Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You’ve heard the term and you might even be fairly familiar with what this is. Search engines like Google and Yahoo “crawl” the “web” and determine from the “keywords” on your website what your website is about so they can “index” all “crawled” websites and present them in the order of likely best relevance to someone who enters a search term in their chosen search engine’s “Search” bar. Simple, right?
You might also know that thanks to the vast commercial potential in having your dental practice, hardware store, microbrewery, law practice or eBay® store being “found” “organically,” or simply through search term(s), that many work hard to make effective use of this boon of the digital age and many others try to exploit it with shortcuts. For example, have you ever searched for something, such as an accountant, and arrived at a page that had nothing but a segment of Wuthering Heights? All kinds of shortcuts and tricks are employed for so many reasons—some nefarious, like dropping a virus into your laptop if you click a particular button.
It’s a minefield out there, and the layout changes all the time, but there are veins of gold out there, too. An SEO expert is like having an experienced tracker lead you through the forest to the fort, through and around the peril of bandits to safety and reward.
Furthermore, Google is far from being nitwitted. The algorithms used to determine “rank” are secret and are ever-changing in an effort to reward legitimate web pages and penalize the tricksters. Subtle changes in Google’s behavior are discussed where we geeks like to hang out, on geek chat boards, which is what we do when you close your practice for the night and go to dinner. We’re geeking out over the latest apparent changes at Google!
The result, though, is pretty cool. We know how to mockup your web pages and make them highly “visible” to “web crawlers”; in other words, how to make Google love you. What all this comes down to is that we get you noticed, we get real live people started into your marketing funnels (which we also create for you, by the way), we get then them on your phone, we get an abundance of data on each caller, we get them in your door and in your chairs, and we get them happy and coming back. And to think, it all starts with that first “look.”
Google AdWords is the now-prominent online advertising service released by Google back in October of 2000. It’s a serious staple of any modern marketing program. In fact AdWords, as ubiquitous as Google is, has become Google’s main source of income! If you’re familiar with search engine optimization you might have said to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could pay for preferential treatment and be found more easily!” Through the use of AdWords, you can.
Also called “pay-per-click,” (PPC) with AdWords you (or we, if you leave it to us as experts) decide which keywords are most relevant to your website and your business. You decide how much per “click” you are willing to pay Google and its affiliates to display your listing or display ad each time it is presented and clicked on.
For example—and here’s how spooky good they’ve gotten at this—let’s say you’re in the market for a Grady White boat and you spend some time searching for one and checking out the company website. After a while you go to a news page you read each day and in the right-hand column there’s—guess what? A small display ad for Grady White boats! Google knows what you’re interested in, sometimes seemingly a little too well. But it’s all an aggregate of data that gets acted on fairly intelligently.
No, not really.
For example, you’d pay a fortune for the keyword “dentist,” in all likelihood, and even if you did choose “dentist” you might come up in searches for dentists in Bangladesh, which is no good if you’re in West Orange, New Jersey. So there’s something to it (to say the least). Think of the poor soul who represented himself in court or the poor fellow who attempted to extract his own wisdom tooth either out of desperation, financial duress, or masochism; many who attempt their own AdWords campaigns are soon disabused of using probably the most prominent and effective online marketing service in the world.
There’s a right way to utilize AdWords: to carefully calculate which terms to use, how to determine budgets, how to interpret results if you can even make sense of the multitudinous spreadsheets Google provides, which are designed (or with a lack thereof) apparently for human computers like us at Dental Web Now.
Like anything that requires technical expertise, AdWords should be a key component of your marketing program, and like anything that requires technical expertise, with the right techie running things on your team, it can be a golden goose for your practice.
Social Media Marketing
You might remember how, in 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge swept across the United States like a tidal wave? Everyone from our literary editor to former presidents took part, making videos with their phones and sending moolah in support of ALS research. It looks like 21.7 million dollars was raised thanks to the videos going viral—you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on. . . This might be a pretty extreme case of social media at work, and mainly within just one channel (Facebook, primarily).
A more day-to-day example might be you walking into a new health club or a dentist’s office and having an experience so fantastic that you announce as much on social media. We all seem to have our own favorites:
…and those yet to reach prominence.
And let’s say a friend or colleague of yours appreciates your post or message and decides to check it out herself. She then blogs about it and her readers go see that new band or visit that new (to them) dental practice. Sounds a lot like the good old reliable word of mouth, right? Well, it is, but it can be much more powerful electronically, along social media platforms.
It happens organically all the time—someone “LIKES” a Facebook page for a restaurant, for example, and that person invites his friends to LIKE it as well – and many do. They’ve now in the very least been exposed to the business once, and enough exposures end up with the person trusting the business and much more inclined to call, visit, or make a purchase.
