34 Qualities of the Best Websites for Dentists
This post was extensively updated from a post on January 9, 2017.
Creating the best dental website for your practice is easier said than done.It takes time to craft an effective site that speaks to your mission, vision, values, brand, services, and business goals. Your website needs to have an informative, yet engaging presence that your patients and potential patients will enjoy interacting with. Your dental website should cover a wide range of topics and showcase your services to meet the needs of your website visitors. Social media links, blog posts, a great user experience, and the use of professional graphics are vital in the success of your business online.
What Makes a Great Dental Website?
An effective dentist website doesn't have to be overly complex. On the contrary, it should be easy to navigate, be user-friendly, and be the embodiment of simplistic design. Let's face it, your patients are your primary source of income, right? So, make it easy for them to make appointments so you can get paid.
With simplicity in mind, give them what they want while providing value in an easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing design.
An excellent website for your dental practice will give patients a better user experience, and is more likely to convert them to a patient. Poor websites are reflections of your practice whether you want to admit it or not.
Did you know that, on average, a person will decide within 8 seconds of looking at website if they will use that service? In less than 10 seconds, your website can make or break your business. When it comes to having the best website in town, you need to ensure that you can connect with patients right away.
Of course, there are some general do’s and dont’s when it comes to website design for the dental industry. We want to ensure that your website has the best chance of success at competing in this massive industry. We’ve put together a robust list of ways you can improve your website today. Here are 34 elements that can make or break a dental website.First, let’s start with the good:
1. Professional Website Design
In my opinion, the number one factor that can determine if your website will be a success or not is the design. Design means everything.
When a dentist is designing their website, (or more commonly, having one designed for them) they often get caught up in the trap of designing a site that fits what they want and like and don’t take into consideration how patients will interact with the information that is presented.
When you mold your business to our own personal tastes, you are missing the point of what a website is supposed to be used for, and you are missing out on potential business. You aren’t crafting a website for your own personal tastes; you are crafting a website that will attract your target audience and get them to purchase your goods and services. Sometimes it’s hard for dentists to separate themselves from the brand, but it’s a must when it comes to the website.
You need to learn more information about your target audience, such as their demographics and online behavior, so that you can make effective website design choices that will ultimately interest them. You wouldn’t market psychology services the same way you market a dental practice, and the differences come from knowing your audience and what they want.
Once you’ve identified your ideal patients, you should identify their needs and the behavior they exhibit. Are they searching for your website through social media? Are they only using Google in order to reach your website? These are all questions you will want to answer before designing your website.
While it still holds true that your website doesn’t need to have fancy graphics or flash designs from header to footer, it does need to be clean and organized. The website designs for dentists that I put together are built on WordPress using unique themes. My team and I customize the theme so that it makes your practice stand out. We design clean websites that provide easy and obvious navigation and flow for your patients to interact with.
Dental office website design should follow three basic rules:
- Clear headings and subheadings – Use <h1>, <h2>, <h3> tags when necessary to tell visitors something is important. For example, a title of a page would either use an <h1> or <h2> tag depending upon your website design. Using these tags is also good for your on-page search engine optimization efforts.
- Minimal “clutter” – When I say clutter, I’m referring to pointless banner ads, spammy links, unorganized post structures etc. This doesn’t mean that it has to be boring, but your concept should include a limited color palette, easy-to-read fonts (sans serif), and a layout that includes standard placement for headers, buttons, bars, and so on. Keeping this clutter to a minimum will make your website look professional and clean, and will allow for easy navigation for your visitors.
- Defined categories – There is nothing more annoying that loading a website only to find hundreds of links cluttering the main page, with no obvious navigation tools in sight. If you want your visitors to be able to use your website, then it’s important that you include useful navigation tools and clearly defined categories which will allow your visitors to find what they are looking for.
Park56Dental does a great job of nailing these 3.
The site is optimized with graphics and images that allow customers to know about the services that are offered. The use of graphics is simple in their layout, but there are also many sections that are easily identifiable within the site itself. You can find out more about the team, head to the section aimed at existing patients, or check out more about the services offered. The website is as effective as it is easy to read and well presented. The simple use of colors ensures that the client is not overwhelmed by a prolific use of ‘busy’ colors, visuals, and text.
2. The Must Have Pages on Your Dental Site
In order to create the best dental website you have to add these three pages or sections:
- About (or About Us)
- Contact Us
An “About Us” page serves as an introduction to the business, and in the case of a dentist, it will be an introduction to the dentists or dental team.
The “About us” page is one of the most important sections of your website because it will help you position yourself as a leader in your industry, and it is where you start to build a relationship with a potential patient.
Kennewick Dental has professional “About” pages, including separate biographies for each doctor and the staff. It’s presented well and helps set the tone for the practice.
Consider highlighting your awards and accreditation, then follow it up with your education, qualifications, and professional experience. Make sure that you use simple language and don’t include a lot of industry jargon. There is no need to overwhelm your patients.
Services: In this section, you’ll want to list your services like cosmetic dentistry, fillings, crowns, root canals, and whatever other services you offer. We recommend creating a separate page for all basic services that you are providing, with the details and some images to describe them. In addition to that, create a main services page that links to all these pages. We also recommend individual pages for each service because it is much easier to rank for a term, such as “dental implants Houston” if you have a page dedicated to that service.
People want to make well-informed decisions, so don’t skimp or take shortcuts on these service pages. Provide value, give information, answer the questions that your patients are asking about these services, and be open to receiving questions for clarification. This will help you fill in the blanks for patients over time.
