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Google Local Search – The Goldmine for Your Dental Practice in 2010

Posted Apr 15 2010 9:14am

The following is a guest post by Jim Stratton. If you are interested in guest posting for Dental Heroes, please sign up here .

Jim Stratton

Welcome to 2010. Direct Mail, Newspaper Ads, and other traditional forms of advertising are continually becoming less effective. Gone are the ways of the past – consumers now have unlimited content available to them right at their fingertips, online.

A recent study found that 70% of internet users now search for local businesses online. So what are you doing to cash in on this rapidly increasing trend? Here is a quick guide on how to blow away your competition with local search, and tap into this all-important revenue stream.

The key to any powerful internet marketing campaign is having a website that turns online visitors into paying customers. The biggest trap most practice owners’ fall into is having a website that is nothing more than a digital practice brochure. It may be pretty to look at – have lots of content – but it fails to deliver a steady stream of high quality patients.

The only purpose of your website should be to get your visitor to schedule an appointment or request more information. One of the most effective methods for this is including a compelling, valuable offer that visitors can sign up for right on the spot – perhaps a “Free Consultation” or “Complimentary Exam”. Here is a great article with tips on how to create and promote a powerful offer: Lead Conversion

Pay-Per-Click marketing is a tricky area for many dental practices – some have tried and failed, others have just heard too many bad things, and many more simply have never heard of it or don’t know enough about it. What almost all of these practices have in common is that they are not aware they could be killing their online competition, instead of missing out on this golden opportunity.

For all of the internet users that now search for local business online, over 70% prefer using Google. If there is one search engine that you need to master when it comes to PPC, this is the one. If you do a search on Google for ‘(Your City) Dentist’, on the results page you will see a group of ‘Sponsored Links’ in yellow at the top, and another group of ‘Sponsored Links’ along the right. These links are PPC ads, and represent some of the first listings consumers find when searching for a new dentist online.

In order to run PPC ads for your practice on Google, you first need to make a Google AdWords account: Google Adwords

When first getting started, it is important to:

  • Determine radius you want to geographically target (campaign settings)
  • Identify relevant keywords to your practice (i.e. ‘Chicago Dentist’, or ‘Chicago Teeth Whitening’)
  • Create well-organized structure with groupings for your keywords
  • Create ads that tie in theme of their ad group’s keywords
  • Install conversion tracking to track performance

This article has some more specific info for getting started and AdWords tips: Insanely Effective Adwords in Three Easy Steps

Tracking the performance of your AdWords account (with conversion tracking) is absolutely critical to being successful, and is where many practices fail to turn PPC into a profitable marketing channel. With conversion tracking, you have the ability to determine specific areas (goals) of your website that have a “perceived value” to your practice each time they are reached.

These values are so critical because they tie directly into the financial math of customer acquisition for your practice. For example – if you know your average patient is worth approximately $1,500 in lifetime value, and one of every five people that request a free consultation become a paying patient, then you can start to realize the value of these incoming online leads ($1,500 / 5 = $300). Now obviously there are a multitude of other factors that affect profitability (supplies, overhead expenses, etc.), but the key is to try to grasp the understanding of how much you can spend to profitably bring in a new patient. Armed with this information, you can optimize your PPC account to maximize profitability by slowing down or pausing parts of your account that are not working well, and spending more on areas of your account that have a great ROI and could use more volume.

The final step to dominating Google Local Search for your area is having a well-ranked Local Business Listing. These are the listings that show up on the results page for the same search as before (‘Your Area’ Dentist), next to the map with the pushpins in it. These listings are 100% free to create, and more importantly 100% free for clicks received. If you do not already have one for your practice, you can create it here: Google Local .

Just having a map listing is one thing, but the truly effective ones are those that rank well for the relevant terms in your area. There are quite a few factors that go into the ranking of these listings. Here are some great resources for the known factors, which can help you get to the top for all relevant listings:

Dental practices are not immune to customer attrition. As with any localized business, people eventually move out of their area and can no longer be your patients. For some this is a harsh truth – but for others it presents an amazing opportunity, because there is also an ongoing flow of new potential patients moving into the area. By dominating Google local search now, you can move ahead your competition in the race to acquire these new patients, and cash in on the goldmine.

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