The last couple of weeks have seen significant announcements from the search engines. The first in my opinion was relatively unnoticed but signals a paradigm shift in the making while the other has already transformed the online search and marketing experience. (More on the second in the next post)
The SEM Hurricane: How Facebook and Yahoo/Bing are transforming Dental Marketing Online
Several weeks ago Facebook and Yahoo/Bing announced that they would be collaborating to have the popular search engines responsible for nearly 4.5 billion searches a month (comScore Sep.2010 study) begin to index “likes”. This effectively signals arguably the most catachlysmic shift in the online experience. Why? Let me explain. Search engines are constantly vying for popularity, what makes them most popular? The relevance of their search results. The more easily and precisely you find what you are looking for the more you will need them.
The next important question you need to ask is, how do I get the answer to my question. Well search engines are constantly recreating themselves to compete in this arena. Classically search engines simply looked at a long list of variables like, the words used on a site, titles of pages, name of site, time in existence and back links or different sites pointing at a site to gauge how important that site is. As more sites pile into the web and the competition increases relevance becomes more difficult to accomplish. In response to this the search engines are adapting their spiders which crawl the web indexing the data on the web to give the most relevant results to look for things like tweets as Google has begun indexing in their results. Why you ask, because that is how Google knows what might be interesting TODAY, because it is being discussed TODAY and not a year ago.
The classic model was built around understanding information on the web and properly categorizing and indexing it, so that as it was presented, it was most relevant. The announcement by Yahoo/Bing and Facebook proposes and introduces a total change in indexing and presenting information. Rather than a focus on the information the focus is beginning becomes on YOU. If I know what you “like” than I know YOU better, and the secret to relevance is just simply knowing YOU better.
As the 500 million and growing Facebook users continue to “like” more things, Yahoo and Bing are going to want to make that most relevant to you. More relevant than what people are currenty talking about in tweets (where spammed messages reign) are results based on what people like. Its a short step from results indicating “likes”, to results to your search based on what your friends like.
What does this mean for Dentistry? Online Dental Marketing boils down to one simple thing Trust. True people are price conscious but within a reasonable range free market economics will always keep prices within a range for comparable experience and service levels. The real question in distinguishing between Dentists becomes who do I trust? The easiest way to address this is by telling people who other people like, as the likes draws people into a social discussion web, where it is obvious what people think about a Dentist and it becomes confirmed in an trustworthy channel where actual people stand behind their opinions.
What this means, is that market economics is soon to be renamed Social Economics, reputation and review management is quickly becoming a crucial monitoring medium for Dentists as what other people think has already become essentially important to the new patient considering whether or not to become Your patient.