You know that owning any kind of business means you have to be a good marketer to find success. If you’re a dentist, marketing your practice better means you both make more money and help more people.
However, marketing activities can often be too expensive or time consuming (or, worse, both) for many dentists to undertake. The bad news here is that you’re not going to find any success without good marketing. The good news is that making effective marketing decisions doesn’t have to be expensive. It also doesn’t have to take up all of your extra time.
Marketing is Easier with SEO
There’s a type of marketing called SEO – that’s an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization – that seeks to market your dental practice by making it appear higher and more often in SERPs. SERPs are Search Engine Results Pages – the pages and pages of links that are generated when a person types a few search keywords or a search phrase into a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bind.
If your dental firm appears more often in SERPs for search terms and phrases like “good dentistry,” “affordable dentistry,” and “dentists near me,” then you’re virtually guaranteed to get customers on autopilot.
Crafting and changing certain features of these sites (or your dental practice’s profiles on these sites) can make it much more likely that your practice appears higher in Google and other search engine results because of how Google and the other search engines work.
The search engines use a variety of factors to get relevant sites in front of their users. Making your site more appealing to the algorithms that seek out and rank those factors in importance is what SEO is all about.
How You Can Improve Your Dental SEO Today
There are two ways to improve your dental SEO. You can do it yourself, which is free or cheap but requires a lot of expertise and time. You can also hire an SEO marketing professional to do it for you, which costs money but requires no expertise and very little time. You can also try to combine some elements of both of these approaches, doing some of the basics of optimization yourself but hiring a marketer for the more advanced work.
If you plan to improve your dental SEO on your own, the first thing you need to do is a ton of research on how SEO and the big search engines work. Our blog covers a good number of topics related to these things.
If you want to hire a marketer, you need to do some research first too. Make sure you find a marketer that will work well with you and your business, and one that knows the ins and outs of SEO both in general and in relation to dentists in particular.
Do you know the biggest secret to success for dentists?
It takes a lot of work to become a dentist, and running your own dental practice or working at a small practice afterwards is certainly a challenging job.
However, the challenge is all worth it if you find your job both lucrative and rewarding – and the best way to make more money as a dentist and to help more people with your dental skills is to market your practice extraordinarily well.
Good marketing is the surest way to get more customers. That’s one of the biggest secrets to success in the dental industry. Every dentist must either be a great marketer or hire a great marketer if she or he wants to be truly successful.
However, the marketing landscape here at the end of 2016 is different than ever before. What’s a dentist to do to navigate this complex, ever-changing marketing industry and unlock further secrets of dental success?
Why Marketing is Different in 2016-2016
Marketing changed drastically with the rise of the internet, and particularly with the massive popularity of search engines as the internet became more and more accessible to ordinary people. This has been happening since before 2000, and has only become more prevalent every year (or, really, every month) since.
Now marketing involves Search Engine Optimization, often abbreviated as SEO – the process of making your dental website and other properties related to your dentistry (such as a dental Facebook page or Yelp profile) appear higher in Google (and Yahoo and Bing) search engine results pages – also known as SERPs to people in the SEO industry.
Having your properties appear when people search for terms and phrases like “dentist near me” is like having free advertising for your dental practice – and has been shown in some studies to bring in more customers than any other form of marketing.
SEO has only gotten more effective and important over the years, spiking with the proliferation of smartphones and continuing to grow steadily since with the wider use of tablets and similar devices.
How to Have Great Dental SEO
SEO is a hugely complex science, and has spawned an entire industry of professional SEO marketers. As far as I know, we’re the only SEO marketing firm specifically focused on dentists’ unique needs.
However, before you hire an SEO marketer, it’s a great idea to learn a bit about the science, and see if there are any steps you can take yourself before paying for this type of advertising. Like any marketing campaign or hiring decision, starting a paid SEO campaign is a big choice, and you don’t want to rush it.
There’s big news about Google, and it’s all about the news. Here’s what it is, what it means, and how it affects you and your dental SEO marketing plan.
Goodbye, Google News – Hello, Google Top Stories
I read an interesting post on the Moz Blog today about Google’s new “Top Stories” results, which have replaced its old “News” results. Is this a simple name change or is the way news is actually presented on Google actually changing significantly?
The blogger at Moz believes this is mostly a user interface change, though there was speculation among many Google users and SEO thinkers that this might be the beginning of Google trying to get its act together when it comes to the fake news epidemic that has been plaguing its results – and has recently gotten both Google and Facebook in a lot of trouble.
We’ll definitely keep an eye on these latest developments for you, but it looks like no changes are coming for now. And the be honest, the new presentation does look very nice – if your dental firm is newsworthy in some way, this might actually be a good thing for you (though it probably won’t have a big effect for most of our readers).
What Does This Have to Do with Dental SEO, Anyway?
Any changes to the way news is ranked, vetted, or even presented by Google’s algorithm is a big deal to dental SEO and SEO for other small businesses because so many SEO firms use news articles and press releases to get those businesses attention.
