Q&A: Improving Your Practice's Online Presence

Leonard Tau, DDS, and general manager at the online reputation company BirdEye, offers tips on boosting your Google ranking, properly using social media, and creating content for your practice’s website.

Leonard Tau, DDS, presented several continuing education sessions at this year’s Greater New York Dental Meeting, all of which dealt best web practices for dental practices. In addition to practicing dentistry in Philadelphia, Dr. Tau is also a general manager at BirdEye, a company dedicated to promoting online reputations of businesses. Dr. Tau spoke with Dentist’s Money Digest about key elements to maintaining a strong online presence for your dental practice.

Related: How to Be the Leader Your Dental Practice Needs

Q: What are some best practices for maintaining a sound online presence for a dental practice?

A: First of all, I think the most important thing that dentists don’t understand is not only do you have to have a website--because a website is the marketing hub for an office, it’s the place that you want to direct all prospective patients to, it’s your online billboard--but you often have to have consistent reviews that are coming in at least a couple times a week. You want to get as consistent of a listing as possible online. People talk about ranking factors. One of the biggest ranking factors is reviews. The other big ranking factor is consistent listings across a lot of the different local citations, as we call it

Q: What are some common errors you see dentists making with their online presence?

A: Signing up with companies who take advantage of them. Signing up with companies that don’t know what they’re doing. I think one of the biggest mistakes they make is they don’t have a plan. They kind of do things in the wrong (order). I think the biggest mistakes dentists make is they go and say, I’m going to go spend $10,000 on a website. Well, I don’t know why they would have a website without being found online first. Because if you spend all this money on great a website without being found, what does the website do for you? Absolutely nothing.

Related: 5 Steps to Boosting Referrals to Your Practice

Q: What platforms do you find tend to be the most effective, in terms of social media?

Facebook is by far the most effective. Again, let’s state that a little bit different way. Generating new patients, I don’t think any social media aspect is going to generate new patients. … Twitter is a complete waste of time. Nobody cares what a dentist tweets, so I wouldn’t worry about that at all. … YouTube, I love. Talk about yourself. Talk about your practice. Video testimonials. How-to videos. Question and answers. Those types of things are great. Pinterest is a great site. It’s very heavily women with higher income, if you want to put before and after photos on there. Instagram is great for a younger generation.

Q: Obviously, there’s good content and bad content. What’s the type of content that actually gets a potential patient’s attention or a current patient’s attention?

I think the most important thing is, what content would Google like. With Google, content is king, so you’ve got to give them as much content that’s going to get you ranked higher. … You want content that is going to engage the reader. You want content that’s going to give you subject matter on which you’re the expert. You’re going to want content that’s sharable. You want to get content that has an action attached to it, that makes them want to do something with it. … The biggest thing about social media is you don’t want to sell the readers dentistry. You’re going to turn the readers off. You want to find content that people appreciate. If people are going to listen to you, it’s not about selling dentistry. It can’t be about, come in and buy Invasalgin for a cheaper amount of money. You’ve got to get them to be engaged in what you’re writing.

Q: What are the sorts of things you can do to elevate yourself in Google rankings?

The competitive difference maker is by far and away—and this is where my specialty is, in ranking better—reviews make you stand out. … The point is here, the more Google reviews you have, the more patients trust you. The more consistent citations you have, the more Google trusts you, the higher they rank you. The higher they rank you, the more visible you are, and then the more patients that are going to come into your practice. … And that’s a huge driver of patient load these days. In terms of what other things will help you rank higher, having a lot of content on your website that is relevant to what you’re trying to get out there. If you want to brand yourself as an Invisalign dentist, you need to do a lot of Invisalign content. … It can’t be a lot of spam content. It can’t be content that violates a lot of Google’s terms and conditions. So you’ve got to use legitimate companies that know that stuff. Because if you violate a lot of their penalties, they’re going to penalize you, and you’re not going to be visible at all. So you’ve got to find legitimate companies that know what they’re doing.