What Dentists Need to Know About Google My Business

Online marketing is absolutely essential for dentists in today’s crowded marketplace. Getting your website (as well as your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media) in front of potential patients is the only way to ensure a consistent supply of new patients. Increasingly, those seeking a dentist will turn to Google first. Google My Business is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your Google ranking, ensuring that local prospects will see your website.

To maximize the power of your Google My Business page, though, it is important to devote some time and energy to making it the best it can be. Here is what you need to know.

What Is Google My Business?

Simply put, Google My Business ties your dental practice to both Google Search and Google Maps. It is a sort of mini-website that gives a snapshot of your practice and allows prospects to click through to your full website for more information. Google My Business is free to use, and it is far easier to quickly rank a Google My Business page than a full website. Think of Google My Business as a nice smile—it makes an excellent first impression.

Optimizing Google My Business for Your Dental Practice

Fortunately, Google My Business has a simple, step by step process. Work your way through the steps in order, fully completing one before moving on to the next.

  1. Claim and verify your page: Go to Google My Business and click “Start Now,” then follow the prompts. After you fill out all of the information, Google will send you a postcard with a verification code. Follow the instructions to finish verifying your page.
  2. Take a NAP: NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Google likes consistency and will penalize you for any discrepancies it finds. Make sure your NAP is exactly the same across your Google My Business page, website, social media accounts, directory listings, and all other online appearances. Also double-check that your Google My Business page is linked to your website rather than a social media account, as only website links boost your Google ranking.
  3. Pinpoint your location: You might be tempted to set a broad region as your location to attract more potential patients. However, Google will penalize you for failing to list your exact address.
  4. Add photos: Post high-quality images to entice prospects. Choose inviting images of the waiting room, the treatment room, the staff, and even your satisfied patients (with their permission).
  5. Interact via reviews and Q&As

A stunning 84% of consumers trust user reviews just as much as personal recommendations, so Google likes to see a steady flow of reviews. Ask your patients directly to write reviews, and consider giving small incentives to do so. Be sure to read and respond to all reviews, including those that are negative.

The more interaction you have, the better your page will rank, so also take advantage of the Question and Answer feature. Patients can ask simple questions and your answers will help build out your profile, as well as boosting your trustworthiness with prospects.

  1. Add an appointments link: Remember that people are basically lazy. Adding a direct link to your appointment page can boost your conversions, or the number of prospects who convert to paying patients. If you have a bit more time and energy, you can even take advantage of Google My Business’s new booking feature that eliminates the need for prospects to visit your appointment page at all.
  2. Write posts: Google My Business allows you to write posts that can help drive patient conversions. Try posting about your events, promotions, and new services.
  3. Pay attention to your page: Most dentists set up their Google My Business page and then forget about it. Checking in once or twice a week to post, respond to reviews, and make sure the page looks spiffy can launch you to the top of the rankings.

Of course, not all dentists have the time or interest to devote to marketing. If you have been putting off dealing with your Google My Business page, consider hiring an outside company to help. We’ll do what we do best, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Marketing Your Dental Practice: What You Must Know

Naturally, you have certain things that differentiate your dental practice from everyone else’s. Perhaps you hold unique certifications, you have the latest gadgets, or your technical skills are unrivaled. Yet none of those things matter if your prospects are unaware of them or, even worse, are unaware you exist at all. Regardless of your level of service, you must follow the same basic marketing practices as any other service provider. Here is what you must know.

Why Market Your Practice?

Today’s world is busy and ever evolving. People move in and out of town. They get buried under a constant onslaught of information. Even your most satisfied patients tend to move on to other priorities. Marketing helps you stay top of mind to both current and prospective patients, and lets newcomers in your community know you exist. It also gives everyone a boost, including your staff and loyal patients, by making your practice feel like an important part of the community.

