By Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf, MBA
Not long ago we surveyed Dental Economics subscribers about their practice Web sites. About one-third of dentists want to change their site, one-third have no plans to change, and one third have no Web site at all.
A professional Web site is definitely not a “set-and-forget” marketing tool. Still, few dentists think about refreshing their online content after their initial launch — and that’s almost as counterproductive as not having a Web site at all.
Benign neglect can really hurt. Regular Web site maintenance protects your initial Web investment, fuels your return, and keeps your marketing message fresh and timely. When was the last time you made content changes? If you can’t recall, or your site hasn’t changed in the past few months (or ever), here are four top reasons to do it now.
Reason 1: Regular updates help win and maintain high visibility with search engines. When people with a dental need search online, you want them to find your site among the top results. Sites that change regularly get more notice by search engines (think Google), and do better in the ranking system. Over 80% of visitors find you through a search, so being visible to search engines is the gateway to better performance.
Reason 2: You stay relevant to current and prospective patients. It’s not difficult to maintain a fresh, connected, and relevant face to the target audience. Let site visitors know that you are tuned-in to their needs and you have effective answers for them. Conversely, static content can make your practice appear out of touch with the people you want to reach and serve.
Reason 3: You can and should make adjustments for maximum return on investment. As with any other marketing tool, you need to make changes according to how well your Web site is performing in the marketplace. Being quick to shift gears as needed is critical to success.
Reason 4: It’s easy, inexpensive, and profitable to keep your site fresh. Updating your content does not take a lot of effort and is highly beneficial. If your choose the right vendor, it’s not expensive. (More about that in a moment.)
Staying fresh is easier than you think. Ideas for material might be the need to spotlight a new or different service capability. What are the benefits for the visitor if you have a new piece of equipment, a new associate, or a new staff member? Are your patients talking or asking about something new in dentistry that they heard about? Or do you want them to ask about something in your practice? Can you add some new before and after photos? Chances are their questions and your answers are worth sharing, so keep what’s current and timely on your site.
A lot of dentists are natural storytellers, and have the talent to weave tales about how they helped patients by way of a particular skill or service. With proper respect to patient privacy, such stories that highlight your capabilities can be an excellent source for interesting Web content.
Do-it-yourself? Maybe — maybe not. Either way, get it done.
There are two cost effective models for updating your Web site, i.e., do-it-yourself and all-inclusive packages.
With the do-it-yourself option, you will typically pick a generic template, and then you will make all your own updates via an online interface. If you have a fair amount of time and are a serious do-it-yourselfer, this may tempt you. On the other hand, we find that doctors and staffs rarely update as much as they had planned to.
For most busy professionals, the biggest stumbling block is the lack of follow-through. There’s never quite enough time, writing talent is rare, and there are always more urgent business matters at hand.
The second option is to find a vendor who includes one or two hours of changes per month in his or her hosting fee. That way you can access professional talent at almost no added cost (our firm offers this model).
Either way, the primary goal is to get the job done — refresh or update your dental Web site. Make a commitment to accomplish this task on a regular basis.
Your Web site content could probably use an update right now. As an added bonus, your competition is likely neglecting their Web site, so grab an advantage AND win additional business with a Web site update.
And if you are among that group that doesn’t have a Web site at all — how’s that strategy working for you?
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, and Lonnie Hirsch are cofounders of Healthcare Success Strategies, and two of America's most experienced practice marketers. They have worked with dentists for a combined 30 years, written numerous articles on practice marketing, and consulted with more than 3,000 private health-care practices. Reach them at (888) 679-0050, through their Web site at www.healthcaresuccess.com, or via e-mail at [email protected].
By Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf, MBA