Editor’s intro: In Part 3 of his series, Marc Fowler discusses how a direct-to-patient digital marketing strategy can proactively promote your sleep practice online.
This is the third in a series of articles focused on effectively attracting sleep patients through digital branding and marketing.
In the previous two articles we discussed the importance of creating a brand identity for sleep that is independent of your general dental practice brand and generating supporting assets that position you as the recognized authority in your market.
The third step in implementing a successful direct-to-patient digital marketing strategy is proactively promoting your sleep practice online. In other words, letting potential sleep patients know that you exist and that you offer an excellent solution to their sleep breathing issues.
Attracting Sleep Patients Organically
There are two ways to gain visibility online. The quickest and most expensive method is to pay for exposure via advertising. Google, Facebook and YouTube all offer comprehensive advertising platforms. We’ll look at these in a future article.
Today, let’s focus on the second method: gaining organic visibility. Organic visibility simply means positioning your sleep practice to be found by prospective patients online without paying for advertising clicks. You want to show up prominently for searches like “sleep apnea” and “snoring solutions”.
It’s no secret that Google is the 800-pound online gorilla. According to Statcounter, as of November 2018, Google controlled 87% of the U.S. search engine market, with Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and MSN fighting over the remaining 13%.
Given Google’s dominance, the focus of your online efforts need to be on optimizing for Google. As a local business, the best place to start is taking control of your Google My Business (GMB) listing. A properly optimized GMB listing can drive a significant volume of website traffic and phone calls. The article in the prior issue provides details on how to optimize your listing and show up prominently in Google’s Local Pack (also known as the Map Pack).
After optimizing your GMB listing, you should focus next on your website. One of the many advantages of having a dedicated sleep website is that it sends a clear signal to Google about your practice being sleep-focused.
Effectively associating your sleep website with the most frequently searched sleep breathing related terms is a critical step towards building organic visibility and attracting sleep patients from the internet.
There are over 200 factors that Google considers when deciding which websites to return in a search results page. A deep dive into Google’s algorithm is beyond the scope of this article, so we’ll look at two of the more important factors.
First is on-page or technical search engine optimization. That is, what’s happening on your website – within the code. I’m referring to things such as title tags, site maps, internal links, etc. These elements help build your website’s relationship to the target keywords. I highly recommend you contact someone with experience in on-page SEO. Getting it right can provide a significant boost, getting it wrong can leave you virtually invisible online.
User experience is another important factor for improved visibility. Is your website mobile-friendly, easy to navigate and does it load fast? Google tracks this data, as well as factors such as which pages are visited the most, which pages result in the most site exits, and time spent on site. Yes, Google tracks how long visitors stay on your website. The longer a visitor stays, the better. Google assumes that a longer average visit time means that your site has valuable content and is appropriately related to the search term that brought the visitor to your site. This helps Google determine the quality and relevance of your website.
In addition to what’s happening on your website, off-page factors also play a significant role in Google rankings. This starts with the quality and quantity of inbound links (websites that point traffic to your website). If Google sees other websites linking to your website, they assume you must be providing valuable content and be an authority on the topic.
Another important off-page factor in your Google rankings are citation signals. A citation is a reference to your practice’s name, address and phone number online. Unlike links, citations do not need to link back to your website. Just having your information listed online gets you credit for a citation. Businesses that are mentioned frequently online and have consistent information across their citations are viewed as being more credible to Google.
Building organic visibility for your sleep practice is a marathon, not a sprint. When the activities outlined above are done correctly and consistently over a period of time, you will see a significant positive impact on the success of your sleep practice.
If you’d like to take a deep dive into the unique organic visibility opportunities available in your market, give me a call. My direct line is 214-592-9393. Alternatively, you may visit BullseyeDental.com to schedule time on my calendar.
A direct-to-patient digital marketing strategy may include online reviews. Read Ian McNickle’s “What you need to know about online reviews for your practice.”