Time and again, in regards to SEO (Search Engine Optimziation) we hear doctors being told: “Well, you’re going to need a new website that is properly optimized”.
To that we say, “Horse pucky.” (I know.. we’re passionate!)
Hiring a slick web developer to overhaul the practice’s website may be a tempting prospect. Unfortunately, “you need a new website” is one of the most widely circulated deceits in the dental marketing industry. Too often, dental practices end up with a flashy website that actually doesn’t convert any new patients.
Ultimately, your website needs to do things:
- Be structured well, with the proper meta data in place.
- Solve the consumer question “why are you the right dentist for me?”
Dental Website Structure
The structure of a dental website, should allow simple and enjoyable navigation by your end-user, while search-engine bots quickly understand what your site is all about.
This requires proper labeling of your website pages, copy and pictures (See Titles and Meta Data here). It includes proper creation of search engine friendly URLS , footers and headers. There is also a special code structure called “Schema”, which Google and search engines especially like (we make sure this is in place on all our client sites).
Flashy animations, high-resolution photographs, and pages of detailed information about patient services will not sufficiently answer this question. It’s as if many dentists design websites (or hire website designers) that are actually catering to the competition. While this is an important aspect of competitive analysis, your website should be aimed at attracting new patients, not tipping off the competition as to what you’re offering.
In today’s image-driven culture, the appearance of a website may implicitly rank higher in importance than its content. This is a grace mistake for any dental practice’s website. While it is certainly important to create a clear, uncluttered website, the content therein is ultimately what matters. What matters is what will convert browsers to patients. Therefore, a website is important; a new one is not.
Many dentists, especially the older ones accustomed to traditional means of advertising, will often just throw money at a developer with the hopes of more website traffic (and thus, more patients). The world of digital marketing is not strictly dependant on money, however. Just because you’ve got a large budget for marketing does not mean you will attract more patients. The ability to measure website strength, using tools like Google Analytics, means that you can analyze your rankings and other data before needlessly spending money on a new website.
Furthermore, technology like Smile Marketing’s New Patient Tracker can measure the number of new patients resulting from a website. This provides hard evidence as to how effective a website is. This is another important step to consider when thinking about a new website.
Unrealistic expectations also stymie dentists in their digital marketing endeavors. Even if you’ve got great content on an aesthetically pleasing website, it’s unlikely that your website will yield fifty (or even twenty five) new patients in a month. The world of dentistry is a dense and competitive one; in virtually every market there will be numerous practices offering services similar to yours. A new website will not change this fact.
One of the most overlooked factors in digital dental marketing is the humanization of the practice. Too many dental websites focus on industry terminology, which is often employed as a means of proving the practice’s professionalism. This often backfires, as prospective patients are intimidated or overwhelmed by jargon. Information on who the dentists are, what got them into dentistry, and what keeps them in practice are as (and likely more) important than intensely detailed descriptions of the services offered.
A practice’s homepage, dentist biography, about us, contact us, and services provided are absolutely the most important pages. These factors should be dressed up with pleasing design, but should not be diluted by endless jargon or empty content (patients don’t need to see ten different pictures of snow-white teeth). Your website’s content and its ability to humanize the people and services involved are the most important components to answering the fundamental question of “why are you the right dentist for me.” There is absolutely no need to create a new website—you must only answer this one question.