By Dr. Greg Jorgensen
Rio Rancho, NM
There is no question that the Google search engine is THE search engine of choice in today’s online world. When you want to find something on the web, you “Google” it. The most current statistics estimate that 90% of all online searchers used Google in 2014. Yahoo and Bing each attracted about 3% and the remaining 4% was divided up between several less widely accepted search engines. Google is king and if you want your orthodontic practice to be found, you must focus your SEO efforts on being optimized for Google.
Google has two other services that bear the Google name but may be less understood by orthodontists. Those two are Google+ and Google My Business. One is VERY important to every business and the other may not be around a year from now. Let’s take a look.
Google+ is Google’s version of Facebook. Like Facebook, you can post photos, statuses, and videos. Acquaintances are grouped into Circles which represent groups of people with something in common. Their version of the Timeline is “The Stream.” Google+ has a useful communication feature called Hangouts which allows group texts and video chats. Over 500 million users are registered on Google+ (compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion), but the average interaction is only about 7 minutes per month. Its biggest strength is its tight integration with Gmail and YouTube which are very popular online services. Because it is so similar to Facebook without offering any real advantage, many on the “inside” feel that like several other Google attempts at a social network, Google+ is on its way out.
Google My Business is Google’s version of a Facebook business page. (It has formerly been named Google Places and Google+ Local.) Like a Facebook business page, there are pictures, a description of the business, hours, form of payment, a map, and reviews. A Google My Business listing is like a full page ad in the yellow pages in years past, and it is completely free. The one big advantage that Google My Business has over a Facebook page is that this listing is presented as the primary search result whenever someone performs a local search for an orthodontic practice in your area. The types of keywords that make a search local include business names, zip codes, addresses, phone numbers, and neighborhood names. Although patients may be able to search for your business within Facebook, most will just Google your name and find your Google My Business page.
In the interest of time and return on investment (ROI), which if either of these platforms is important for orthodontists? First and foremost, you MUST have a listing on Google My Business. When someone searches for an orthodontist in your community, Google will look first for your Google My Business presence. It must be complete, accurate, and attractive. Next, you should concentrate your social network efforts primarily on your Facebook business page. Zig Ziglar said, “Fish where the fish are.” The fish are on Facebook. There are conflicting opinions on the value of Google+ for an orthodontic office. The service is owned by Google and we all want to “stay in their good graces.” As for ROI, however, I personally haven’t seen any at all.