This post was extensively updated on January 9, 2017.
Creating the best dental website is a difficult task. You need to have an informative, yet engaging site that your patients and potential patients will love. It should cover a wide range of different things so that it meets the needs of your website visitors. Social media links, blog posts (possibly, not always), great user experience, and the use of professional graphics are vital.
What Makes a Great Dental Website?
A fantastic dentist website doesn't have to be overly complex. On the contrary, it should be easy to navigate around and be the embodiment of simplistic design. Let's face it, your patients are your primary source of income, right?
With this in mind, give them what they want, provide value, all in an easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing design.
An excellent website for your dental practice will give them a better user experience, and is more likely to convert them to a patient.
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. So, when it comes to having the best website in town, you need to ensure that you are hooking people in.
Of course, there are some generals do’s and don’ts when it comes to website design for the dental industry. 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 number one factor that can determine if your website will be a success or not is the design.
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, the business owner, wants.
But when you mold your business to our own personal tastes, you are missing the point, along with a bunch of 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.
You need to learn more 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 dentistry, 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.
While it still holds true that your website doesn’t need to have fancy graphics or flash designs from header to footer, it needs to be clean and organized. The website designs for dentists that I put together are built on WordPress, using a theme. My team and I customize the theme so that it is unique to your practice. Making it clean, providing easy, and obvious navigation and flow.
A good website design follows 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 its layout, but there are also a large number of 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.
In order to create the best dental website you gotta add these three pages or sections:
- About (or About Us)
- Contact Us
About, Services, Contact Us – Three Must have Sections for your Dentist Website
About Us: “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.
It’s one of the most important sections of your website, because it will help you position yourself as an expert, and it is where you start to build a relationship with a potential patient.
Kennewick Dental has expert about pages, including separate bios for each doctor and the staff:
Consider highlighting your awards, and accreditations, and follow it up with the education, qualification, and professional experience. Make sure that it is understandable for a layman and you are not using a lot of industry jargon.
Services: This is where you’ll want to list your services like cosmetic dentistry, fillings, crowns, root canals, and whatever else you offer. Create a separate page for all basic services that you are providing, with the details and some images to describe and then create a main services page that links to all these pages. We 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.
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 page should be much more complete. 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.
One of the biggest factors that determine if your website will be good or bad 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.
Possibly include a new patient offer to entice them to call.
Legacy Dental does a great job of having a focus for their site. 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:
You’re 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.
Some ways to show your personality on your website include:
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.
In marketing terms, to actually “land the sale” 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 at least give you their contact information so you can follow up with them.
As for the offer, 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.
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 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. And if you need some inspirtaiton, look at StoneHaven Dental’s site. They put some great offers front and center on their site:
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 100-percent 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.
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 office, you need to focus more on User Experience (UX), instead of aesthetics or visuals. User experience can have a direct effect on your reputation and the leads coming into your website.
Responsive Design: People will be visiting your website from many different devices including but not limited to desktop computers, laptops, iPads, smart phones, and the likes. 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.
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:
Provide visitors with a header and footer menu or sidebar with a link to the main pages. You may also want to consider implementing an in-site search feature to allow people to specifically search for content on your site.
Poor page titles, confusing site navigation, and low-quality content aren’t just negative for your SEO, they can frustrate your prospects and customers, too!
While most prospective patients seek out websites for dentists because they’re in need of dental care, chances are they’re looking for specific information that they’re not going to find on your homepage.
You need to make sure that they don’t have to look too hard to find a page detailing the services you offer, a page for pricing, or a page about your practice and practitioners, just for example. Try to see your website from a patient’s perspective and make it easy for them to locate the information they seek. This way, making an appointment will be easy.
Would you buy a lottery ticket potentially worth $100 million and then never check to see if you won? Probably not. The same idea applies to metrics.
Okay, these tools and reports won’t win you millions of dollars, per se, but tracking the results of your efforts so that you can analyze them and hone your online strategy for the future can certainly be valuable for your dental practice. So make sure that you’re using metrics to follow visits and visitors to your website.
Before you even take the first step to design your new website, you’ll want to learn about your numbers for your old/current website. Your old metrics will tell you a lot about your clients and your business, and it will give you a blueprint for what you need to improve on your website redesign. You can get insight into your website’s current numbers by adding an analytics tool such as Google Analytics or HubSpot’s closed loop analytics.
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. 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 fix it. Make sure that you write all of these numbers down or save them, because you’ll want to reference them throughout the process.
