This article originally appeared in the July/2020 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that marketing your dental practice online is more important than ever, but that the message may have changed. The crisis has trained people to reach for their computers for information, products and services instead of heading out to Main Street. It has also reframed how we interact with the world and each other; what is safe and what is not is still a question in many people’s minds.

The Opportunity in Change

Search engine optimization (SEO) — making your website appear as a top search result — is a must for practices that want to be found online when patients are searching for your services. However, many factors affect how your site ranks within these results, including the rest of your marketing strategy. While SEO is an important part of your marketing, it shouldn’t be your only focus. SEO, like most digital marketing tactics, is always changing. One day your site can be ranked highly on Google, and the next it can drop in rank because of a change to Google’s algorithm.

Search Engine Optimization and Organic Rankings

What do new patients look for when choosing a dentist? People purchase products and services based more on the results, or benefits, they will receive rather than their features. The same goes for your patients. Businesses across the board like to describe their product’s bells and whistles or the many, many details of what’s included with their service. New patients, however, will resonate more with your marketing and brand when you describe how the results of a treatment will make them feel, because that is what they are really interested in. When you focus on features, well, you may blend in with every other dentist who delivers the same services. Here are a few examples to show you what we mean.

Features Vs. Benefits

As a newly minted dental school graduate, you’re probably eager to get your practice up and running. While you are trained in providing dental care, you may find that getting new patients requires another set of skills. Growing your dental practice isn’t necessarily an “if you build it, they will come” endeavor. Taking marketing shortcuts in the beginning may cost even more money in a few years if you need to fix components like your website or online ads. Marketing can be overwhelming, but there are foundational elements that will help set you on the right track.

Do It Right the First Time