What is a blog? Does the general dentist need one?
What’s the benefit? What’s the investment?
What is a blog?
Blog is short for two words crammed together, maybe for the sake of saving time, but more likely because it makes for a fun word. Blog stands for web log. Basically, a blog is like an online journal. You can post entries as often as you like. Blogs are often used by businesses to share information, much like a newsletter. Posts can include links to other websites, photos, podcasts (audio files), videos, and other cool media. People can subscribe to a blog via email and receive emails when new posts are made or via RSS feed, so that they have a notification system in their browser.
Do I need a blog?
That depends upon your goals and the image you want to project. Ask yourself…
• Do your patients use the Internet?
• Is one of your goals to educate patients?
• Do you have specials, news, or other timely information to share with patients?
• Could you maintain a blog or afford to have someone maintain it for you?
• Do you want to attract patients with online marketing?
If you answered yes to at least some of these questions, you might want to think about a blog. However, for the small dental practice that’s happy with the status quo, a blog would be a waste of time.
What’s the benefit of a blog to my practice?
1. Share the Knowledge: A blog, by its very nature, provides a way to share your thoughts and ideas with the world. Narrowing that down to dentistry, you are an expert in your field. You have insight and valuable information to share with patients. A blog allows you to share your knowledge, providing patient education in an archived format online.
2. Boost Your Website Rankings: Search engines know that blogs contain new, useful information that’s regularly updated. For this reason, search engines index blogs more often than full websites. In layman’s terms, your blog post could show up in Google searches within a day or two, but your website pages could take six to twelve months to move up the rankings. Furthermore, links and keywords that complement your website’s SEO strategy in your blog will enhance your overall website results. Change in your stats will take time, so be patient. Reports will show real, measurable results over time.
3. It’s Pretty Cool to Have an Online Newsletter: You’re in the business of making people look sensational, so you know the importance of image. “Blog” is the new “newsletter” in business. If you have a blog, and you tell your patients about it, they’ll think you’re really on top of your game.
What’s the prerequisite for blogging?
Honestly, you don’t even have to own a website to have a blog. However, a blog works best as a complement to a good custom dental practice website. Other than that, if you can type, you can blog. Before you jump in with both feet, consider reading some online advice about blogging. Learn what works and what doesn’t by reading other blogs and researching “blogging” online. You’ll also need to be familiar with your state dental board’s advertising guidelines so that you don’t compromise your license by writing something that’s against the rules.
What investment is required?
There are various ways to start and maintain a blog. Here are three avenues:
1. For the dentist who has no time
Call your website company and ask that a blog be set up on your website. This will involve a reasonable one-time fee. Ask for a professional dental copywriter to compose your blogs and optimize them for search engines.
2. For dentists who want to be more hands-on
Again, ask your web design company to set up a blog on your website, then request training. With simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) applications, most blogs are easy to use. You can learn to post blogs yourself, or your hygienist, office manager, or spouse can post for you. If you find that weeks or months pass and you have not blogged, consider GhostPosts to supplement your efforts.
3. For dentists who have no marketing budget but want to try a blog
To get your feet wet, you can create your own blog online. Services such as WordPress, Blogger, and Bravenet offer free blog systems. Simply sign up and get started! Once you’re ready to move your blog to the next level with a designer look that matches your website and customized search engine optimization, call your website design company for assistance.
What should I blog about?
That’s completely up to you. Keeping SEO in mind, write on topics for which you want to be found. If you want veneers patients, write on veneers. If you want emergency patients, write about emergency dentistry.
Sampe blog styles:
Newsletter style – News that affects patients; practice news; community news; events
QnA style – Patients can email their questions, and you blog about the answers.
Journal style – Write about what’s on your mind. Explain issues that come up during your daily routine. This might include topics like why dental insurance isn’t awesome, why digital x-rays are awesome, or how to choose a good toothbrush. Also, you can blog while you’re at CE courses, sharing new info with patients as a journalist.
Case presentation style – Some dentists like to present cases of actual patients and write about them. You can include testimonials, case descriptions, and patient education alongside case photos.
Hygienist’s blog – Your hygienist can blog on any of the above topics, with a primary focus on patient education and oral health.
Why doesn’t every dentist have a blog?
Not all dentists have websites or want to market online. However, for those dentists who want to communicate with patients and make the most of online marketing, other hurdles exist. If you think:
I don’t have time to blog
I don’t like to work on the computer
I don’t want to learn how to blog
I don’t know how to market a blog
But you also think:
I want to communicate with my patients online
I want to appear technologically advanced
I want to make the most of search engine optimization
I need to get my name out there more
…there are a solutions for you.