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You’ve got time on your hands—spend some of it on these 4 DIY marketing activities for your practice

May 13, 2020
Here are simple, actionable, and effective tactics you can implement right away to improve your practices' visibility online.

As COVID-19 has forced office closures for dentists all over the world, we’ve heard a lot of stories of dental offices being stretched past their financial limits. We’ve also heard a lot of heartwarming stories about dentists risking their health to care for patients’ emergency dental needs, sometimes even free of cost. During this tough time in our industry, I think it’s important to act in a similar spirit, doing everything we can to help one another. I lead a small digital marketing agency and we’ve helped dentists across the country achieve greater visibility online, ethically and responsibly. To do our part, I’d like to share some simple, actionable and effective tactics you can implement right away to improve your practice’s visibility online.

There’s a misconception among many dentists that marketing has to be difficult or expensive. It certainly can be, and I don’t want to minimize the hard work that many ethical dental marketing agencies do to help keep practices ahead of the curve in competitive markets. However, some of the most important marketing activities for your practice are some you can and should do on your own.

As you sit at home, armed with an internet connection and time on your hands, please consider taking a few actions to help your practice bounce back and get ahead for when it's safe to resume good business and care delivery. Each of my recommendations are effective and based in search engine marketing best practices that we’ve applied for our clients for years. They won’t cost you a dime and they’re easy enough to do on your own, even if you don’t know the first thing about updating your website.

Get your Google My Business profiles in order

If you Google your practice name, your Google My Business profile is the panel of information and photos that typically comes up on the right side of your screen. The profile is free, easy to edit and packed with features that can help patients learn about your practice and services. Having a well-optimized Google My Business profile is also consistently listed as a top local search ranking factor, making it a great place to spend a few minutes of your time.

Optimizing your Google My Business profile may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple and user-friendly. If you know that you have access to your Google My Business profile, log into it at business.google.com or if you’re not sure how to get into your profile, follow these instructions from Google.

Simply add as much information about your practice as possible, complete with descriptions of your credentials, care philosophy, services and plenty of attractive photos, which are often the most-viewed part of your profile when a patient is searching for a dentist. If your office has multiple practitioners, Google allows for each doctor to have their own Google My Business profile as well, and I recommend creating and maintaining one for each of the doctors at the practice so long as each profile links to the practices website and includes the practice’s phone number.

If you care to dig deeper, here’s a link to an informational blog post we created about how to optimize each part of your Google Business profile and how to overcome common problems dentists encounter, like trouble accessing their profile as an owner or administrator.

Build out your Yelp page

Just like your Google My Business page, your practice’s Yelp page is also easy to edit and important to maintain. While your Google profile may show up in Google Search and Google Maps results when a patient searches for your office or a relevant treatment, Yelp has a partnership with Apple, so it’s important to maintain your Yelp profile to reach patients searching in Apple Maps. On top of that, Yelp is often the first result that appears when patients search for “dentists in [your town name]” so it’s helpful if your Yelp profile shows up prominently in Yelp search results.

If you know how to access your Yelp profile, log into it at biz.yelp.com If you don’t know how to access it, follow the steps in this article from Yelp.

Once you’re in, do the same things you’ve done with your Google My Business profile: add photos, make sure your information is accurate, describe the services you offer and make sure your categories are accurate. Yelp typically guides users through suggested profile improvements when they log in through the business portal, which makes the process simple.

Ask patients for reviews

Patient reviews are one of the simplest and most powerful positive signals you can send to search engines according to the Local Search Ranking Factors study. The quality, quantity and pace at which your practice collects new reviews alI affect your practice’s local search visibility. I’ve seen practices surge in search results after simply ramping up their review collection efforts, yet too many practices lack a strategy to gain reviews where they matter most.

When it comes to asking for reviews, there are two common mistakes that practices make:

First, doctors are sometimes uncomfortable with asking for reviews or too concerned about the potential for negative feedback to be posted online, so they don’t ask for any at all. While a lot of us can empathize with this concern, not collecting reviews is hurting the practice far more than the rare negative review that most practitioners will eventually have to handle with care. Lost visibility is more harmful than poor feedback, especially when you consider that the average rating for a business on Google is overwhelmingly positive, at 4.42 stars, and most dentists deliver care that’s far above the average!

Second, many offices that do actively ask patients for reviews do so with automated systems in a patient recare system like SolutionReach or Revenuewell. While the intention here is good, reviews collected in these systems are usually routed to a microsite for the practice rather than to Google or Yelp, where they help the practice’s search visibility most. Use your downtime to automate the process of collecting reviews, ensuring that you’ll keep gaining a steady stream of reviews long after you’re back at the office. Go into your patient recare system and change your automated post-appointment survey to ask patients to review you directly on Google. Here’s a set of steps on how to do so in SolutionReach and Revenuewell.

Now especially, people are receptive to ways they can help their favorite local businesses weather the crisis. Consider sending patients a note to ask for a review now. Let them know that it’s one of the simplest ways they can help your practice.

Get some links

The number and quality of links to a website is another of the most important ranking factors in local search. Each link to your website is like a little vote of confidence in the quality of your information or services. Generally, the practices with the most high-quality links receive the most visibility when patients search Google for a dentist.

While building quality links is difficult and time-consuming, there are a few quick and easy ways you can gain some important and valuable links for your website:

First, make sure that your ADA profile links to your website. Each profile on the ADA Find a Dentist website has a field for your website address. Making sure that field includes your website address is an easy way to get a link from a high-authority website in dentistry. Just click here to log into your ADA profile.

Don’t stop there. Do you belong to other professional associations or organizations? Do you have a profile on their website too? If so, log into it and make sure your information is accurate. If the profile asks for your website, filling it out will likely result in yet another link for your website. Rinse and repeat!

Are you a member of your local chamber of commerce? Have you sponsored a local event recently? Are you an Invisalign provider or does your office offer patient financing with Care Credit or a membership plan with Kleer? If you take some time to think about it and spend a few more minutes finding your profiles and ensuring they include a website link to your practice, it’s likely you’ll be able to score a handful of links that will help improve your search engine visibility.

Ask for some personal guidance

At Form + Function, we’re also doing everything we can to help dental practices weather the storm. We’re offering free consultations if you need some honest, no-strings attached marketing advice during this crisis, but we’re hardly unique in this. It’s been great to hear that many organizations in the search marketing industry are donating their time to help businesses that have been closed due to COVID.

So, if you happen to hit any snags while taking the steps laid out in this article or you’re in need of some additional marketing guidance, please feel free to contact us, the marketing agency you’re already working with, or another reputable marketing professional that’s in your area. The four actions I’ve recommended are universally-recognized in digital marketing so any agency offering pro bono assistance should be well-placed to help out. 

After all, we’re all in this together.

Justin Bosco is the president of Form + Function, a marketing agency that helps dentists all over the country stand out online with honest, ethical digital marketing services. Form + Function maintains a free, comprehensive dental marketing course for dentists seeking to get started with digital marketing for their practice.
About the Author

Justin Bosco

Justin Bosco is the President of Form + Function, a marketing agency that helps dentists all over the country stand out online with honest, ethical digital marketing services. Form + Function maintains a free, comprehensive dental marketing course for dentists seeking to get started with digital marketing for their practice.

Updated May 12, 2020