Tag Archives: Internet marketing

How Recent Google Changes Will Affect Your Dental Practice

You may have heard the big news last Wednesday. With another step forward in becoming your integrated online resource, Google Places has been merged with Google’s Social Network, Google+. Essentially, your new Google+ Local page is still your same Google Places page just with a new look. The difference being that Google+ pages also have the social features available to Google+ users.

What Does This Change Mean For Your Dental Practice?

Not much, yet.

As we’ve been coaching our network of dentists, Google is in the process of building a big-time social community that is bringing people together and with local businesses on multiple levels (see graphic below). They clearly want you as a business owner in your community to become a part of the conversation at some level and to interact with your patients online. What that means in practical terms for you and your dental office is still developing, but this is another move in that direction.

Google's Plan for Your Local Business

Right now, you don’t have to do anything. Google has already merged the pages for you. You still log in through your Google Places dashboard and the content is basically the same with the exception of videos and reviews; there are no videos on the new local business listings and your reviews are still there but they have been converted to the Zagat (1-30) point system (a company that Google has recently acquired).

If you already have a Google+ business page, Google will soon be merging local business listings with their actual business pages in Google+. Google says that there will eventually be just one page to manage with information integrated across Google Search, Google Maps, Google+, and mobile. For now, if you already have a Google+ account, you will manage these pages separately.

Update: More Answers To FAQs About Google+ Local

In addition to our observations mentioned in last week’s post regarding the announcement of local Google+ pages, here are a few more insights we have learned from Google:

  • Do you have to create a Google+ account for your dental practice right now?

Not necessarily. Some of the dentists in our network who are active online already have. They post content to their Google+ business page as they do for Facebook and Twitter. You may want create a Google+ page and try out some of the social features. If you do, Google says be sure to choose the Local category so that they can bring your multiple pages together to create one listing later on.

  • Are your patients’ reviews still there?!

Yes, Google says that your reviews will be transferred over. The ranking system has changed, however; instead of gold stars you will be ranked 1-3 with the Zagat scoring system and the score will be multiplied by 10. You may notice that they are now out of chronological order. Above the first review, there is a pull-down menu. The default is set to “Most helpful” which takes into consideration many aspects of each review’s text and author, as well as feedback from users who vote on whether the review was helpful or not.

  • Do your patients need a Google+ account to leave a review?

Yes. Reviewers need to be logged in to Google+ to leave a review. If they have a Google account but they have not yet created a Google+ profile, they will be prompted to do so. Reviews that were transferred over will be attributed to “A Google User” until the user has a Google+ account and then it will be labeled with their Google+ name.
This adds another layer of complexity in getting patients to submit reviews. If we have helped you to set up systems already to facilitate patient leaving you reviews on your former Places, don’t worry; we can help you to adjust to the new system as well.

  • Will This Change Your Google Ranking?

Google says that the Google+ Local launch was “an interface and design change” and that there was nothing specific to this change that will affect your search results, but it’s clear that they want you to join the party! In the same breath, they are clear to state that ranking algorithms are continually changing, so listings are always moving up and down. Unofficially, we are seeing that businesses that are involved with Google+ are being rewarded.

As time goes on we will have more information for you. We know you are busy providing great dentistry and patient care. It is my job to keep you in the know, so that the APM team can help you create realistic strategies that work for you and your practice. You can check back to this blog for timely, concise updates on how developments with the internet will impact your dental practice. If you have specific questions, feel free to give us a call at (952) 921-3360.

Interested in hearing about the update from Google directly?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO5wd2fl2Vs]

Google Places + Google+ = The New Google+ Local

Dental Marketing Changes with Google's Announcement of Google+ LocalFor most dentists, keeping up with Google and ranking on Page One in local search are focal aspects of their marketing efforts for attracting new patients.

You know the drill. Claim your listing. Verify it with a PIN number. Follow Google’s guidelines to a T. Try to consolidate duplicates. Check back regularly to make sure things are in good standing. And, try like heck to encourage happy patients to submit reviews so you keep little gold stars next to your name.

