Dental practices are bombarded with new marketing opportunities and ideas on an ongoing basis. Some of them are sound strategies, while others are borderline spammy practices. And while there’s nothing wrong with adopting a new dentist marketing technique to grow your practice, sometimes it pays to go back to the basics.
In terms of digital marketing, there’s arguably no investment more valuable and profitable over the long run than blogging. If you’ve put it off for years, now’s the time to get on board with this important trust-building, lead-generating strategy that continues to provide significant ROI for dentists and their practices.
Dentists often ignore blogging for a couple of reasons.
The first common reason is that they don’t see the relevance. They assume that blogging is something that ecommerce businesses and millennial entrepreneurs do, so they push it to the back burner.
The second common reason is that they assume it’s too much work. They hardly have any free time during the week as it is, so why add another item to the to-do list?
And while every dentist has unique circumstances, neither of these excuses holds up well over time when you consider the value blogging adds.
To understand the full impact and potential blogging can have on a dental practice, consider the following data points:
There’s clearly a lot of value stemming from blogging. But in terms of actual results, what can dental practices expect from a long-term commitment to this powerful marketing strategy?
Here are a few of the benefits we see in this industry:
Can blogging be frustrating and time-consuming at times? Absolutely. But when viewed through a long-term lens, the benefits far outweigh the short-term costs.
Whether you have experience blogging in the past, or this is a completely new endeavor, we highly recommend giving it a try. The results won’t come to fruition overnight, but they’ll come. Be consistent and patient – blogging works!
You don’t need the next seven-figure blog or household name. Figure out what you want out of your blog and go for it. For some dentists, picking up an additional patient every month is worth the investment. Other dentists want to see an increase of 1,000 monthly website visitors so that they can grow their email list. For others, it’s about establishing thought leadership in the industry to pick up speaking gigs or earn the opportunity to write a book. What’s your goal?
When you know your goal, it’s much easier to tackle blogging with excitement, purpose, focus, and vision. And when combined with the right techniques, good things can happen.
As with anything, blogging requires a certain approach in order to be successful. Here are a few of our favorite tips for dentists and dental practices:
The first step is to make sure your blog looks good. As shallow as it may seem, blog aesthetics play a key role in whether or not people enjoy and trust your blog (and ultimately your practice). So rather than skipping over design and layout, we recommend starting with it as your foundation.
A well-designed blog compliments your content, it doesn’t distract. You should design your blog in such a way that it’s clean, minimalistic, and reflective of your branding. There are numerous blog designs and layouts to choose from, including newsfeed-style options, card-based layouts, and more traditional navigation. If you’re ever unsure of which ones to go with, try polling your existing patients to see what they like.
Keep your main blog page clean and simple. (Distractions should be avoided at all costs.) As for individual blog posts, use the same design template for each. This consistency helps breed familiarity and trust with readers.
Dentists often ask us, “What should I write about?” And while this question can be answered in a number of different ways, we have a few thoughts and ideas.
Here are some effective dental blogging ideas we’ve seen:
Some dental practices jump around from theme to theme. Others have a predictable cadence where they publish certain themes according to a weekly schedule, such as “Sunday Smiles” and “Flossy Friday.”
No need to copy anyone else. Choose a theme and cadence that works for your practice.
If you’re blogging for SEO and traffic purposes – which is what 99 percent of dental practices with blogs are doing – you have to take keywords seriously. This means researching popular search terms and bringing your content strategy into alignment with these keywords.
When it comes to selecting keywords for a dentist blog, use an SEO keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine where you can get the most bang for your buck. You want to find the proper balance between search volume (which should be high) and competition (which will ideally be low).
It’s not always the blog that pushes out the most content that generates the best results. In most cases, it’s the blog that’s consistent that wins out. A long-term commitment to quality content will always beat out an excited blogger who goes 90-miles-an-hour for three months before fizzling out.
The best way to stay committed to blogging is to create a content calendar. This is essentially a calendar that helps you plan and track when content is written, published, and promoted. It also includes the subject matter, working headline, and keywords for each post.
If this is your first time launching a blog, don’t worry about creating a 12-month calendar. Though you might switch to an annual strategy in the future, casting such a far-out vision in the early stages will stymie your results.
The better approach is to plan in 90-day segments. By taking your content strategy three months at a time, you make it much more approachable and digestible. This also gives you plenty of flexibility to switch things up as you become more comfortable with your strategy.
Between seeing patients, managing a practice, spending time with family, and caring for your own needs, it’s not like you have a bunch of free time to spend blogging. If you take an “I’ll get to it when I can” approach, you’ll never publish more than a post or two.
In order to be consistent, you must do what you do for other important things in your life: Carve out time. Even if it’s just an hour each week, creating space in your calendar will increase the chances that blog content gets created and published on time.
