Why Many Dental Websites Fail – The Top 5 Reasons
Wondering why your new practice website isn’t paying back?
It’s widely acknowledged that a dentist’s website is the cornerstone of all marketing activities and that a high-quality site which ranks well in Google is essential, particularly in times of ever-increasing competition.
However, it’s not simply a case of “build it and they will come” and all too often, dentists and their practice managers are left bewildered when their posh new website doesn’t achieve the results they expected, or indeed what they were led to believe by their chosen designer.
Let’s take a look at the main reasons why some dental websites fail, the common pitfalls in the design process, and what you can do to avoid those issues.
Trendy websites which don’t suit your audience
I’ve written previously about a current trend in the building of dental websites where one or two companies are churning out sites to a set formula with lots of glitzy images and other “bells and whistles”. Whilst these websites may well be suitable for certain types of dental practice, they are not suitable for everyone. They are also starting to look rather generic when compared to the “classy” websites which leverage on personalised images and a more welcoming feel.
If your website doesn’t properly represent what your business is all about and doesn’t resonate appropriately with the patient demographic you are trying to reach, then unfortunately you are setting up to fail.
My guidance here is to avoid design trends and assess very carefully before you step into the design process. Just because a website looks a little bit glitzy is absolutely no guarantee that it will work well in all circumstances. You’ll probably end up paying well over the odds for it too.
Your website is technically poor
Following on from the above, what we often find is that websites which have lots of “bells and whistles” don’t work well for users or indeed in Google. Many such sites use pre-built templates which are “code heavy”, load slowly and have ill-considered navigational elements. This form-over-function approach often delivers a dismal user-experience and consequently potential new patients look elsewhere. Remember that your average web user is a fickle soul and easily discouraged if the website they landed on doesn’t deliver what they need immediately.
Remember too that Google now looks very closely at the technical elements which underpin website performance and this is increasingly important when it comes to where you rank in the search results. If you check the performance of many of the “glamour” websites you may have been shown, you will see that many of them perform rather badly and also don’t feature very well in the Google results.
Another category of websites which tend to perform poorly are those built on “self-build” packages such as Wix and Squarespace. These tend to be in the “DIY” context but there are a couple of companies who use similar platforms for client websites. Whilst those types of platforms have undeniably improved over the years, they tend to still be very laborious and require huge amounts of input to get anywhere near the technical performance needed, particularly where you are seeking great Google results.
Your designer is allowing your website to fall into disrepair
Websites need maintenance, particularly those which have a content management system underpinning then such as WordPress. CMS platforms like this update regularly to ensure that both the functionality of the system remains intact and also secure.
Very often we see that designers allow their client’s websites to fall into disrepair, even where the client has been paying for maintenance. This is usually down to a couple of main reasons, either the designer trying to “get away with it” or where the CMS update is no longer compatible with the design i.e. where an update would break the site.
Where websites progressively fall into disrepair like this, not only will users start to experience problems, but Google rankings can fall away too.
The first thing to ensure is that your website is correctly maintained. This doesn’t mean stumping up for an expensive monthly maintenance contract as often this is way over the top. However it does mean establishing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and then ensuring that it actually happens.
You failed to budget appropriately for search engine promotion
It’s often said and abundantly clear, that websites which don’t appear high up in the search engine rankings don’t work when it comes to gaining new patient enquiries. This goes for good-looking, technically competent websites as well as poor ones.
Whilst some new websites can rank well quite quickly without additional search engine optimisation (SEO), this tends to be in areas where competition is less fierce. If your business is based in and around other dentists, and most are, it is likely that you will need an ongoing search marketing budget to catch them up and ultimately pass them in the ranking positions. Unfortunately many dentists don’t really appreciate this and fail to budget appropriately for that work.
The number of patient enquiries going via websites in the top three positions of Google is an order of magnitude greater than those near the base of page one; so the importance of this type of ongoing promotional work is clear. Please budget accordingly if you want your new website to achieve the ranking results you expect. Please note that the search engine work mentioned here also leverages heavily on the technical aspects of websites we mentioned earlier and won’t work optimally where those technical elements are not looked after properly.
Your website content is poor
Too many websites have a glossy home page but delve further in and you find minimalist treatment pages which don’t cut the mustard. Whilst some website users only want minimal information, many others want more detail, particularly where they are researching significant treatments such as orthodontics or dental implants. Skimp your content or present it poorly and you won’t encourage the more discerning website user to get in touch with you.
This also works hand-in-hand with search engine optimisation. As we’ve covered elsewhere in this blog, excellent, authoritative content is an important element if you want your website to do well in Google.
As you’ll see if you do your research, having a ‘glamorous’ website does not guarantee that it will work well when it comes to gaining new patients and treatments, far from it. A website needs to look good and work well to be successful. Coupled with this is the essential requirement to rank well in Google and you need to appreciate the initial and ongoing optimisation issues associated with that.
There are several key pieces of the dental website jigsaw which need to come together to ensure that a site delivers what you expect and in a lot of cases, one of more of those pieces is missing. If your website isn’t performing as expected, please get in touch with the web team at Dental Media for a no-obligation site audit. We’ll work out what’s going wrong and provide a list of recommendations to get you back on track – you can reach us on 01332 672548 or via the website contact form.