Why are some dental websites more effective than others?
The best dental websites have high-quality content, but it doesn't stop there. John Marks looks at the components dental websites need to capture new patients—and keep existing ones.
Previously, we talked about the benefits of having a secure website for your dental practice. In this article, we look at what else makes up a great dental website!
Attracting new business was traditionally achieved through channels such as print, radio, and TV advertisements, but is now increasingly accomplished via the far-reaching influence of a strong online presence. Compared with conventional marketing, a dental website provides a far more effective means for a dental office to get its message across to potential patients.
Writing for Forbes in 2016, Jayson DeMers, founder of a top US content marketing company, warned of the dangers of ignoring digital marketing. “Online marketing becomes more important on a consistent scale as time passes,” DeMers wrote. (1) The most effective dental websites have been researched, planned, and designed with the target audience—prospective patients—in mind. These sites clearly explain in a compelling way the benefits patients will get by visiting the dental practice.
Let's look specifically at the vital components of a superior dental website, starting with quality content.
The most important aspect of a good a dental website is quality content. The content should directly connect with potential patients, providing them with valuable information. Sloppy content reflects badly on the image of a dental office, and will invariably result in visitors quickly losing interest and looking elsewhere for the information they want. Website visitors, especially mobile device users, tend to scan through text, rather than read it thoroughly, as they search for what they perceive to be the most relevant information. This calls for clear, concise content that gets straight to the point in an engaging way.
The largest search engine in the world, Google, defines a good website as one that’s “unique, specific and high quality.” (2) Google further states that websites should be aimed primarily at creating a good user experience, rather than ranking highly in search engine results. Quality content on a dental website reflects the expertise and professionalism of the practice and is likely to produce a good return on investment (ROI) by generating more patients.
Creating fresh content with ongoing blogs about various aspects of your practice can also be a big help in driving natural traffic to your site.
Professional design and development
A good website design isn’t all about fancy bells and whistles: it’s aimed at generating ongoing, targeted, high-converting leads, so you get the best ROI. The design process should begin with an evaluation of your practice in general and its current positioning in the marketplace, followed by an assessment of the online behavior of your potential patients. A professional online marketer or dental marketing agency will also carry out extensive keyword research to ensure your site reaches out directly to potential clients.
Dental web design and development experts craft sites that are high-precision marketing tools and makes strong connections with target audiences in order to gain trust. They establish a powerful brand image, creating a positive perception of your practice and mirroring its core business philosophy. The design of an effective dental website will be based on solid marketing principles and supported by content of the highest quality. It will be geared to giving you the best chance of converting visitors to patients by connecting with them on an emotional level, spelling out exactly how your services will improve their lives.
Many people think that web design is the same as web development, but there are fundamental differences between the two. Web design concentrates on the visual appeal of a site and its ease of use, and entails producing an Information Architecture focused on structuring content in a way that gives website visitors the best possible experience.
The best dental website design will take visitors on a journey of discovery about how your practice can benefit them. The final destination of this voyage is a call to action to convert prospects into patients.
Search engine optimization
A top-class dental website will get prominent placement in free, organic search engine listings through search engine optimization (SEO). On-site optimization will configure the settings on your website so search engines like the look of it, but the most important aspect of on-page SEO is quality content. Off-page SEO goes beyond web design and content to achieve a better ranking in search results. It tells search engines how a particular website is perceived by other sites and their visitors. A high-quality site is more likely to get reference links (think of these as votes of confidence from other relevant sites) from other sites and be shared around on social media. The most important technique in off-page SEO is link-building. Getting links to your site from authority sources tells search engines that you have good content on your website. It is also important not to get spammy or "toxic" links from non-related or relevant sites.
The importance of security
As referenced above, website security is vital to maintain trust with your existing patients and establish confidence among prospective clients. Health-care sites often face security threats, including data theft and concealment of viruses. Tech-savvy patients expect to be protected when submitting sensitive information such as personal particulars, email addresses, and credit card information. A secure website will stop any “man-in-the-middle” data thefts.
Cyber crooks regard dental practices as soft targets because they believe the technology they have in place is less effective than that of big corporations. Protecting patients’ personal and financial details enables a practice to maintain the same level of trust that its clients place in them in the dental chair. Website security is often provided by an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) system, which set up an encrypted connection between a browser and a web server.
Eye-catching images and video
Photographs and videos can bring a dental website to life. They are crucial in creating first impressions and are therefore an important tool in attracting new patients. The Visual Teaching Alliance says pictorial information transmitted to the brain is processed 60,000 times faster than text. (3) Providing potential patients with interesting and relevant images relating to your dental practice will begin the process of trust-building, making it easier to engage with patients when they first step through the door and encouraging long-term relationships. Videos and pictures can play a particularly important role when it comes to patients’ testimonials, sending out a more compelling message than reviews in words alone.
Explaining payment options
Patients want to know in advance how they can pay for their dental treatment. A good dental website will contain a page explaining the payment options available to patients, including payment plans that spread the cost over time, the types of credit card and insurance accepted, and whether the practice accepts CareCredit or Medicaid.
The quality of uniqueness
The most effective dental websites are highly-functional marketing tools that are user-friendly and secure while reflecting the uniqueness of the practice and engaging with existing and potential patients on a personal level. Above all, a superior dental website will contain content of the highest quality: if visitors do not find the information they are seeking, they will look elsewhere.
1. DeMers J. Is Online Marketing Really Necessary for Small Businesses? Forbes website. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/02/22/is-online-marketing-really-necessary-for-small-businesses/#3745114bf3e8. Published February 22, 2016. Accessed October 31, 2017.
2. Steps to a Google-friendly site. Google website. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en. Accessed October 31, 2017.
3. Visual Teaching Alliance for the Gifted and Talented. http://visualteachingalliance.com/. Accessed October 31, 2017.
John Marks is the Chief Operations Officer for DentalROI, a digital dental marketing company with over 20 years’ experience in creating custom dental websites. He is a pioneer when it comes to digital marketing and Dental Websites. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit dentalroi.com.
Also by John Marks
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions.
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