A website and the odd patient review is no longer enough to keep your practice at the top of search engine rankings, says Guy Meyers.
When it comes to attracting and engaging with patients, websites and search engine ranking are just too important to ignore. Over the past decade, the digital landscape has changed dramatically, and search engines have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of the results they return to searchers.
Users want up-to-date, local information, and this demand is driving search results to deliver something new every time. For dentists, this means that if you want to stand out to prospective new patients searching online, you need to respond and keep working on your website. Constantly!
Managing your online reputation
The advent of third-party review sites such as Google+ and Government-sponsored examples, such as NHS Choices, now provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on your services and treatments. Optimising the use of these sites and your own website, is also recognised by search engine algorithms as highly valuable content.
Word of mouth recommendation, which historically has always been face-to-face, now also happens via digital channels, and being aware of this opportunity and exploiting its potential is all part of maintaining and managing your practice’s online reputation.
Recent research from Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising 2015 revealed that ‘consumer opinions online’ are now the second most trusted format for recommendation – second only to personal endorsement from friends and family. Google has been quick to recognise this trend and five star reviews are now the gold-standard for approval and play an important part in how your business is ranked.
Introducing processes by which it is mandatory to ask for patients’ comments and feedback is a must now for all NHS patients. If this can be automated through your practice management system, removing the time-consuming manual aspects of the task, all the better.
The integration of social media with your website is one area that search engines recognise and rate highly when considering where to rank a business. Dentists can enhance their social media networking by providing regular relevant, educational information to their following.
Interesting blog posts, compelling news items, patient testimonials and case studies, as well as useful weblinks to and from third party sites, will also all help to drive up social media engagement and secure a higher website ranking.
Using patient testimonials to refresh the content on your website organically helps with ranking and circulating patient reviews via social media and third-party sites is recognised by search engines as a positive power for good and gives potential patients an immediate and positive image of your practice.
Automating the collection and dissemination of patient testimonials is a key time-saving benefit, and ensures that practices not only collate valuable recommendations, but also use them for optimum impact.
Optimising your reach
Achieving page one ranking is the goal for all businesses and understanding the rules of the game and playing by them is the only way to ensure your practice website gets to the top, stays there and is visible.