THREE THINGS YOU'LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. A way to use Google to work out what your patients want to read
2. Seven actionable blog post ideas for your dental blog you can use RIGHT NOW
3. Advice on the next step to take in the process
Before I tell you how to blog, you probably want to know why you should blog. Let me tell you a story.
I was walking home from the tram a little while ago when my 9-year-old daughter phoned me, in tears. She had a toothache. It had come and gone earlier that day, but returned quite quickly after school, and now the pain was unbearable. I was fifteen minutes from home. I told her to sit tight, that I’d take care of things and be home soon.
It was nearly 7pm, but I figured I had this sorted. I live in a suburb of Sydney which has a population of more than 75,000 people. There are about 20 dental surgeries within three kilometres of my home. All I had to do was open the browser on my phone and google “emergency dentist” and the name of the suburb. My plan was to make the appointment, walk home, jump in the car and rush my daughter straight in to a local surgery.
A pile of names came up, and I started calling. The first one didn’t answer their phone. I got an answering machine on the second. The third rang out. The fourth said the dentist had gone home a while ago, and as far as she was aware, there were no other dentists in the suburb offering emergency dental care. The fifth suggested I go to Westmead Hospital, more than 25 kilometres away, and it’s peak hour traffic. When I asked if there was definitely an emergency dentist there at the hospital, she said, “I think so …”
So I googled “emergency toothache treatment” instead. By this time I’m at home, and my daughter is sobbing and holding the side of her face. We’re trying to get a look at which one is the sore tooth, but she doesn’t even want to open her mouth, and the only torch I have is an app on the phone, so I can’t look at that and read the website at the same time. She has been given a painkiller half an hour before, or maybe more, but it doesn’t seem to be working … then she says one of her school friends suggested putting an aspirin on the gum right beside the sore tooth because that always works …
And once you’ve stopped screaming, “NOOOOOOOOO” … this story shows you why dentists should blog.
Giving your patients and potential patients good advice at the time and place they're looking for it is the best argument for having a blog on your site. And why shouldn't you be the person to do that?
Working out what patients want to read
Even though you’d love your patients to call you the minute something goes wrong, the reality is, people don’t always do that. Instead, they turn to the web to see if there’s something they can do themselves—consulting the dreaded “Dr Google”. Ideally, you want them to get good information when they do that.
And hopefully, they’ll also decide to follow that information up with a visit to the dentist, or more specifically, to your practice.
Sharing a little bit of good information can not only have an impact on existing patients, but potential patients as well. If any one of those websites I visited had good, solid advice on how to manage my daughter’s problem—and had it beside a booking form that I could book her in the next day—they would have had one, and possibly two, brand new patients.
A lot of dental and medical practices know that they can have a blog on their website, but worry that they won’t have enough to write about, or that they have nothing to say to their patients. But the reason they think that way is because they’re thinking about what they can say to an audience—not asking themselves, “what do my potential patients want to read?”
The REAL Dr Google
The way to answer that question is, ironically, a similar process to the one I went through looking for emergency dentists. You first step is to ask Google.
More specifically, you ask Google in a service that company provides called Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends/). The Google Trends website shows you what people are searching for on Google. As such, it’s a great source of potential topics and keywords for you to write about. It’s completely free, always up to date, and very, very useful.
For example, I typed “toothache” into the search bar of Google Trends, and this is what it spat back to me:
Obviously, quite a few people around the world are using Google to try to find out about toothaches. That in itself isn’t so useful to you, because looking up “toothache” could mean any number of possible diagnoses, and you don’t want to be offering wrong or bad advice to someone in pain.
However, you can drill down further in the data. If you scroll down the page to look past the world map, you’ll see a white box with the heading “Related searches”. The column on the right hand side of that box gives a list of seven of the top search terms related to “toothache” that people have used.
While these results are interesting, you can get even better, and more useful information, to inform your blogging. At the top of that right-hand column is two buttons, one of which says “Top” and the other says “Rising”. By clicking on the “Rising” button, you’ll get a result that looks like this:
You’ll notice that the results list now has the word “Breakout” beside each term, rather than a number. That means that the number of searches for these terms have increased significantly recently. Any one of these rising “breakout” terms could be keywords that start off a blog idea.
Try it yourself. “Toothache” is just one topic your patients might be interested in. How about “sore jaw”? Or “teeth whitening”? Or “cures for snoring”? All of these search terms in Google Trends can lead you to a wealth of possible topics to write about. Your greatest problem will be finding the time to do them all.
Some final thoughts
Now obviously, it’s not enough just to write one or two blog posts and expect the traffic to start pouring in to your site. You’ll also have to look at broadcasting your message out to your community, which you can do through social media, guest-blogging and digital ads.
It’s also a very good idea to have a plan (preferably a six- or twelve-month one) for your blog posts: firstly so you don’t lose momentum when you don’t get millions of patients straight away (because blogging doesn’t work like that), and secondly so you can make sure you have a good mix of material on your blog. A plan gives you that “big picture” overview that is easily forgotten doing your day-to-day job.
It’s also worth hiring help to actually get the posts written, which may be in the form of a freelance ghost writer, or a freelance editor.
But that’s a topic for another post. In the meantime, get over to Google Trends and start planning your topics now!