In a webinar that I did yesterday, I mentioned the increasing importance of blogging for a dental practice. For those of you who don’t know much about blogs (you’re reading one now, so you have some idea!) the word is short for “weblogs”, which were created as a form of online journal, essentially with articles that are written, usually by one person, and archived and searchable for anyone who wants to read them.
You can also subscribe to blogs, which means you could get them sent to your email whenever they are published. If you wanted to do this with my blog, you would click on the button to the upper right that says, appropriately enough, “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL”, and then fill in your email address. Now, onto your blogging career.
First, the “Why”. Most dentists would say to me, “Who the heck is going to read a dentist’s blog?” The answer is, no one. Your patients most likely won’t ever read it. On rare occasions a potential new patient might read it. But this is who will always read it: Google, Yahoo and Bing. In other words, the search engines. So what you are doing is providing relevant content for Google, etc., to associate with your website. Google is out there on the internet all day long looking at everything, and inter-relating it so that when someone does a Google search they can present what they deem is the best possible result, based on hundreds of criteria that they use (but won’t tell us about.) So your blog is one element in what I call “The Google Matrix”.
This consists of your website, your Facebook Page, your Twitter posts, your LinkedIn profile, your videos, and, perhaps most important, reviews that are written about your practice on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List or other review sites. See my previous blog about these.
Assuming you have good content across this matrix, your website will then have strong SEO, or search engine optimization, which should make it appear on the first or second page of Google search results (or Yahoo or Bing).
This is why you want steady content going onto your blog on a regular basis.
Now, the How.
Creating a blog is remarkably easy. Go to either Wordpress.org, or Blogger.com and download the software. It is free to run a blog through these sites. And they will also host the blog, so you don’t even have to deal with that. Follow these simple steps:
1. Pick a design. (They call it a theme.) Doesn’t really matter what you pick, so choose what you like.
2. Come up with a name for your blog. Something with “dental” or “dentistry” in it.
3. Fill in all the relevant information, especially your website. This is how the search engines are going to associate your blog with your website. Create settings that will allow you to automatically publish to Twitter and LinkedIn. This gives you fresh content on those sites.
4. Write your first blog and publish it. Be sure to preview it to see how it looks. And spell check it, I beg you.
5. Categorize and tag the blogs. ALWAYS do this. Google is looking for this to know what the blog is about. It should always have “dentistry” and “dental” as categories and tags. The rest you can create and add based on what’s in the blog.
Your blogs should be short and sweet. Two paragraphs, two sentences apiece is plenty. This is where you write about dentistry (as opposed to your Facebook page, which is where you personalize your practice.) Write about procedures, technology, cases (no patient names), or whatever else you want. Add a picture occasionally. And a video. Remember, you’re not trying to create a beautiful, comprehensive blog like the ones people read all the time, so don’t get perfectionist about it. You are just feeding the matrix.
If you want to increase the relevance of your blog, figure out how to use hyperlinks (the words that appear in blue and allow you to click to go to another website.) Also, list your favorite websites and blogs on your page. But don’t expect blogging to magically jack up your SEO overnight. It takes months. And you need to be feeding the matrix at the other points as well to get the optimum result.
I recommend blogging once a week. Ideally this should be someone else’s job in the office, not the dentist’s. And you can write a dozen blogs all in one sitting, and then schedule them to publish on specific dates. On WordPress, for example, as you draft the blog, you’ll see on the right where it says, “Publish immediately” and “Edit” next to it. When you click on edit you can choose the exact date and time you want each blog to publish.
To see a great example of how to do a blog right, check out Dr. Charles Payet’s blog. He’s been doing it five years now. Smiles by Payet. He’s a long time client of ours and a terrific communicator.
Welcome to the blogosphere!