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Quick Reference Guide: Generating New Patients with Your Dental Website

Published on June 4, 2012

Is your dental website your most powerful and effective marketing tool? If not, it should be.

While there once was a time that simply having a dental website was sufficient to establish your online presence, these days it just doesn’t cut it. Of course if you already have an established website, you’re on the right track. But in order to market effectively and draw new patients to your practice you need to broaden your approach (and your reach) to generate interest, boost traffic and, ultimately, increase your new patient conversion. The tips below are designed to put you on the fast track to using your website and a few select Internet resources to generate new patients for your dental practice.

  1. Do Some Housecleaning – You wouldn’t invite guests to your home while it is in disarray, and you shouldn’t invite visitors to your website if it needs a thorough “cleaning” either. Many practices get so caught up in the marketing aspect of their websites that they neglect the single most important step in generating new patients: Making sure that the website is clean, informative and engaging, and that it provides all of the proper tools for new patient conversion. Does your home page adequately describe your practice and present a warm welcome to your visitors? Are your staff bios and procedural information up-to-date? Does your site copy contain sufficient call-to-action elements? Are you providing sufficient vehicles for contact – on every page of your site – so that patients can easily get in touch? If you answered “no” to any of these questions you have some work to do. Before you worry about driving new patient traffic to your dental website make sure that you’re providing a great place for patients to visit once they get there. In other words, don’t send out those party invitations before the planning and preparation are done.
  2. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a primary piece of any dental website marketing strategy. If you’re not getting much new patient traffic chances are good that it’s because patients can’t find you. It’s important to have a site that’s well-optimized for local search terms so that patients who are looking for a dentist in your area can find you. Since search engine optimization can be complex, and search engine algorithms are constantly changing, it’s often best to put this task in the hands of an expert who specializes in SEO for dentists.
  3. Get Social – In recent years social media (social networking) has become a powerful tool for businesses, medical practices and dental practices, going far beyond just being a “toy for teens.” What’s more, many patients now expect their providers to be found on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. If you’re not currently a part of the social media frenzy you’re missing out on some very valuable opportunities! At its core, social networking allows you to establish a connection with your patients that goes far beyond traditional practice-patient interaction. Social networking also provides a very powerful search engine boost for your practice. But you can’t just “set it and forget it.” Make sure that you’re actively using the profiles that you establish – interacting with patients, posting useful information, etc. – and be absolutely certain to tie your social media profiles into your dental practice website. Your goal is to create a “web” that will catch patients from as many angles as possible. Consider your website to be the center of that web, with all of your other efforts “spinning” out from there.

To be sure, there are many more aspects of successful dental practice marketing. But following the above three simple steps for Internet marketing will have you headed in the right direction in very little time. And remember, as search engines and social networking go, it’s better to be pushing for the lead than to be at the back of the pack playing catch up!

Need help using your dental practice website to generate new patients? Dental 101 can help! Give us a call today at 888-956-1010 to learn more.

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Using Your Dental Website to Increase Patient Satisfaction

Published on May 17, 2012

Now, more than ever, your dental website plays a vital role in building your practice and establishing a “hub” for your patient community. Your website should not only attract patients, but also allow them the opportunity to get to know you and build their trust in you and your practice team. Perhaps most importantly, your dental website should elevate the overall level of patient satisfaction which will, in turn, lead to link-sharing and word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied patients.

In a time where the large majority of the population turns to the Internet for sharing and discovery, you should make sure that your dental practice website helps you meet, or even exceed, your patients’ expectations. By executing the recommendations in the following list of guidelines you’ll be giving your patients and your practice a big reason to smile.

  1. Give Patients a Warm Introduction to Your Practice. One of the most important missions your website should accomplish is making each and every patient feel like they are being welcomed into a “family.” Be sure that the very first paragraph on your site’s homepage delivers that message. Chances are if a patient found and is visiting your website he/she is looking for a dentist either immediately or in the very near future. Your goal should not be to convince a patient why he/she needs you (chances are they already know that), but rather why he/she should visit your practice over that of a competitor. Make sure to sum up some of the highlights of your practice and your staff in one easy-to-read paragraph before moving on to other details. Consider adding a video spokesperson for your website to deliver a warm, customized message to your visitors. Remember, patients who feel welcomed and are intrigued tend to stick around and learn more – and eventually request an appointment.
  2. Educate Your Patients About Procedures You Provide. It’s nothing new – a great percentage of the population is nervous (or even terrified) about going to the dentist.  The truth is that a great deal of that anxiety is often due to unfamiliarity with treatment options or specific treatment plans. And often times that anxiety and uncertainty is what ultimately keeps a potential patient from taking action and scheduling an appointment. Educating your visitors about the specific treatment options you provide will give them a higher level of comfort and also assist in patients forming reasonable expectations about the ways you and your staff can help to alleviate their issues. And remember, we’re not talking about all of the gory details here; rather, a detailed overview of what you will do and what the patient should expect. Alleviating their fears in this manner can not only lead to more requests for appointments, but also a greater overall level of patient satisfaction.
  3. Give Patients the Ability to Request an Appointment Right from Your Website. We live in the age of “now,” and giving patients the ability to request an appointment online can lead to increased new patient growth. Patients don’t always have the time during normal business hours to call your practice, and if they do they certainly don’t have the time to wait on hold. Providing a “Request for Appointment” form will allow your visitors to contact you when it’s convenient for them, or whenever they feel like taking action. And remember, for many people there’s much less anxiety involved with filling out a form than there is with picking up the phone. Providing this option will not only increase patient satisfaction, but also allow you to measure the effectiveness with which your dental practice website increases case acceptance.
  4. Integrate Patient Satisfaction Surveys. Without a doubt the best insight into the overall “health” and efficiency of your practice comes from your patients. Maybe they are pleased with your staff but are unhappy with the wait times they’ve experienced. Maybe they rave about the work you’ve done but are much less complimentary about the “mood” of your office. Maybe their answers will surprise you entirely. Whatever the case, giving patients a chance to voice their opinions gives you valuable resources with which to improve your practice. It also lets your patients know that you care about their experience(s) with you. That feeling of care is one that greatly improves trust and satisfaction and also increases patient loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.

