Google is king for getting your dental practice found online
The way that patients find and choose dental practices has changed a lot in recent years. Previously, patients often had to rely on recommendations from family or friends, which significantly limited the number of practices that were considered.
Now, most research from consumers looking for a new dentist is conducted online. As a result, dental practices that want to be found and chosen must rank high in local searches, and have a good online reputation.
Why Google matters most
Potential patients use a number of different methods to find your practice online, but for the most part they are relying on Google over Facebook and other channels. In fact, 63% of all searches in the US are coming through Google— far ahead of Bing which is second place with 24% of searches.
Because of the sheer volume of inquiries that come in through Google, it should be a priority for every dental practice to rank high on the platform. There are a number of things you can do to optimize your Google listing to ensure potential patients can easily find your practice. Before we lay out tips to improving your listing, let’s discuss how access to the information curated by Google is transforming the patient journey.
Explosion of micro moments
Online search behavior is evolving as a result of something Google refers to as micro-moments. A micro-moment occurs when a consumer wants to know, wants to go, or wants to buy. When consumers are experiencing micro-moments, they want their question answered or their problem solved immediately.
One of the factors attributed to the growth of micro-moments is the proliferation of mobile devices. Now that a vast majority of consumers have access to a smartphone, they can quickly conduct searches whenever they are experiencing a micro-moment.
For example, if Sarah gets a toothache on a Saturday, and her regular dentist can’t come in on the weekend, it’s very easy to conduct a Google search, “dentists open near me” and find someone who can solve her problem—immediately.
But “near me” searches are just the tip of the iceberg. Another trend that has been on the rise in recent years is searches like “best dentists near me.” Choosing a dentist is a very personal activity, and patients want to make sure they are selecting the best possible option. When conducting a “best” search, Google automatically filters results by star rating, placing even more emphasis on your online reputation and Google reviews.
Tips for optimizing your Google listing
The first thing you need to do to ensure your practice ranks high on Google is claim the listing for your practice if you haven’t done so already.
The process is fairly simple:
- Go to business.google.com
- Login to your Google Account (Gmail, G+, etc.)
- Search for your business by name and address
- Claim and verify your business
Once you’ve claimed your listing, go through and make sure your contact information is consistent across your website and all other listings. For example, if the address of your practice is 1234 Fifth Avenue, it’s important that you either always spell out avenue or always abbreviate it. Variations in your contact information could cause you to rank lower in local search ranking.
Next, you’ll want to upload high-resolution photos of your practice. Photos are important because they make your listing attractive to online searchers. According to Google, listings with pictures receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
Finally, you’ll want to start collecting reviews. Reviews are important because they not only help influence decisions about which practice is selected, but they also help you rank higher on search engine results. According to Moz, Google reviews are the fifth most important factor that determine where your business ranks. In coming posts, we’ll cover best practices for collecting more reviews and how reviews can drive more walk in business for your practice.
Leveraging the Internet Part 2: Attract New Patients with Online Reviews