Contact Us: While you’ll typically want to include your contact number or physical address in your header section (and perhaps the footer-the bottom of your site, so that it’ll be available on all pages), your actual contact us page should be much more thorough. It should have more details like opening hours, links to your social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter pages, payment methods, and a map to give them directions. This also helps with SEO.
3. Website Focus
One of the biggest factors that determine if your website will be effective at converting patients is the focus and overall flow of your website. When I say focus, I mean what you want your visitors to notice as soon as they visit your website. As a dentist, you want people to either book an appointment or call to schedule an appointment, so make it easy to do on your website. Give them ample opportunity to reach out.
Consider including a new patient offer to entice them to call. Perhaps a free tooth whitening or discount on certain services for new patients.
Legacy Dental does a great job of maintaining focus on their website. They include a noticeable call-to-action to schedule an appointment to help people who are already ready to book. Just below it is an offer for a free report to attract people who need some convincing for cosmetic dentistry.
4. Site Personality
It’s important that your dental practice stands out. You are not like every other run-of-the-mill dentist in town. Otherwise, why would patients choose you over anyone else? To get visitors’ attention and differentiate your practice from competitors, your dental website needs to reflect your unique brand and personality. But how do you do that?
Some ways to show your personality on your website include:
- A unique logo that symbolizes what makes your practice special
- Photos and bios of the dentist and staff
- Blog posts that reflect your unique perspective on dentistry and provide education and insight for your patients
- Buttons that link to your social media pages, which should also show off your personality and create a virtual loop for patients to engage with your practice
If you’re not sure yet how you should define your dental brand, our blog post What Should You Be Known For will help point you in the right direction.
Personality is one area where Park56Dental really excels. As a dental office in central New York, they want to come off as a sleek, city office that caters to New York’s stars and top businessmen:
The personality of their site really sets them apart from a regular dental office.
5. Offers and Calls-to-action
In order to convert patients from potential to paying, you need something called a call to action, or CTA. Effective websites, dental and otherwise, present hard-to-resist offers and then urge the visitor to take action to receive the offer. If your offer isn’t compelling enough, or you don’t include a call to action, then people are more likely to leave your site without making an appointment — or even give you their contact information so you can follow up with them.
Offering a freebie, such as a free cleaning and X-rays, or free teeth whitening, will usually work well for a dentist website. Calls to action don’t always have to be about paying immediate money; you could have a call to action for a free consultation or an email newsletter subscription that keeps the visitor informed about your business. You’ll want to make sure your website is properly stocked with calls to action so that you can capitalize on the traffic you do get. One CTA is not enough.
Use an eye-catching button for the CTA to make it easy for the user to redeem this offer. The CTA should direct to a landing page that has the user fill out a contact form or book an appointment. Making the offer time-sensitive (“for the month of July ONLY”) adds a sense of urgency.
DentalCompare has a great article on effective calls-to-action for dental websites. If you need some inspiration, look at StoneHaven Dental’s website. They put some great offers front and center on their site, making it easy for people to interact with them and provide contact information:
6. A Site Abandonment Strategy
Sometimes people will abandon your website even though they do have some interest — maybe their computer crashed, or they were having trouble with their WiFi signal. Or perhaps they weren’t totally sold on your practice and wanted to check out some competing dentists in town. It’s important that your website uses technologies to track these visitors and even follow up with them, so you don’t lose the opportunity to engage with them again.
Another tool you can use is exit intent technology. Exit intent programs track visitors’ clicks and scrolling behavior to determine when someone is about to abandon your site. The program then presents the visitor with a last-ditch offer to keep them from bouncing. Picreel is a good example of this.This article by KISSmetrics talks more about ad retargeting, exit intent, and other technologies to help you convert abandoned visitors.
7. User Experience Optimization
When designing a website for your dental office, User Experience (UX) should be your primary focus as opposed to aesthetics or visuals. User experience plays a significant role in the number of leads coming in from your website. If people can’t use your site, or if it isn’t intuitive, you’ll lose business.
Responsive Design: People will be visiting your website from many different devices including desktop computers, laptops, iPads, and smartphones. All of these devices have different screen sizes, operating software, and browsers, and your website needs to accommodate all of them with equal efficiency.
Have a look at this website of a Bainbridge Island Dentist, and see how it adjusts to the different screen sizes of a desktop computer, smartphone, and tablet.
Page Load Speed: Doesn’t matter if you have one of the most elegant and stylish dental websites around, a majority of your website visitors will leave if your website is taking more than 3 seconds to load. Life is fast and getting faster with each passing day. You need to make sure that your website is keeping up with the pace.
Use this free tool to check the speed of your website.
Enter your website’s URL and click on “Test Now”.
You can improve your website speed by enabling compression, leveraging browser cache, optimizing images, using a content delivery network, and choosing a good hosting company/package for your website. When combined, your website functions at a much higher rate of speed and productivity.
Navigation: Navigating your website shouldn’t feel like a maze. Make sure people find exactly what they want, naturally, without having to think about it.
The opposite problem of creating a maze is giving too few options. Jordan River Dental has a simple layout that could make it easy to navigate, but there’s nowhere to go! Just a header with 5 navigation options and a few text headings that look clickable, but aren’t:
Your patients will feel more comfortable coming to your practice if they know where it is and what to expect when they arrive. One way to accomplish both is to take advantage of what Google Maps has to offer.
