During the good old days of dental practice marketing, all you needed was a well-placed Yellow Pages add, a community mailer, and a solid reputation to ensure that a steady stream of new patients would keep your appointment calendar full and your chairs filled.
Today, the Yellow Pages has been replaced by Google search engine rankings, social media is the best way to connect with the community, and whether you’re successfully attracting enough patients depends on a dental practice marketing plan that combines a thorough SEO strategy with intelligent brand management. Of course, the one thing that ties all of these elements together is a well-designed website.
Your dental practice’s website is more than just a digital business card that offers prospective new patients a name, email address, and telephone number. It’s often your first and only opportunity to make an impression with patients that speaks to what your brand stands for, what differentiates you from the competition, and why they should trust you to deliver on what your brand promises.
Despite the importance of a web presence, 46 percent of small businesses in the U.S. still don’t have a website. This seems egregious in a time where the first thing any prospective new customer does when considering engaging with a business is to “Google it.”
However, simply having a website isn’t enough to ensure your practice meets its targeted new patient acquisition and treatment goals. You need a website that is easy to use, makes a good first impression, and accurately represents what separates your brand from the competition.
As experienced local website developers for dental practices, our team of web designers at Local Fresh know the best practices for creating dental websites. If you need help boosting new patient acquisitions and want to improve the success of your dental practice marketing efforts, here are a few design elements your website needs.
Mobile-Responsiveness is Not Optional
Does your website look just as good when viewed on a smartphone or tablet as it does when viewed on a laptop or desktop? Do all of the features, drop-down menus, and contact fields work when viewed on a mobile device? Can your website even differentiate when it’s being viewed on a mobile device and does the visual layout respond appropriately? If the answer to these questions is “no” then your site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Today, sites need to feature a responsive design that automatically adjusts the layout and design accordingly to the size of the device being used to access it. This offers two major benefits:
First, as covered previously here at the Local Fresh blog, Google has started penalizing websites that do not feature a mobile-responsive design. These types of penalties can seriously undermine your local search efforts to appear at or near the top of any local search results for keyword terms related to your practice.
Second, nearly 60 percent of searches are now done using mobile devices. If your dental practice’s website is hard to use or, even more troubling, doesn’t work at all when viewed on a mobile device, you’re successfully ensuring that the majority of new patients looking for a dentist will never schedule an appointment because you failed to make the right first impression.
Don’t underestimate the value of mobile visitors to your website. They’re often farther along in the process of gathering information about local dental practices and are close to reaching out for an appointment. This is exactly the type of lead your website needs to help you convert into a patient.
So what do mobile users expect? Simple, an experience that duplicates what they’d expect when using a desktop. That includes:
- Pages that load quickly. Slow page load times are all but guaranteed to lead to site abandonment as users quickly click away. To improve load times, consider compressing images and take advantage of mobile site testing tools that offer tips on how to improve the speed of your website.
- Easy navigation. All of the buttons and touch targets on your site need to be large enough to tap easily. Requiring a visitor to zoom in on button in order to click it will quickly become tiresome, leading them to just give up and abandon your site.
- Optimization for the right screen. Smaller screens mean you need to use larger text that’s easy to read, and that you place the most important information – especially your contact information – at the top of the page.
What’s Your Call-to-Action?
Your website serves the needs of two primary user groups: current patients and prospective new patients.
Current patients are primarily interested in information such as your office hours, printable patient forms, and how they can easily contact your office. Prospective new patients are interested in the types of services you offer, the insurances you accept, your approach to billing, and how you can meet their oral health needs.
However, no matter the type of user, your website should actively encourage all visitors to take some kind of action. The type of action they take should then help the user reach their goals.
Your call-to-actions can include:
- Buttons. A well-designed button stands out on the screen and encourages clicks. Make the text on your call-to-action buttons clear and concise, such as “Contact Us” or “Schedule an Appointment.”
- Contact forms. Any time you actively engage a user to leave their email address to sign-up for a newsletter or a contact list, you’re engaging in a call-to-action. While you can encourage a visitor to sign-up, you need to clearly explain the value they’ll receive in exchange for their email address.
- Phone calls. Any phone call your office receives is an incredibly valuable action that directly leads to an opportunity for your front office staff to convert a lead into a patient.
While call-to-actions are valuable, your website shouldn’t resemble an advertisement for a “4th of July Summer Blow Out Sale – This Weekend Only!” Your site should feature no more than two call-to-actions per page, excluding links to other pages on your website.
A Comprehensive Contact Page
You need to make it as easy as possible for any prospective or current patients to contact your office. So your contact page needs to include any and all information a patient could potentially need, including hours of operation, driving directions, a map, your email address, phone number, etc.
Your page also needs to include a contact form. A lot of dental practices incorporate their contact forms with their practice management software. Only ask patients for relevant information – such as their name, email address, phone number – and provide a short space for them to leave a comment.
You may also consider adding any special offers your practice is currently running – such as a free exam with cleaning, discount on treatments, or bundled care packages – to your contact page. Featuring these offers on your contact page can help to sway new patients into making an appointment.
Have a Solid Local SEO Strategy
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your website’s organic search rankings on sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. While we’ve covered some of the basics behind the best dental website SEO practices here, here, and here, SEO itself can be complicated and is constantly changing. While we won’t go too far down that rabbit hole in this post, there are a few basic mistakes that many dental practices make that can negatively impact where they rank in those important Google searches.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always include a meta title and a meta description for every page on your website. If you’re using an up-to-date WordPress site, you can generally find where to add this content in the SEO section located toward the bottom on the page.
- Every page needs a relevant title. The initial text on a page is part of what search engines like Google use to determine a page’s relevancy to a user search query. For example, if a user searches for a “dentist in Portland,” a page with the title “Your Choice for a Dentist in Portland” will be more relevant than one simply titled “Local Dentist.”
- Use simple URLs that avoid abbreviations, misspellings, or run on words. Instead, use hyphens to separate words, and be specific in your URL titles. Don’t change an URL after it has been on your site for a while, as this can confuse search engines once the page has already been indexed.
Create Compelling Content
Dental practice marketing and content marketing go hand-in-hand. Content is anything that you provide for users to digest that helps improve your brand recognition. This can include blog posts, informational videos, pictures of your newly remodeled office, patient testimonials, etc.
The purpose of this content is to keep your target audience engaged with useful information that answers their needs. Creating compelling content allows you to focus and refine your marketing message, and by including calls-to-action in your content – you increase the likelihood of converting a lead into a patient.
Local Fresh is Your Dental Practice Marketing Solution
Attracting new patients to your dental practice while also satisfying your current patients requires having a website that’s designed to always place the needs of the patient first. At Local Fresh, our team of experienced dental website designers can help improve the function and appearance of your website to keep your appointment calendar full and your chairs filled. Click here to find out more about what Local Fresh can do for you.