What are the key elements of a great dental website?

It’s accepted knowledge that a great looking website is the corner-stone of any dental marketing strategy so it absolutely fundamental to get it right first time. Irrespective of how great your dental practice is, publishing a shoddy website will leave you languishing at the back of the pack and firmly behind your competitors. So what are the key elements to a highly functional and great looking website that converts visitors to enquiries?

The technical structure – “under the hood”

Understandably, most users of the web have very little idea about what lies below the surface of a website i.e. the underlying code that translates the graphical images into an interactive medium. This is called “html” and how it is structured is critical to how a website performs. Properly structured html will result in a fast loading website – important for your visitors and more recently Google ranking. Poorly structured html is also less accessible to the search engine “spiders” that gather information and determine where your site is ranked.

Poor code = poor search engine placement!

Your website also needs to be “accessible” for users with disabilities – this is actually a legal requirement and particularly important for any professional advertising services on the web. Hastily constructed websites are likely not “accessible” which leaves the owner open to legal challenge under disability laws.

Hosting – this is the how the website is stored on a remote computer and served to internet users. For a site to perform properly the server it resides on needs to be robust, secure and fast. Very often “budget” hosting breaks all of these basic rules and leaves the website owner with a serious disadvantage. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

So its important to understand that what goes on under the hood of a great dental website design is as important as what is on the page.

The dental website navigation

All websites should be easy to navigate to ensure a great user experience. All too often we see confusing navigation that almost certainly causes users to move on to a different site. Remember that the desired outcome is to convert the visitor to a customer – so we need to make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they need and get to that all important enquiry form! “User Experience” or UX is a key factor for successful web design but often sadly neglected.

Navigation and how page links are structured within the site is also critical for search engine optimisation.

“Look and Feel” – the aesthetics

We’ve covered some of the critical technical aspects so now to the components of a dental website design that make it visually appealing to visitors.

Images – “a picture paints a thousand words” and this is as true for websites as it is for print. Often we are presented with low quality images that are just not sufficient to produce a professional impact – even after editing and enhancement. So we really do recommend using a professional dental photographer to give you a great portfolio to use on your website and in your print literature. We also provide a range of professional dental images to complement your own portfolio and treatment images.

Video – promotional video is the latest marketing tool and a great way to bring traffic to your website. You can find more information on dentist video marketing elsewhere in our blog and also on the main Dental Media website. We highly recommend the inclusion of short video clips in your website alongside some great static shots.

Text content – this is extremely important for any website. Not only does it have to be well structured and interesting for users but also seeded correctly with the correct key word density for search engines. Too often we get asked to build minimalist websites with virtually zero content that stand no chance in the search engine rankings. You may have seen this type of website where the designer has published but after 6 months of poor Google ranking, revisited to add several paragraphs of text low down on the page in a effort to recover the situation. This is very poor practice and looks particular unprofessional.

Great content for high Google rankings

Finally we must not forget the need to regularly introduce great new content to the dental website. Google loves fresh content and this is becoming one of the key determining factors for high ranking. We recommend that you regularly review and update the content of your website to keep it fresh, not just for your visitors but also for search engine ranking. Do this for you main pages but also via your website blog – another great way to bring fresh content and visitors to your site.

Dental Media – class leading dental website design

Hopefully our article gives you a summary of the key aspects to check when looking for a new dental practice website. However, you might imagine that each of these elements needs detailed planning and implementation to ensure a great result. This is where Dental Media can help – we have over ten years experience in building great websites for dentists and dental professionals so please contact us for free advice and a quotation

Dental Media

In the last couple of years there has been a noticeable trend whereby certain dental web designers have started to package their design services – “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “saver”, “ultimate” etc – you see the picture. Within these packages you get a set of services and features for inclusion in your website.

“Packaging” – the up-sell:

So why do marketers “package” products and is buying into a package deal a good idea when compared to a truly bespoke design service? Let’s start by looking at what “packaging” a set of services is designed to achieve from the sellers perspective. First and foremost this concept allows a seller to “up-sell” their products and bolt-on additional items that in most cases you don’t want or need. A good example is the offer of a full flash website apparently designed to differentiate you from your competitors in highly competitive locations – no basis in fact there I’m afraid! Indeed this is particularly poor advice given that search engines do not rank flash websites at all well. However it would cost you a pretty penny if you didn’t know any different.