You can use Google Maps to give patient’s a birds-eye view of where your practice is located. Here’s an example from Aurora Orthodontics and Periodontics:
You can also use Google to create a 360֯ tour of your office. While this option requires a bit more effort, it’s a very effective way to show patients your practice before they arrive. Here’s an example from Northenden House Orthodontics:
Visitors to your site will be able to use the arrows to view your office before they book an appointment with you.
8. Proper Tracking and Metrics
Here are some of the things you’ll be looking for when you look over your current metrics:
- Number of visits and unique visitors
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- SEO rankings for your keywords
- Domain authority
- Number of form submissions and new leads
- Total sales generated
You can’t create a plan without having a good idea of what was going on with your website before you update your site. These numbers will give you a much more accurate picture of what was happening with your website, and from there, you’ll be able to create a much more effective, concrete plan on how to improve conversion rates. Make sure that you write all of these numbers down or save them, because you’ll want to reference them throughout the process to see how much progress has been made.Remember that your online efforts are a conduit for prospective patients to find you. When viewed this way, you can take the steps necessary to increase your odds of impressing visitors. When all is said and done, you may even convince them to give your dental practice a try - which is always the goal.
9. Clear Goals
It isn’t easy to figure out what your goals are if you don’t have your current website metrics. That’s why it was so important to look up your current website’s metrics on Google Analytics and write them down. Let’s look at the metrics you’ll be referencing again:
- Number of visits and unique visitors
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- SEO rankings for your keywords
- Domain authority
- Number of form submissions and new leads
- Total sales generated
These metrics might not look it, but they are all interconnected on some level. For example, if you want to increase total sales, you’ll want to increase time-on-site while decreasing the bounce rate. You’ll also want to increase your total number of visitors and increase your site’s SEO rankings for individual keywords. For example, you might want to rank higher for the “Los Angeles dentist” keyword, so that when people search that term, your website will come up as a result closer to the top.
Metrics help you determine if you are meeting your business goals. After evaluating the metrics for your old site, you will want to come up with some new goals—such as “increasing the site’s traffic by 50 percent over six months.” Once you have your new website, you can use these metrics to determine if you’re meeting those goals and adjust accordingly.
10. Competitor Analysis
It’s important to pay attention to what others are doing in your space, but you don’t want your business to worry about your competitors to the point of obsession. However, while you don’t need to obsess about your competition, you do need to be aware of them and what they are doing so you can stay ahead of the curve.
Start your competitor analysis by checking around 3-5 competitor websites and noting what you think works for them, and what you think doesn’t work. Then try running their website through an online evaluation tool such as Marketing Grader. Marketing Grader will use metrics and other tools to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of the specific website in question, which can provide you with invaluable information. You might even run your own site through this tool.
You’ll want to check and see if the strengths and weaknesses that you listed for your competition line up with what Marketing Grader noted as strengths and weaknesses of each website. This will help give you some objectivity when it comes to evaluating competitors’ sites.
11. A Content Strategy
If you want to truly capitalize on your website and keep it vibrant and organic, you need to make sure you have updates on at least a semi-regular basis.
The goal of a content strategy is to get potential patients finding you through searches online. One of the best ways to ensure that they can find you is by providing answers to their questions on your website.
You can answer patient questions in regular blog posts. By creating awesome content, you’ll keep your audience engaged and learning about your services on a regular basis. Engagement can be done through a blog, a newsletter, or even press releases or site updates. If you are regularly updating your site, you should be able to be found online.
The design and User Experience can only do so much when it comes to retaining your visitors. But it’s the content that does the all-important job of convincing these visitors to get in touch with you. Plus, adding good unique content on regular basis can give you a competitive advantage over other dentists in the area who have websites which are static and hardly ever updated.
Pique interest of your Target Audience:
Write on relevant topics which are helpful and valuable for your target audience. For example, you can write on topics like “Am I a Candidate for Invisalign?”, “The Top 10 Tips to Take Care of your Teeth”, or “How much does a dental implant cost?” The more you know your audience, the more targeted your content can be.
Take a look at Kennewick Dental’s blog for inspiration. They cover just about every “pain point” (psychological or otherwise) to help attract interest to their blog and business.
Uniqueness: You’ll want to create your own, unique, personal content. Don’t hire a cheap writer or copy and paste a 500-word article you found online. Writing on topics like dental care, dental implants, or surgery shouldn’t be a problem for professional dentists or orthodontists, and it has the potential to build trust and credibility for your practice.
Build E-A-T: Quality content should demonstrate your Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, E-A-T for short. You can build E-A-T are by adding a comprehensive byline and author bio to every article you post. When people see your qualifications in writing, they will give your content the weight it deserves. Another way to build E-A-T is to link out to quality sites, which tells Google that your site should be treated as an authority site.
Keyword Placement: When you are writing on topics that will be of interest to your target audience, you will naturally include keywords in your content. If there’s a place where you should be looking to add keywords, it is the starting sentences, and headings (h1 or h2 tags). Make sure that you are not repeating the same keyword again and again, use variants and synonyms to add interest and avoid keyword stuffing. Also focus on local keywords since most dentists will be targeting a specific city or locality and don’t do a lot of business outside of that geographical area.
Maintaining a blog is the best way to keep your content updated—you’ll be creating the type and amount of organic content you need to get new visitors and keep them. Having a constant flow of new content will also help tremendously on the search engines when it comes to internal links, inbound links, and keyword usage.
You may want to invest in some marketing automation software to help you with this.
12. Don't Forget Keyword Optimization on Your Dental Office Website
Your ability to create high-value content around the right keywords and phrases impacts around 15% of your site’s ranking, according to Moz’s research. This doesn’t mean you should stuff keywords or publish thin content just to have a page that fits a certain term. Discover the terms that are driving search in your industry and create content on the topic that provides more value than anything your competitors have published to date.
