You’ve done it. You’re finished with the endless years of school, the years of clinical training, and the stress of passing your state licensing. Now you’re ready to start a dental practice.
Uh oh. How are you going to find and land new patients? How are you going to build a website? Do you need to be active on social media? What about blogging?
In some ways, this stuff is probably more difficult for you, at least logistically, than the schoolwork and clinical training. But it doesn’t have to be.
Starting a Dental Practice
You simply need a partner who understands your unique business and understands what it takes to help you build an online reputation that enables you to rank when a potential patient is searching, and then convert those visitors to patients.
That partner is Advice Media. For 20 years, we’ve been helping our dental clients become successful through their online presence. In this blog, we want to detail three of the mistakes we’ve seen time and time again with new dentists just opening a practice. We’ll make sure these examples don’t sound like your new practice.
Hire your cousin, the tech guy, to build your practice website
At Thanksgiving, you sat next to your cousin. You told him you were just about ready to open your new practice and needed a website. Well, guess who knows his way around a video game console…and a computer?
“Piece of cake. You should let me build it for you. I’ll make you a sweet deal,” he says through a mouthful of green beans with slivered almonds.
And now you can’t figure out why your site doesn’t show up anywhere in search. You can’t understand why visitors spend so little time before exiting when they do find your site. You can’t understand why it takes 30 seconds to load a page.
Building a good-looking, well-functioning website isn’t something anyone with a little computer savvy should just throw together. Your practice website has to play a large role. It has to be a combination of front desk person, tour guide, scheduling coordinator, procedure expert/authority, and other roles. And it has to be optimized for search so that Google understands it as well as a visitor reading a page about the benefits of dental implants.
The days of people finding dental practices through colleagues or neighbors aren’t completely over, but more and more patients find providers through search and through online ratings.
Plus, your cousin doesn’t exactly have an eye for this stuff. He may know how to play around in WordPress, but he can’t design his way out of a paper bag. Your site needs to be engaging, with lots of photos, videos, engaging writing, a modern layout, and easily accessed phone numbers and appointment booking options. Photos and videos need to be professionally shot and produced, not haphazardly snapped with your cousin’s iPhone.
Your site needs to be optimized for search. This means that every page needs tags and descriptions on the back end that help Google understand what is on every page. It means the content has to be expansive and grammatically correct, as Google sees this as beneficial to the searcher. It has to have a sitemap that explains exactly what your site is to Google’s bots.
OK, so if you’re just receiving your practice license and Thanksgiving is coming up, politely tell your cousin, “Thanks, no. And could you please pass the stuffing.”
Let a Third Party Completely Manage Your Social Media Presence
Dentists often discount social media as a marketing/customer relations tool. Many practices don’t even have a practice Facebook for Business page. And if they do, the last time a posting went up was on World Oral Hygiene Day, March 20…of last year.
This time, the new dentist turned to a niece who’s all over social media. She doesn’t blow her nose without posting about it for all to see.
“I can make you a social media star,” she says when sitting next to you at Easter brunch.
Social media is where your practice can let its hair down, so to speak. This is where you show your patients/followers a different side, one without the latex gloves and dental pick. Your practice Facebook page is a great place to post pictures of your staff both at your practice doing their thing, but also out and about on their own time.
It’s a bad thing to let someone else totally handle your posts because the person isn’t really involved with your practice. Sure, it’s wise to let a company like Advice Media make sure your social media presence is active, but you have to engage as well. You or someone else in your practice needs to post two or three times per week. These posts can be anything — maybe a great recipe for said Easter Brunch, or your hygienist climbing Mt. Everest, or a quick video of your new dental laser. This keeps your followers coming back for more, and, more importantly, it keeps them loyal to you. Your Facebook page is a great place to talk about next month’s special, to link to a story about the ADA approving electric toothbrushes or the like, or to put up a poll about favorite dental floss flavors.
You have a blog, but you last wrote something in, uh, 2016
If Advice Media built your website, it features a blog. If your cousin built it, probably not. Many dentists don’t understand the value of blogs. They think a blog is something a 20-year-old traveling through Eastern Europe would write.
So, if your site does have a blog, you wrote a couple entries early on and then it’s just been sitting there unloved and un-updated ever since. Bad idea.
Being active on your blog is very important for your online presence. It builds your authority as an expert that site visitors think knows his or her stuff. It allows you to educate your audience about this procedure versus that. Why you no longer use silver amalgam, for instance, is a great blog topic.
Plus, Google loves blogs. Its bots crawl your site and they see all those keywords about procedures you want to be known for. They see additional content with every blog. They see new content with every blog. Google loves all of this and ranks you higher in search because of it. Plus, every blog makes your website bigger, adding more and more reasons Google should deliver your site to a searcher who typed in “What is laser gum contouring?” Your site has three blogs, an expansive procedure page, and a few before and after photos of laser gum contouring. Remember that Google wants searchers to feel the search results perfectly answer their query, and it looks like your site fits that bill for laser gum contouring.
We know you’re busy running your burgeoning practice, so you can have Advice Media handle your blog posts. We have a stable of writers who know their way around a dental blog post. The important thing is to keep your blog active.
You’ve done the hard part — you’re now a dentist! Don’t make it hard on yourself by making these three mistakes. A great-looking website full of well-written content, great photos, enlightening videos, and easy contact features is critical to search ranking, and to your visitors once they find you in search. You need to pay attention to your social media presence, and use it to show your patients and potential patients a lighter side of your practice. And you need to blog regularly, both for Google’s sake and for the education of your site visitors.
How to Build a Thriving Dental Practice
At Advice Media, we’ve been doing all of this stuff for 20 years. Let us help your dental practice make its mark online. For more information, contact Advice Media at 435.200.1018 or fill out our Contact Form.