In the age of the omnipresent Internet, your online profile is one of the crucial elements of a successful business. This is particularly true in the highly competitive dental market. Success is no longer simply a function of quality of service. If you're running a dental practice, you also need to devote time to building up your brand and reputation, both in real life and on the Internet. A large part of this is generating trafficyou’re your practice website and social media profiles of your dental practice.
Exploiting natural curiosity
Thirst for knowledge is an instinct, especially when it comes to complicated and often misunderstood topics such as dentistry. Because people rarely have the time or inclination to read long texts, you need to present information in an easy-to-digest form to effectively exploit this natural curiosity. Here are five methods you can use to engage people’s desire for knowledge and drive more traffic to your site.
1. InfoGraphics: Information in a compact package
Infographics rely on visual representation to transmit the maximum amount of information in the smallest possible package. There are plenty of obscure dental facts that would interest potential patients that can be displayed in this way. Sharing interesting and well-done infographics is an excellent way to generate traffic and links to your website, especially if it goes viral. On the left is an example of a great infographic.
2. Videos: Showing them how it's done
YouTube videos are effective means of popularizing your practice on the Internet. Unlike static images, these can actually show how, for example, a dentist works or how a particular procedure is carried out. It takes a little time and effort to create professional looking videos, and may require a bit of help from a professional video editor. However, even a short video that's rich in information can boost traffic to your website, as not only can they go viral, but they are also ranked high in Google searches for “how to” and other keywords. Also, putting video on your website helps for SEO purposes. Here are some good example of videos on YouTube:
Dental office tour
Dental implants explained
3. Guest posting: Better living through Google
The effectiveness of infographics and videos (on YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, and other sites) hinges on one thing — whether or not they get any views, or better yet, go viral. Internet audience is a harsh and fickle mistress. Even the best video or graphic can go unnoticed, while crude ones can spread like wildfire. There's no recipe for success, only iteration and trying.
You can devote time and effort to building up your presence through other means, the most important of which is Google. While SEO is a subject most are familiar with, there are two elements that often go unnoticed by businesses — guest posting and authorship.
Guest posting is basically getting your content published on another blog. The content you’re reading right now is a good example. This is a guest post on DentistryIQ.com. The beauty of guest posting is that you get exposure and you provide great content for the blog at the same time. Here are a couple sites where you can connect with bloggers and accomplish guest posts.
4. Google authorship: Hey, I know this dentist from Google!“Authorship” is a Google product that allows you to claim authorship of content published on other domains and link it to your Google+ profile. When the search engine returns results, instead of a bland text link and a summary of the page, it will display a link to your Google+ profile and your profile picture. Through your profile you can generate traffic to your website and, by extension, to your dental practice. Here’s an example.
Notice how the picture is displayed. This picture can increase your traffic as much as 150%, and you can imagine why. People are attracted to the image. Another benefit is that the picture helps for branding. If you’re a dentist and you’re the only guy with his picture showing up on Google, that’s pretty cool for branding purposes.
ALSO BY CHARLES CRAWFORD:Top 7 ways to get more new dental patients to your practice
5. Google local optimization: Help them find you
The rapid growth and expansion of Google Local has made this Google product a staple of searching for businesses. Mobile traffic is predicted to be as much as 60% of all Internet traffic by 2016, and over 61% of consumers say they will go to a competitor’s site if the site they’re on isn’t responsive. What many ignore is that Google Local and mobile optimization are excellent ways to promote your business. As Google Local results display above Internet search results, a well written, informational profile about your dental practice on Google Local business listing is a good way to get noticed. Don't forget to gently encourage people to review your practice — reviews and Google Pluses help build a brand and greatly increase the chances of converting a website visitor to a long-time patient.
6. Social media: The gift of giving
One of the most effective methods of boosting traffic is through contests and giveaways tailored to your business. Some types of social media contests are simply not practical for a dental practice. A contest to win a set of free dentures will probably elicit laughter rather than interest. However, contests focusing on charity, such as donating money based on the success of the contest, or raising funds to cover costs of dental care for the less fortunate, are good ways to build a positive image of your brand and generate interest.
Of course, you need to make sure that your contest or giveaway abides by the rules of the social network you are using. For example, Facebook mandates that every contest must use a third party application to track participants. Don't forget to summarize and publicly post summaries of your charity drive. Transparency and legality are the cornerstones of a positive image. Without them you're essentially a giant on clay feet.
Charles Crawford is a cofounder of Crawford and O’Brien, a Phoenix-based digital marketing agency that applies high-level dental internet marketing strategies to get dentists more new patients. Follow us on twitter @crawfordobrien.