When keyword targeting, it’s critical to consider how effectively you’ve used the word or phrase in your page headings and subheadings. Google, Bing, and Yahoo place more weight on headers and sub-headers than the body content of your text. Unfortunately, vague and non-descriptive page titles are among the most common small business SEO mistakes and won’t help your on-page SEO optimization efforts. Do a quick audit of your page titles to see if they speak to what it is you are trying to achieve.
URLs: A common mistake, especially on pages generated on website platforms, is a random string of numbers and letters being used as a URL for new content. This is often called making your URLs SEF. The URL, in this case, does nothing for your search engine visibility as the string after the forward-slash is completely unrelated to what is on the page. If you are creating these pages manually, be sure to name them something related to the content. Always try to include a keyword in the URL that matches the title of the page. For website platforms, there is usually an option to format your new pages a certain way, including using the title in the URL. Doing this will help your internal pages rank well, which in turn will help your main page to rank well.
Title Tag: In addition to being one of the most important aspects of your website’s search engine optimization, Meta Tags are also used as the anchor text when your website link appears in the organic search results (and at Social Media websites when someone shares a link to your website).
Google uses the Title Tag as the anchor text for the link to your website.
So, not only should your Title Tags have primary and secondary keywords (as appropriate), they should be attention grabbing to improve your chances of getting clicks. There’s no point in stuffing the Title Tag with keywords; keep it short and simple, preferably under 65 characters. This number has changed over the years and is likely to change again in the future.
Having more than one of the same title tags on a website isn't something you typically want to do. This is usually something that's pretty easy to fix, though you'll need to go to each page to fix it. Remember, each page has its own purpose; you'll want to optimize each page for that specific purpose.
Meta Tag: The Meta Tag also appears under your website link in the search results.
The Meta Tag often appears in search results under your website’s links.
For pages without a Meta Tag, Google will use a snippet of text from the page contents. Writing your own Meta Descriptions will give you more control and the ability to use keywords.
Alt Attribute: Search engines crawlers are not able to read images very well, but you can describe the images through Alt attribute. Use the main keywords or phrase in your Alt Attribute, and you might get some traffic from Image searches as well. Visual search is becoming more popular, and ensuring that your images can be indexed and found is important.
13. Technical SEO
The easier it is for a search engine bot to crawl your site, the better the site's link structure is going to look, and the better your site will perform online.
This can be achieved by creating a sitemap. A sitemap tells the search engines which pages are on your website and where they are located.
You can also use Google Webmaster Tools to do this manually. You simply "fetch your site as Google" and Google will send a bot through your website and immediately report back if there are any errors. If there are errors, such as broken links, you'll want to fix them. "Fetching as Google" also ensures that they read a particular page on your site so that it can be included in a search result. While not imperative to do, it certainly can't hurt.
14. SSL Encryption
Making sure that your website has an extra layer of protection for visitors is an aspect of website management that has been important for a long time but has only recently started to affect website rankings. Using SSL encryption requires you to download and install a security certificate on your website, and you only need to do it once. You can tell when a site uses SSL encryption because it will have HTTPS: in the URL and Google Chrome displays a lock icon in the navigation bar next to the URL.
SSL encryption plays a role in your site’s analytics as well. Google will automatically encrypt traffic or block it as it sees fit. Sites that don’t use SSL encryption are often banned by Google because it doesn’t recognize the site as being user friendly. This is a step you can’t afford to skip since you are putting your online presence in jeopardy if you do.
One of the best ways to advertise the services you offer and the skill of the dentists and hygienists in your practice is to provide before and after photos of satisfied customers on your website.
Everyone loves a good makeover - just look at the popularity of TV programs like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover. By providing before and after photos, dental websites not only have the opportunity to showcase their success stories, but they also get to give prospective patients an idea of what they can expect when they partake of your services. It’s easy for patients to imagine themselves with brighter, whiter, and straighter teeth if they can see the work you have successfully completed for others.
Kennewick Dental has a lot of great before and after photos showing the results of their various procedures:
In addition to the impact photos have on patients, posting images on your site helps to break up blocks of text and makes for a more visually appealing layout in general. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is one instance where a photo can speak volumes, but also contribute to the user experience in a positive way.
When you have photos on your site, you have an opportunity to give search engines a little bit more information on what your site deals with. Giving your image alt tags a solid description can help your site, or your picture, show up higher in the SERPs (search engine results page).In addition to an image description, properly naming your images can help as well. Too often you see pictures on websites with a name consisting of random numbers and letters. Just like URLs that do not describe the page content, a random name for a picture will not help your site or your image show up in a search engine. These are simple steps you can take to ensure your website ranks better and functions more effectively for users.
16. Online Appointments
How many of your patients are busy people? How many new patients just don't have time to call in? How many of them spend the majority of their time online? You can't answer that, but you can guesstimate. And it’s fair to assume that most people do their appointment setting online these days. It’s just the way we do business now.
An online appointment setter makes things easier for everyone. It's like a welcome mat that says "Come on in! We'd be happy to have you!" This is exactly the type of impression you want them to have.
Online appointment setters usually come with the option to download paperwork. The patient can print it out, fill it out at home, and bring it in with them. This will save them about 30 minutes of time in your office. That significantly cuts down on the time they'll be with you. You'll be rewarded with the loyalty of returning customers when they realize you are considering their time constraints and doing everything you can to help them get in and out so they can get back to their regular routine quickly.
