So you’re looking to grow your dental practice; but where do you start?
Whether you’re looking for more patients, more treatments, more referrals or simply just to improve your reputation; your website is a great place to start.
Cisco predicts that over the next 5 years, global internet use will increase nearly threefold, much of which will be conducted on Smartphones, with video accounting for 82% of all internet traffic by 2021!
This dramatic increase clearly indicates that the internet is now most likely to be the first place a potential new patient will look for a Dentist or treatment…and very often this will be outside of your office hours. So a patient-focused, effective website really is essential for any dental practice looking to grow in 2018 and beyond.
But what should you include in your website and how will that help you get more patient enquiries? Here are what we believe to be the TOP 10 must-haves for a successful dental practice website.
1: User-friendly, fast, responsive and mobile optimised design
Patients of all ages are now more internet-savvy than ever before. They are used to browsing big brand’s website and will expect yours to perform just as well, with pages that load in a flash and display perfectly; regardless of what device or browser they are using.
2: Patient focus
A dental website MUST be designed with dental patients in mind; speaking to them in a language they will understand and providing the information and tools they will need, any hour of the day.
Dental websites that use confusing ‘dental speak’ such as Endodontics (let’s face it…how many patients know what that means?!) will simply put patients off. To truly connect with your patients, you must focus on them; think about what they want to know, and deliver that information in the most simple, effective way.
3: Patients stories
Patients aren’t just looking for facts and figures. They are looking for reassurance. They want to see and hear from real patients who have had the same treatments they are considering and were happy with their outcome.
An effective dental practice website MUST HAVE real patients with real stories. Either through written testimonials or ideally, through the use of short video testimonials. Patient stories are a powerful way for your patients to explain how their lives have changed for the better after their treatment with you, which ultimately builds credibility and trust in your practice.
By 2012, video will account for 82% of all internet traffic
With the colossal rise of YouTube, the social media explosion and advances in technology that we have seen over recent years, video has now become a major feature of digital marketing. And with the pressures we all have on our time these days, it’s easy to see why! With 1 minute of video equalling 1.8 million written words, we are able to absorb a lot of information in a fast and effective way.
For dental practices, there is no better way to engage with your patients and get your message across. A professionally produced, engaging ‘practice welcome video’ on your homepage will not only put patients at their ease and give them a feel for what to expect when they visit your practice; it will also help your Google rankings! Google and other search engines want to see that your website is giving value. If visitors are staying on your homepage or patient story pages for 1 or 2 minutes (because they are watching a video) it shows that your website is interesting and giving value to visitors.
So, of all our MUST HAVES, video is perhaps one of the most important for dental practices looking to grow.
Your dental practice website may be packed full of interesting and useful information, but typically, the main content of your website won’t change very often. But to keep your audience engaged in the long term and maintain your Google rankings, you need to update your website regularly with fresh content; and the most effective way to do this is through a blog.
A blog not only keeps your website fresh and captures the attention of existing and potential new patients, but also helps to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise and understanding of what your patients need and want. Whether it be an article on the latest treatments, news from the world of dentistry that you’re excited and passionate about or even letting them know about your next charity event; regular blog articles will help to build and maintain relationships with your patients and reassure them that you know what you’re talking about.
And don’t forget, you can also post each blog article to your various social media accounts to keep them fresh and engaging too!
6: Online marketing (SEO, PPC and social media)
You may have a stunning, patient focused website with plenty of fresh content and videos…but can potential patients find you?
In such a competitive market, dental practices can’t afford to sit back and wait for patients to find them. Dental practices MUST HAVE effective online marketing, to target potential patients in their area. Whether you choose a long-term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy, paid search – which gives more immediate results but costs more, or simply focus on social media, it is vital that you let your audience know you’re there.
7: Make it easy for visitors to take action & book an appointment
There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a website and having to search through several pages before you can find a phone number…if there is one!
The main purpose of a dental practice website is to encourage potential patients to get in touch and make an appointment. So a big MUST HAVE is to make contact details and online booking facilities easy to find.
Not only that, but make it clear and simple for them to then take any ‘action’ you would like them to take. For example, make an online booking for an appointment or consultation, download information or simply to find the practice for their appointment.
Keep it simple and your patient are much more likely to follow-through with the action.
The ‘Local Consumer Review Survey’ by BrightLocal gives a fascinating insight into the power of reviews. They have found that:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews when searching for local businesses
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
This clearly shows that online reviews are increasingly important to patients when searching online for a dental practice or specialist dental treatment. Reviews act as reassuring word-of-mouth recommendations and what’s more, because patients know they are not ‘paid-for’ they are more likely to trust what the reviews say.
So lots of positive reviews on your ‘Google My Business’ listing are a MUST HAVE and will significantly help to build your online credibility, as well as helping with your search engine rankings.
And remember, if you get a negative review…don’t panic! Most bad reviews can be resolved and made into a positive. Answer quickly, stay calm and ask if you can take the conversation off-line. Once in a conversation with the patient, do your best to find out exactly what happened and focus on resolving the situation in a customer-focused, professional way. Once you have come to a resolution and the patient is happy, ask them to go back and leave a positive review. Even if they don’t remove the original comment, it will demonstrate to others that you respond quickly and make patient’s happiness a priority.
9: Dentist area
If you are a referring dentists and would like to grow your practice through increased referrals then a dentist area on your website is a MUST HAVE.
A dedicated area for referring dentists on your website will give you the opportunity to detail your particular areas of expertise and to share your philosophy; reassuring referring dentists that their patients will remain theirs and be returned to them when the treatment is complete. You can also include patient stories and referring dentist testimonials to show that the quality of your work is good. Furthermore, you can include information about any training you offer and provide an easy online referral booking system.
10: Find your why!
What is important to you as a dental practice? Why do you do what you do? What make you different…and why should potential patients choose you over the dental practice down the road?
Your website should be unique to you; reflecting the personality of your practice and what makes you different. When patients visit your website they should feel like they’ve visited you at the practice and leave with a true sense of who you are and why you are the best choice for them.
Remember, the ultimate goal of your website is to reassure patients; they should feel comfortable and confident that you, your practice and the treatments you offer, are the right choice for them.
So show them what you’re made of and stand out from the crowd!