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Ask Jess: 5 things every dental practice website needs

April 7, 2016
This month, Jessica breaks down the non-negotiables for your dental practice's website design. Is your site up to snuff, or is it a sinking ship?
Jessica Lalau, Director of Marketing Communications, Public Relations, and Social Media

Do you have a dental marketing question?
Send it to Jess at [email protected], and you might be featured next!

In this month's column, Jess breaks down the non-negotiables
for your dental practice's website.

Is your site up to snuff, or is it a sinking ship?


What are the basic facts about dental websites and SEO that every dentist should know?

Jess's answer:

A dental practice website has exactly one purpose: To get prospective patients to make an appointment. In order for it to do that, it needs the following five things.

A professional, modern design

You know what they say about first impressions: They matter. A clean, professional website tells visitors your practice is reputable. Credibility research from Stanford University found that 50% of consumers say they make judgments about a company's credibility based on its website design.1

Not only should it be designed well, your website should tell visitors immediately that it's a dental website. Use an appropriate color scheme-white, blue, light green-that gives it a clean, fresh feel and use images of people with beautiful, white smiles.

Elements that build trust in your practice

The patient-dentist relationship is very intimate. People don't want some random stranger poking around in their mouths. They need to establish a level of comfort with you before they'll make an appointment.

Doctor photos and bios are an excellent means toward that end. These show your prospective patients you're human and professional and help them know what to expect when they meet you. (You should include photos of your staff, too.) Your bio doesn't need to include your entire life story; try using information about your education, your hobbies, and your family.

Reviews and testimonials are also important to building trust. When choosing a new dentist, 70% of patients take customer ratings or reviews into account.2

A way for prospects to reach you

Your contact information should appear in the upper right-hand corner of your website on every single page. That's where visitors expect to see it-don't make them hunt it down! Include a call-to-action, as well. Don't assume your prospective patients know what to do. Your call-to-action can be as simple as "Call today for an appointment."

You should also include your office hours, a map showing your location, and an appointment request form.

Flawless programming

Programming isn't sexy, but it's so, so important. Just like design, it determines your credibility with the visitor in a big way. If a prospective patient is browsing your website and the photos are loading slowly or not at all, or if the links don't work, what does that say about your practice? The patient will think you don't have your act together and leave. And you can forget about an appointment!

Your website also needs to be mobile-responsive, as 60% of Internet searches are now conducted on smartphones.2 That means the design adapts to fit the smaller screen of a mobile device. If you aren't sure if yours is responsive, use Google to search for the phrase, "mobile-friendly test tool" and then enter your URL. Have you ever tried to read a nonresponsive website on your mobile device? It's so frustrating!

But it's not just a frustrating user experience. Last year, Google implemented a new algorithm that gives preference to responsive sites (so if yours isn't, you'll miss out on a ton of search engine traffic).

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website more visible to Google and other search engines, so when people search for dentists in your area, your site will appear in the search results-the better your SEO, the higher your ranking.

This is not insignificant. 59% of consumers use Google every month to locate local businesses.3 75% of those people never scroll past the first page of results, and 60% of organic clicks go to the three top-ranked sites.4

Here are four tips for improving your SEO:

  • Add your practice to local listings: Did you know that the major search engines offer free local business listings? When someone searches for "dentist" and "[your city]," these listings are what comes up, along with a map with red arrows pointing to the practices' locations. It's an easy and free way to generate traffic to your site.
  • Use keywords: Using keyword-rich content is a reliable way of letting search engines know what your website is about. Think about the phrases people might use while searching for a dentist online: "[city] dentist," "dental implants," "family dentist," etc.
  • Add a blog: Blogging is a good way to use your keywords and show search engines you have valuable information to offer. You're too busy taking care of patients and running your practice to blog? I get it! If you can get someone on staff-or hire a freelance writer-to update your blog weekly or even more frequently, do it. Businesses that blog get 97% more backlinks (which are links to your website posted to other websites).4
  • Use backlinks: Speaking of backlinks, sites that get them rank higher in search engine results, according to online marketing expert Neil Patel.5 A good way to generate these backlinks is to participate in online industry forums or spend a few minutes answering questions on Quora or Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Another way is to link to other relevant businesses and ask them to link back to you.

It's a lot; I know. But spending even just 30 minutes per week on SEO will pay dividends!

Do you have a dental marketing question? Send it to me at [email protected], and you might be featured next!


1. Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility. Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab website. Updated June 2002. Accessed February 2016.

2. What Dental Patients Want. Futuredontics website. Patients_Want/. Accessed February 2016.

3. How Users Search for Local Businesses + 5 Tips to Optimize Local Listings. Search Engine Land. Published October 2011. Accessed February 2016.

4. All the Marketing Statistics You Need. HubSpot. Published 2014. Accessed February 2016.

5. 7 Proactive Ways to Get Backlinks That'll Actually Boost Your Traffic. Published January 2015. Accessed February 2016.

MORE FROM JESSICA LALAU: 3 ways to maximize a small dental marketing budget (that have nothing to do with marketing)

Jessica Lalau is the director of marketing communications, public relations, and social media at PostcardMania, a $22-million marketing company specializing in direct mail. Since its founding in 1998, PostcardMania has delivered results-driven marketing campaigns for more than 4,600 dental professionals across the nation. To request free dental industry postcard samples (with postage included), visit

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