On a related note, consider using automation to send SMS (text) reminders to your patients before an appointment. Many practice management solutions offer the option to send out automated reminders. This strategy will cut down on cancellations and no-shows and make your practice more efficient and profitable.
Legacy Dental got this right -- they use a simple contact form to make it easy for anyone to book right from their site:
17. A Bill Pay Option
It’s so convenient to pay bills online these days, isn’t it? You don't have to leave your home, run to different places, stand in line, waste gas and your day to get things done. You just put in some information, click a few buttons, and your bills are paid.
Don't you think your patients want that option too?
Electronic bill paying options benefit you too. They allow you to accept multiple forms of payment besides cash. You can take checks, credit and debit cards. They also cut down on the amount of paperwork in your office. If a bill is paid online, a person can print out their own invoice or receipt. This saves your staff time as well.
Meanwhile, all you have to do is look at it on your computer, since all the information is automatically stored. Any mistakes that are made can be easily fixed too. It usually just takes a few keystrokes and many payment options can be hooked up to your accounting software, further reducing the amount of personnel interaction and effort.
Vogel Dental got this right -- they include an option to pay through your Smile Dash account on their “Payment Options” page:
But I did have to dig to find it. They could include a “Pay Online” CTA on their homepage to make their patients aware of the option. So, make sure you don’t send your patients on a wild goose chase just to make a payment. The point is to make it easier for them to pay you.
Video is a great way to introduce website visitors to your practice. By viewing informational videos where you talk about dental procedures, users can learn a lot about the treatments you provide, as well as your demeanor and knowledgeability as a dentist. This also helps reduce any anxiety your patients may have before a procedure because they get to know you and how you work.
Potential patients increasingly expect video on healthcare websites, and you can meet this demand easily. These videos don’t take long to film and don’t have to be anything fancy — just you in your lab coat, 5 minutes, and an inexpensive camera should do the trick. Just think about Youtube sensations who are sharing their practice online, such as Dr. Sandra Lee, a renowned dermatologist in the US. Break down the barriers for your patients and welcome them into your office in new ways.
Another idea for incorporating video into your website is to feature brief videos introducing everyone that works at your office. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Videos are better at building familiarity and trust compared to pictures alone, and establishing comfort is the main goal of posting videos on your website.
Vogel Dental includes a series of educational videos as part of their Patient Resources section, but they aren’t really highlighted on the site. Make sure your information is easy to find. Burying the lead doesn’t help anyone, especially after spending time creating those videos; you want people to see them!
They could do better by improving navigation from their other pages to attract interest.
Video is a great way to introduce website visitors to your practice.
19. Live Chat
Again, many people will only call you these days as a last resort. But many website visitors still want quick answers. Live chat is a great way to quickly respond to your website users’ online queries, before they move on to the website of one of your competitors.
Using certain dental practice management software programs, you can implement a live chat feature so that your receptionist who answers phones can also field live chats from your website. Alternatively, some services provide the live chat agent as well, if you want to outsource that job.
If you don’t have the resources for live chat just yet, make sure you at the very least have a complete FAQ page to answer common questions about your practice — location, services provided, forms of insurance accepted, etc.
Of the sites I analyzed, Park56Dental was the only one using this helpful feature.
If visitors have to contact you in order to get answers to simple questions like your hours of operation, directions to your location, or what types of laser whitening you offer, they may not even bother.
But with an FAQ page readily available to answer some of the most frequently asked questions you receive, you might give prospective patients all of the information they need to move forward and make an appointment.
Legacy Dental achieved this, but not quite the right way. They list a series of frequently asked questions right on their home page, instead of having a separate section:
What Makes a Bad Dental Website?
If your site has at least some of the first 20 elements in this list, then you’re on the right track to having a great dental website.
However, there are some big mistakes you can make that backtrack your progress. No website is perfect -- but if it fails to offer value, is difficult to navigate, or simply doesn’t have the features your potential patients are looking for, you have a big problem. And you might not even know it unless you sit down to analyze what is going on with your site on a regular basis.
With improvement in mind, here are the 14 elements that can cause a dental website to miss the mark.
21. No Membership Prompt
Most dental websites I see fail on this one. They have no call-to-action on their site asking visitors to sign up for their mailing list.
Should you offer an 'opt in' right when people land on your site? That's tough to say, but definitely worth testing. If you are going to do this via a pop up, be sure that you are offering something relevant and of value. Every dental practice is different, and every patient set is different. Your patients might not like pop-ups, but the only way to find out is to try it and gather data to determine if that is the right approach for your practice.
But you might be better off supplying a membership prompt at the end of the visit, giving viewers time to get an impression of your practice so that you can give them a good reason to sign up.
Canyon River Dental includes a “Join Our Email List” prompt right at the top of their site.
It’s in the right spot, but it could be more noticeable. The point is to help your patients connect with you. Don’t leave it up to them to find how to do that.
22. Slow Site Speed
Slow-loading websites are another culprit of a high bounce rate. Various factors can affect your website’s loading speed, and if your site loads too slowly, you need to figure out what’s slowing you down so you can fix it ASAP. Consider these stats from LinkedIn:
- 47% of people expect your website to load in less than 2 seconds.
- 57% of visitors will abandon your page it its load time is 3 seconds or more.
- 75% of users will exit your site if it doesn't load in 4 seconds.
Site speed is one of more than 200 factors which Google considers when ranking content, and it’s only becoming more important as consumers increasingly use mobile devices to conduct searches. If you haven’t optimized or measured your load time, all your other efforts to optimize your site’s content may not even matter.
