Gain more patients with reputation marketing for your dental practice

A good online reputation will draw more people to your dental practice

Google

Why is reputation marketing the most important strategy for you to get more dental patients?In short, it’s important because Google says so. Allow me to explain.

In the past year or so, you may have noticed an increase in conversations about the importance of building a five-star online reputation. You may have had an increase in the number of marketing firms trying to sell you reputation marketing.

I’m willing to bet you’ve been pitched a ton of hyped-up marketing strategies and tactics that just plain didn’t work. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll see why you must pay attention to this online reputation marketing tidal wave trend that’s approaching our shores and gaining momentum extremely fast. If you don’t ride this wave, you’ll definitely be swept away by its currents.

The reason reputation marketing has become so important in the last year or so is because SEO, social media, and reputation have all been combined thanks to the Google+ page, in which Google has merged with each company’s website. That’s right — Google has merged approximately 80 million Google+ pages to most of the companies in the world’s websites. The new Google+ business page combines with your map listing and can be SEO optimized.

RELATED:What to know before hiring an SEO pro for your dental practice

When properly optimized by choosing the correct categories and keywords, your map listing can appear on the first page of the Search Engine Results (SERPs) when potential patients search for a dentist in your town. The social media element comes into play because you can interact with your patients using your Google+ business page, which allows you to have a two-way conversation with them.

This two-way communication is the foundation of social media, and this is good because instead of you talking at your patients, you’re able to converse back and forth with them, thus creating a trusting and long-lasting relationship. Patients will do business with dentists they like, and they will refer others.

The reputation component gives patients the ability to leave a review on your Google+ business page. This is where things can go extremely wrong or extremely right, depending on the experience your patients had at your dental practice. The ability for your patients to leave a review on your Google+ page is a blessing and a curse.If they leave you a five-star review, it will appear front and center for the entire world to see. If they leave you a negative review, this will also appear front and center for the entire world to see.

I’m focusing on your Google+ business page because Google owns at least 80% to 85% of the local market in terms of search engine results. Other search engines don’t even come close. Whether you like it or not, Google owns local search.

They invested a lot of money into developing all sorts of services for local businesses, with the Google+ business page being the most important one. Why? Because if you go to Google.com and search for dentist, you’ll see that the Google+ pages appear at the top, even above websites that show up organically on the first page.

The only sites that may appear above the Google+ pages are local directories such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, or Citysearch. You may even get a Wikipedia listing and the occasional dentist website appearing at the top above the Google+ pages (A through G).

I can prove this to you. Go to google.com and type in dentist and click the Google Search button. You should see the Google+ pages (A through G) show up at the top. Now notice the reviews listed right beneath each of the Google+ pages using the Star-Rating System, front and center. If the Google+ page for your practice doesn’t appear, take a moment and do the following. Go to google.com and type in the name of your dental practice and the name of your city and then click the Google search button. Now you can check to see if you have any reviews.

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Here’s the point of this article. With the reviews so prominent on your Google+ business page, you must make sure the majority of them are positive, because if not, you’ll potentially lose thousands of dollars due to potential patients prejudging your practice and calling your competitors that have lots of five-star reviews.

Here are some statistics about the importance of having a stellar online reputation:
• 72% of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations – BrightLocal.com
• Reputation marketing has proven to increase business by 19% by increasing half-star rating online – Yelp.com
• Consumers look up an average of 10 reviews before making a decision – DemandForce.com
• 70% of consumers trust a business with a minimum of six to 10 reviews – DemandForce.com

Are you starting to see why having a five-star reputation online is so important? Getting your website ranked using SEO and all the other marketing strategies should be secondary unless you already have a great online reputation.

Ranking your Google+ business page should be secondary, because what good will it do to your practice to have it show up on page one in the search engines if your patients have written negative reviews? You’d only be financing the advertising of those bad reviews for potential patients to see.

The message is that you must build a five-star online reputation, market it all over the Internet, and then focus on ranking your Google+ business page and other website properties. If you follow those steps, you’ll increase your chances of getting more dental patients.

Rodrick Etienne, the founder of Strategic Twist Marketing and The Dentist Marketer, has been studying marketing, copywriting, and business building since 2000. He is focused on helping local dentists strategically grow their practices by using proven marketing methods. He also wants to make local dentists aware of why they aren't succeeding despite their greatest efforts, due to the enormous shift in how potential patients are searching for their services.

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