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Generating New Patients With Local Search Marketing

The phone book and local newspaper were once held as the most effective search methods when seeking out a local dentist. Today’s Internet-savvy patients prefer the ease found when searching online. In response, online search engines (eg, Google and Yahoo!) have developed their own online local search directories with new map interfaces that appear prominently above the natural search results. When a dentist inquiry is typed into the search bar, these search engines match the searcher’s IP address to a geographical location, providing the most relevant results.   

There are, however, unique search-engine algorithms that determine which results are displayed. As a result, it may be wise to implement a local search optimization plan through the assistance of a professional dental Internet marketing company. A properly implemented local search program can improve the exposure your dental practice will receive in the local maps results of online search engines, ultimately delivering new patients to your practice in the form of website traffic, phone calls, e-mails, and office visits.

Optimizing Your Location for Local Search Visibility

First, create a local business listing profile on Google and Yahoo! with your accurate practice information (ie, addresses, services, hours of operation, and photos). When a dentist search is conducted in your area, this listing will display in the local maps results with your practice name, a clickable web address, phone number, and reviews. Generally, the more accurate and up-to-date information you include in your profile, the better your chance of ranking in the local maps results. 

You will also want to submit your listing to Google Local Business Center in order to keep your practice information consistent across the web. Discrepancies with your practice data (eg, address or phone number) can hurt your chances for ranking in the maps results and prompt Google to question your practice’s credibility.

Directory Submission

Distributing your local listing information to leading online directories can also impact your ranking in the maps results. These directories focus exclusively on attracting consumers searching for local merchants. Since an increased number of listings in local directories is generally considered a good measure of credibility, search engines will often place your practice at a higher rank. Obtaining as many authoritative listings as possible is, therefore, an important component for earning a position in the maps results and can dramatically impact the amount of traffic to your site when used in conjunction with your optimized listing.

Generate Positive Reviews

Online search engines also consider the amount of reviews generated by a business to be a major factor in how prominently your listing ranks. The more positive reviews your practice receives, the better. Encourage feedback from your most loyal and satisfied patients. Patients with existing Google and Yahoo! accounts are the best candidates. They can easily log into your review pages and provide brief, encouraging reviews.  

Not only are reviews valuable to the search engines, but they also have a powerful influence on prospective patients looking for local dental care. A practice with several positive reviews will ultimately attract more prospective patients over a practice with negative or no reviews. 

When people search for goods and services in their town, they turn to the Internet. After all, why would a patient waste precious time turning through countless pages of a phone book when they could visit Google to obtain accurate, instant results. Potential patients are searching online for local dentists, and dentists without a local presence are losing prospective patients to those practices listed in online local search directories.  

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