Search engines try to give users the best search results possible. One thing that they look at is how fast the website loads. They don’t leave you out on purpose. Google is all about user experience and that’s why the company works so hard to flush out the bad material and sites from the pack. This enables the ones who are doing things right to benefit from good rankings.
Using terabytes of data, search engines know that visitors won't spend more than a couple of seconds waiting for a site to load before they decide to move onto another website. Because of this, your position in the search engine placements can suffer if you have a slow loading site. In order to combat this problem, you can start by reducing the size of on-site images (you can compress them with something like Smush.it ), or by using thumbnails instead of full-sized images. Any extra script or plugin that can be removed would also help to speed up loading times, especially if the function isn't particularly important to you.
A great tool that you can use to test the speed of your site is Pingdom. You can also use Pagespeed Insights from Google. Again, every little bit helps so if you think one or two large images are not going to make a difference, you are doing yourself a disservice. Cleaning up your site makes all the difference and you’ll notice a difference yourself when you load a newly cleaned website.
23. Content That’s Difficult to Read
Having well-written content isn’t enough — your content also needs to be formatted in a way that’s easy to digest, and easy on the eyes. Consider things like font, color, size, and background. The content should render well, no matter the device someone’s viewing it on. Specifically, this means you need to use large, no-frills fonts and high-contrast color combinations.
Avoid long paragraphs and jargon that can be confusing to people.
Formatting within the text is also important. Use short paragraphs and bulleted lists to increase the so-called “white space” on the page. This makes it easy for someone to get the gist of your content by just scrolling (without having to read every single word).
Regarding the actual “meat” of the content, learn more about writing good content, including how to add SEO value, in our blog post on Content Marketing for Dentists.
Legacy Dental has some great content topics on their blog, but they fall a bit short in the readability area. Readability refers to a visitor’s ability to interact with and understand the content in general.
The layout, lack of images, and lack of headings can all make it difficult on the eyes! After all, content needs to be accessible for it to be useful. Images can be used as a positive way of breaking up the text and make it easier to digest. A larger font couldn’t hurt either to accommodate people on phones or mobile devices.
24. Poor Navigation
The harder it is for patients to find information on your site, the harder it will be for them to work with you.
To start with, the most important information — your contact information — should be prominently visible on every page of the site. Other vital facts like the services you provide, and reviews/testimonials of your dental practice should be front and center and easy to find.
Use a tool like drunkusertesting to determine how easy it is for people to navigate your site.
Drunk User Testing helps you make your site so easy to use that even a drunk person can find their way around.
Include categories and links in prominent spots while avoiding placing too many links in certain areas. You might need to test out the placement of your links to find out what works best to bring people to your practice and to get them to interact with your site in a meaningful way.
When your web design company is designing your dental website, it is important for the header and footer to contain the categories of your website, along with either drop down menus or separate pages devoted to listing out the various pages of your website. They can also be further divided into subcategories.
I struggled a bit with the navigation on Canyon River Dental:
Most of their site above the fold is taken up by a picture of smiling people. There are tons of open space on the side to attract people to different areas of the site, but they don’t take advantage of it. Don’t leave things unsaid when there is an opportunity to say them.
Posting before and after photos is a good start, but how are viewers to know if the images are your patients or if they're from somewhere else on the web? Testimonials from satisfied customers can help to dispel any doubt.
Even though you can use your website as a platform to reach out to potential patients and explain your services, policies, pricing, and more, anything you say has the disadvantage of coming from a biased source. When patients talk about the wonderful service, gentle and compassionate care, and stellar results your dental practice offers, outsiders are more likely to trust the information and view it as more than just a sales pitch.
Kennewick Dental does a great job of this, taking their testimonials a step further and featuring their RateaBiz reviews and Google rating right on their homepage:
So prospective clients have access to 66 gleaming testimonials instead of just a few. Don't underestimate the value of a good testimonial to convince new patients to give your services a trial run.
You should also consider including trust badges from review sites such as Yelp, CareDash, 1-800-Dentist, or Dentistry.com; badges representing your professional affiliations, including the ADA, AGD, ACCD, and so on; and accreditation badges. These items show patients that you have worked hard to earn the trust of your patients and professional colleagues.
In addition to helping you attract new patients who find their site on your own, testimonials and source testimony can also help you get more referrals and grow your practice.
26. Ads or Outgoing Links
This isn't so much the problem in the healthcare industry, at least not for local practitioners. However, I have still witnessed dentists placing outbound distracting links, which detract from the purpose of the site and take a potential visitor off your site.
While most new webmasters have the notion that more advertisements equal more profits, experienced webmasters know that monetizing a website comes down to having the right number of ads and putting them in the right place. Having too many advertisements on your website can alarm or even scare away potential customers, as they may view your website as too “spammy” or dirty.
In fact, having too many ads on your website is a surefire way to decrease profits, as visitors will take one look at your website and quickly click the back button. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Google Adsense, CPA offers, Clickbank affiliate links or another type of monetization, too many ads on one page will deter customers from ordering your product, and it will ultimately distract them as well. Additionally, there may be limits imposed on the number of ads that you can feature on a single page imposed by the marketing companies themselves. For example, Google Adsense has a policy where only three advertisements can be featured on any given page.
When placing your ads on your website, it’s important to put them in strategic locations where your users are most likely to click on them. If you’re planning on using Google Adsense to monetize your website, a good idea would be to place a banner ad at the top and bottom of each page, as well as a vertical banner in the sidebar of your website.
