – if other people say you’re good at something, you’re more likely to believe it. Ergo, if lots of other websites are linking to yours, Google assumed your site was highly relevant and would, therefore, rank you higher.
Both On-page and Off-page SEO were considered important and contributed to high rankings.
However, times changed. Webmasters figured out how to game the system by stuffing their sites full of keywords to appear most relevant to Google’s algorithm. But it came at the expense of readability for humans.
So on-page SEO, at least that era’s version of it, became less important and was given less weight in the algorithm.
The other major change that was happening at that time was the massive rise of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. were taking over and that’s where people started spending their time and interacting with others. I mean, there’s a reason why Google bought YouTube AND why it became YouTube the second largest search destination on the web.
So, SEO was no longer just about what websites were linking to yours and how many keywords you can “stuff” into the backend of your website or on the webpages. Instead, it became a conversation – who was talking about you on Google, and how important were those people in their own circles?
Think of it as a high school popularity contest. If the cool kids are talking about you, everyone else will start to think you’re important, right? If your practice is connected with people online and people are talking about you and saying good things, Google assumes you’re important. That is why having a consistent brand, and NAP (name, address, phone number) on as many directory sites (100’s to be exact) is critical to visibility. Notice how I didn’t say your website? You’ll catch onto the theme throughout this post 🙂
In the meantime, Google started to realize that when their users typed in a search query, they didn’t want to have to dig through entire websites for their answers. Attention spans were growing shorter, and users wanted their answers NOW. You have less than 7 seconds to impress a patient online and it DOES NOT involve your website, but merely how you look on Google.
So, Google started listing pages within websites…not just the main site address. At the same time, “4-packs” and “6-packs” started appearing in search results in the Google maps sections, which featured reviews and a better mobile device experience. I’m sure you’ve seen these – it’s the listing of businesses right at the top of the search with a map, usually 3 businesses that Google features…all listed right there in the Google search results page.
Guess what is NOT in this “3 pack”? YOUR WEBSITE! Google wants unbiased information to its local searchers (your prospective patients) and your website is written by you, so they know it’s opinionated and biased!
Both Google and its users are instrumental in the changes in search engine results, the thinking behind it and the resulting algorithm. As times and tactics change, so will Google. Google wants to promote your practice but you have to “look the part” not just have SEO on your website. That won’t get the job done.
And if I can be honest with you, it’s not your job to stay on top of these changes. You’re a doctor and a business owner first and foremost. Your job is to help people with their teeth, their health and keep your practice’s doors open and thriving.
I would strongly recommend outsourcing this essential part of your business to someone who makes it their MAIN job to stay on top of these changes and please don’t hire a “web company” or “web guy”, hire someone that ONLY works with dentists and understands the local search aspect of Google and dental marketing. I hear horror stories from doctors who “got burned” by a web company only to find out they were using outdated “old school” SEO on their website and THAT WAS IT! Whether you work with us here at Local Search For Dentists® or someone else, take the load off your shoulders and give it to an expert so you can focus on what’s more important. Because times have changed….
The Modern “Word Of Mouth” Referral Has Moved From Offline to Online!
Trust me… you are 100% losing referrals, production, market share and PROFIT (pure cash flow) to other doctors down the street who have their “Google House” in order, with loads of FRESH AND CURRENT Google reviews, videos of their best patients bragging about them, blogs, photo websites and other online reputation marketing that they’ve been doing for over 10 years, while you might be relying on “outdated” marketing methods, like a “website” (which is just a glorified brochure in this day and age), word of mouth, playing on Facebook, or worse yet, you’re doing NOTHING to attract referrals and new patients.
Please allow me to explain, let’s say Kelly, a great patient of yours refers you to Suzy down the street because she just moved into the neighborhood. Does Suzy ever call to book an appointment? Maybe, maybe not. Data from Comscore tells us that 93% of the time she is going to Google you and your business. If she goes on Google and sees that you’re branded as the best dentist in town, using the tools I referenced above, then she’s going to call. There is instant trust. I was just talking about this with Dr. Nathan Ho, who is a tremendously successful dentist in the Dallas area and influencer in the industry to over 6,000 dentists on his podcast, called Dental Win-Win. He consistently gets large cashing paying cases because the patients already come in trusting him because his “google house” is 100% in order. In the modern era we live in, you have NO CHOICE but to do these things or you will go the way of the “dodo” bird and become the next Kmart or Blockbuster…EXTINCT. And I don’t say this to scare, the data backs up my statement, you simply will not survive, and I’ve seen this all too often over the last 15 years!
Instead, your patients and their families are searching for your services through different means. Forget meaningless coupons or braggy, boastful commercials. Instead, they are first turning to the world’s largest and most trusted media outlet…Google Search. And believe it or not, you actually have the power to control the way your potential patients are perceiving your office. In fact, by claiming and managing your Google listing (and related properties, like your YouTube channel), you are doing more to build your brand than anything else.
If you want to have a dog in this fight and battle for your own survival, I URGE you to RIGHT NOW to focus on getting your Google house in order.
There’s no better time in history to create a windfall of business for your practice through Google. Instead of falling victim to public suspicion of dentists and other doctors in the community, use Google to build an aura of trust and quality. Plus, the entire thing is free!
Patients don’t understand the difference between a respected service provider and “the cheaper, easier alternative.” That is unless you actually show them why and how there’s a difference.
Too many doctors believe that:
“What used to work will keep me successful forever”.
This is why it’s so essential that you control the conversation between you and your prospective patients. And the best way to do that is through your own powerful marketing, led by loads of FRESH and NEW beaming Youtube videos and Google reviews from real patients of yours bragging about how you impacted their lives and made everything simple and easy.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and it’s time to take action and let me, someone who’s helped 1000’s of dentists all over the world systematically improve profit and cash flow via more quality fee for service patients…
If you’d like to learn more about how to utilize Google and other online platforms to attract more highly qualified Fee for service patients WITH MONEY…click here for a proven practice specific dental marketing game-plan => https://www.localsearchfordentists.com/game-plan
Have Fun & Do Something Great!
Graig J. Presti MBA
CEO Local Search For Dentists ®, The ONLY 4-TIME Inc. 500/5000-Approved Dental Marketing Agency
CEO New Patients For Life™ Podcast
#1 Best Selling Author
Dental Economics and Dental Products Report Magazine Author & Contributor
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