Category: Author: Jaren Martineau
Part of my job is to evaluate dental websites, diagnose their problems, and to suggest improvements. As such, I examine websites—a lot of websites—most of which need help.
I typically hear from dentists when their websites aren’t found in Google search results, or because they’re not acquiring the number of new patients they desire, or because they’re not getting the right patients. In most cases, I see the same patterns for why a website isn’t performing.
1. Poor or outdated website design
It amazes me to see just how many dental websites are completely out of date. I routinely see websites with outdated styles, broken links and images, or that are missing key elements. Often I see images that don’t make sense or that look like they are from the 1980s—complete with feathered hair and aviator sunglasses.
What many dentists may not consider is that their website is often the first—and usually only—impression that a new patient has of their dental practice. It’s human nature to “judge a book by its cover.”
What impression does a sloppy and outdated website leave?
Most often a potential new patient thinks the dental practice is sloppy, or that the equipment and technologies are horribly out of date. This is especially damaging for dentists marketing themselves as cosmetic dentists. No patient is going to trust a dentist to perform a costly cosmetic procedure if they believe they will be using old equipment and antiquated techniques.
In addition to modern aesthetics, sites must be modern in underlying technology and design.
The search landscape has changed dramatically—people don’t use the Internet the same way they did in 2010. Back then, the majority of Google searches were made from desktop or laptop computers. Google recently reported that this figure shifted—searches from mobile devices now outnumber those on computers.
Is your website designed with the mobile user in mind?
Many are still not, and some that have elements designed to accommodate mobile users continue to be woefully inadequate, providing a horrible user experience. This turns off website visitors. Instead of taking the time to view your website, potential patients will simply leave—too annoyed to stick around and explore your website.
2. Lack of tracking
Tracking your online marketing and key website indicators seems like a basic function, but a large number of dental practices today either don’t use tracking at all, or don’t check the tracking they do have.
Regularly monitoring the level of website traffic, new patient calls, and website rankings provides understanding into performance issues of your website. Without tracking, it becomes almost impossible to accurately measure the results of changes made to your website or marketing strategy.
It’s important to track your website visitors, traffic, bounce rates, time on page, top referring pages, search engine rankings, new patient calls, backlinks, and most visited content. There are plenty of free ways to gather these measurements, such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and AWStats. Other tracking features, such as call tracking, are relatively inexpensive.
3. Website SEO isn’t optimized
I’m amazed to see how many dentists come to us for their dental SEO because their former marketing company has done little to no optimization. Other websites are somewhat optimized, but use stock or duplicate content.
Many dental websites aren’t taking advantage of simple SEO tweaks that provide powerful and long-lasting advantages for their Google search rankings. Many of these failing dental websites are missing the basics, including properly optimizing their title, meta description, and image alt tags.
Another SEO problem I find involves backlinks. Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. Backlinks are an incredibly important ranking factor in Google search.
Not all links are created equal. Some links can help SEO, some links have little to no impact on SEO, and others can harm SEO. Knowing the difference between which links to pursue and which to avoid is what gets dental websites in trouble. I see websites using spammy and unnatural link building tactics—negatively impacting SEO. Other websites simply lack backlinks, or the marketing contact is unaware of how to acquire the right kinds of links.
4. Local SEO is ignored
Many dentists are unaware of, or don’t understand, local SEO. Sometimes even the website company doesn’t seem to understand. Google increasingly takes the location of the searcher into consideration when offering search results. Google realized that someone who’s searching for “dentist” would be better served by a list of dentists in their local area than a list of dentists from all over the world. Many searches have an implied local intent, and when someone is looking for a dentist they’re typically trying to find someone relatively nearby.
A dental practice is a local enterprise. It has a building with a physical address and phone number. It’s a tangible brick and mortar operation rather than a virtual online company. For this reason, Google needs to be fed local indicators that let it know your practice is local, and in what area it should appear in searches.
There are a different set of ranking factors that Google is looking for in order to get your dental website listed and found for local searches in your area. Some of these factors include the consistency of your online practice information (known as citations), as well as the categories you choose when building your citations. Google wants to see that your practice is listed the same way and with the same address and phone number as it’s listed in other important online business directories.
Online reviews are also a significant ranking factor for local SEO. You need online review diversity, meaning that your online reviews are available from multiple online review websites, as well as a recent and growing number of good online reviews.
5. Not using the correct keywords
Keywords, while not as important as they used to be, still play an important part in SEO. These keywords, or search terms, are what people are searching for on the Internet. If people in your area are searching for a Los Angeles dentist, for example, you might want to ensure that your webpage has content that will be of value to people searching for this search term. This would naturally include the use of the keywords “Los Angeles dentist” in the title and in the text on the webpage.
Many dental websites making use of keywords aren’t using them to their full potential. Or they’re simply not using the right keywords. There is an important distinction to make about keywords. Some keywords will bring in visitors to your website that are simply browsing around for more information (and not looking to make an appointment), while other keywords are used by patients ready to make an appointment now—known as high converting keywords. If your website is optimized for the wrong words, then you may end up with a large number of online visitors, but not many new patients.
6. Web design and marketing company is not up to date
The world is constantly on the move. This is especially true in the world of website design and online marketing. Google is constantly evolving in response to changes—including changes to ranking algorithms. Using the same tactics that got your website to rank well in Google a few years ago could end up getting your website penalized today. It’s important to employ a design and marketing company that is current with these potentially important updates and changes.
In addition to awareness of these changes, there are other less obvious—but equally important—shifts in the online marketplace. People change their opinions and preferences. Designs go out of style.
Expectations are also changing. How do you know what patients are expecting today? At Infinity Dental Web we’re constantly performing market research. Our research is specific to dental websites and dental marketing, unlike some of our competitors who are much more general in their approach. Being aware of these shifts as they happen can help to keep your website and marketing performing as it should.
If your dental website just doesn’t seem to be all that it should be, keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to improve its performance. Getting on board with the right dental marketing company is a crucial part of your decision. If you, and your online marketing company, can tackle these six suggestions, you’ll likely do better than most of your online competitors, and—more importantly—your website will bring in new patients who are currently looking for your practice but who are unable to find it.