Is your website engaging? Or are you stuck in the crowd?
One of the most frequent questions we are asked when a dentist contracts us to build a new practice website is “what type of content do I need to really encourage new patients to contact me?”
This is an excellent question and indeed one of the most important aspects to address when it comes to launching a new dentist’s website. There are other important questions too of course, for example, does the website perform well technically and is it optimised correctly for search engines? We’ll take the opportunity to address those questions in other blogs as they are all too frequently overlooked by most design agencies; but today we’ll focus on the type of content you need to really make your website shine.
What is engaging web content and why is it so important?
Even if you’ve not had a website designed before, it’s still likely that you’ve heard the phrase “engaging content”. It all came about when data scientists studied how users interact with a website after they first land on it. Perhaps one of the most startling things they discovered is just how fickle website users are and that many of them simply “bounced” off the website immediately if the content didn’t hook them in – hence the “engagement” part. It’s now well known that you typically only have a couple of seconds to grab a user’s attention when they first hit your website and that if what you present is dull and boring, then they won’t be hanging around for long!
This “bounce” action where users navigate quickly away from your website, is now a key measure we can use to see just how well a website performs, right down to page level. We report on these types of metrics in detail for our monthly marketing clients and then use the information to make ongoing, incremental improvements.
Two categories of engaging content
There are two main areas where your website needs to perform well – obviously for users, but perhaps less obviously for search engines; in particular Google. There is a key balance to be struck here and one that is almost always overlooked by designers. In a nutshell, your content needs to appeal to users so that they are engaged and encouraged to contact you, plus content which is suitably structured and in-depth to satisfy the requirements of Google.
It is well-established that Google tends to give ranking advantages to high-quality, useful content as opposed to minimalist content. This is particularly so where a website isn’t inherently popular i.e. most dental practice websites! So if you hear a dental coach telling you to strip back your content because people only want to see the headline information, then you might wish to remind them that they’re completing neglecting the requirements for Google!
This is another term you may have heard quite a lot when it comes to designing websites and the content therein. Traditionally, a dental practice website would follow a fairly well-established format, with a home page, information about the team and some treatment information. This was progressively enhanced by the inclusion of patient testimonials, “before and after” case photographs and often a practice news section. These enhancements moved us down the road of “personalisation” and delivering content that users were better able to engage with.
However, websites for savvy dentists have moved on again since then and now we really do have to push the personalisation aspects. This includes all of the features mentioned above but shifts the focus of the content to the user and how the dental team can solve their problems. After all, that’s why they are seeking out dental services! So we always stress to dentists that their websites isn’t all about them, but instead all about the potential new patient. Of course, presenting information must include the qualifications of the clinical team, not just to satisfy the regulatory bodies but also to reassure the patient that they are in safe, capable (and transformational!) hands. But ultimately it’s all about the patient, not you.
Use practice photography, not stock images
Whilst it is possible to build a professional looking website using stock images, those which perform best use real photographs from the practice, including team, facilities and patients (with appropriate approval). Go one step further and have your own practice video filmed – video footage, including short patient testimonials, work really well. Would you rather read a patient testimonial or watch one? Remember that users are fickle so you have to make things as easy as possible for them.
Write your web text carefully with the target audience in mind
How often have you read boring dental treatment text on a dental website which simply regurgitates what the practice across town already has? You must ensure that your web copy is not dry and is written so that users will be compelled to read it – so if you’re in doubt, invest in some professional copy writing such as that offered by the dedicated team of writers here at Dental Media. Make sure your treatment pages also include patient testimonials, case studies and of course, easy to find contact information.
You should also invest the time into a practice blog which will help to keep your website dynamic and up-to-date (hint, it’s also good for search engine optimisation too!)
Make sure you provide value
By providing high quality up-to-date content, you stand a much better chance of attracting enquiries to your practice in preference to your competitor just down the road. Help future clients to easily understand what you offer and what to expect.
What are your unique selling points and what sets you apart form your local competitors? Is it the technology in the practice, provision of specialists services or something else? Think carefully about this and make sure that those features are showcased on your practice website.
Ultimately there are now a lot of competent websites for dentists out there so you have to work that little bit harder to make sure you differentiate.
A compelling website for your dental practice will be your hardest working marketing asset so it really does pay to invest time and resources to making it absolutely as good as it can be. Whilst there are numerous low cost DIY website builders on-line and cheap template services you can buy, frankly they will only get you as far as the rest of the mediocre attempts that currently adorn the web.
To give yourself the best chance of making that all important impression with potential new patients and to rank well in Google, your website will need to work that little bit harder. So please take the time to have it built professionally and then keep it maintained ongoing. Your appointment list will soon show the benefits!
For advice on any aspect of dental practice websites and marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548. We look forward to your call.Google+