However, it looks like Google’s “Top Stories” feature pulls from the same wide net of sources that was used for their old news results – and Moz did a pretty large experiment to verify that.
All this goes to say that not much has changed significantly yet – but it’s still worth looking at what Google does in the coming weeks, in case this is the start of something bigger that will have an affect on your dental SEO.
What Should I Do Now?
Our advice to dentists with an SEO plan involving the news is not to change anything, but to keep an eye out for new developments in this case.
However, even if there is a big change in news sorting, ranking, or presentation, it likely won’t affect dentists too much. Most dentists get write-ups in local news, which often doesn’t appear in the few results that are presented in Google’s news section anyway. Articles, videos, and other news pieces from local sources are designed to get your business local attention and your site a backlink from a verifiable source.
Unless you’re advertising with a known fake news source or local news is somehow devalued by changes Google may make to deal with the fake news problem, I don’t think this should affect your dental SEO too much. However, I’m sure the SEO community at large will be blogging and theorizing about it continually for the next week or so.
SEO is one of the most complex sciences in the world, and many marketing teams and SEO gurus – often the ones that don’t really know what they’re doing – try to oversimplify the issues surrounding SEO to make it sound easy (or like they alone have all the answers).
One of the bloggers at Bing’s webmaster services page recently wrote a post reminding us that links aren’t everything. While I was doing my daily SEO reading I stumbled across it, and it made me think more about the utter complexity of SEO than I had in some time.
Yes, links are important. In fact, they may still be the most important single aspect of SEO – and they have been for quite some time, according to almost any SEO guru (or anyone with any knowledge of the system) that you ask.
However, they are not the only important thing. And, as we know, one of the only constants in the world of SEO is change. That means that even if links have been the most important factor for a long time, they may not always be. Remember, in SEO and in life, no one stays at the top forever.
The upshot of all this is that when you’re working with someone at your company or with an external SEO marketing service on an SEO plan for your dental practice, you have to focus on everything at once. If that sounds impossible, well, you know why SEO marketing is such a big and fiercely competitive industry.
In addition to links, you need to make sure that whoever is responsible for your SEO marketing understands the importance of social media, keywords, local SEO techniques, semantic search, and other important factors and trends in the world of SEO. No factor of SEO works without any of the other factors in place and fully optimized, and a few good links aren’t going to be enough to put your dental clinic on the map.
We’ve talked about this a great deal within the company today, and have decided to work harder than ever on the SEO factors outside of link building that could help our clients. Don’t get me wrong – link building is still what we’ll put the most time into – but we know that if we want to stay relevant as a marketing firm (and help our many clients stay relevant as dentists) that we’ll have to focus on everything.
There are still a few SEO marketers out there who try to mislead dentists and other small business owners into thinking that all links are created equal, and they’re all valued the same way by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. However, this is not the case (and hasn’t been for some time). In other words, there are good links and bad links (as well as some that don’t matter either way).
Here are a couple things you need to know about each type, and hints as to how to distinguish between them.
1. What are good links?
Let’s start with some positive things, shall we?
Good links are backlinks from other sites that boost your overall SEO / SERP ranking. These often come from major sites that are both legitimate and popular.
They are also most often links from within the actual content of another site – such as in a blog post or article. Links like this show that another site is using yours in a similar way to which an academic writer might cite a source. Even a few content links from very popular sites can give your SEO a huge boost.
2. What are bad links?
Unfortunately, there are a lot more opportunities to get bad links than good. These are links that Google has determined are problematic and must either be ignored or penalized.
Most links from directories and forums are bad – although in some cases a legitimate link could be gotten this way. For example, if your site is listed in a local online directory of dentists that is actually well-trafficked by people in your area and serves a legitimate purpose, it could boost your SEO. However, if a link to your site is included in a directory that exists for the sole purpose of linking out to other sites, that can hurt your SEO.
Forum links are problematic somewhere around 80-90% of the time, it seems, but a few links from posts in legitimate, virtually spam-free forums can help you out.
3. What about links that are somewhere in the middle?
If you’re with me so far, you’ve probably realized by now that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to link building. Directories and forums could almost be considered gray areas, but they’re misused so often that Google and the other search engine giants are almost always skeptical of them.
However, there are some areas of link building that are split about 50-50. Press releases are a big one. Many legitimate SEO companies, such as our own, use press releases the way they’re meant to be used, and in that case they can serve as a legitimate part of an SEO plan. However, some black hat SEO sites often misuse press releases, and turn them into a tool for spamming that can either have no effect or have a negative effect on your site’s SERP ranking.
That’s just one more reason that it’s always important to go with a reputable, legitimate SEO professional if you decide to hire outside help for your internet marketing campaign.
These backlinks have been important forever – actually for as long as search engines have existed. In addition, mobile friendly backlinks are set to become more important than ever next year.
What does this mean for your dental clinic? It means that the best thing you can do right now to boost your SEO in 2017 and beyond is to get some great links – and because everybody’s going to be trying to do it, you need to jump on this fast.
