By ROB Editors
Many practices strike out on web searches. You can hit a home run with your web presence with two key tools: search engine optimization and social media optimization.
Many optometric practices have a poor “web presence.” Google a practice, and up come a dozen or more “doctor listings,” often with incorrect information and negative consumer comments. The identity and image of this practice have been hijacked by outside profiteers.That need not happen.
To thrive in today’s online world, a practice needs to create a dynamic web presence–to put its name, image and identity front and center for patients, both present and potential, to see.
Witness one practice that hits a web presence home run: Berryessa Optometry in San Jose, Calif., owned by Tommy Lim, OD, (founding partner) and Hung D. Mac, OD. If you Google this practice and view the first 10 listings, you turn up six organic listings leading to the practice web site pages and social media profiles, plus three listings that include positive comments on the practice’s Yelp, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Finally, there is a mention on the local Better Business Bureau site.
Q: How does Berryessa Optometry achieve 10 desirable initial listings?
A: The practice delivers excellent eyecare, and it makes use of two digital tools: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO).
Here are two perspectives on this process, one from the practice, the other from its digital strategy provider.
Tommy Lim, OD, Berryessa Optometry:
As a modern OD, you need to market to the new savvy consumer with new marketing techniques. Time and potential patients are being lost every day, but it’s not too late to help your practice to survive and thrive.
Deliver excellent care. The first step is to deliver excellence. Tweak your internal procedures and provide the best in patient care; this is what gets good reviews.
Hire pros and be active. Second, hire web professionals who understand optometry to design your web site and run your SEO and online marketing. We decided early on to hire EyecarePro, a company with a track record of understanding our profession. EyecarePro has helped us get set up online with a beautiful custom designed web site and a strong overall presence. We work together to maintain that strong presence with frequent updates to our strategy and a steady stream of engaging content.
Reinforce in person. Third, we reinforce our web presence when our patients are in our office. We have signage throughout the office that encourages patients to “like our Facebook fan page” and “check in on Yelp and Facebook.” Our staff and doctors have conversations with patients about the same topics, as well. I also used our web site as a vehicle to share with our patients and the online world some of the personal causes I am involved with, such as my church and our fight to stop human trafficking in Thailand, and providing vision care to the homeless in San Francisco.
Show that you are high-tech. Because our web site is constantly updated, patients can see what’s available in the latest spectacles, contact lenses and eyecare technology. Patients are impressed that we are so much into technology. Patients tell me they love communicating with our office by e-mail and texting. All these touch points reinforce the fact that we, like our patients, are very much into technology.
Nancy Rausman, EyecarePro:
Google search increasingly incorporates data from across the web, so to be seen you need to build up your practice name across the web. Google search optimization is fluid and ever-changing, making it essential to always be up to date on the industry. As SEO professionals, our approach has transitioned from straight SEO to building a dynamic, optometric-focused web presence for our clients. In Dr. Lim’s case, his active partnership in the process has enhanced his success, which also can be attributed to a combination of strategies:
Awesome SEO: Great rankings start with great SEO, the foundations of which are identifying the right keywords and making sure they appear enough on the website and in the web code, and getting quality links back to the site. With SEO, you can’t cut corners: If you put in the work and constantly improve on your strategy, you will end up ahead of the competition in the long run.
Awesome SMO: You need an engaging Facebook presence. Social media has had a growing impact on Google search, and Berryessa Optometry regularly updates its Facebook page with engaging posts and photos that spread the reach of the practice across the web. When Facebook fans engage with your page by liking, commenting on and sharing posts, this increases awareness by putting your practice name in front of their friends. In addition, it has been correlated with search result rankings. By creating posts that invite comments and incentives to like or share, you help to create engagement from fans and boost the overall web presence.
Focus on Google+ local: Google’s local business directory, which is the group of listings that show up in local search incorporated with Google Maps, is currently the biggest local directory, and for a local business this is crucial for success in online search. Very often these listings are created automatically by Google (at no cost to the business listed), but the listing needs to be optimized by the business owner, which involves completing business information, incorporating key terms and, if possible, adding photos. An optimized listing in Google+ local (see screen grab at top of article) uses the practice address as a base and connects the entire practice web presence for local search. Dr. Lim’s success with local search is enhanced by many positive customer reviews. Note that a number of review sites such as Yelp, are discounting solicited (bought) reviews, or even placing a warning note on a site suspected of buying reviews. The take-away: Encouraging happy patients to post genuine reviews can make a big difference, as you can see from Dr. Lim’s search results.
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Tommy Lim, OD, is founding partner of Berryessa Optometry in San Jose, Calif. To reach him: www.berryessaoptometry.com.
Nancy Rausman is managing editor for web content at EyeCarePro. She can be contacted at email@example.com.