The usual selling trick is to introduce you to a package that looks like it might fit the bill and then bolt on all of the “extras” – monthly support contracts, SEO packs, fancy clinical images etc. Typically your budget is blown before you realise it and quite often you’ll find yourself with a costly monthly support contract to boot.

The “head designer”….

The other question you may wish to ponder is why would a design agency offer you different levels of service either from a “junior”, “standard” or “head” designer? Do they really differentiate the quality of their work like that or are they just nudging you towards their most expensive offer? The answer is pretty clear……..

The alternative way…..

Of course there is another way. Rather than jump into a package deal and end up with a dental website template that looks so much like all the others out there, it may be wise to consider a truly bespoke dental website design. No packages, no templates, no add-ons that fail to deliver – just beautiful dental website design that properly represents the quality of your practice and services.

At Dental Media we do not offer packaged web design – we understand that discerning clients want a bespoke, personalised and transparent offer that is tailored to their exact requirements. More and more clients are migrating to Dental Media for exactly that reason.

So what about the cost? Surely a packaged service must be cheaper than the personalised option? Well the answer here is a definite “no” – we know you will be more than pleasantly surprised at just how cost-effective our bespoke designs are.

A properly constructed, good looking and highly functional website is the cornerstone of your on-line dental marketing activity and it’s essential to make the right choice of web design partner. So for a better level of service, please contact Dental Media today.

Dental Media

Normally I restrict my posts to reports about new dental marketing ideas, latest web design techniques or items of a similar ilk. However, I felt it important to share with you an example of really poor practice implemented by one of the largest dental web design “specialists” who purport to be web marketing experts. I’m referring to duplicate content – the web design “no no” that Google deplores and will result in search engine penalties for unsuspecting website owners.

For those who don’t know what this means, duplicate content is fairly self-explanatory – in a nut-shell, the same web content published on different sites is absolutely contrary to good design practice and will result in your website being relegated down the search rankings whilst you sit and watch perplexed.

So what would you think if you knew that one of the “leading” dental design agencies was rolling out duplicate content to client’s sites without their knowledge? Ironically this company claims to be a search marketing expert. This is quite scary and illustrates the hype and hard-sell that surrounds a project that is oversold but under-delivered. Frankly I was flabbergasted when I stumbled across this – to my dismay I looked a little closer and found lots of examples.

Clearly I won’t publish the examples here to save any embarrassment for the poor website owners but take a look yourself – it won’t take you long. There are lots of examples of bad practice web design and search marketing out there which you might imagine result from rushed projects, “packaged” deals and production line design that adds zero value to your business.

At Dental Media we take pride in following only the best practice web design and search marketing guidelines. Our designs are truly bespoke and we don’t up-sell unnecessary add-ons that offer you nothing except a bigger cost outlay.

Please forgive me being a little bit emotional about this – I was genuinely shocked to find these examples and feel sorry for the poor website owners it will affect.

So to summarise, don’t believe the hype, carefully check what you are being told and above all seek references. Better still, join the growing migration to Dental Media for plain talk, beautiful dental website design and a better class of web marketing.

Dave

These days it is simply not sufficient to rely on a website alone for your internet marketing. Whilst a beautiful dental website will always remain at the heart of your internet strategy, it should now be supported by other web based tools designed to drive traffic to your site and also to sell your services by direct interaction. We will explore how the social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook can be used as effective traffic generators in another article but here we will concentrate on the power of YouTube and video as key marketing tools.

Before reading on, please take a look at our own promotional dental marketing video shot by our team in full HD and uploaded to YouTube. A picture paints a thousand words – a video many more!

YouTube is owned by Google and behind Facebook and Google itself is the third most visited site on the web. Sellers exhibit their services and products using small video clips which are in turn viewed by consumers researching potential purchases. This is an ideal medium for dentists to present new offers to existing and potential new clients in addition to providing relevant back-links to the main dental website.

This may seem like a daunting exercise with a high entry barrier but in reality it is quite straightforward. A simple and effective way to get up and running is to use domestic equipment to take short video clips of the dental practice and team, upload these to YouTube and then publish via your website or blog. Please contact us for free advice and we’ll be happy to walk you through it.