This may seem like a lot of busy work, but the truth is that web searchers and potential patients perceive value in having gold stars next to your listing and are influenced by the reviews they read. Also, it’s the single greatest common denominator we’re seeing to help dentists “get found” on line. Let’s face it, Google reviews are your modern day “word of mouth referral from a friend.”

Well, Today The Game Changed Again. Introducing Google+ Local.

A better word might be “evolved.” If you checked out your Google Places page today, it may have looked a little different to you. This morning, Google announced that the merge of Google Places and Google + into the new Google+ Local.

Dentist Reviews on Google+ Local Page

But, don’t worry. Despite getting used to a new format, this next evolution of Google’s local program is considered to be an improvement by the early feedback of local search experts such as Linda Buquet and Mike Blumenthal. And, this is certain not to be the last trick that Google has up it’s sleeve so the game continues.

What we do know at this point is:

  • You can still manage your information via your Places dashboard, verify your listing data and respond to reviews.
  • You can still post offers the same way.
  • You cannot upload videos to your Place page anymore.
  • Instead of the scoring system of receiving 1-5 stars, Google has incorporated the more comprehensive 1-30 Zagat scoring system.
  • Reviews from both Google and Zagat users will reside on your Google+ local page and will be attributed to either “A Google User” or “A Zagat user” until that user chooses to change it to their name.
  • If you haven’t done so, consider setting up a Google+ business page.
  • More updates will follow in the coming months.

We will continue to keep our clients updated on new advancements. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more you can read about Google+ Local in the Google Help Forum. For questions about your particular Google Places listing or setting up a Google+ Business Page, please contact APM at (952) 921-3360 or apm@advancedpracticemanagement.com.

Internet Marketing Trends For Dentists In 2012

dental marketing in 2012The past year brought big changes to the world of internet marketing with Google’s change in handling the all-important third-party reviews, the Panda update which made having fresh, unique content even more crucial for search engine results, and then the introduction of Google + business pages.

More developments are underway which makes it even more important to stay on top of your internet presence. Here is a helpful article written by Bullseye Marketing for dentists, How To Prepare Yourself For 6 Trends That Will Affect Dental Marketing In 2012.

Do You Have Questions About Marketing Your Dental Practice on the Internet?

If you are looking for objective advice for assessing internet optimization programs or marketing opportunities, don’t hesitate to contact APM for help. We are here to help you navigate the changes and customize a plan to reach new patients. Cheers to a healthy and prosperous 2012!

The Truth About Getting New Patients From The Internet

Getting New Patients with Internet MarketingIn the “old days” of dental advertising, we had the hassles of dealing with decisions regarding which Yellow Pages to be in and Yellow Page ad design, and negotiating rates. Or planning direct mail campaigns (demographics, offers, mail lists). Those mediums could be plenty expensive but they weren’t all that complicated to figure out.

Internet marketing is a whole different ball game. It can be less expensive (or not!), but it certainly is more complex. Every day you and I are getting bombarded by pitches for SEO, SEM, and this or that great new Internet marketing scheme. I know that getting new patients is important to you so you better believe that we at APM are keeping our eyes open as to what is working, what is not and what the industry trends are.

You have limited amounts of time, energy and money to spend on advertising (not to mention doing dentistry and keeping your patients and staff happy), so we understand that dealing with the nuances and sorting through the hype of Internet marketing can be overwhelming. I’m hoping these articles will help.

Stage One: Souping Up Your Internet Presence
This is includes establishing your Google Places page and doing housekeeping to claim your search engine directory listings. When a potential patient searches for a dentist in your area, they are most likely doing a Google search for “dentist in Your City” or “cosmetic dentist in Your City.” Their results will list three to eight dentists’ in the local proximity who best match their search keywords. Clicking on the links for those dentists will take them to their Google Places page, a mini-website of sorts listing contact information, office hours, photos, driving directions, areas of specialty and, most of all, credible reviews from actual patients.

