I was watching the news this morning and a banner popped up across the bottom of my TV announcing that Paul Newman was dead. That was all it said. Since he and Robert Redford have always been two of my favorite actors…I wanted more info. None was forthcoming on the TV which was very frustrating. How could they say he was dead and not say when, why or how?
So what did I do? Went to the Internet, typed in “Paul Newman dead” and within 5 seconds, an entire page of links showed up on Google to access what happened. In less than one minute I discovered he died at 83 from cancer and was able to access 100’s of glowing articles on his career, philanthropic efforts, car racing etc.
My point…In today’s society, when a consumer is informed they need dental or medical treatment…what do they do? Depending upon the curiosity of the patient, they either head for the Internet at the first opportunity, like I did, or they head for the Internet to research practitioners at their convenience. Either way, today’s consumer heads for the Internet, either to research recommendations from professionals, friends, and family or just to see who is in the area and what they have to offer in the way of content and information. Practices that don’t have a website… only encourage the consumer to surf further. Clicking a link that tells you where your office is located and what number to call does not give the perspective patient a feeling of trust or an opportunity to get to know you… rather than your competitor.
Back to the original question… Is your website easily found in less than 10 seconds to impress and provide information? If you don’t know… it’s time you found out.
Here are a 5 steps to follow when researching your website page ranking on the search engines:
- Go to the top 3 major search engines Google, Yahoo, and MSN and type in your profession + city and state. EX: orthodontist + New York NY. Where is your website located on the 1st page of each search engine?
- Is it displayed on Google, Yahoo, and MSN Maps in your area with correct directions?
- Is your practice information correct on all three search engines? This includes your website address, office locations, phone number etc.
- Has anyone left reviews of your practice on any of the three search engines… and if so, are they positive or negative?
- Where does your practice show up in the online yellow page and local listings in comparison to the competition?
This is going to take a few minutes. Write down the name of each search engine and list each category… 1-5 to avoid confusion. If you are OK…check it off. If not, write down what problem occurred and bookmark the page to easily access in the future for followup. Rarely do I find a practice that everything is OK… in every area. The other day, I found one practice on google with the wrong website address in the maps area. Their link connected to the local fire department and the practice had no idea there web address was listed incorrectly.
What to do if you find problems with your listings:
If your practice is not showing up on a search engine or content needs to be corrected or added… go to Google Business Center, Yahoo Listings, MSN Business Listings and correct the situation.
Reviews are a whole different story. We all love rave reviews, but if a disgruntled patient posts a negative comment you need to take proactive action. On page 49 of my eguide “Marketing Your Practice Through Different Eyes”…I discuss this problem in detail, with examples on the Internet. For a quick over view… ask satisfied patients to post positive reviews in the listing where the bad comment is written to counteract the negative. Once a comment is posted… it is “evergreen” or online forever. Only the person writing the review can remove it.
Positive reviews will average out the negative rating over a period of time. Make sure you space the comments so it doesn’t look like you are “stuffing” your listing. Patients aren’t idiots. After you list the first positive comment, I suggest spacing out new ones at least every 3 months or so. If you have no comments at all, I suggest you ask satisfied patients to start making comments. The more the better. When a consumer is researching online, sees a listing with many reviews… it is out of the ordinary. Out of curiosity, it encourages perspective patients to link to your site and read the reviews. Smart marketing…
Printed yellow pages are dead – Don’t waste your marketing dollars…
Today’s tech savvy consumer does not take the time to look up a listing in a phone book. They go online to search quickly or call information. Especially Gen Y and Global Tweens whose main form of communication is the Internet or cell phone. They expect instant gratification. Baby boomers still have a tendency to reach for a phone book. However… even boomers are catching on to the advantages of online yellow pages and city listings for information as a quicker alternative.
If you are not signed up for your local listings, go to the bottom of the search engine page you are on and look for information on how to sign up. If you can’t find information… go to google and type in ” how to sign up for (name listing) in your city, state. Many listings are free. If you want to be at the top of the heap however, Internet paid listings are becoming more popular. It is an easy advertising alternative in comparison to traditional methods of old and reaches a much larger demographic, 24/7… and without the big price tag. You can add photos, video, and create and control your own written marketing content whenever you want.
Your local demographics and how tech savvy the competition will determine what SEO tactics are necessary to achieve successful page ranking. Obviously, practices in metropolitan areas will need to consider different online strategies than small town areas. Your synergistic internal, external, and Internet marketing strategies is key to a successful up to date marketing plan.
Burying your head in the sand during tough economic times, when it comes to online marketing, allows tech savvy online marketers to surge ahead in the blink of an eye. Go in and check out the competition on a regular basis. You never know when one of your competitors is going to hire someone like me… a Web 2.0 SEO marketing specialist to dominate your area. Orthodontists, general dentists, and pedodontists are all competing for many of the same patients today. Stake your claim in Internet marketing now to blow away the competition during tough economic times.