Blogs by dentists: An essential tool for successful internet marketing

March 21, 2012

What is a blog, and why should a dentist care? “Blog” is short for “blind frog,” and if you believe that, I have some oceanfront Internet real estate that you’re going to love. Seriously, folks, “blog” is a word that Peter Merholtz created in 1999 from Jorn Berger’s term “weblog,” coined two years earlier. By definition, a blog is an online journal that can contain text, videos, and audio.

What is a blog, and why should a dentist care? “Blog” is short for “blind frog,” and if you believe that, I have some oceanfront Internet real estate that you’re going to love. Seriously, folks, “blog” is a word that Peter Merholtz created in 1999 from Jorn Berger’s term “weblog,” coined two years earlier. By definition, a blog is an online journal that can contain text, videos, and audio.

In the past decade, blogging has evolved from a personal journaling experience into an effective Internet marketing tool for businesses. From the big dogs, like IBM, to the little pups, like independent realtors, businesses everywhere are blogging-and for good reason.

The Internet and Your Business

Internet marketing has one primary goal: draw targeted clients to a business.

Now, consider that the Internet is a global media. Your dental practice, however, is local. Sure, you may serve patients from other states, or even other countries, but the majority of your patients probably come from a 12 to 20 mile radius of your practice (maybe a bit further if you’re in a rural area).

So how do you get local people to find your local business on the World Wide Web?

Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, scour the Internet to index information so that people can find exactly what they need, quickly. When you visit Google to find a veterinarian, you probably type in “veterinarian” and your city’s name. The terms you type in are called keywords. Websites that are optimized for the keywords you indicated will come up in a search engine results page, which we call a SERP. The list of results could be many pages deep. The more relevant, reputable, and well optimized the website, the higher it is in the results listing.

What does it mean for a website to be optimized for keywords?

When shopping online, people generally click thru to websites listed on page one, or the first few pages, of search engine results, so your goal should be to get your business listed on page one.  There are many different strategies that individuals, businesses, and Internet marketing firms use to optimize a website for search. By the way, you may have heard the term “SEO,” which stands for “search engine optimization.” That’s what we’re talking about here. Integrating keywords into relevant, original text helps with SEO. In addition, there are tags that can be added to website pages to tell the search engines what pages are about. But these days, content is king. It’s the words that really count.

What do search engines, optimization, keywords, and promoting your dental practice have to do with blogs? A lot.

Search engines consider blogs to be news, and, in indexing, news normally gets higher priority than traditional web pages. Factors that contribute to a site’s SEO strategy and, ultimately, SERP location are: amount of original and relevant content, longevity of a website and domain, how keywords and keyword phrases match up with terms that were input into the search, links to and from the site, and more. But, for the most part, a blog can seriously improve your search engine rankings.

How do you make your blog rank high on search engine results pages? ?Search engines do not publish a to-do list for bloggers or web masters. Instead, the factors that contribute to good rankings are always evolving and changing. Sound crazy? It’s not. People continually try to beat the system-to find shortcuts to make websites with irrelevant or poor content rank high on SERPs. Beating the system with sneaky tactics is referred to as black hat. Using respectable SEO tactics is called white hat. To maintain integrity, search engines regularly alter the rules to give high rankings to websites with quality content.

At present, the recipe for a blog that ranks high includes, but is not limited to:

  • Original text

  • Good amount of text

  • Frequency of blog posts

  • Age of blog

  • Domain of blog

  • Quality writing

  • Relevance to topic of blog

  • Keywords & keyword phrases included

  • Links to and from other websites

  • Hyperlinks with relevant terms

  • Bolded keywords

  • Titles with keywords

How do you start a blog?

These days, you have a few options. First of all, setting up a blog is free. Your best bet is to use a service like Wordpress or Blogger. These companies offer user-friendly, online applications that make blogging easy. They also do a lot of the search engine work for you. If you want to customize your blog with your logo, photos, and special features, you can learn how to do it yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you. It takes an investment of time, to be sure, but you can learn all you need to know online.

Your  blog can be as plain or sensational as you want. Custom templates are available for purchase, but you may need a website developer to help you with coding issues. Your blog can be a stand-alone website or link to your showcase site. It can also play a significant role in social networking and your web 2.0 marketing strategy. Blog posts can feed onto Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media, and, if you want, readers can post comments. You can also leave comments on other blogs that link back to your blog. And you can link-swap with fellow bloggers to improve search engine rankings.
If you don’t have time to write and post blogs at least a few times each week, you should probably consider hiring an experienced copywriter who knows dentistry, blogging, and search engine optimization. And if you don’t have time to set up your blog or post, consider hiring a dental Internet marketing firm like Modern Dental Practice Management to take care of everything for you.

Want to learn more about blogging?

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Shauna Duty is co-founder of Modern Dental Practice Marketing, a firm that provides complete blog and social networking set up and maintenance for dentists. MDPM offers team training for social networking, by teleconference or onsite. The professional dental copywriters, Internet marketing experts, and web developers at MDPM are in the business to make dentists smile.