Certainly marketing your practice is an important building block for growth. But always remember that patient satisfaction is the key ingredient in the recipe for your practice’s success.

Need assistance increasing patient satisfaction using your dental practice website? Dental 101 can help! Give us a call today at 888-956-1010 to learn more.

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Quick Reference Guide: Keeping Your Dental Website Fresh and Relevant

Published on May 16, 2012

Are you losing clicks to competitors? Do you find yourself not gaining any ground in search engine rankings? Do you find that patients are abandoning your website only seconds after they arrive?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, please read on…

There are many facets to website success, but one very simple (and key) element often goes grossly overlooked: fresh, relevant content. Yes, it’s the simple things that often elude us. Many practices spend hours focusing on the complex when often times the simplest answer may be the most effective. Now, that’s not to say that you should abandon ship on all other fronts. But what good is a link-building campaign, SEO strategy, or Social Networking effort without great content to direct your traffic to? Here we’ll take a look at a few simple tips to keep your website fresh, relevant and engaging.

  1. Review and Update Your Content. It may seem obvious, but stale, outdated content does no one any good. Are your phone number, address and office hours up-to-date? Do you have a staff member listed that no longer works at your practice? Does your doctor bio taut how you love to spend time with your wife or husband of fifteen years when you just celebrated your 20th anniversary? And what about services? You’ve been offering CEREC™ for three years now, yet that service is nowhere to be found on your website. Make sure that your patients and potential new patients are reading and seeing what’s current and relevant about your dental practice. It’s amazing what a simple half-hour review of your site can do!
  2. Add New and Interesting Content. Adding a new page or category to your website is an easy, effective way to generate new content. Does your practice host or attend events? Consider creating an events page to keep patients informed about where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing in your community. You can also consider a before-and-after treatment gallery or patient testimonials. Make sure that you modify and add to these pages frequently so that you’re always providing current, useful information to your website visitors.
  3. Offer Specials and Discount Savings. Advertising your monthly specials on your website is not only a great way to keep fresh content on your website, but also an attractive and effective call-to-action for your patients. Don’t currently offer any specials or discounts? Now’s a great time to get on board. A lack of special offers could very well be one reason why patients abandon your dental website in favor of a competitor.
  4. Maintain a Blog. Without question, a blog is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep fresh, relevant content on your website. Post highlights about your current activities, educational articles and videos frequently, and be sure to promote your posts regularly using Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus so that you are sharing your content across multiple social platforms. Providing valuable information is a great way to engage your patients, earning trust and, eventually, more new patient appointments.

Need more help creating fresh, meaningful content for your dental practice website? Dental 101 can help! Give us a call today at 888-956-1010 to learn more.

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Connect with Your Dental Patients Using Social Media

Published on May 8, 2012

Dental Practice Marketing with Facebook and Social MediaRegardless of your practice type, it’s a safe bet that a good percentage of your patients is using social media to connect with friends and loved ones. But did you also know that many users rely on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get news and product updates from businesses? Social media is arguably the top form of media in use today. In fact, a recent study finds that there are now more social media user accounts than email accounts!

Let Your Patients Connect with You Easily

Now more than ever patients are seeking practice Facebook and Twitter accounts for information. Your goal should be to make it as easy and seamless as possible for them to connect with you and your practice. And the best place to do that? Your practice website. Make it simple for your patients to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al with familiar social icons and direct links to your social media profiles. You’ll be surprised how many of them will click through to your profile pages.

