Think your website is in need of an update? These tips will help you create a robust website designed to draw patients to your dental practice.

"/> Think your website is in need of an update? These tips will help you create a robust website designed to draw patients to your dental practice.

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    How to create the ultimate dental practice website

    Think your website is in need of an update? These tips will help you create a robust website designed to draw patients to your dental practice.

    Think your website is in need of an update? These tips will help you create a robust website designed to draw patients to your dental practice.

    Just a few short years ago, using a simple, inexpensive website template as the basis for the practice’s online presence was good enough for the average dentist. But today, with the rise of search engine optimization and social media, and the ever-increasing importance of online patient engagement, a dental practice website needs to be more than just a static online brochure.

    Today, taking advantage of what are now generally recognized Web design best practices is critical, and with the right vendors as well as a well thought out, robust and tailored approach, dentists can ensure their website helps achieve their marketing goals. In the end, a website must not only be able to help dentists continually connect with their active patient base, but it also must serve to ensure the practice is easily found—and chosen—by prospective patients who are searching for a dentist online.

    Patients today are looking to connect with and experience the practice before they ever walk through the front door. This makes the dental practice website an incredibly valuable component of the practice’s overall marketing plan. In creating a new site or updating an existing one, there are a few key elements that must be considered.

    Branding

    A dental practice website must incorporate and be designed around the practice’s unique visual identity. A generic template just isn’t good enough anymore; if there’s a logo and color scheme used on the practice’s business cards, letterhead and other print marketing materials, they also should be the basis of the practice’s website design.

    If the practice does not have a professionally designed logo, then logo development must begin prior to starting a major website overhaul. The site must take on the same look and feel as all other materials and should be part of a unified branding and communications strategy—rather than a disjointed tactic.

    Call to action

    Upon arriving at the practice’s homepage, both existing and prospective patients immediately should be able to see how to get in touch with the practice, whether to get more information or to make an appointment.

    Because the upper top ¼ of the screen is the most valuable real estate on any website, this space should be reserved for identifying and contact information so site visitors can easily discern how to get in touch with the practice. The practice’s name and logo should be in the left hand corner, and the practice’s phone number should be prominently displayed in the upper right hand corner, with the physical address and email address shown just below. Social media icons also should be located in this section.

    The power of video

    Establishing a YouTube channel, or profile, for the practice and embedding and cross-linking videos on the practice website that complement the written content benefits the practice in two ways.

    First, videos of the doctor and team build rapport with prospective patients before they ever make their first appointment. Second, Google owns YouTube, and as a result, in determining search results, Google’s algorithm now gives an incredible amount of weight to websites that feature and cross-reference rich media content such as video.

    From patient testimonials to a practice welcome video and tour to short descriptions of common procedures and after-care instructions, adding some quick, one-minute videos filmed on your smartphone to your website can be a major boost to your online presence.

    Want more marketing advice? Check out this Morning Huddle video:

     

    “Freshness”

    Consistently updating the practice website with new, fresh content is essential for the modern dental practice website. One of the most important considerations that Google takes into account when deciding how to rank a website in search engine results is how much new, fresh content the site has to offer. An onsite practice blog that has weekly or even monthly entries ensures that new and original content is added to the practice website on an ongoing basis—as Google prefers.

    Social media and online reputation management

    According to a recent whitepaper on social media marketing by Dr. Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, and Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA, respondents to a national survey of 88 dental and orthodontic practices administered by Sesame Communications confirmed that social media continues to provide a strong driver for practice website traffic. In fact, more than 91% of dentists surveyed agreed that social media helps drive traffic to the practice website.

    One of the most crucial things a dental practice website needs is third-party validation from around the Web to give it additional credibility. When patients “Google” their prospective new dentist’s name, they will not only find that dentist’s website, but also all the other websites in those search results that feature information about that dentist.

    From social media profiles to YouTube videos to online patient reviews, the information contained on third-party sites carries at least as much, if not more, weight than the information on the dentist’s own site because it’s ostensibly from a neutral source. This type of “social proof” from other places around the Web serve to corroborate the information provided on the practice’s own website.

    And incorporating links on the website to the dental practice blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel also provide more ways for patients to connect with the practice—and learn about the services available that might help them achieve their ideal smile.

    Mobile-enabled practice websites

    In 2012, Pew Internet research found that 31% of Americans used their cell phones to look for health and medical information online. With the wide appeal of smartphones among dental patients—and prospective patients—it is increasingly important for dentists’ websites to be optimized for use on smartphones. This translates into countless missed opportunities to bring new patients through the door if the practice website isn’t customized for the mobile experience.

    What makes a website mobile-friendly? The mobile user is looking for specific information, and wants to find it quickly.

    Existing patients might use their smartphone to find their dentist’s phone number to schedule a visit, or they might be looking for a way to request an appointment online. On the other hand, a new patient may be looking for driving directions to the office. So a mobile website needs to be a streamlined version of the full-version website. The practice phone number, online appointment features, driving directions and patient testimonials all need to be part of the mobile website, making the information easy to find for the mobile user.

    Your practice website needs to be engaging and informative, a place where current and prospective patients can go to find out what they need to know about you and the services you offer. Follow these guidelines and you’ll not only have a great website that’s easy to navigate, you’ll have another marketing tool to drive patients to your practice.

    Naomi Cooper is President & Founder of Minoa Marketing and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She is a respected dental marketing consultant, author, speaker and industry opinion leader who co-teaches Pride’s groundbreaking marketing course, The New Rules of Dental Marketing. Naomi also works with companies within the dental industry as well as individual dental practices that are looking to develop a cohesive marketing approach and momentum for their marketing strategy. Naomi can be reached via email at [email protected], and she blogs regularly at minoamarketing.com. For regular updates from Naomi, including social media and online marketing tips & tricks, follow her on Twitter (@naomi_cooper) or “Like” Minoa Marketing on Facebook at fb.com/minoamarketing. For information about upcoming course dates, call Pride Institute at 800-925-2600 or visit prideinstitute.com.

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    Naomi Cooper
    Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing and CEO and CEO and co-founder of Doctor Distillery. Naomi is a respected dental marketing ...
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