I’ve got to be kidding?! Business blogging? For Australian Dentists?! That’s got to be one of the craziest notions you’ve ever heard, right?
I know you are possibly sitting there right now, scratching your head and wondering why something as geeky as blogging could provide any benefits for you and your practice. And you are also probably wondering how you’d be able to manage it, given your already impossible schedule.
(There may even be some readers who aren’t exactly sure what a blog is! Simply speaking, a blog is a part of your website where you can post (write) articles (blog posts) about anything at all. The posts are arranged chronologically down the page: the newest post is always at the top. Posts are often categorised, so that if a reader is interested in a particular topic- for example, cosmetic dentistry-, they can search that category for all relevant blog posts that have ever been written about this topic on this website)
Now, let me explain what I believe are the benefits of business blogging for any business, including a Dental Practice.
First of all, blogs are an excellent way to help your website’s Search Engine Optimisation. Google and the other Search Engines LOVE to see fresh content on websites: it signals to them that the website (and therefore the business behind it) is active. Google will tend to reward this activity by increasing a website’s rankings, making that website easier to find in the search results.
It does help enormously if the topics you are blogging about are relevant to your industry and your business. It’s probably not a great idea if you are a dental practice to do lots of blog posts about fashion or football! However, if you do an occasional blog post about something that’s happening in your city this weekend (which might be a fashion show or a football game), the fact that you are writing about your location may also help cement your status as a business in that location. This might be a helpful factor for your Google Places (Map) rankings too: and of course, the better your map rankings, the more visitors you are likely to attract to your website.
(You’ll notice I’m saying ‘might’ and ‘probably’ a fair bit: that’s because I’m not privy to the detailed workings of Google’s ranking algorithm. Some of what I’m sharing reflects my direct SEO experiences, and other parts are intelligent guesses. It just makes sense to me that Google is always looking for evidence that your business website is related to your industry and your location- so these topics are probably always safe bets!)
Google and the other search engines aside, you’ll probably find that people who visit your website will also be interested in what you are sharing on your blog. Website visitors often enjoy looking at images of practice staff, and reading their bios: reading a blog allows the visitor to learn more about your practice, your expertise, your philosophies, your staff, your industry… For some people, this virtual connection with you and your practice becomes a critical factor in their decision to become a patient of your practice. If they can ‘meet’ you, like you and trust you as a result of the information you share on your website, they’ll probably call to make that appointment.
Some dentists won’t like the idea of exposing themselves via a blog at all: we are very used to establishing rapport face-to-face, and maybe the thought of putting ourselves out there in cyberspace is a bit icky or tiresome or creepy. I often have to talk long and hard to encourage dentists to put their own photo up on their website. Geez, we’re a shy bunch!
The fact is, we are now living in a world where millions of people interact virtually on interfaces like Facebook and Twitter every single day. People are becoming used to learning so much about a business on the internet before they ever have any contact with the actual business. We research on line, we ask our friends for recommendations on Facebook, we are compelled to click on the Google Maps results, we look at staff photos and read blogs.
That’s the reality of 2012.
OK, maybe I have you convinced that business blogging isn’t such a bad idea for an Aussie Dental Practice.
But how the heck does a busy dentist manage to find the time to blog?
That, dear reader, will be the topic of my next blog post!