Had a walk-in patient this morning. Well… not exactly a walk-in. He is a transient cable technician who roams around the country doing work for cable TV companies. He had an old bonding break off his central incisor last night. He walked in after finding us on Google without calling.
Using his mobile phone, he Googled “Emergency Dentist.” What is interesting is that he skipped right past the Adwords and even the “Local Business / Places” listings. His first and only click was the first organic listing, which was me (highlighted in yellow below). When I asked him how he found me, he pulled out his phone and showed me the results on his screen:
(I added the red labels for this illustration.)
Do it all!
Now… please do not infer that I am suggesting Adwords and Places listings don’t work or that you should ignore them. I’m not saying that at all. No doubt, they do work! But, they are only PART of the equation. The reality is that many, if not most, searchers STILL trust Google’s organic algorithms to give them the most relevant results (vs. Adwords, for example, which they know are paid advertisements). People trust Google. And, another advantage and attraction of organic results is the description that is attached to them. It is a brief elaboration of the link they are about to click.
Choose Your Web Marketing Company Carefully
What bugs me a bit is that many marketing companies that pursue the dental profession have a tendency to heavily promote the “Google secret du jour.” They emphasize ONE thing…. the “latest thing.” It gives them something to incite dentists into a tizzy. And, lately all the “rage” is Google Places, formerly known as “Google Local Business.” Mind you, Places is NOT new. It’s been around for a LONG time under the name, “Local Business.” What IS new is how they integrate it in the SERPs (search engine results pages). The Places listings are more prominent in the SERPs than they were before. So, your Places listing (which is FREE) is important. Do not neglect it.
My point is that SEO (search engine optimization) is still king. It’s still important… VERY important. SEO is what positions your website (and the individual web pages within your website) in the organic section of the SERPs. And, again… searchers TRUST the organic results. But, lately those purveyors of internet marketing services use anything they can to precipitate a new feeding frenzy among panicky dentists. And, in the process, the very foundation of good search engine positioning seems to get swept aside. And, the foundation is good SEO. I see sooooooooo many dentists’ websites that are not well-optimized. Some have essentially no SEO at all.
If you want to get found on Google, you must have good SEO. Yes… claim and use your Places listing. You can even use Adwords, but be sure to target them effectively and track the results, or you could spend a fortune for nothing. Use all the angles to your advantage. They all do count. But, do not… DO NOT neglect SEO nor let anyone convince you to dismiss the organic results in the SERPs. Today’s emergency patient skipped right past the Adwords and Places. And, to me, it’s not a mystery as to why he did.
That’s all for now, Dental Warriors!