I would say for the vast majority of dentists and other healthcare professionals, ads on the website is a no-no. Visitors to your website want to buy your products and services, not the products and services of other companies. Don’t encourage that kind of behavior. It just makes your business look desperate.
27. No Mobile Version
If you've ever visited a site via your smartphone or tablet that hasn't been optimized for mobile usage, then you know how frustrating it is to try to view pages that won't load or scroll properly. You also know that frustrated viewers are more likely to leave instead of dealing with these issues. People may tell themselves they’ll check the site at home on their laptop, but that rarely happens, and you won’t hear about it from those who abandon efforts and move on to another site in the moment.
For large websites built on proprietary platforms, having a mobile site professionally designed can help keep mobile users engaged. For smaller websites, a responsive theme can detect when a user is visiting from a mobile device and display a mobile version of your site automatically. This should reduce your bounce rate, which will help maintain a higher search engine ranking.
Plus, the upside is that Google now tells visitors if a website is 'mobile friendly' which can not only have an impact on your CTR (click through rate) when you show up in the search results, but it is also a ranking factor, so don't lose out on those clicks and make sure your dentist website is mobile friendly. Google isn’t trying to discount your site, it’s trying to help you rank at every turn.
When creating websites for dentists, some web developers might not be forward-thinking enough to plan for mobile usage. But with more savvy surfers favoring their handheld devices over computers and laptops, you really need to optimize for mobile.
There are all kinds of things you can do to make your website more attractive, informative, and entertaining for visitors. But if you fail to address practical concerns like ease of navigation and a user-friendly interface, the value of your content is going to be a moot point.
28. No Value Proposition
After you have had a look at your competitors and determined how you want to design and craft your own content, you’ll want to start with a unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition should be the statement that brings together all of your content neatly under one umbrella. From your unique value proposition, you should be able to describe all of your website’s content and features in a manner that makes sense and why it matters to your patients.
Value propositions are very important because, invariably, there is going to be a significant number of people that end up on your dentist website who have never heard of you, or don’t even know how they got there. You must come up with a way to keep these visitors on the page, and that’s by clearly and concisely describing what your practice is about. What sets you apart? It’s not always an easy answer, especially for dentists in highly competitive areas. Why should someone come to your practice over another?
Viewers who are still interested in your services are going to stay on site, while those that aren’t will leave. But with an attractive design and a clear value proposition, you’ll vastly improve your bounce rate and conversion rate. Show them and tell them why they should work with you.
What makes your brand better than your competitors? If your site doesn’t clearly explain these differentiating factors, search engines will have a tough time telling the difference, too. Google’s own quality guidelines recommend that you “make your website stand out from others in your field.” Defining and creating content around your brand’s unique values, product differentiators, or how you fit into your industry is an important form of on-page SEO. Providing clear, unique value that your prospects can’t find on your competitions’ web pages can cause your rankings to soar.
To learn more about big-impact techniques for any marketing budget, check out SEO Best Practices for Small Business.
I liked Vogel Dental’s value proposition: “Se Habla Español.”
They’re located in Utah, so fact that the dentist and staff speak Spanish can set them apart and be a deciding factor for some Spanish-speaking patients.
What makes you stand out? Feature that on your homepage so your patients know why they should work with you.
29. An Out-of-date (Or Nonexistant) Blog
For years, Google has rewarded sites that regularly publish high-quality content. However, it appears this bias increased even more in the recent past. According to SEO expert Rand Fishkin, over the last year Google is “trying to show more and more fresh results” for search terms. This is wise of them as it doesn’t make sense to continue to show the same results repeatedly, and it encourages business owners to take responsibility for their content creation and management.
In addition to making SEO for dentists a whole lot easier, blogs can make dental websites more attractive to visitors. They can also increase targeted traffic and opportunities for conversions. And the value you add through education, entertainment, and an ongoing virtual conversation could be just enough to endear visitors to your dental practice.
When you add new content to your site, search engines will see it as content that is current, not outdated, and it's been debated that 'fresh content' can give your website a bump in the rankings. Content is one of the most important factors in how high your site is ranked, and is arguably the one thing that you can control the most on your website. You don't necessarily need to update your website every day, but once a week for a fairly active site, or once a month for a static business site, should be just fine. Plus, there’s nothing worse than going to a site that hasn’t had a blog updated in years. Are they even open?
A blog helps you to be seen as an authority in your niche. This is my biggest qualm with Jordan River Dental’s site. It has a simple, clean design, but not what it could be. While the site looks aesthetically appealing, it lacks SEO value. It has no links to social media, and there is no blog contained within the site.
How can we follow them and find out what is happening in their business? Transparency and authenticity are very important when building a service-based business.
30. No Social Media Credibility
Linking to your social media accounts can help your website get a higher number of social media signals, which do play a role in how well your website will rank. The more popular your site is on social media, the better of a chance that someone will share it either on the social media site, or on a different website. This helps to increase the number of quality backlinks you have, which has a positive effect on your rankings.
By implementing these little changes, your website will look better in the eyes of search engine bots, and you should see a rise in the search engine ranking positions.
Social media creates a virtual loop, which is important in keeping your patients and potential patients engaged. Years ago, you would leave a dental office and not think about them again until your next appointment or until something was wrong with your teeth or gums. These days, dentists are in the spotlight with social media and it really does help to keep people involved in what you are doing and shows them the other side of your business and life. the more people know you and trust you, the more they want to work with you.
