Web Copy – Getting It Right First Time

Dental web text that works – for new patients and for Google!

clicking on mouseHow many dentist’s websites have you seen where the text is sub-standard?

Most of them to be frank; either bland and unengaging, overly technical or too minimal to be of any use for Google ranking.

Worse still, there are still websites where much of the content is copied from other sites, which not only breaks copyright laws but also attracts Google penalties.

Unfortunately it’s a minefield of mediocrity and few are actually getting it right; but with that comes a great opportunity to get some fixes in place and step ahead of your competitors.

The bottom line is that many dentists fail to understand just how important text content is – whether it’s for their website, blog or even their pay-per-click ad campaigns. The result is that fickle users go elsewhere simply because the content didn’t grab them in the few seconds you have available to hook them in when they arrive at your web page or land on your ad.

Why is most dental website text sub-standard?

I suspect this is down to a couple of things. The first is that many dental web design companies offer text as part of their overall package but don’t make it clear that what they’ll deliver is a few paragraphs of pretty generic treatment text – “same old, same old”  and drearily predictable to be frank. This is usually just a minimalist description of a treatment and is in no way engaging for potential new dental patients who might be reading it.

The second main reason we’ve encountered on many occasions is where the practice principle or nominated members of the clinical team, choose to write the text themselves. What usually happens here is that you either get a long, technical tome which would be better in a text book, or nothing at all. Many dentists struggle to write in the type of customer facing language which is required, or they are just time-poor and never fulfil their wish to get the website text written themselves. There is then the rush to re-work content and it all gets a bit piecemeal as project deadlines approach. Overall, not great!

How should web content be managed and written?

To get the best results from your website, it needs to be expertly crafted to work well for users and for search engines, in particular Google. This means that the images you use, the structure of the site, personalisation, calls-to-action and your text content, all need to be considered carefully and developed accordingly.

One very important factor to address with respect to the text you use on your website or blog, is that it cannot be minimalist. We often get enquiries from dentists who wish to replicate fashionista websites or perhaps even Apple, where most of the content is image orientated. This is fine but what you absolutely must remember is that the Google search system needs a reasonable degree of SEO-optimised content to index and analyse if your website is to form a good foundation for Google ranking. Top brands can get away with more minimalist content than a dental website simply because their brand is already well-known and many people will simply search for it by name. Big brands also have huge SEO teams who can make up for limited on-site content via huge off-site marketing campaigns. But for dentists it’s a different picture and reasonably detailed content is a pre-requisite for decent search engine ranking.

This doesn’t mean that your content risks overwhelming the usability aspects of the website. Through careful structuring and layout you can include the content which Google needs and not compromise the ease of use of the website for users. It’s a skilful balance and something our content and design teams here at Dental Media work hard at to get right.

Empathetic and user-centric

Much dental web text you come across fails badly when it comes to empathising with the reader. Potential new patients are on your website to investigate solving a problem they have and so they want to see how you can resolve that first, rather than you talking about your new scanner or the latest course you attended. Of course those technical aspects are important and also have a place on your website in order to build user confidence, but they are not primary. The first thing you need to do is empathise with the reader and illustrate how you can resolve their problem – your text needs to be written in such a way to reflect this. Of course it’s also important that the “user journey” through the site is designed to make sure the correct information is presented promptly and not buried somewhere in the depths of the navigation structure.

I recently read an article on Dentistry.co.uk where a web designer seemed to be claiming a magical set of skills related to how dental websites should be structured, but it’s been studied in detail over the last 7 or 8 years and not revolutionary at all – a good read is Steve Krug’s book “Don’t Make Me Think” if you want a quick and effective overview of great design for optimal user experience. This was first released 6 or 7 years ago but has recently been updated to incorporate latest understanding and best practice. Good “UX” (user experience) wasn’t invented by dental website designers and any competent design team will have tried to understand and stick as closely as possible to best practice over the years. The main problem for dentists is that there are relatively few companies in the dental sector who are genuinely competent or simply outsource their web work to 3rd parties – so you do need to be careful.

Your web text and compliance

Another key consideration for web content is compliance with standards and legalities. Unfortunately this is multi-faceted, for example compliance with GDC requirements, advertising standards, information governance and more. It can get a little overwhelming if you aren’t experienced. You also have to stay on top of ever-changing requirements; for example, just this week there appears to be a crack-down by the advertising standards agency with respect to the word ‘Botox’ and particularly how it is being used incorrectly by dentists across social media channels. If your content writers (you?) don’t understand these issues and write accordingly, then stand by for trouble.

Where can you get compliant, user-centric, professional dental copywriting?

Here at Dental Media our web content team has been developing text for dentist’s website, blogs, ads and literature for many years. They do not work independently but work alongside our design, SEO and ad teams to ensure that client’s expectations and best practices are met. If you’d like to harness their talents and experience for your own projects, please get in touch on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to help.