Ten questions you must ask yourself about your dental practice website

dentist looking at dental practice websiteYour dental practice website needs credibility, originality and engagement if it is to succeed, Shaz Memon says.

At face value, a dental practice website has one key function – to provide information to the user and lead them on a journey into your practice as quickly as possible. Yet, in an age of ever-evolving technology, meeting this core requirement is not enough. Patients will make an assessment about your dental practice marketing based on how your website looks, feels and functions. As a result, it is essential it communicates to your target audience – within just three seconds.

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself about your dental practice website.

1. Does it function well?

In the fast-speed digital world, nobody expects to work hard for information anymore. In essence, what we expect from any website we land on is twofold – an easy-to-navigate website that is also pleasant to look at. Having to hunt for contact numbers or forcing visitors to click through several pages to find a location are instant turn-offs. We’ve all experienced the frustration that comes with that! For many of us, it may redirect our search to someone else’s website – and, in the case of a dental practice, it will most likely be a competitor. For the sake of your credibility – and your profits – invest in a fully functioning dental practice website with minimal issues. Do all the links work? Are your contact details easy to find – and use? How quickly does the website load? What is the browsing experience across desktop and mobile?

Don’t hold back on hiring a tech-savvy professional to do the hard work for you. It’s worth finding someone who knows dentistry, too, and has a deep understanding on the related dos and don’ts of dental-specific content.

2. Is it aesthetically pleasing to the majority who visit?

Aesthetics are playing an increasingly important part in our lives – you know this better than most. Your branding matters, both within your practice and online. How you look and feel as a business needs to seamlessly translate to your digital profile and vice versa. A coherent colour scheme is essential. If possible, try to match it with what you use within the practice environment. Avoid overloading your dental practice website with too many words – stick to clear headings and subheadings and use keywords to make it easier for patients to navigate and Google to find you.

There’s also the ‘aesthetic-usability effect’ – a concept supported with research – that explains how consumers view an attractive-looking website more positively functioning-wise than those less pleasing on the eye. Arguably, an appealing dental practice website is one that is high functioning but the two are not mutually exclusive. In essence, users have a positive emotional response to visual design, which means higher tolerance should there be any glitches in your navigation tools.

3. Does it answer patient FAQs about popular treatments?

With Google providing thousands of responses at the touch of a button, it is important you are providing answers to key questions from potential patients. Dr Simon Chard has presented a series of Instagram films in which he Googles the word ‘Is…?’ before any given dental treatment to elicit the most asked questions about dental treatments and then answers them. It’s an effective marketing tool and one that can be used for more popular queries to populate your FAQ page.

Indeed, an FAQ page should be seen as essential, particularly because search engines love them – and can help place you at the top of the listings. Choose an agency that understands the lexicon of dentistry and can translate this into plain English without creating errors in the information offered.

4. Will Google like it?

Is your dental practice website Google friendly? Do you have original copy? Don’t just simply lift words from other practice websites. Investing in a qualified and well-established copywriter will guarantee good copy. This doesn’t mean you lose any control over what is said, but rather it guarantees it will be unique, engaging and well written. Copywriters will also be aware of what keywords to include to help your dental practice website climb the search engine ranks. Failing to create your own copy also carries legal risks – lazy plagiarism can bring legal repercussions. Try to habitually run all your written content through a plagiarism checker, such as Copyscape, before it’s put online to ensure it is different to anything else on the internet. And blog often! Updating the website is essential for boosting your popularity.

5. Does it have easy-to-find patient testimonials?

When potential patients browse online for dental treatments, one of the first things they’ll look for is evidence that people are satisfied with your services. This feedback will primarily come in two forms – patient testimonials and reviews. These are crucial for your business. The former you can control and, for this reason, it is important they are included on your dental practice website. After securing permission, ask patients to put together a short paragraph about their experience at your practice. Couple this with a photograph of their finished treatment – particularly if it’s a cosmetic procedure.

Reviews, on the other hand, are less manageable and, unlike handpicked testimonials, they can be a mixed bag. Google reviews are extremely popular and will be one of the first things to appear when somebody searches for your practice. Ensure you ask your happiest patients at the optimum moment –on completion of treatment – to leave a Google review. Damage limitation is also important so any negative feedback you may encounter should be handled in clinic quickly and professionally to keep it offline if possible.

6. Does it showcase your work with great before and after photos?

Before and after photos are brilliant. They give potential patients the chance to see the clinical work you do. Whether it’s teeth whitening, implants or orthodontics, do use high resolution photographs – and full-face if you have the patient’s consent.

Remember to reflect the demographic. Don’t just focus on the young, social media type – tap into the grey pound. Dental treatments are not specific to one particular group of people and you’ll want to show that you can meet the desires of all clients whatever their age. Avoid any graphic photographs that are bloody or explicitly clinical. Keep it simple – one before and one after photo side-by-side will do the trick.

7. Are the images stock images or from the practice?

Images are your friend – arguably, more important than the text – so use as many photos of real patients as possible. Images enhance the user experience and help visitors to get a feel for your practice before they even enter the door. High quality stock images are enticing but do ensure you add your own stamp of personality and authenticity to your site with some of your best results.

Professional shots of the practice – including the reception, waiting area and the surgery itself – add credibility. It also helps those patients who have a fear of the dentist; they can put themselves at ease and familiarise themselves with the surroundings before they book their first appointment. The more images you have, the more likely you are to keep users engaged.

8. Is there video content?

Multimedia should not stop with images, however. In an ever-expanding world of online content, it’s vital you stay up-to-date and relevant. Rich media – which includes elements such as video and audio – is, therefore, a must. Video helps to build trust and allows you to provide necessary and useful information, encouraging potential patients to come to you. Video helps to bring your practice alive, too, so get the team to introduce themselves or have your hygienist recall five top tips for good oral health. Videos are a lot more likely to engage your audience and provoke emotion.

9. Does it add value to the patient experience?

It’s also important you keep up-to-date with current trends and news to help add value to the patient experience. Topics such as teeth whitening, fluoride content and charcoal toothpaste are extremely relevant, particularly when social media influencers are being paid to promote products or treatments that have no evidence of success or, in some cases, safety. Blogs are a great way to contribute to this discussion and educate patients on evidence-based treatments. It’s important to demonstrate you are the ‘go to’ dental practice website for reliable information and guidance.

10. Is it mobile friendly?

A mobile and tablet friendly website is crucial. According to the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC), almost three quarters of internet users will access the online world via only their smartphones by 2025. Consequently, you cannot afford to have an ill-functioning mobile experience. If your text is too small or links are squashed together, it’ll not be easy for mobile users to navigate. Consider creating a separate site for mobile users; ensure it follows the same colour theme and layout where possible, but have it designed so it is compatible with smartphones. Another alternative – albeit more costly option – is to have an app created specifically for your practice. This provides a custom experience for patients across mobile and tablet devices. Choose the option that’s right for your business – just make sure that that your dental practice website is easily accessible and glitch-free across all devices.

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