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's said and done, you may even convince them to give your dental practice a try.
9. Clear Goals
It isn’t easy to figure out what your goals are if you don’t have your current 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 goals. After evaluating the metrics for your old site, you will want to come up with some goals—such as “increasing the site’s traffic by 50 percent after half a year.” Once you have your new website, you can use these metrics to determine if you’re meeting those goals.
10. Competitor Analysis
Obviously, 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.
Start 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’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 where 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 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.
A great way to do this is through blog posts. By creating awesome content.
This can be done through a blog or a newsletter, or even press releases or site updates.
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?”.
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 words 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.
Keyword Placement: When you are writing on topics that will be of interest to you 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 synonym. Also focus on local keywords since most dentists will be targeting a specific city or locality.
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. Keyword Optimization
Your ability to create high-value content around the right keywords and phrases affects 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 subheaders 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.
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. For website platforms, there is usually on option to format your new pages a certain way, this includes 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 Meta Tags, it is also used as the anchor text when your website link appears in the organic search results (and also 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.
Having more than one of the same title tag on 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 it's 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, but writing your own Meta Descriptions will give you more control.
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.
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.
You can do this 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 it will 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 factor in to website rankings. It usually doesn't take much to use SSL encryption, and you only have to take the initial steps to put it in place one time. While it may not count a lot towards ranking algorithms now, you shouldn't be surprised if website security starts to matter more in the future.
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.
And when people look at the beautiful smiles you've created for other patients, they'll visualize themselves with the pearly whites you can provide.
Kennewick Dental has a lot of great before and after photos showing the results of their various procedures:
In addition, 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.
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 a 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.
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 guestimate.
An appointment setter just makes it 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.
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. For thinking of their needs, you'll be rewarded with the loyalty of returning customers.
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
How convenient is paying your bills online? You don't have to leave your home, running to different places, standing in line, wasting gas and your day. 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 pay 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This clutters the home page with text, and likely distracts many visitors from why they were there in the first place. Many people also actively search for a FAQ page, so if you don’t have one, they’ll be frustrated.
They could have provided a graphic that says something like FAQ and listed a question or two on it, and then linked to it from the homepage.
What Makes a Bad Dental Website?
If your site 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.
With that in mind, here are 14 more elements that can break a dental website.
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, 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.
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.
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 of 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.
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.
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.
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.
However the layout, lack of images, lack of headings 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.
24. Poor Navigation
If your site has a tricky navigation setup, making it hard to find important information about your practice, this is a big negative, both for search engines and for the visitors who actually manage to land on your site.
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 also be front and center.
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.
When your web design company is designing your dentist websites 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, or they can be further divided into sub-categories.
I struggled a bit with the navigation on Canyon River Dental:
The vast majority of their site above the fold is taken up by a picture of smiling people. There’s tons of open space on the side to attract people to different areas of the site, but they don’t take advantage of it.
25. No Testimonials
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 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.
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 seen dentist 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 equals 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.
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. And you also know that frustrated viewers are more likely to leave instead of dealing with these issues.
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.
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 value proposition. Your value proposition should be the statement that brings together all of your content under one umbrella neatly. From your value proposition, you should be able to describe all of your website’s content and features in a manner that makes sense.
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 have to 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. Viewers who are still interested in your services are going to stay on, 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.
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 optimization. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out a few of your local competitors. They probably don't have blogs, and if they do, they only update them when something happens in their office - if at all.
This is a terrible idea. Your blog should provide useful information to your patients. They want to know things like what to do if they get a popcorn kernel stuck in their gums, or how to soothe their baby's teething pain. They don't care about your birthday party or the fact that your dog just had puppies. (They might, but that's not why they're on your website.) They want answers to questions and information that is going to directly benefit them.
Your blog should be updated regularly, at least once a week. Address common problems among your patients, like gum disease, sugar consumption and smoking. You may not get any comments, but trust me: people are reading. The more information you provide, the more they'll trust you. Trust is the basis for a good dentist/patient relationship. You may have built that trust in the office, but you can continue building that trust online through your blog.
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.
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.
Besides, what if your customer can't call? Skip the email address link, and put up a contact form instead.
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:
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.
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.
Our preferred location for the phone number is upper right, in bold writing.
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.
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.
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.
This is one area where some of Park56Dental’s blog content falls short. For example, they have a blog post called Understanding Osseointegration:
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?”
Need some more help perfecting the craft of an awesome, no scratch that, the best dental website for your practice? Check out the articles below, or go ahead and contact us to see how we can help.