Elements of a Successful Online Presence
When you started your practice, you hired someone to set up a website for you. It’s been years now, and you haven’t really updated the website in a while. To be successful, there are some key steps you need to catch up in today’s high tech world.
An optimized website
• You need a website that is optimized with your keywords: the keyword phrases that people commonly use to find you. For every page on your website, you need to contain the primary keywords for that topic area. For example: if you name a page about dental implants, but then the entire page does not contain the word “dental implants” again-, Google and the other search engines will skip over you for the next website. It’s a bit of an art, to write content that contains enough keywords to keep the search engines attention, and to help your prospective clients find you.
• Your website needs to be responsive. It should be easy for someone to go through your website from their smart phone, laptop, desktop and tablet. Some websites may need a separate mobile plugin, if people use their phone to find you. Others will be fine with a responsive website
• Your website needs to have regular content added to it, on a weekly basis. Ideally, you should be adding content a couple of times a week. Hopefully, you have a website that contains a Content Management System. WordPress is a very popular one. This sort of content management system makes it easy to add fresh content to the website. The more often you post new information to the website, the more often the search engines will look at your website, and boost it up in the search engines.
• Do you have your social media icons displayed, prominently on the website? It should only take one click for people to find you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
• Do you use video on your website to gain better internet rankings and help people find you? With one of the most recent Google algorithm changes, videos are doing even better in the search engines. Videos are a relatively easy way to get a jump on the competition.
• Testimonials are a great way to help people get to know you. Make sure you have a tab on your home page, linking to some testimonials for people to read.
• Contact information is crucial. Add your phone number to the top right of the website, and your full address and contact information to the footer of your website. Create a contact form, so people can email you if they have questions. Sometimes people aren’t ready to walk in the door, but they will email you a question, to learn more.
Successful websites need a strong social media presence. You need accounts in all the major social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube; and you need to post content to these sites on a regular basis.
All social media needs to be branded the same. Your patients should be able to go from one social media venue to another and recognize and find your practice.
People are talking about you, whether you are active in social media or not. In fact, today, at lunch, I was clicking through Facebook. I saw someone saying he just injured his rotator cuff and who could recommend a good surgeon, and also saw someone posting to ask if anyone could recommend a good dentist on the south side of town.
We no longer have our relatives next door, and neighborhood friends to ask. We live in a busy world, where people don’t interact much with their neighbors. Connections are online now- and everyone searches online for their particular needs.
Social media isn’t going away, so it’s time for you to have active accounts on all major social media venues. Also, when people visit your website, they should be able to share your content to the social media sites. You should also give them the opportunity, from your home page, to find you on your social media sites, by prominently displaying your social media icons, with hot links directly to each site.
Links pointing to your website
Third party links pointing back to your website shows the search engines that your website is “important” and will push your website higher in the search engines. Links can be created through press releases, citations, social media posts, videos, directory listings, off-site blogs, bookmarking, and pinging.
Don’t purchase links from someone. It’s good to only work with marketing companies who are “white hat” (think of the good cowboy in the old movies) and that generate links to your website legitimately. If you have someone linking your website to sketchy websites (ones from other countries, or unrelated websites,) or using some sort of automated system to get you links- the search engines usually find out, and then they push your website far down in the search engines. This action is called “Sand boxing” and is not good when you were showing up on the first page of a search engine, and then a day later, you can’t be found for pages and pages of a search. It means that Google has punished your website for “black hat” marketing techniques.
This is just a short overview of what you need to have a successful online presence. It’s very important to stay current in your field: keeping up with continuing education, trends and the needs of your patients. Your time is very valuable. Hire a reputable, online marketing company to help keep your website and online presence up to date. BUT- make sure you keep the domain name in your name, and the hosting in your name. NEVER give up control of your website. You should know how to access your website at any time, and be able to change marketing companies, easily, and not lose your website design, backlinks, or any of the content to your website.
About the Author: Shirley Cress Dudley is the founder of SCD Consulting Services, providing Concierge Online Marketing to help you get more customers and have a strong internet presence.