Park 56 Dental does great at this. They have social buttons prominently at the top of their site, and social sharing options for each of their blog posts:
31. No Contact Form
Some dental websites only have an email address on their website. This is a huge mistake. Many people are used to contacting a business through a contact form. Why? Because it's convenient. It's right there on the page. They type in their message, hit send and then go about their day.
If all you have is an email address, you'll reduce the number of potential clients who want to contact you. Think like your clients. To them, a contact form is faster and more convenient than a phone call. In a generation that is used to communicating through typing, a phone call is an absolute last resort. Always ask yourself, “what’s the fastest way to get the job done?”
What if your customer can't call but still needs to talk or make an appointment? Skip the email address link and put up a contact form instead. Patients are more likely to engage if they don’t have to speak to someone on the phone. It’s the way business is going these days.
While many dentists have some sort of contact form on their website, this form may not necessarily render well on a tablet or smartphone. What you need, and what few dentists have, is a mobile-friendly — or what’s sometimes called “finger-friendly” — contact form. Forms are notoriously hard to fill out on smartphones, which is how most people browse the internet these days.
To make forms more mobile-friendly, keep them simple, with just a few fields, large type, and large buttons. The easier your form is to fill out on a mobile device, the more appointments you’ll get from your website. Learn more about mobile-friendly websites.
I really like the contact form at Kennewick Dental. Next to it, they include their hours, directions, a map, and other helpful information that might answer the person’s question.
Keep it simple and people will use your form.
32. No Phone Number
Even though a phone number is a last resort for most people, there may be questions that they have that aren't answered on your website. (You can't think of everything!) Or they may genuinely want to call and speak to a real, live person. Some problems can't be solved through a contact form, or need to be attended to immediately. Put up a phone number. Give patients the option to contact you in traditional ways. Having all your bases covered is the best way to ensure that patients don’t encounter any barriers.
I know what you're thinking. "Don't most websites have phone numbers?" You'd be surprised how many don't have one on their website. It could have been a design oversight, or something deliberate. Perhaps the owner wants to cut down on calls, or maybe they just prefer communication through email.
Either way, it's not about what you want. It's about what your clients need. They need multiple ways to contact you, so put in a contact form and a phone number. That way they always have a choice. The point is to speak to the person in a way that they want to be addressed. Give them the options and your conversion rates will improve over time.
Our preferred location for the phone number is upper right, in bold writing. These days, phone numbers also have call links so that if your patient is visiting your site on a mobile phone, they can click the phone number and your phone will dial the number automatically.
Canyon River Dental did this well -- the phone number for both of their locations is the most prominent thing on the home page:
33. A Hacked Site
You probably think you’d realize it if your site had been hacked, but website owners are often unaware that their site has been taken over by cybercriminals.
An average of 30,000 sites are hacked into every day. Sometimes these hacks will be obvious if you’re paying any kind of attention to your website, as they will redirect your site to another page of the web or they will compromise the basic functionality of your website. But other times, hackers will insert some code into your site that is difficult to detect. As a result, your search engine rankings will suffer and Google might even blacklist your site.
Don’t just set up your website and forget about it. Consider it a living thing in the world that needs attention and care in order to thrive.
A couple free tools you can use to increase the security of your dental website include WordFence (a security plugin for WordPress websites) and Google WebMasters Tools. A good website monitoring program is Sucuri (though this software is not free).
34. Highly Technical Content
One major problem that patients often encounter on a dentist website is hard-to-read content. While it's a good idea to advertise that your practice offers the latest advances in dental equipment and services, you don't want visitors to your website to leave because they can't understand a word of the technical jargon used.
You don't exactly have to dumb it down, but readers don't need to be bombarded with information that is only relevant to medical professionals either. Tell them about advances as they occur, but you should remember that your content needs to be written for the layman and offer opportunities for patients to ask questions if they like. Remember to include updates in your FAQ section about technology.
Keep explanations short and simple, focus on the benefits and results patients will enjoy, and offer a link to contact you for further information, just in case anyone is looking for more in-depth explanations of your products and services.
I get what they were trying to do here -- educate their patients. But that’s not the kind of content that’s going to attract interest. Patients don’t ask questions like “What is Osseointegration?” They ask questions like, “How are you going to fix my missing tooth?” Keep it simple to have the most impact and engage your patients in a meaningful way.
Your website won’t help you attract new patients if they can’t use it. Accessibility covers a range of topics that includes some things we’ve already mentioned, such as:
Those things are all essential, but accessibility doesn’t end there. The way you structure your content to make it easy for people with disabilities to use your site also comes into the mix.
The United States already has laws that require federal websites to make their websites accessible. Dental practices should act now to update their sites since it is probable that additional legislation mandating accessibility from privately-owned companies is likely to follow. You don’t want to get left behind.
You’ll need to consider how your website works for people with impaired vision, impaired hearing, and impaired motor skills, as well as for those with cognitive disabilities and photosensitive seizures.
Here are the things you should look at:
Taking these steps will ensure that every potential patient who visits your site can read and navigate it with ease. And when you think about it, you want your business to be accessible to as many people as possible. It just makes good business sense.
36. HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Every dental practice must comply with HIPAA regulations. That includes your website. In fact, if you do any of the following things on your website, it must be HIPAA-compliant:
There are two main things you must do to comply with HIPAA rules.
Of course, you’ll also need to limit access to all PHI collected via your website. A strong database and server will be needed to make that possible.
Need some more help perfecting the craft of an awesome, if not the best dental website for your practice? Be sure to download the free report we've put together by clicking the link below. And give us a call if you want to learn more about how we can help you improve your dental website’s rankings, look, function, user experience and more.