Editor’s intro: Building a well optimized digital footprint as a marketing asset requires a multi-faceted approach to develop an online reputation for your sleep practice.
by Marc Fowler
This is the second in a series of articles that will focus on effectively attracting sleep patients through digital marketing.
In the last issue, we discussed the importance of creating a brand identity for sleep that is independent of your dental practice brand. If you missed that article or still aren’t sure if you need a separate sleep brand, watch the video on the home page of DentalSleepMarketing.com.
With the core branding elements in place, the next step is to expand your digital footprint and begin developing an online reputation for your sleep practice.
The Changing Digital Landscape
When Bullseye Media started working with dental practices in 2006, all that was required for online success was a decent website and some basic SEO. Times have changed – significantly. Google has completely overhauled the formula they use to determine online placement as well as the layout of the search results pages. At the same time, the number of practices competing for a finite amount of online real estate has increased dramatically.
Online success today requires a multi-faceted approach. In addition to optimizing your website, you must also create well optimized supporting assets.
Google My Business Listing
For searches that Google deems to have local intent, the results page will typically contain a section that is called the Local Pack.
After pay per click ads, the Local Pack is the most visible section displayed on a Google search results page. Unlike ads, you aren’t paying Google to appear in the Local Pack.
The image to the left is an example of the most commonly shown Local Pack which typically contains the three business listings Google considers most relevant to the search term.
It is important to note that the Local Pack shows “above the fold” (content displayed onscreen without having to scroll down) on a desktop and is equally prominent on mobile, making it prime real estate.
In the Local Pack, Google shows business listings, not websites. To have your sleep practice show up in this section for sleep related searches, it must have a Google My Business (GMB) listing that is separate from your dental practice GMB listing. You cannot create a GMB for sleep using your dental practice information. This is one of the key reasons why creating a separate sleep brand is the first step in this process.
Once you’ve created, claimed and verified your GMB listing you’ll need to optimize it for better visibility. This includes adding photos and videos if you have them, writing a compelling description, creating citations via other online directory websites and populating your GMB listing with reviews from sleep patients.
Online Directory Listings
Establishing profiles on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch and Foursquare creates citations (references to your practice’s name, address and phone number). Businesses with numerous, accurate and consistent citations are viewed as more credible to Google. How many citations you need largely depends on how strong the competition is in your area.
In addition to helping boost your visibility in Google, accurate listings on the right sites will also improve you changes of being found by prospective patients. The patient may search directly on that directory website, or that directory listing may feed data to an app they’re using.
Online reviews are a big factor in consumers buying decisions. A large, often referenced survey by BrightLocal found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
The most visible and utilized review sites are Google, Facebook and Yelp, in that order.
Populating your Google business listing with positive reviews will help your sleep practice stand out. Reviews not only improve listing visibility, positive reviews increase the chances that a prospective patient will call to schedule an appointment.
You’ll also want to gather a handful of sleep patient reviews on your sleep branded Facebook page as well as your sleep practice Yelp listing.
Beyond generating credibility with prospective patients, having multiple positive reviews from sleep patients will add important keyword terms (sleep apnea, snoring, CPAP alternative, etc.) to your listings which improves your chances of showing up when prospective patients conduct searches that contain those keywords.
When our sleep clients invest in these critical supporting marketing assets, their marketing tracking dashboards show significant increases in the number of website visitors and phone calls. In many cases, those with well optimized GMB listings are receiving over 50% more patient phone calls than those without.
A digital footprint is only one step on the road to marketing success. Read Mark Fowler’s article, “11 Steps to branding your sleep practice for success”.