An absolutely essential first step is to claim and enhance your Google Places page, complete it with information, photos, videos, if available, and then to collect reviews. Some Doctors have multiple Place Pages, for example, and that does not help you get found and, in fact, can hurt you. There is often inaccurate information on these directories. We’ve seen completely wrong phone numbers, old addresses and many long-established practices that are virtually invisible when you try to find them on the Internet. So the first step is getting your presence in the multiple directories straight. This also includes adding pictures and other content on your “Place Page.” A very important part often is getting patient reviews posted.

Then, we want to submit your practice information to the search engines and directories that are getting traction in your area so that your information is consistent across the board and you have the best chance to be featured in this suggested list of dentists. We correct inaccurate information, eliminate duplicate listings which dilute your presence and help you to establish a consistent and broader footprint across the web. We call this first stage “Cleaning Up The Directories,” a very detailed but absolutely necessary task.

Stage Two: Website Enhancements
The footwork of “Stage I” will increase your visibility in the local directories and get you impressions and, hopefully, clicks through to your website. Then, once they get to your website, it’s a matter of engaging the potential patient and moving them to make an initial contact by e-mail or phone.

A lot is involved, whole books have been written about this. Best practices for effective websites include having a call-to-action on the home page, pictures and bios of the doctor(s) and staff, video brochures, patient testimonials, and before and after pictures. This also may include introductory offers such as free or low-cost whitening, a low-cost complete kid’s check-up, or other type of offer similar to what you would see with direct mail advertising.

Different than the SEO methods that were popular a few years ago to load each page with all of your keywords, effective websites today strategize a purpose for each page and align the keywords, content, tags and descriptive code with that message. As they say, “Content is King.” This is also an important part of Stage II.

Stage Three: Widen Your Internet Footprint
Once the housekeeping is in order, you can start expanding your presence on the web by adding content and through blogging and social media (Facebook, Twitter) or through paid advertising (such as Google AdWords Express or Pay-Per-Click) and special advertising promotions (Groupon, Living Social). With a little organization and persistence, your efforts will pay great dividends in expanding your presence on the Internet and attracting potential patients who are looking for a great dentist!

Putting It All Together
New directories are constantly coming on to the scene and existing directories update and cross check information sometimes sending bad data around like a virus. Most practices need at least some directory work. You should be checking your listings periodically to make sure they are still accurate. You may have paid your website company to help you with directories at one point, but it’s been our experience that they are often like bad painters. They’ll throw some stuff together but not really pay attention to the details and therefore, some potential patient traffic is lost. Or, you may be already getting a decent amount of traffic to your website but the website itself needs work. Perhaps it doesn’t really reflect the nature of the office (i.e., it looks too “cookie cutter” or too “Plain Jane”) and doesn’t really give the patient a reason to e-mail or call you.

The devil is in the details. Just the technical nuances in getting the directories straight, the organization of the website and its pages optimized, pictures uploaded, patient reviews, etc. can be a daunting task. But again, it helps to have your priorities. For example, it doesn’t make sense to have a graphically beautiful website if the directories are haphazard and you get very few impressions. And, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend time on Facebook and doing blogs if you don’t have your website in order so that as you get interest, people can learn more about you in such a way that they’ll want to become new patients.

Our clients work with the whole gamut of website providers…everyone from their sister-in-law to the big generic companies like Officite and Prosites. It’s been our experience that website providers are happy to take your money each month and not really do much. That’s why we brought Kelly Larson on board. Her job is to “ride herd” over website companies and to keep us and you absolutely up-to-date on what is really working in Internet marketing.

I’ve met people with more technical knowledge of HTML programming. I’ve met others who are great graphic designers. I’ve certainly heard from others who are great sales people. I’m approached about new Internet marketing schemes almost every week. I have not yet met anyone who really knows as much as Kelly Larson does in terms of the nitty-gritty of all this, focused on getting new patients through your door. Whether you are just getting started or already have a sophisticated Internet presence, she can give you a push and help keep you ahead of the competition.