Making Marketing Simple: How Do I Approach This Maze?
Let’s Start With These Key Questions.
1)How do I position myself to get in front of all the people local to me that are searching for procedures I like to do or am profitable doing?
2) Which Options do I have in showing up on the search engines and what are the pros and cons of each strategy? If you have taken the time to read our blog about understanding internet traffic, than you are trying to find that traffic so it can find you! Let’s break down the opportunity from inside out.
A Dentist can show up in one of 4 places;
1) Organic section or free section of the search results where you don’t have to pay if someone clicks on your link, but you probably have to pay an internet company to get you the position. This strategy is referred to as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Where your site becomes optimized so that the “spiders” Google uses to crawl and read all the billions of websites can pick up the appropriate information to make you relevant for keywords your site is relevant for. By manipulating the programing and tags on your site you accomplish this position but it tends to be a 6 month process as one of the variables important to search engines in the relevancy of the results they display is how long has your site been around.
The Pros:People who find you and click on your link will reach your website free of any Google charges. You have no limitation to the amount of visitors reaching your site. If a million people click on your link, its free.
The Cons:You will have to spend money with an internet firm to optimize your website to achieve the results you want. You will be showing up hopefully on the first page of the search engine but getting the first position in a competitive market is very difficult. Since the keywords are being optimized by being entered into tags, usually people are charged for a package of 18 or 20 keywords, how do you know if any of these keywords are high traffic keywords. The keywords you do have to use to come up naturally have to be geographic keywords. For a word like dental implants there are 3 million or so web results on Google. Even if you could show up first for the word, who would be finding it someone in England? Australia? So SEO needs to be built on keywords that have a geographic reference. If this is case than lets find the keywords with geographic reference which have good traffic. Herein lies the problem.
In a study of keywords conducted by Web Marketing for Dentists studied for over a hundred dentists and thousands of keywords the findings showed that on a National Level only approximately 20% of searchers actually use a Geographic reference in their search. In small towns the number is well below 10% and in the major cities although the numbers reach 40% the cities tend to be very large cities often spanning 50-100 square miles. This means that even if someone found you in your city how do you know they are close enough to you to come in to your office? In a study done on Detroit, the percentage of people using the word Detroit in their search for dental services the results were a startling 11%
What does all this mean? It means that SEO is a good strategy in the right places, but the nature of the keyword limitation limits your ability to target specific procedures with effectiveness, if you can’t get to the real traffic, or have enough keywords to optimize relevantly you simply wont get very impressive results from it. As a recommendation we call it a proper boost strategy when your web marketing is already highly profitable and productive, because it takes six months or so to get working and the results are highly inconsistent and not quite as impressive as they may appear.
2) Google Local. Google in its attempt to improve the relevance of its natural free results provides a map wherever the word dentist or dental is used in a keyword phrase. This map knows where you are searching from and puts businesses listed with Google on a Map with listings so you can see where they are relative to you and you can sometimes reach their website if there is one. You do not need a website to be listed on Google local. Google local lists reviews by patients as well and gives prominence to those with more online reviews.
The Pros:This is relatively easy to do, and the results can be seen quickly. Clicks are free, and you can be included for many keywords. People tend to like to see where the service providers they are interested in are located on a map, and generates good results.
The Cons:The keyword exposure is limited to only those keywords phrases incorporating the word dentist or dental. That may neglect a large part of the search volume for procedures central to profitable marketing. For example if you are interested in bringing into your practice dental implant patients or large cases, only 8% of people searching for implants use the term Dental implants and so you will miss 92% of the local market. If you are interested in marketing for veneers or whitening, the Google local map will not show up. If you offer orthodontics in your practice, like Invisalign or Clear Correct the map will not show up. Position in Google local is dominated by online reviews, unless you have a mechanism in place for getting those reviews, you will have a hard time getting a proper position.
