With the difficult economy causing medical spas and laser clinics to work harder to retain current patients, decreased marketing budgets make it even harder to add new ones. However, the increased use of social media and web marketing has two major benefits: It’s less expensive than traditional avenues and it has the potential to reach targeted audiences instantly. Google Plus for dentists is a good place to start.
Although Google may not have as large a community as its Facebook counterpart – 150 million monthly active users compared to more than 900 million – experts expect the social network to grow and reach 400 million monthly users by the end of 2012.
Consumers often resort to web searches trying to find the best service; according to Google, one in five of these web queries is a location-based business search.
An effective way of appearing in search results for a target market is creating a Google Plus business profile and taking advantage of Google Plus Local, which was formerly known as the Google Places platform and is now simply combined with the social network Google Plus. Think of this as an interactive Yellow Pages listing for web-savvy potential clients.
“Since consumers today spend a great deal of time online researching local dentists, an online presence is not longer an option – it’s a must,” wrote Bob Dale, medical practice marketer, in his free “Google Plus Local For Dental Clinics” guide.
Some benefits of using Google Plus Local to list a business include:
- Google Plus users can conduct a local search for recommended businesses near their location
- It uses the 30-point Zagat review system instead of the tradition five-star system.
- Searches and reviews integrate popular Google features like Google Search, Maps and Mobile Maps
- A business can appear not only because of a user’s search terms, but also based on their location
- Potential customers may also learn more about a business on Google Plus Local by looking at product listings, photos, hours of operation and payment methods
- Word-of-mouth-like marketing advantage because users can see places their network likes and recommends
- Businesses can interact directly with clients and potential clients, answering questions and creating connections
All of this information may be presented in basic Google search results by people who aren’t Google Plus users.
How to show up in results
The Google Plus Local guide recommends businesses currently listed on Google Places maintain listings to get ultimate exposure and attract potential clients – all businesses that were listed on Google Places automatically have a Google Plus Local page. Businesses without a listing on Google Plus should consider signing up for a free account and getting their business verified by Google.
When customizing business page content, all information fields should be filled out with targeted keywords implemented into the business description to better the chance of appearing in search results.
“Google Plus Local is an avenue that every small business should take advantage of if they really want to compete with the corporate giants in their industry,” according to the guide. “Setting up and managing a Google Plus Local listing page is not extremely difficult, but it can be very daunting, time-consuming, and ineffective if not done properly.”