Developing a Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan is a natural outgrowth of a strong business plan. You need to fully understand where your practice is now and where you want it to go in the future. You also need to define both your short-term and long-term goals in practical, actionable terms. Finally, you need to become aware of your target market and the best ways to reach those people who are the best fit for your practice. For example, a big city cosmetic dentist who specializes in high end procedures has a very different target market than a rural family dentist who focuses on making dentistry as affordable as possible.

With your goals and target market clearly defined, you can begin to focus on the specifics of marketing your business. There are endless ways to market, from branding small items such as pens and stationery to sponsoring a local baseball team to hosting a charity event. Think through the ways you feel most comfortable interacting with and giving back to your local community, and marketing ideas will begin to flourish. Match your marketing to your natural interests and comfort zone, as well as your practice’s brand identity.

Implementing Your Marketing Plan

A key decision is determining who will actually be responsible for implementing the marketing plan. Remember that in addition to doing the actual marketing tasks, you will need to track the results, so you can get the highest return on your marketing investment. Present your marketing plan to your team, and pay attention to who becomes the most enthusiastic about which parts of the plan. You may want to run the show, or you might prefer to delegate authority, but either way, you will need support and assistance from your team. Let team members take on the tasks that naturally suit them, and they will be motivated to ensure the plan is a success.

Getting Started

The hardest part of any big new project is finding the motivation to actually start. When it comes to marketing, there is no perfect “right way” to start. Just sit down at your computer or pick up a pen and start making lists. Then choose something to try. Trial and error can get you unstuck and give you the feedback you need to create and implement a formalized marketing plan.

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Managing Review Sites: What All Dentists Need to Know

Whether you love it or hate it, the reality is that patient reviews are a significant factor in potential new patients’ decision on which dentist to choose. Consequently, it is vital for you to monitor and manage your online reviews, and to encourage satisfied patients to write reviews. Here is what you need to know.

Major Review Sites

To manage your patient reviews, you first need to know where they are. Your practice is likely listed on some of these sites already, while others require you to take active steps to create a listing. Search each site to see if your dental practice is there, and then update any inaccurate information such as your business name, address, or phone number. For sites where you are not yet listed, create a listing as soon as possible. Major review sites include:

Yelp: Yelp covers all types of businesses and service professionals, and it is currently considered a market leader in review sites. Make sure you have an accurate, up to date listing, as many of your patients and prospects will naturally gravitate there.

Angie’s List: Angie’s List charges a small monthly fee to see your reviews. This charge is generally worth it, though, as the site has positioned itself as an excellent place to find trustworthy professionals in many different service categories.

Google: Google’s My Business pages are an interesting hybrid. Reviews from other sites are regularly aggregated there, and users can also write reviews directly on your page. It is absolutely vital to claim your page and ensure that your business information is accurate. Since so many people start with a Google search, reviews on your Google My Business page can make or break your quest to attract new patients.

Of course, there are numerous other review sites as well. Run a quick Google search to find those that seem relevant to your practice and your geographic location. Besides correcting inaccurate information, consider uploading photos to each listing to provide more insight into your practice.

Getting Reviews

The best way to get reviews is simply to ask for them. Consider offering your existing patients a small incentive, such as a free toothbrush or a few dollars off the next cleaning, in exchange for a review. Be sure to provide specific instructions on which review site(s) you prefer and how to go about leaving a review.

Managing Bad Reviews

No matter how hard you try, you cannot satisfy everyone. Sooner or later, you will receive a negative review. The best way to manage it is to face it head on with diplomacy, concern, and tact. Publicly respond to the review. Ask for clarification if needed, but be careful not to come across as confrontational. Apologize for the situation and offer a resolution.

You do not need to engage with someone hostile or offer rewards that far outweigh the severity of the patient’s experience, but a genuine apology and attempt to resolve will go a long way toward influencing the opinions of others who read the review, if not the person who left it. No matter how tempting it may be, never attempt to remove a negative review except in the most extreme cases.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.