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Internet Marketing Pressure - CompetitionIt is probably generally agreed that competition is good in a free market system.
In a free marketplace those who do the best job in marketing their products, wares, skills and talents usually become the vendor of choice (can apply to almost anything.. widgets, lawnmovers, automobiles, books, CD's and even Dentistry.
The Internet InfluenceOn the internet, however, the vendor of choice is usually the one who does the best job of getting positioned on the first or second page of search engine results. This applies to practically any type of product or service on the internet.
It is theoretically possible to be the worst or most expensive vendor for a popular service or product and yet be "assumed" to be the best choice by virtue of a firm's positioning on an internet search page. Again, this applies to almost anything..... including dentistry.
The converse of this theoretical example can also be true. It is possible to be the best choice vendor (for whatever service or product) but because the website appears on page 37 of the search engine results... that vendor is never "found" by the consumer.
Search Engine OptimizationThe science and art of marketing on the internet involves the best understanding of marketing (in general terms) and the best understanding of how search engines (search algorithm) operate. This so critical that is has given rise to a multi million dollar business of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies.
It can be frustrating when one conducts a basic search for things and services like hotels, vacations, classic cars, cameras, clothing, plastic surgery.... and even Dentists to find oftentimes something that looks like a directory. These directories are developed by SEO experts.
Directories however can be a good thing for consumers. It provides a method for consumers to be quickly directed to complete websites set up by manufacturers, distributors and service providers... all providing significant content that will enable consumers to make an informed decision about whatever that vendor provides.
Strong SEO = Large Yellow Page AdSEO companies exist within the field of Medicine and Dentistry. A few operate directly with Doctors, providing general marketing principles that are specific to whatever the Doctor provides... AND they provide the expertise needed for obtaining favorable positioning in search engine results (top 1-4 positions (very similar to the concept of a dentist buying an expensive full page yellow page ad so he/she will be "more" noticed than a doctor who does not have a fancy ad).
Dental - Medical Websites combined with SEODoctors who truly have a strong marketing message AND understand the intricacies of internet marketing will make the major investments needed to make their websites easily found by consumers. Their websites are characterized by strong content with plentiful real life examples of their technical and creative skills.
As a general observation it can probably be said that more doctors do not document their work as thoroughly as a select few that do. The doctors who DO document their work, both through text and photography, typically have done it for quite a while... and do so for numerous reasons .. the most prominent of which is a certain pride and quality of professionalism in their work. Going one step further, in general terms, the more creative a doctor is... the more evidence one will find of that creativity on a medical or dental website.
Internet Marketing Shortcuts - Good or Bad?SEO marketing companies now offer "packages" that doctors and dentists can use ... to deliver the "image" of being a strongly competent provider of a variety of medical and dental procedures. These types of websites are prepackaged and nearly have identical content. Identical discussions of procedures, nearly identical lists of services... along with the wholesale repeated use of identical photography that supposedly demonstrates or documents a skill or service of the doctor (see Photo Alert for more discussion).
These types of websites offer doctors the opportunity to secure a strong internet market position (found on the first page of search engine results) WITHOUT having to develop content that is "truly their own."
Cookie Cutter Websites - DefinedThese types of cookie cutter websites (they all seem to look alike) are a boon for the practitioners. In some marketing areas where competition is tough, these types of websites are prevalent... and can become confusing. The discriminating consumer can usually figure out however that overuse of this type of marketing can unfortunately make a truly skilled doctor or dentist appear to be nothing more than average or similar to several other doctors that have an identical website.
In areas where cookie cutter websites are not used in abusive proportions, it is ever-so-more important that consumers closely examine the website for pictorial content and procedure examples that are truly the property of the practitioner,.... and NOT the property of the marekting SEO company.
Caveat EmptorWebsites that seem to have too few photographs to support the procedures and expertise that are being marketed may be using borrowed or purchased stock photos. Consumers should verify that website photos are "actual work performed." Otherwise, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).
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