However, social media marketing campaigns can be actively created and promoted. They’re also called content marketing. Writers, dentists, other health practitioners, politicians, all walks of life put their thoughts, experiences and expertise online in one form or another, utilizing one or many of the above listed platforms, and people see what they’ve written, recorded, photographed, or videotaped. It’s also called attraction marketing, more broadly. You create content that is valuable enough that people will come back for more, and hopefully tell others about it, too. You build platforms, collections of fans and followers this way, by giving lots of good information, experience, and expertise away and giving it away often and for free.
It can be a job, too! That’s where we come in again. We create content for your practice: blogs, articles, videos, images. They are strategically created and placed. People see them and like them and the word starts to spread. Consistent and anticipated, great content is the fuel that ignites your social media marketing, and it, like AdWords and SEO, are staples of any good, modern marketing campaign. And once again it’s generally electronic, and best left in the hands of techies and professional writers. At Dental Web Now we have plenty of both, all unusually great, if we say so ourselves.
A friend of mine used to buy, upgrade or repair, and sell houses. It was an endeavor that involved a lot of work and a great deal of risk. He told me about one house in particular, with pretty much everything on the line, he finally had it ready to start showing and needed to sell it. A ton of people called and viewed the house. Many called and looked before he eventually found a good fit for that house, but when he finally had a contract it was kind of anti-climatic. In fact, something occurred to him that seemed even more important than that single sale.
Probably as many as thirty people came through that house, all “hot to buy,” but there he was, with just one for sale. His first act was to obtain a real estate license and become a salesperson, with access and the legal ability to sell anyone interested in any of the many homes listed for sale. Since he was likely to meet lots of people looking for houses, the next thing that occurred to him might have been even more important.
He had not obtained or recorded any information about any of the priceless prospects for buying a home. Their names and numbers would have been tremendous, of course, but what if he’d gone even further and had demographics? Characteristics of callers? What about finding a pattern as to what time of day they seemed to call most frequently or where most seemed to come from, if any trend could be identified at all?
We’re pretty sophisticated today. It’s amazing the amount of intelligence which can be utilized today for so few pennies on the dollar as compared to, say, a billboard campaign for $5,000 a month some years ago! We can pinpoint the characteristics and behaviors of callers and clients today, and sometimes with laser-like precision, get in front of the right people for your practice, even for targeted services.
The big differentiator today is who you hire. The tools are available to anyone, but who you have at the helm makes all the difference, of course. Hire us—hire geeks who love this stuff!
Call tracking is a term you’ll be hearing more and more about. It’s a technology which collects all kinds of information about incoming calls. We can design campaigns with special URLs and dynamic phone numbers that tell us which campaigns get people calling in, and we can—as soon as the connection is made—know their name, where they’re calling from, the time they called, and we can record the call itself to gauge and improve the quality with which they are handled. This is performance based marketing—it’s all measurable.
We can evaluate the behavior of the callers, find out what they like and don’t like, and other valuable info. We end up with a metric for customer response to any given campaign or channel, and we can explain and make decisions on the data with you and for you.
In his seminal and first book, The Four-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris relates a very cool story about thinking outside the box (and how he was penalized for it). He says he had a phone room job from nine to five each day and was—as was everyone else—typically stopped by gatekeepers to the executives he was trying to reach. Something occurred to him though. He had observed many executives arrive early and stay late. He began setting his own hours and rather than the mandated eight-hour day he started working just one hour per day, between eight-thirty and nine a.m. and again from five p.m. to five-thirty. All the gatekeepers were gone, and he made more appointments with execs than anyone else in the phone room.
Tim recognized a pattern. Patterns, revealed, can lead to very effective strategies.
According to Wikipedia, “web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data,” for measuring web traffic of course, but also for market research and to improve the effectiveness of a website and marketing campaigns.
Special terms like “Unique visitors”, and “page views” scratch the surface of what we can understand and do with analytics. We can actually use analytics for on-site as well as many off-site channels, as often they combine. For example, we may determine someone responded to a postcard you mailed them and their next action was to visit your website prior to calling your office. It all can be evaluated and used to improve campaign effectiveness and efficiency, and maximize your return on investment (ROI). Important stuff; in fact, a lack of evaluation can lead some to abandon what might have been very profitable campaigns, or to continue useless ones into perpetuity.
Through analytics we demystify your marketing, and we’re great at it—we love this stuff.
We can know what’s going on across the web as well as evaluate a visitor’s behavior on your site and use that data to make informed decisions, maybe even arrive at innovative strategies like Tim’s!