By Glenn Lombardi
The No. 1 challenge many dentists face with their website is a shortage of traffic. And if a website isn’t generating traffic, then the practice probably isn’t attracting many new-patient appointments. Attracting visitors to your website is an ongoing process, but with continual maintenance and frequent adjustments, you can ensure a steady flow of traffic.
Keep it fresh
If you want patients to visit your site and actually click beyond the home page, then you need to make their visit meaningful and worthwhile. To start, take a look at your site’s design. Outdated graphics and images are just that — old and irrelevant. The same goes for the information you are communicating. If your address, phone numbers, staff bios, or service listings are outdated, then patients won’t really be obtaining accurate or timely information about your practice. Visitors will be able to tell if your site isn’t up-to-date and will likely dismiss your credibility, ultimately leaving your site for a more “Web-savvy” practice.
You should also offer your visitors the information that they are looking for. If you have a blog integrated with your site, you should post new information at least once a week. This keeps patients engaged and counts as fresh content for your website, which is rewarded by the search engines with higher rankings. The site should be easy to navigate and offer value for the patient. Include downloadable patient forms for expediting first visits; an online appointment feature as a convenient way to request appointments; and patient education for increased understanding about the services you offer. When your site is useful, patients will be more inclined to stay on your website, return at a later date, and request an appointment.
Get found on the search engines
A great-looking site will be of little value to your practice if it doesn’t rank high on the search engines. To attract new patients, you need to optimize your site for search if you want to appear in local search results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) requires a deep understanding of the search engine algorithms that determine where your site ranks on the search engines. Seeking advice from an online marketing expert is the best place to start. A search specialist can help you identify the most relevant search terms and execute an effective link-building strategy that places you front and center when people search for dentists in your town. An expert in search marketing may also recommend a pay-per-click advertising campaign if you are looking to promote niche services and target specific audiences for immediate exposure and results.
Generate quality patient reviews
By now, you’ve probably noticed that reviews are commonplace on the Web. People are talking about their experiences with local service-based providers, including their dentists. You don’t need a website to find a review about your practice online. That’s why establishing your online presence through a professional practice website is the best way to ensure your own, accurate story is being communicated online, not just the opinions of disgruntled patients.
You can’t avoid reviews from appearing on various third-party sites on the Internet, but you can take responsibility for your reputation. This includes monitoring what’s being said about you by conducting frequent searches for your practice. You can also sign up for free alert services that notify you whenever you or your practice is mentioned online.
Your website is a powerful tool that can play a critical role in your marketing efforts to promote new services and attract new patients. With a commitment to managing your site’s performance, a good understanding of search marketing, and a strategy to encourage positive reviews, you can leverage the full potential of your website to generate a steady stream of visitors.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, the No. 1 provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated over 325,000 appointment requests since 2002. To learn more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
By Glenn Lombardi