Nobody ever said you have to be the one writing the content. And while it’s definitely good when the dentist writes some of the content, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to churn out thousands of words of original copy every week. You can hire people to do that for you. In fact, this is the preferred method.
Hiring a content writer to develop your content for you frees you up to focus on building your practice. You can then direct a little bit of time each week to sending the copywriter ideas and brushing up/editing posts prior to publishing.
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend and how busy your schedule is, you may also want to hire someone to handle blog management, social media, and promotion for your blog.
You don’t have to develop a content strategy from scratch. Sometimes the best approach is to find what’s already working and then adapt it to your practice.
While we don’t recommend mimicking the strategy of a practice in your same local market, there’s something to be said for finding other successful dentist blogs in other markets and mirroring them.
Mirroring, for the record, is not the same as copying. It’s the art of finding successful posts, creating your own headline and original copy, and creating a better post. You’re simply using their topic, format, and keyword strategy as a way of influencing your post. Think of it as a proof of concept. If it works for them, then it should work for you.
Though it’s important to develop quality blog content, the reality is that 10-times as many people will read your blog post’s headline than the copy itself. And if you want people to click on your blog post and engage with it, the headline has to grab their attention.
Headline-writing is an art form. It’s something that even the world’s greatest copywriters and bloggers are constantly trying to improve. And while you don’t need world-class headlines to generate results, any practice you put into perfecting this component of blogging will serve you well.
Here are some useful tips for high-converting headlines:
The goal of the headline is to get someone to click. We’ll never encourage people to write “clickbait” headlines that are misleading or dishonest, but there is something to be said for stoking excitement and creating engagement.
There are really two overarching ways of generating traffic on your blog. It’s easiest to think of them as pulling and pushing.
Pulling is precisely what it sounds like – you’re pulling people into your blog. This is the natural approach to building a blog (and the long-term goal of every dentist blog). Pulling is primarily done through SEO. As you improve your standing in the search rankings, you’re able to pull people in like a magnet.
Pushing is a more manual approach. With this method, you go out and promote your blog in a targeted way. The hope is that people are interested and they click/read/engage.
While you need both elements to have a successful blog, pushing is especially important when you’re first launching a blog. And the best way to push is to leverage the power of social media.
Social is something that most dentists get wrong – regardless of whether or not they have a blog. And if you want your blog to generate results, you have to course-correct and avoid the pitfalls that so many are exposed to.
For starters, get clear on the fact that social media is a two-way street. It’s a social tool that requires you to give more than you get. Connect with people, like their posts, comment, share other people’s content…be the kind of follower you’d like to have.
Secondly, you can’t post 100 percent promotional content. As a general rule of thumb, you should only share one promotional post (with a link) for every five posts you put out. Anything more than this makes you come across as self-serving.
The third suggestion is to be consistent. Much like blogging, the key to success with social media is to publish consistently over a period of many months and years. If you only pop your head in every few weeks when you have a post to share, people will ignore you. Show that you’re committed!
After you have a few quality posts under your belt, you may consider supercharging your SEO with an investment in link building.
Link building is basically the strategy of accumulating links that point from authoritative websites and publishers to your blog. The more of these links you acquire, the more Google finds your own site authoritative and trustworthy. This leads to a natural and organic rise in the search engines. Over time, link building can help you get ranked for key search terms and generate thousands of visitors to your blog.
While link building can be done manually through strategies like guest blogging and networking, doing it at scale requires a more formalized strategy. You might even consider working with a link building company to outsource the process. Either way, it’s highly recommended.
Want to know the truth?
Nobody will read your first blog post. Nobody will read your second one either. In fact, it might take a dozen or more posts before you get anyone other than your spouse to read what you’re writing.
The first few months will feel like you’re talking to an echo chamber. Your friends and patients will be polite, but nobody else will say much of anything. You’ll wonder if you’re doing something wrong and will be tempted to pursue something else – like advertising, podcasting, or some complex lead generation funnel that a guru marketer is selling on Facebook.
But do you want to hear another truth?
The key to successful blogging is to keep with it. After six months of committed blogging, you’ll see a trickle of results. At the one-year mark, you’ll hit your stride. Within 18 months you’ll actually start earning new patients from your blog. And from there…well, the growth potential is exponential!
There are a lot of good dentists out there. And there are plenty of dentists who are better writers and marketers than you’ll ever be. Your marketing budget might not be as deep as theirs, and your personality more understated. But the reality is that very few people in this industry are willing to make a long-term commitment to blogging. If you power through the self-doubt and stick to these principles, you’ll do far more with far less. That’s a promise.
Blogging is an investment. It requires time, effort, and (in some cases) a financial investment. The results aren’t immediate – it can take months or even years to get where you want to be – but they are proven. And the key to making everything work is to stay committed.
Want to maximize the value of your blog as a tool for generating more traffic, patients, and trust for your dental practice? SEO.co can help. Our team of experienced content writers, link builders, and search engine optimizers will take your blog from average to exceptional.