Setting up a website for your Practice
There are many choices in developing an Internet presence. The most obvious is to create a website. Creating a website is not a difficult task; however, creating an Internet marketing website that is prominently found should be your goal. The more competitive your Internet business category is, the more difficult success will be. Most people cannot distinguish what they need to be successful in Internet marketing or how to choose a professional that can deliver.
One of the greatest mistakes is doing nothing and missing lost opportunities. Unfortunately, providing the best products or services is not enough; superior marketing is required to generate new business.
The Internet is the research tool of choice for many prospective patients. Searchers seek information about providers, procedures, costs, and options. Your website can provide their answers and facilitate new patient phone calls for appointments or more information.
Here are my top 10 Internet practice marketing considerations:
1. Search Methods. Understanding what prospective patients search for, how and where they search, is the most critical factor for Internet marketing success. Google is the tool of choice, followed by MSN-Bing and Yahoo (both Microsoft companies). They are known as the Big 3 search engines and together they command over 95% of all search traffic in the USA. They are all simple, easy to use and fast.
Most people never search beyond page #1 of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Searchers refine their search keywords, click and view results on page #1 faster than by scrolling through multiple pages of results. If you are not on page #1, your odds of being found decrease dramatically. Few searchers will look beyond page #2.
There are hundreds of other companies that make up the remaining 5% of the search market. These are directories, yellow page companies, and review sites. Their search methods are very different than the Big 3. It’s called drill-down and requires the searcher to select information by a subject category and follow the links to pages of greater detail until the information for which the searcher is looking has been found. This process is much slower that the Big 3 search engines and people tend to abandon this search method quickly.
2. Marketing Platform. Many dentists are actively solicited by yellow-pages companies and other directory-review companies. They offer business an enhanced company profile. For a fee you can have your listing or web link pushed to the top of the subject category list ahead of your competition. Based on what you are willing to pay, you can buy your way up the list above other paying competitors with platinum, gold, or silver enhanced listing.
Some yellow-pages business profiles (micro websites), complete with a video clip, have sold for well over $2,000 per month. Some directory-review companies offer a guaranteed number of web visitors (clicks) to your profile page. This is not a guarantee for new patients or a phone call; it’s a click to your profile page.
Directory-review sites have been poor marketing platforms for the past decade. The right platform for dentistry is the one that is found by your prospective new patients and converts them into callers to your practice. Nothing else has produced new patient leads like a custom dental website found on Google page #1 for the proper keywords.
3. Valuable Content. It is said that content is king of the Internet. A website is an investment in your practice marketing. The return on investment has a huge upside when it’s done right. It is important that your web content provide the information that your web searchers seek. Searchers are looking for answers to their questions about procedures, your credentials, what other people say about your service, hours of operation, and more. It’s about providing information and not online advertisements or fluffy web pages.
4. Unique Content. The search engines' goal is to deliver the best content to the searcher. Search engines value unique content. Web pages that are built based on a template compete in the search engines with hundreds or thousands of pages that all look the same. Your website’s pages will rank higher for the same keywords when the surrounding copy is unique.
5. Unique Visual Presentation. People are hard-wired for visual recognition. A unique presentation will distinguish your site from competitors. A website that is a copy of another website may quickly be dismissed as already having been seen. Being visually unique is much more important than being graphically stunning. If your information is what the visitor is seeking and your site is unique, you will engage your visitor for a longer period of time and increase the probability of converting the visitor to a caller.
6. Professional Presentation. Many have heard the adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. This is true of your website also. A non-professional presentation can hurt you. It’s better to have no presentation than a poor presentation.
7. Copyright Infringement. In the USA, creative works are protected by copyright. It is a crime to steal (copy) the work of another. All creative works are protected under copyright at the time they are created. The law is frequently misinterpreted and exemptions like “Fair Use” are often misused. Because it is so easy to copy web content, it is often done with impunity. However, the punishments for copyright infringement can result in having your website banned and/or defending your actions in court with a financial judgment.
9. Metrics. To effectively market a website, one needs instruments to know how it is performing over time. Analytics is the understanding of your web measurements and the analysis of how you are performing against your competitors. “Google Analytics” is a free tool from Google. It measures who your web visitors are, how they found you, where they came from, and dozens of critical information variables that should be used to optimize your web’s effectiveness.
10. Maintenance. Marketing a website requires using metrics to tune the web pages for better performance. Without active marketing, a website’s SERP rank can atrophy quickly. The more competitive your online marketplace is, the more you need to adjust your website to gain and maintain its position.
Your search engine rank is the result of on-page elements (title, key fields, images, links ...) and off-page elements. On-page elements work like a chorus. When they are in harmony, you can achieve good on-page rank and a higher search engine position. Off-page elements are links that point to your web pages; these are also essential for ranking well.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing each assign rank and weight to each element with their own proprietary search algorithms. Google measures over 200 variables on your web page and website to determine where you will rank.
One needs to understand how to link and what to link. Mistakes in linking can have disastrous consequences. Purchasing links from link sellers to improve your web rank (manipulating the SERPs) can even result in a website being banned from the search engine(s). If you know the link seller, Google knows who they are also and the sites they use to link from. All the major search engines have policies against paid links. Google, in particular, has a heavy handed policy when they detect violations.