Assessing the Competition 101

July 30, 2017 3:09 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

 

Is your dental practice struggling to keep up in this new age of competition?

Most dentists have faced greater difficulty in business now than since the Great Recession! In addition to the economic struggles, changes in the way customers find local businesses has changed how dentists need to approach marketing. Dentistry has become more competitive than ever, and to succeed you need to assess your competition to understand how they are beating you.

Reviewing Your Competitors

This isn’t politics — we aren’t going to sabotage a competitor or run a negative campaign. However, to be successful we need to understand what the playing field looks like. What areas are other dentists successful in, and what strategies need to be used to shore up your own marketing campaign?

To that end, here are the places we are going to start looking.

Organic Search Ranking

Conduct a Google search with your most important non-branded keyword, something like “Phoenix family dentist”. Make a note of where your practice shows up in the regular search results, noting those above you and just below you.

There are a lot of factors that go into your Google ranking, and after looking at the rest of these points, you should have a better understanding of why you (and your competitors) rank where you do. It’s important to have your website technically optimized for search engines in order to rank properly. Here’s a great resource to get you started: Hubspot website optimization.

Local Search Ranking

To us, your place in local search is far more important than your organic ranking. Users tend to head to the local search results (the maps) to find your practice and your website, rather than scrolling through pages and pages of organic search results.

In our digital age, the local search results page is the scoreboard. There are many factors that impact your ranking (some of which are beyond your control), and some of those will be obvious to the user, such as the number of reviews, overall rating, and proximity of the practice to the location of the searcher.

That raises an important point — Local search rankings are flexible, so these rankings aren’t set in stone. If a user searches from their cell phone at work instead of their desktop computer at home, they could see a different result. Using a different browser, location, or device can all have an impact on rankings.

As with the organic search, keep tabs on where your practice is showing up relative to your competitors.

Map Visibility

Hopefully, you’ve already claimed, verified, and optimized your Google My Business Page. That should mean that you place relatively well and your practice is shown on the map, but that isn’t always the case.

When competitors are very close to one another in physical proximity, Google won’t show all of them — they’ll choose one, and that’s bad news for the practice or business that just got scrubbed from the map. If this is you, then we need to pay special attention to the competitors that are burying you and learn how to beat them.

Google Reviews

Reviews are not only becoming more important for your potential patients, they are becoming more important for Google, too. Google even considers other review sites in their search results, in addition to their own. This point emphasizes the need to diversify your review strategy.

Increasing both the quantity and quality of reviews is an important part of not only increasing your ranking in local search results, but also helping the potential patient decide in your favor. When a user is in maps, that means that it’s go-time, and they could be making their first choice within moments.

If a competitor is outranking you, reviews could be a big part of the reason. Identify how you’re doing compared to the competition and you can begin developing your strategy to improve your online reputation.

Other Reviews

Google isn’t the only place your patients will be checking out your dental practice. They will look on sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Healthgrades, too. That makes it important to not only claim and optimize these profiles, but to also make sure that you are getting reviews in these places.

While Yelp, Facebook, and Healthgrades usually are the most important sites (after Google), yours could be different. Conduct a branded search (practice name + location) and see what two review sites show up in Google’s Knowledge Panel for your practice. You’ll want to scope out those as well as any other review sites that are near the top of organic search results.

Again, take note of how many reviews you have compared to your closest competitors, and compare your overall ratings.

Check Out Their Website

While it’s worth it to have an SEO expert dive into your own site, it can also be informative to see what everyone else is doing. There are a lot of on-site factors that will affect search rankings, but if it’s a tight race, even the little things can matter.

We’d expect any dental practice to have the basics of getting their name, address, and phone number in the right places. If competitors are ranking ahead of you, it’s likely there are other strategies in place that you may need to adopt.

  • Keyword placement – Without going overboard, it’s important to have your most important keywords showing up in the right places frequently.
  • Blog – Blogs and other content can give a significant boost when Google and Bing are looking to serve the best pages to their users.
  • Domain/URL’s – You can’t do much about a competitor snagging a good keyword for their domain, but you can adopt strategies around it. For example, changing a contact page to a “yourdomain/phoenix-dentist.com” can push SERP’s a certain direction.

If the competition is outpacing you with a better website, it might be time to recruit some professional help and evaluate your strategy.

The New Dental Economy

Dentistry has become more competitive than ever. To be successful, dentists need to adapt a smart marketing strategy that utilizes online and mobile connectivity to your advantage.

Great marketing can only get you so far. This new dental economy means that you must focus on running an organized practice with excellent customer service. You can’t fake a 5-star reputation — but the right approach can help you get there.

 

~Brodie Tyler

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This post was written by Brodie Tyler

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