In the spirit of immediacy and innovation, here are some surprisingly effective outlets to try to pull links from.
That’s right – news media is one of the best places to get backlinks from. Most news sources, even smaller, local ones, are prioritized and respected by Google and its competitors. That means backlinks from these types of sites may be more valuable than other backlinks – especially since most news sites are inherently more mobile friendly.
Getting a backlink from a news site can also result in a large swell of organic traffic – traffic direct to your site via the link in the article, rather than from a SERP.
But how do you get your dental clinic mentioned (and on top of that, linked back to) by a news organization? It’s simple, but challenging: you write a press release.
Press releases are actually one of the main things our company does to find you success on the SERPs – you can do it, too, if you have the time and effort to put into it, and if you can create a compelling and newsworthy release in the very specific and ever-changing AP Press Release Style.
Guest Posts on Blogs
Writing guest posts for blogs – especially blogs related to dentistry or some other facet of the dental industry – can be a huge way of getting links if you’re a good writer and you can devote enough time to generate a large number of links.
A guest post is an article that you write for another blog – and the upside of writing one is that you get to include your company and a link back to your main site as well as your name in the byline. You can also link out within the article text.
Sites like Hubpages essentially work by allowing everyone to write informative articles on them freely – and the more well-liked your article is, the more exposure it gets. If you include a link to your site in the article, that exposure can lead to better SERP rankings and organic traffic!
Lucky for you, your team at PromoteDental has a great, easy to implement plan for making your site (and external properties related to your site) mobile friendly in order to get you more clients on autopilot!
Step 1 – Making Your Main Site Mobile Friendly
This is the most important step, and it might also be the easiest. Why? Because Google gives you all the answers.
Many SEO marketers think of Google as the enemy – an entity they have to trick into promoting their clients for them. However, the best SEO marketers really look at what Google has to offer, hoping to help clients up by taking advantage of what Google gives them instead of trying to compete with Google.
So head on over to Google’s webmaster page on mobile friendliness and see if you can implement any of what they suggest – we at PromoteDental are big fans of responsive web design – in order to make your site more mobile friendly. If you can’t, it may be time to hire a programmer or a dental SEO marketer.
Remember, you can’t trick Google forever – but if you or your SEO marketer works with Google and within Google’s guidelines, there are no limits to the amount of SERP success your dental practice can have.
Step 2 – Get All of Your Automatic Mobile Friendly Backlinks in Order
Because mobile friendly sites rank higher on Google SERPs and Google inherently values them more, it also values backlinks from mobile friendly sites more than from sites that are not yet mobile friendly.
Luckily, you have some automatic “votes” (in the form of backlinks) from mobile friendly sites – sites like Yelp and Facebook, and other external properties related to your site that you have some control over.
However, your automatic mobile friendly backlinks from these sites probably won’t be enough – remember, the smartest of your competitors will have these as well.
You need to chase more backlinks, especially from mobile friendly sites like news media and major sites like Wikipedia. If you can get backlinks from sites like these, your SERP ranking is sure to go through the roof.
Moz recently released a great article about what the writer termed Google’s fresh factor – its tendency to prioritize newer content in SERPs. What does this mean for your dental clinic’s SEO?
It could mean a lot, especially as the fresh factor promises to become even more important in 2017. But basically, here’s what you have to do: simply “stay fresh.”
You stay fresh by frequently updating all of your internet properties with new content – do this every single day if possible. If that seems like too much to keep up along with the regular duties of running a dental clinic, it may be time to hire an outside marketer.
You need to also be sure that all of the new content you’re producing is high-quality – for social media, this is easy, as the text content you’re creating will often be very short (and you may “produce” content by sharing relevant content from other users), but with blogs and similar properties it can be challenging to create something informative and fully search engine optimized frequently.
However, low-quality content will drive Google and the other search engine giants (and also your customers!) away from your site and other properties – which means your dental practice is going to lose money.
To continually improve your dental SEO, you’ll have to make sure the content is relevant as well as fresh.
There is one other implication of Google’s “fresh factor” that may impact your SEO (and your dental clinic’s bottom line) – the importance of getting your clinic into the news media.
To do this, you’ll need to create press releases (also called PRs) and use them to try to get either an internet news service or a local news service to write an article about your business. These PRs have to follow a very strict format and provide truly newsworthy information, so they’re a lot of work – but they can also give your SEO a quick boost when it’s needed, and also build trust in your customer base.
In fact, using targeted press releases is one of our company’s major ways of improving your SEO so quickly – they provide a quick boost to put you at the top of Google’s and its competitors’ SERPs while we do more advanced behind the scenes work to keep you there.
With the proper training and resources, you can also create press releases for your dental practice and use them to boost your dental SEO.
This is important to the “fresh factor” because those news items will often be the newest, most prioritized content related to dentistry in your area – especially if you’re focusing hard on local SEO. This means that they’re likely to hang near the top of SERPs for a while – giving your business a boost over the competition (both local and global) for the entire time.