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Can your patients find you online?

What you need to know about search engine marketing

Creating an effective Web site is top of mind for many dentists. But can patients find a specific Web site when they search for it online?

There is an entire industry built around creating effective Internet searches and it's called search engine marketing (SEM). The experts at ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing, a company that offers professional marketing approaches for dentists, have the knowledge and experience to help dentists be successful in this area.

Joel Harris, CEO of ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing, has been working to help dentists market their practices for several years.

"Millions of consumers use online search engines every single day," said Mr. Harris. "At ADAidm, we know how critical it is that new and prospective patients can find the dental Web sites they're looking for. In fact, it is one of the most important parts of a successful online marketing campaign, and it can produce amazing results for dental practices."

Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing that promotes Web sites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages. SEM is comprised of two parts: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC).

Search engine optimization is the process of improving a Web site's ranking in the organic results of the major search engines, which are Google, Yahoo and MSN. PPC results are those that appear as "sponsored links" on the top and right-hand pages of a Google search. SEO or organic results are those that show up in the center of the search page. Google, Yahoo and MSN show organic results based on what they consider to be relevant and trusted. Most Web searchers click on organic results—over 70 percent of the time, in fact—vs. PPC advertising.

"Optimizing your search results with the major search engines like Google has a long-term impact month after month," said Mr. Harris. "Paid advertisements, on the other hand, can generate some immediate traffic but will be more costly in the long run."

According to ADAidm, part of what makes SEO such a smart marketing investment is that it is highly measurable, easy to make changes on the fly and cost effective.

Overall statistics from dental practices show that 86 percent of Web searchers follow up with a phone call or a visit to the practice and 61 percent end up making an appointment. In the long run, SEO can have a much higher return on investment than other marketing channels.

More and more dentists are moving their Yellow Pages advertising budgets into SEO, added Mr. Harris, with a much better investment return.

"Online marketing is a smart, effective way for dentists to grow their dental practices over time with a consistent, targeted effort. If you want your phone to ring more often, we recommend you make it part of your monthly marketing budget."

Marketing coaches at ADAidm are available to speak with ADA members Monday through Friday. Call 1-888-218-4660 today to receive three months of free search engine optimization with the purchase of a 12-month SEO package.

For more information on ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing, visit www.adaidm.com.