According to an article published in April, 2017, there are nearly 4700 periodontists practicing in the United States. That low number is either good news or bad, depending on your market.
It’s common sense that specialty dentists of whatever stripe usually practice in or near metropolitan areas. There are very few rural areas that would support a specialty practice. In quite a few states, that urban clustering means that periodontists are competing with any number of other periodontists for the same prospect base.
But these days, periodontists aren’t just competing with other specialists. In many cases, they’re competing with general practice dentists who offer non-surgical treatment for gingivitis and periodontitis. There are good reasons for periodontists to be concerned about non-specialists offering perio treatment, but the fact is that scaling and root planing are being offered in more and more non-specialist dental practices.
This Isn’t Your Father’s Referral System
Back in the day, periodontists saw patients strictly upon referral from other dentists. That’s still pretty much the case these days, and may well be true for your practice. But today’s dental patients have access to an unbelievable amount of information about periodontists. It’s not uncommon for patients to request (or insist) on referral to a periodontist who they have researched extensively online.
And dental prospects overwhelmingly begin their search for dental care online.
That’s why local search is so important for periodontists today. If your practice isn’t being found on Google (still the overwhelming power in online search), those patients who name-select a periodontal practice won’t even know that you’re an option. And they’ll be lost to one of your competitors.
Local Search For Periodontists
Today, all search is local. Google is focused on returning the most relevant results to searchers’ queries, and unless someone searches for “best periodontist in the United States,” Google will automatically return results that are geographically close.
When a prospect searches for “gum disease treatment in (city, state), you’re competing with every other periodontist and every general practice in your market that offers root scaling and planing.
The place to begin optimizing your online marketing is with your Name, Address, Phone (NAP) information. If that information appears in multiple locations – on your website and in your social media posts, for instance – the information has to be absolutely consistent in content and form. Having an inconsistent NAP will almost certainly drop your search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
That’s a fairly easy fix in most cases. What’s not so easy is having the optimal keywords in the right places in your online marketing.
Keywords have evolved from single terms (dentist, periodontist) to long-tail keywords, or phrases. For instance, “periodontist” is a short-tail keyword, but “periodontist in Dover, Delaware” is a long-tail keyword that Google treats as a single search term.
The possibilities for long-tail keywords are vast, and it’s important to know how well various keywords will perform in helping prospects find you online. A great place to start is with Google’s free Keyword Planner. You’ll need an AdWords account (also free), but once you have that, you’re set.
Optimize Everything, Including Who Does The Optimizing
Once you’ve selected the best keywords for your needs, you’ll need to revisit your website to make sure that they’re incorporated appropriately. There are some fairly technical requirements regarding keyword usage and placement, and you can actually incur a penalty on search results if you don’t follow those requirements.
Search engine optimization is a complex, rapidly evolving field. It’s not something that busy periodontists should tackle. You’ll do far better to outsource your SEO work. For that matter, you’re better off outsourcing all your practice marketing.
SmartBox dentists enjoy state-of-the-art SEO services as part of our industry-leading Patient Attraction System™. We help more than 550 dentists on three continents get more and better patients, and we can do the same for your specialty practice.
Visit smartboxdental.com and click on the Get Started button at the top of the page. Reserve your free, no obligation, Practice Analysis Session™. We’ll show you how you can double or even triple your practice.