Apple’s Google Map App Replacement Not So Major for Dentists

iPhone 5 and the New Apple Operating System, iOS6

We’ve known for a while now that Google and Apple are at odds. They both want to be king of cyberspace, but there’s just one throne to be had. In recent weeks, Apple rolled out the iPhone 5. In addition to being pretty, the iPhone 5 is longer than the 4. That’s about the only noticeable change from the 4. However, in addition to introducing the iPhone 5, Apple has announced that it will no longer use Google Maps (Google Places, Google Local – it’s all the same) as their app of choice for their products. Their new operating system, iOS6, features a proprietary map app, which should come as no surprise.

Let me tell all dentists, this is not as big of a deal as it sounds. The issue is basically a brand fight (think Coke and Pepsi in the ’80s) between Google and Apple.

Bad Reviews for Apple’s Map App

But you should know, just today, Fortune reported, “Compared with Google Maps, it sucks.” Other industry experts share this opinion. Just type in “Apple’s new map app” in Google, and you’ll see the bad reviews at the top of search results.

Dentists Won’t Be Affected Much, If at All

It seems that some dental marketing companies are using the recent Apple announcement to scare, err, I mean encourage dentists to buy more services. This is, IMHO, not very nice. It is, however, what many technology-based marketing companies do to win new business. Sigh.

Here’s what dentists need to know:

  1. If a new patient is trying to find your dental practice, he/she can still pull up Google Maps (there will be an app to download, I’m sure) or use the Apple map service to locate your office.
  2. You can go to http://www.gps-data-team.com/listingstep1.php to create a free listing on GPS maps. Apple’s new map app will use TomTom, and by listing with this service, your business should show up on Apple’s map app.
  3. Most people who use the Google Maps app on their iPhone do so when looking for a restaurant or store, not a dentist’s office. (See more below.)
  4. Only a small percentage of people search for a dental office on a mobile device. We know this as fact, based on Google Analytics reports.
  5. People who do search for a dentist on a mobile device will still find your well optimized dental websites, blogs, and microsites in search results.
  6. From your website, blog, and microsites, you need a link to your Google+ Local profile. This link will open in Safari (browser) on Apple devices.

Apple is not blocking full access to Google+ Local, they’re just reducing ease of access by using their proprietary map app, instead of Google’s. This shift was inevitable, and experts have seen it coming for a long time.

Action Items for Dentists’ Reputation Management

That said, if you work with Demandforce or another patient communication service, you have probably acquired reviews, separate from Google+ Local. These reviews are valuable and should be streamed by RSS feed onto your website.

A dentist can also request that patients complete a written review before leaving the office — much like a “How was your service?” card at a restaurant. This actually saves the patient time, and the review can be placed on your website — then we can blog about it! Snap a photo of the doctor and patient for even more impact in marketing your practice.

Video testimonials, with SEO’d scripts submitted to YouTube, are the ideal testimonial. Google owns YouTube! In addition, consumers love visuals, and videos offer a level of personal touch that written reviews will never achieve. Furthermore, your video testimonials can go on all of your sites, as well as your Facebook page.

Google Reviews are Still Important in Dental Marketing

Google reviews are still very important. We know that Google holds 95% of the market for PC searches. They did hold 93% for mobile search, but that may soon change. Regardless, a HUGE majority of patients search for dentists on their PC. Unlike choosing a restaurant, selecting a dentist takes significant time and consideration. A decision of this magnitude isn’t normally made on the fly, except perhaps in the case of needing an emergency dentist.

Dentists should continue to request Google reviews from patients. Google remains the search engine to please, and we are probably on the front end of a bitter digital war between Google and Apple. Fasten your seat belts — the show is going to get interesting, folks!

Your Dental Marketing Team

For a reliable interpretation of how Internet marketing changes affect dentists, rely on MDPM. We are one of the few dental marketing companies that publishes blogs, microsites, videos, and offers complimentary consulting to our client dentists. To discuss your dental marketing plan, and the future of your practice, call 972-781-8861 today.