Most dental practices have at least a basic understanding of the importance of Google, but in order to maximize the results for you, I’m going to start with the basics and work my way into full utilization.
Step 1. Claim your business. You do this at www.google.com/maps. Put the dentist’s name or the practice name in the search box, and you will undoubtedly find it listed. (If nothing appears, just go to step 2.) Click on your business name as listed on the left side of the page, and then click “more info” (where the arrow indicates below. Also, clicking on the images in this blog will enlarge them).
This will take you to a new page which will show your business details and any reviews you might have. You will see a place in the middle right of the page where it asks, “Is this your business?” Click on the “Manage this page” button below it, and then on the next page check “edit my business information” and click “continue”.
Now you’ll see your basic information, and as you scroll down you can see all the possible info that you can add. If you try to change the name or address, it will want you to validate your ownership, and it will send you a code to your practice phone number. (Someone has to be there to answer, so do this from your office.) This will allow you to become the administrator of your page.
Once you’ve added some information, Google will tell you that they are sending you a letter that will give you a PIN and instructions on how to become the administrator of this page. They, and you, don’t want just anyone adding or changing information. Getting the phone call is quickest, usually, so I would modify the address slightly to make that happen.
But do you see all the information you can add: hours, special services, photos, video, and most important, your website? Do ALL of it. This is free advertising and free SEO. You can even put in a new patient offer in the “description” box.
Step 2. Create a Google+ business page. This is easy once you’ve done the first step. Go to www.google.com/+/business/ and click on the “Create a Google+ Page” button. They will ask you to put in your primary business phone number, and this in turn will find your Google Places page.
Just follow the instructions from there, and be sure to use a nice panoramic photo as you would do on a Facebook Timeline. If you had your website designed by us with WebDirector, we would carry your design through all these social media pages. This page is going to be where you post just as you do on your Facebook business page (which hopefully you’re doing). You would simply replicate the posts at this point, because you’re doing it mostly for the Google juice.
A Google+ page increases in value when you have your patients do a “+1” on your page, because Google will link these notations to Adwords (which I will explain below), and give you a slightly higher ranking. Every bit helps. Your website builder should also put a G+1 button on your front page.
Step 3. Solicit reviews from your patients. During the past twelve months, it seemed that everyone’s Google reviews simply disappeared, but now they’re back. And they are important. Important because consumers read them, and also because Google “reads” them, in that it looks at the ratings you’re given and the total number of reviews. They have also announced plans to analyze the text of the reviews to give a “sentiment score”, and so negative reviews will count against you in the SEO game, and you will need positive reviews to offsite them.
So what is the best way to solicit Google reviews? First, understand that only someone with a gmail address can review your practice on Google. In some ways, this makes it easier, because you can figure out which patients can review you by searching patient email addresses. Then what you want to do is send each of them an email asking politely if they would be willing to write you a review on Google, and insert your Google Places URL into the email, so all they have to do is click on it. To find your URL (which is just an array of characters, not your name, unfortunately), go to your Google+ page, click on “profile”, and then copy what is in the URL box at the top (see the yellow arrow below.) It will start with plus.google.com and then a long string of numbers–copy this, EXCLUDING anything after the string of numbers and the “/” mark. When you insert this in the email, patients will be able to click on it and it will go directly to your page, where they can then click on “write a review” (see the red arrow below).
It is also possible to have patients write a review for you while they are in your office, but there are two key facts to remember:
1. If they do a review from any device of yours–a computer, tablet, whatever–then Google will discard it, because it believes you wrote it. They can only do it on their own smartphone.
2. If you offer free wifi in your office, which I highly recommend, then DON’T ASK PATIENTS TO REVIEW YOU ON THEIR SMARTPHONES! If their phones access your wifi, then Google once again will discard all those reviews as written by you.
These two details are the reason it’s best to email patients to request reviews. If you have digital communication software like Patient Activator or Revenue Well, one of the benefits is the ease with which you can send a group email to your patients. You could even combine it with a request for them to review you on Yelp, and just put all the information for both places in the email.
You don’t need tons of reviews, but you will want a steady stream of positive ones so that there are always fresh ones for people and Google to read. Two or three a week is great, but more than five a week is unnecessary.
Step 4. Bid on keywords. What this translates to is advertising on Google using Adwords. You would go here to do that: www.google.com/adwords/express.
This is the simplest way to get started. Just follow the instructions, pick some basic keywords–specifically the word “dentist” paired with your town name, and another paired with your zip code–then add a couple of others, like Invisalign, dentures or dental implants; things you specialize in or like to do. Don’t go crazy with too many keywords yet, and don’t set a high budget. I suggest starting with $500. And please, I beg you, track the results, and use some of the analytics that Google will provide you. You ideally want to appear among the first three places on the right of the search results page, but the possibility of this happening will vary based on hundreds of things, but primarily what other dentists are willing to bid for a click, and how competitive your area is in the online world.
I hope this helps!
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