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Jeff Chiu, Associated Press
"If your business isn't growing like you want it to, then it probably has at least one of these seven problems," Tyson Down writes.

At our digital marketing agency, we help all kinds of local businesses, and especially dentists and doctors, improve their online visibility to grow their brand. To help a business grow, I first have to determine the underlying factors inhibiting their growth. In doing this, we typically see the same few problems again and again. Based on my experience, here are the main reasons why businesses often don’t grow as they should.

1. You have a low-converting website

Your website is the main face you show to the world and should be the core of your online marketing efforts. If your website doesn’t have the right elements to convert visitors into clients, these visitors will instead leave your site and find a competitor.

Your business website should:

  1. Load quickly on any device (PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.)
  2. Be easy to navigate
  3. Display your contact information prominently
  4. Have fresh, frequently updated content

Here’s a quick resource from Google on how to improve your bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors that leave your site quickly after landing there.

2. Your online image needs a makeover

Your business’s online image can be impacted by a number of things. In general, you want people to be talking about your business online, and you want this conversation to be flattering. Having too few online mentions or having some bad reviews posted online can really hurt your business’s reputation.

One way we help businesses and health care professionals improve their online image is with review management. This involves actively seeking out reviews from customers, and responding appropriately to any bad reviews in order to reduce their negative impact.

3. Your fees are too low

Many times, businesses think they can attract customers by having low rates/fees/etc. However, unless you have lower rates than every single one of your local competitors, you will lose this game. Even if you do have the lowest prices in town, it’s not difficult for someone to steal this title from you by reducing their rates another $10.

Rather than engaging in a “race to the bottom,” focus on adding value to your business. Think of how you can expand or improve your services to become more convenient than your competitors. Expand your business operation hours, include offerings competing businesses lack. And most importantly, be sure you advertise these advantages on your website!

4. You’re not active in the community

Participating in your local community boosts your business’s local visibility both online and off. It’s also important for networking.

For example, when your dental practice participates in or sponsors a community event, such as a local 5K, your practice will be mentioned in online media (websites, articles) about the event. You’ll also garner some attention from people in the community who attend the race. Moreover, you can blog about the event on your website, which can have a positive impact on your local SEO efforts.

Besides events, business associations are also important for community engagement. Whether it’s a local business organization or a national association of businesses in your field, participating in these groups will, again, get your business some valuable mentions online. You’ll also meet other professionals with whom you might form mutually beneficial networking relationships.

5. You’re not getting enough referrals

Much, if not most, of your new business should come from referrals. If people like your business, if they think you provide a good product/service at a good price, they will recommend you to their friends and family. When you stop getting these word-of-mouth recommendations, then, well … your business has probably developed some problems.

If you’re not getting many referrals, it’s a good time to take a step back and look at your business from a potential client’s perspective. What could you be doing wrong? What do your successful competitors do that you don’t? Look to online reviews for clues, and solicit customer feedback to get the feedback you need to make your business one that people rave about.

6. You’re not doing content marketing

Content marketing is one of the primary avenues we use in online advertising. People sometimes misunderstand the concept of online marketing, thinking that it is basically just a fancy word for copywriting. But if you’re only writing copy designed to sell your product or service, you’re doing it all wrong.

Content marketing does not mean writing barely concealed sales pitches in the guise of an article. You have to publish valuable, interesting content that people will actually enjoy reading and want to share with their friends. This will establish you as a professional authority in your field and garner links to your website to boot. Interesting content equals more website traffic and more customers.

So how do you get started with content marketing? Here are three easy ways:

  • Start blogging on a regular basis.
  • Publish useful (free) resources on your website, such as fact sheets and white papers.
  • Post links to all the content you create on your social media accounts (these links should lead back to your website).

7. Your SEO efforts are nonexistent

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a practice that involves all of the techniques I’ve just discussed and then some. The main goal of SEO is, of course, to improve your business’s rankings in search engines.

There’s a lot more to SEO than simply stuffing keywords into your website content. Despite what some shady SEO agencies might advertise, SEO is not something you can throw a few thousand dollars at and then ignore. SEO involves consistent, ongoing efforts.

If you don’t have a dedicated in-house marketing team to do all your SEO for you, you might consider hiring an SEO agency. Just make sure that you do your due diligence to ensure that you’re not getting taken for a ride. In this blog post, I have some warning signs to look out for when hiring an SEO company: The 10 Types of Dental SEO Companies You Need to Avoid.

Ultimately, your business’s fate lies in your hands. Only you can give your business what it needs to thrive. This means taking action online, using techniques like blogging and effective Web design to draw in customers. But it also requires “offline” efforts such as getting involved in your local community and making the necessary improvements to your business that increase the value of your offerings. If you make your business the best it can be and also make your marketing and SEO the best it can be, nothing will be able to stop you.

Tyson Downs is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of five children, and is the owner of Titan Web Agency, an online marketing company.