Regular Checks For Your Dental Practice Website
Check your content and functionality frequently to ensure top performance
We’ve had a very dynamic year when it comes to the messaging shown on dentists’ websites, all brought about by the fluid situation surrounding Covid-19. This has ranged from messages announcing temporary practice closures early in the first lockdown, through to new and frequently changing protocols as the pandemic progressed. Suffice to say we’ve been extremely busy helping our clients keep their websites bang up-to-date and informative for their patients.
However, where we don’t have website maintenance contracts with clients, and noting that quite a lot of dentists prefer the more cost-effective ‘pay-as-you-go’ approach, we do rely on clients to advise us expediently when they require updates to their websites. This is particularly important where vital messaging is concerned, e.g. opening status during Covid-19.
This was brought home to me last week when a non-maintenance client called to say that the messaging on his website still showed an opening date of June 8th albeit they had been open and treating patients for months! If we see situations like this, we will of course get in touch with clients to advise them; however where no maintenance contract exists, understandably we are not able to carry out regular checks on the hundreds of dentists’ websites which we host on our servers.
So the message here is hopefully clear – please ensure that you are checking your website content regularly, particularly where you are not paying someone to do it for you.
With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to compile a short check-list of the key content and functionalities you should check regularly on your own practice website.
Website key messages
We’ve covered some of this above but in particular, is your website current when it comes to key information such as opening times? Are there any restrictions in place due to current Covid requirements? Are you displaying the correct protocols in terms of what you expect from patients before, during and after their visits? This is vitally important, particularly during the current pandemic and likely to remain so as we ease our way out of it.
Whilst the contact systems we use on our client’s websites are very robust, periodically things can go wrong and this is almost always at the client side; for example an over-zealous email spam filter starts to filter out website contact forms.
So a weekly check by the front desk team is simple to do and highly recommended. Perhaps build it into their operating procedures so it doesn’t fall into disrepair and can be audited. When you consider the potential value of a new patient enquiry via your website, a few minutes testing each week is well worthwhile.
Compliance information – GDC/ICO/GDPR
Periodically the various legislative bodies will update their requirements for what needs to be shown on a dentist’s website and so you need to check this from time-to-time; perhaps quarterly. Where a significant change is announced, we will contact all of our clients by default, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the practice to ensure that type of information is up-to-date and hence fully compliant.
For all new websites, we do of course ensure compliance with all major standards before the site is made live.
This is actually part of the legislative compliance noted above as accurate team information is a requirement of the GDC. So please ensure that staff biographies are current and include all of the necessary training information etc. This will also work for you as new patients will be keen to see that training and education in latest techniques is up-to-date.
This may sound unlikely but we have had clients forget to update their website treatment section when new team members with new skills joined the practice. This resulted in key treatments such as Invisalign and dental implants going unadvertised. Please keep that information current or you will be missing out on those all-important web enquiries.
Content management systems (CMS) – technical aspects
This is an “under the bonnet” maintenance requirement and consequently often goes unseen. However it is extremely important and neglecting it can end up with your website ceasing to function, or worse getting hacked.
So if you are using a system like WordPress and don’t have a maintenance contract, you really do need to check regularly in the admin management console to see if there are any cores system or plugin updates required. However, if you have limited experience with this, please be extra careful as indiscriminately pressing the “update” button can result in your website breaking. You need to be sure that the original design of your site is compatible with the ongoing updates to the core content management system and any plugins which have been used to extend the functionality. Often that’s not the case and your website will break – so if you are uncertain, please ask your web designer for help.
A quick word about non-essential website content updates
Whilst the aspects I’ve covered above would class as essential checks and updates, it’s also very beneficial to update your website content periodically to gain the Google ranking advantages that this can bring. Google loves fresh, authoritative content and will rank it better in search results; so if your content is going stale, please take a look at this earlier blog to see how to address it.
Making regular checks on a dental practice website makes sense for various reasons. Whether it’s checking the function of a contact form, through to maintaining compliance with legislative bodies or ensuring that your content management system isn’t prone to hacking, it’s all very well worthwhile the little bit of effort needed to get it done.
If you need help with any of those aspects or would like us to take on the tasks for you, please get in touch with the web team here at Dental Media on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to assist.Google+