dental website development

Dec. 5, 2011
Five insights to help you develop a website built for performance
Five insights to help you develop a website built for performance
By Danielle Walton
Co-founder, Adept Marketing
Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
  • Get a customized website with three easy steps.
  • Building your new website is as simple as “point and click.”
  • Have your business on the Web in a matter of hours.
  • Enjoy no set-up fees and affordable monthly pricing.
Should such claims inspire those not online to action? Should you be feeling buyer’s remorse if you’ve gone a different route to getting online? Beyond the unequivocal “no” perhaps the best way to answer this is to say — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.Simply put, your practice should be focused on more than just getting online. It should be about making the most of your unique, personalized presence once you’re online — and that means driving relevant traffic and getting results. This is where web templates consistently fall short and why taking a template approach is often rife with challenges and frustration. By educating dental practices and their teams about the challenges and shortcomings of templates, they become informed of the realities of online marketing and often rethink their approach to the web — and that’s just smart business. Here are five insights that reveal important differences between template and custom websites that every dental practice should consider:1. Web presence vs. web performance
Not so long ago, the talk was about the importance of just having a Web presence. Today, many template providers still sing this simple chorus, and who can blame them? Google data shows that approximately half of the small businesses in any given state still aren’t on the Web. But the sophistication and ever-changing algorithms of search engines means getting “found” online is more challenging than ever. Just because you build a site doesn’t mean people will find it or choose to visit it. Consider this: As of October 2011, it is estimated that there are more than 14 billion indexed pages on the Internet. It’s no longer good enough to show up at the party. You need to connect once you’re there — and that requires a Web engagement plan with experts who know you, your business, and your web-based objectives to connect you with your target audience. Armed with this knowledge, your website partner can ensure a customized site that is designed and developed in a manner to attract visitors and compels them to engage. 2. Customization vs. conformity
Positioned this way, most practices would intuitively choose customization. But the fact is that, when you choose a template approach, you’ve chosen conformity. Think of it this way: It’s like purchasing the beige two-story house in the new-build community where everything looks identical. Templates may allow you to choose your color palette, choose from a limited selection of layouts from your pages (think “rooms” of the house), or add your own text. But to anyone pursuing your neighborhood, it all looks the same and is void of any distinguishing characteristics.To continue with the house analogy for a moment, if you want to distinguish yourself from your neighbors, you’ll likely need to invest in painting the house, changing out hardware, planting trees, and landscaping the lot — all at an added expense. You’ll need to do the same with your website where all of the customizable add-ons come at a price above and beyond the monthly rate that initially looked so enticing. Ultimately, customization is about understanding how your audience accesses and navigates the unique aspects of your practice online. By choosing your web architect as a partner in your business success, you can custom build a site that adheres to your business objectives, better reflects your design aesthetics, and fits within your marketing budget. 3. Consider the cost
Overcoming the allure of a low-cost or no-cost template website can be difficult at first, especially if you’re looking solely at your website as an expense rather than an investment in growing your practice. If you think of your website as you would any other strategic investment in your practice, including talent and technology, you’re more likely to embrace the notion that those investments are made knowing a return on investment is to come. But here’s the real catch: over time, the low-cost web template actually can cost more. While you may pay more up front when working with your Web contractor, templates will continue to charge you every month in perpetuity, even if they do nothing else to your site. Template companies win on their cheap point of entry, not service. With templates, service comes at an added price, and that service may not be good, reliable or remotely knowledgeable about your specific online marketing challenges. 4. Trouble for effective SEOYou remember LEGO? Those small, multi-colored building blocks that snap together to build just about anything? They make for a good analogy here as a template website is like a series of these small building blocks snapped together, one on top of the other. The more pages and content you have, the more individual blocks are added. The problem is search engines — Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others that identify relevant sites that match search queries — don’t process these small building blocks well because of the way they are coded, and this can negatively and dramatically impact your organic rankings. Search engines thrive on simple coding to more quickly identify and assess optimized content and relay search results to queries. Again, template sites are constructed with form over function, and that puts SEO — a primary driver for getting found by search engines — in the back seat instead of the driver’s seat. 5. Website metrics should be automatic, not problematic
Website metrics provide valuable insight on what’s working and what’s not — which is why it can be a challenge to access them from your website template provider. From website analytics to online marketing campaign results, your practice needs regular, reliable data to make informed decisions on how to optimize the website and proceed with related online marketing efforts that point back to your website. If you’re not seeing metrics and making adjustments according to current data, then your website is not effectively generating leads for your practice. It’s just producing income for your website provider. Keep up by keeping good company

Dental practices and small businesses of every stripe are feeling pressure now more than ever to navigate the Web, even if it means not understanding the basics like metrics and analytics, strategies for driving traffic, or the various marketing options they have to reach customers. Instead of taking the same due diligence to this part of the business (marketing) as they would when purchasing equipment or other infrastructure costs, many subscribe to a just-get-online-and-we’ll-figure-it-out-later approach. But before going the template route, consider what you want your site to do for your practice instead of imagining how it will need to fit into a predetermined layout. Then share that vision with professionals who can make it happen. You should aspire to outperform online just as you would with a patient who is considering making you their dentist of choice. When you do, you’ll find that an investment in a website the works for you instead of solely for the company that built it will pay dividends in the long run.Danielle Walton is co-founder of Adept Marketing, an Internet Marketing firm that specializes in delivering performance-driven metrics for small to mid-size businesses. In addition to working with promising start-ups, Adept has developed a practice with dental expertise and serves multiple dental clients across the country. Connect with Danielle at [email protected] or visit