Remember the days when your office was the focal point of your dental practice? The location, the exterior, and how the waiting room looked were more important for the image of your practice than anything else.  That’s still very important but the first image future patients have of your practice is your website.

Whether your practice is aggressive with it’s marketing or you rely more on insurance and word of mouth, people are still going to get information about you from your website. When a co-worker gives a recommendation there is a very good chance that person is still going to check you out online. So how do you know if your website is actually “good” or “up to date?”

We will look at this from two different directions: The technical and the aesthetic.

Technical

Every time we think Google has calmed down and won’t change anything for a while a new update happens. This time we feel comfortable that as far as websites go, you have some time. Keep in mind with Google they are trying to make the best user experience possible.

To make sure you are keeping up with best practices so Google will find you and rank you higher you need to look at the following:

1. Responsive Design- If you haven’t heard of this yet it may mean your site is outdated. Responsive design means that your website fits the format of any device. Desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. The reason google places importance on this is because they want quick load times. The other issue here is that people may get to your website and if it’s too hard to read the copy or find what they are looking for, they will quickly go elsewhere. Google sees that. You need an updated site.

2. If you have Flash on your site- This was a great way to get some movement on your website and many still feel this looks great. This format doesn’t do well on a lot of tablet and mobile devices. There are other ways to get movement on your site without using this technology. You need an updated site.

3. Your site isn’t mobile friendly- This piggybacks what we were saying about responsive design. Go to your mobile site and if it takes a while to load that’s not good. If you have to pinch and zoom to read the copy that’s bad too. If your site moves left to right to read articles it’s not responsive or mobile friendly. You need an updated site.

4. You have duplicate content- This is the most common issue on dental websites. The reason you were able to get your site so cheap from a national dental marketing company is because they only had to write copy once and duplicate it for every site they do. Think about it for a second. How long would it take to write 15 pages of original content VS changing out the practice name? The cost of a website is in design, coding, and content writing.

To test your site go to copyscape.com and type in your url. This will tell you who else may have the same content and if it’s duplicated. In some cases this happens over 50 times. You can also check your website by copying the content on your page and seeing if other dentists show up. Here’s an example: (Copy the text below and then put it in a google search)

A standard of excellence in personalized dental care enables us to provide the quality dental services our patients deserve.  We provide comprehensive treatment planning and use restorative and cosmetic dentistry to achieve your optimal dental health.  Should a dental emergency occur, we make every effort to see and care for you as soon as possible.

This is also a good test when you’re evaluating a web company. Get a list of some of the sites they have done and do the above test.

5. Built in a user-friendly format- When we do websites we use WordPress just because it’s a widely accepted format, user-friendly, and has some great features including SEO plug-ins. Using template sites usually means you won’t be able to do updates yourself and making changes may take some time and cost more.

Aesthetics

This is very subjective but there are a few tips to keep in mind when evaluating your website.

1. I love that my website is different- I actually love that thought too, but you better make sure that content is easy to find. The biggest mistake I see practices make with their website is they overspend to get a “custom site” but now the end-user can’t find the information they may want. For example, moms may be coming to your site because they are looking to see if you have early appointments. Seniors may be looking to see if you do implants or dentures. Some may be looking for reviews to help them make an informed decision or looking at photos of the office. If your site isn’t user-friendly it’s time for a change.

2. Don’t use too many navigation buttons- Don’t exceed more than nine. I still think that’s a little much but that should be the max. If you have two rows of navigation you must have talked your web designer into it. Use drop down menus instead.

3. Colors matter- Forget red. Look at blues and greens. They seem to test the highest for relaxing people and alleviating anxiety which is exactly the feeling you want to give to someone that’s stressed about going to the dentist.

4. Black type- A black background with white type may look fancy but isn’t very easy to read. Keep it simple. Where there is text use a white background and black type.

5. Directions, phone number, and appointment requests need to be the most visible- The first two are items people usually search for from a mobile phone and the last one is your conversion button that needs to be on every page.

There’s a lot more than can be said about dental websites but if you’re outside the parameters above it’s a good time to update your website. If you need help with a new one or would like an evaluation please contact me.

Ben Shaver
Lead Strategist & Consultant

Ben Shaver is a dental marketing consultant for Dental Inbound. He works with practices of all sizes.

His main focus is to develop strategies that provide congruency between traditional media sources and new media platforms.

You can email him at bshaver@dentalinbound.com

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