Alternatively, Dental Media can provide a professional video service whereby our video team will visit your practice and shoot a beautiful suite of short videos in full HD. These can be used in your website and your news blog to present your products and services in the most engaging way.

So if you’d like to engage new and existing patients with a quality, bespoke video in full HD, please contact us for more information. The power of referral is overwhelming when a quality service has been provided – we can help you present client testimonials, an overview of the dental practice services and procedures and a profile of the team all via the power of HD video.

Dental video marketing is key in 2011 and beyond – please contact us for more details and we’ll show you how.

Dental Media

Throughout 2010 Google remained the dominant search engine and it continues to grow – so much so that by the end of 2010, Google had recorded 66% of all internet searches. Bing had grown to 12%, primarily at the expense of Yahoo that had fallen away to 16%. Within the last days it has been announced that one of the lesser engines, Ask, had ceased to trade due to lost share. Google has become synonymous with the word “search” and its easy to see why our first focus should fall there when we are determining our dental web marketing strategy for 2011 and onward.

Google is a massive innovator and continually introduces new tools that we need be familiar with in our quest to top the Google search ranking. So what has Google been up to in 2010 and how do we see that progressing into 2011?

Google Instant:

A few months ago Google started to roll out new search functionality “Instant” aimed at speeding up searching by 2 – 5 seconds per average search. You will likely have experienced this when using Google – as you type, predicted search results appear in your browser ready to be clicked; you don’t even need to press “search”. Effectively you can scan results returned on-the-fly as you type. Google claims that the ranking of websites is unaffected by “Instant” which is almost certainly true. However, our statistics show that it is having a major effect on how users search and what link they ultimately click. The temptation is for a user to click a link before they had fully entered the original search term they had in mind! We have seen the (often adverse) effect of this in several web stat tools that we employ.

The conclusion here is that all on and off site SEO now needs to take account of the behaviour of Google “Instant” and how this impacts on the structure of website page titles, key word phrases etc. So as Google innovates we need to continually revisit our SEO strategy to ensure we stay in touch and hold on to those hard won top search rankings.

Google Maps and Places:

Another essential tool introduced by Google in 2009 and more recently updated is “Maps and Places” (you may recall the earlier service Google “Local”). You do not need to be a search marketing consultant to have noticed that search entries, particularly those with a place name, return a list of “local” results ahead of the usual organic listing! This is a great opportunity to get a first page ranking with relatively little effort – particularly when compared to a long and costly traditional SEO campaign.

As with all on-line marketing tools there is an optimal way to set up and use the facility – done incorrectly you can actually do more damage than good for your ranking position. So please research carefully or contact us for advice.

Just before we leave Google Maps and Places, one very important feature we need to highlight is the ability to rate an advertisers services. Whilst the number and quality of ratings that you get will not affect your ranking position it will likely have a very important effect on the way users view your listing and the likelihood that they will click through to your site. Advertisers with a number of good reviews ranking near the bottom of page one will likely receive more clicks than un-rated sites appearing higher up. Good reviews are critical to build the credibility of your services so you need to encourage this with your customers, friends and family. Ask them to drop by at Google Places, find your listing, sign-in and get you rated!

Google, Dental Marketing Video and You Tube:

This is a critical new tool which is worthy of its own article and covered in more detail separately in this blog. However, no review of the latest trends in Dental Marketing would be complete without at least a mention of the power of video for dental promotion. YouTube is owned by Google and is the largest video site on the internet – it receives the third highest number of visits behind Facebook and Google itself. You will have noticed that more and more companies are now using Google to advertise their products and services whilst consumers are using YouTube to check out what is on offer. This is an essential form of direct marketing which you simply need to be a part of.

However there is another significant benefit to posting video on YouTube that is not always realised. A properly optimised video acts as a great link source back to your main dental website, driving more visitors to your site and ultimately building your client base. Please follow the link for a more detailed article on the use of dental marketing video and YouTube.

Summary:

In summary we can see that Google continues to innovate and continues to provide useful tools that are essential for dental marketing. At Dental Media we constantly review such tools from Google and other providers and how they can be put to best use by our clients. We will present our experience of what works and what doesn’t work in concise and user friendly format so please visit us regularly and keep ahead.

You can always contact us for free advice or to discuss your dental website and marketing requirements.

Best wishes for a successful 2011

Vanessa and the Dental Media Team