What does all this mean? Google local tends to be more productive than SEO generally speaking, easier to accomplish and faster to implement. Usually it is inexpensive to implement, so is a highly recommended strategy. The main question is what expectations you have for your marketing. It is a performer, but not a main producer, since it tends to yield more general checkup and cleaning style patient flow since it shows up for more general and generic dentistry searches. Overall an effective boost strategy, productive and cheap but will not tend to bring in Big Cases or very profitable patients.
3) Pay Per Click (PPC): Pay Per Click is the bread and butter for Google. It is the main revenue stream for the company and the reason why it has a 150 Billion dollar market cap. At the top of of each search page and along the right side are highlighted or blocked off sections called sponsored links. These links are positioned based on an auction system. You bid for the position you want you set your budget and pay each time someone clicks on the link.
The Pros: A person can create a compelling advertisement, with a specific offer to engage customers. That ad can be displayed for thousands of keywords, without limit, tailored to each keyword, and programmed to display for searchers targeted to specific distance or range from your office. It allows exposure to the entire searching market, can be tailored to focus on specific procedures, and can engage customers with special offers. You know with Pay Per Click that your customers are near you, and you have made them an offer specific to what they are already searching for, since the ads that are placed for each keyword phrase or group of keyword phrases can have a different campaign.
The Cons: Pay Per Click, can be expensive. In many places the search volume for high end fee for service procedures can be extremely large. A Dentist can spend up to $10,000 a month on Google alone and not satisfy the entire demand. Google has taken sincere efforts to curtail fraudulent clicks, but angry competitors can click on your ads and waste your money to some degree.
What does all this mean? It the opinion of this blogger and company, having engaged in all three of the above strategies that PPC is by far the most productive. In the case of several hundred dentists PPC is 5 times more productive than Google Local, and 8-10 times more economically productive than SEO. People are engaged by offers, and you can be in a first or second position when they search for thousands of different words or phrases from Day 1. You can guarantee a certain amount of quality visits to your website based on your budget and it tends to be quite consistent results wise. Since Google reports on the results of all the keywords you will learn firsthand which are the best keywords in your market. You have unlimited exposure to the clients nearest you, searching for the procedures you like most and are most profitable doing. In our experience, Dentists who are trained properly to take advantge of the opportunity can make 10-25 times their investment, in fact we have clients who claim they make $100,000 a month on their good months. This is the workhorse and money train for online dental marketing.
4) Social Media and Online Listings: Very often people are offered the ability to be listed on some online listing version whether 1800dentist or Yellow Pages. Most of the Dentists we have spoken to have found these listing services unproductive. The main reason, people want answers and quick, the internet is plagued by Attention Deficit Disorder and studies show people do not want to keep clicking around to get the answers they want. These listing services present dentistry as a commodity and usually only the guys showing up first and spending the most money get any results. Think about it, the listing services also need to compete with one of the 3 strategies mentioned above to get traffic, including traditional marketing medium spending and then visitors are faced with another huge list of choices. The traffic pool you ever get exposure to is extremely limited. Only a small percentage of searchers click into a listing who usually market themselves in Pay Per Click and then they are faced with another huge list of dentists they can visit.
Social media is the most important development in Dentistry online today, but can it really be called marketing or patient communication and retention. True it is valuable, and important but a huge time commitment for Dentists already short on time.
Drum Roll Please
Traffic is the most important consideration there is in online marketing. Of the people searching online only a small percentage will visit your website and only a small percentage of those will call you. Unless you can find where the traffic truly is, how do you drive them to your site and get them to call. The beginning of any online marketing strategy has to begin with the question of where is the traffic and how do I reach them?, what is my times square, because paying for times square and getting Yellowstone in the dead of winter, is simply unfortunate. This is the main reason dental internet marketing gets a bad rap. Hopefully the importance of understanding online traffic has opened your eyes to the proper approach to a successful online strategy, the question should now be, once I have reached the traffic how do I know if I have the right kind of website or strategy to get my site visitors to call. Check out our blog Websites that make money, to find out more.