Tell Patients What’s Going on at Your Practice

One of the best uses of social media for businesses is building your community and letting those in that community know what’s going on with you and your dental practice. Do you have exciting news to share? Do you have upcoming events you want your patients to know about? Do you have pictures from a previous event that you’d like to publish for your community to see? Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable tools to get your message out. What’s more, socializing with your patients in this manner provides great assistance with patient retention and new patient generation. When your patients feel like they’re part of a “family” rather than just a patient at your office they’re less likely to look elsewhere – and more likely to tell family and friends about you.

Give Patients What They’re Looking For

Even if you’re diligent about updating your practice website you can’t ignore the social media realm. Be sure to provide essential information about your practice on your social media profiles. Patients should be able to easily find information about your doctors, staff, services, directions to your practice, and your office hours. Additionally, your social media profiles are a great place to showcase any specials your practice may be running. Feature them on Facebook. Tweet them on Twitter. Get your word out!

Need help connecting to your patients with a social media presence? Dental 101 can help! Give us a call today at 888-956-1010 to learn more.

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Mobile Websites for Dentists: A Necessity?

Published on May 7, 2012

Quick – what’s one of the first things you see when you’re at the grocery store, out to eat, or sitting in traffic? That’s right, people on their smartphones and mobile devices. People from all walks of life are sharing information at light speed, and no longer are they sitting in front of a desktop computer to do it. What’s more, those same people are using their smartphones and mobile devices to access search engines and get the information that they need. But, are they finding you? And if they are, what are they going to see?

Is your dental website mobile-friendly?

Without a doubt, people are searching for dental practices on their mobile devices. If they were to come across your website, what is their experience going to be like? Will your website be user-friendly, easy to navigate and give them access to the information that they need? Or will your site’s poor usability create a bad user experience and send them running to a local competitor who has a website optimized for mobile devices?

Mobile usage will continue to grow!

Even as few as two years ago you probably weren’t thinking about mobile websites for dentists. But with the recent smartphone and tablet explosion it should be at the forefront of your practice planning. And the percentage of patients accessing your website from a mobile device is only going to increase.

Consider this:

  • Based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015. (Morgan Stanley)
  • The number of smartphones sold exceeded the number of PCs sold, and by 2015 there will be more mobile devices than PCs. (Business Insider)
  • Many mobile Web users are mobile-only, i.e. they do not, or very rarely use a desktop or laptop to access the Web. Even in the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only. (mobithinking.com)
  • Approximately 61% of smartphone users conduct local searches on their phones. (comScore)

Getting in early gives you a big advantage!

If you haven’t yet thought about the impact that mobile can have on your practice’s bottom line it’s time to start planning. Getting in early can give you a serious competitive advantage, and it’s not very hard to do with the help of an experienced mobile website developer. Creating a great mobile experience for your patients will stop them from looking elsewhere, give your practice an edge over your competition, and increase your bottom line. Remember, the image you present to potential new patients says a lot about your practice. Patients are far more likely to choose a practice that’s “on top of the game” than one who visibly lags behind.

Patients who are using mobile are looking for results NOW!

Compared with the average PC Internet surfer, users who reach your website via mobile are generally not just browsing. Rather, they are seeking more immediate action. What does this mean to you? Your mobile patients are some of your most valuable patients! So doesn’t it make sense to give them a positive mobile experience on your website? Getting a mobile-friendly version of your site may very well be the difference in converting a new patient or losing one to your competition.

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Don’t Forget DMOZ!

Published on May 3, 2012

When making a list of the major search engine directories where you would like your practice website to be listed, you should not overlook one of the most important (and biggest) directories available: DMOZ (short for Directory Mozilla). DMOZ is just another name for the Open Directory Project – one of the largest and best human-powered submission directories on the web. The Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org) was designed, and is currently operated by, a volunteer group of web editors and reviewers.

Be sure you’re prepared!

It won’t cost you a dime to get listed on DMOZ, but before you submit your website to the Open Directory Project for review, you need to be certain that it is developed with DMOZ standards in mind. You’ll need to comb through all of the pages in your website to make sure that it is elegant, professional and informative.

Your website should already be complete at the time you make your submission. That means that the design, structure and content of every single page should be finished. Unfinished websites will be rejected, without question. Also make sure that your website contains valuable and relevant information or your submission will most likely get “tossed in the trash.”

One of the benefits of being listed with the Open Directory Project is that your website will (sooner or later) appear in other search engines like Google and Yahoo. This happens because the DMOZ listings are crawled and used by numerous search engines and directories, including Google.

Submission is simple!

The submission process is relatively uncomplicated. Your first step is to visit the website of Open Directory Project: http://www.dmoz.org. You will be able to select a category and subcategories for your website, and add your site’s URL, along with a brief description about your website and the services you offer. Take care that you have selected the correct category and subcategory. Incorrect selection may result in longer waiting periods or rejection of your submission. Also read and follow the provided instructions and requirements very carefully.

The title and description that you submit should be thoughtfully prepared and reviewed to make sure they accurately describe the content and the main theme of your practice website. If DMOZ editors disagree with your description or title, they can either change it to reflect their assessment of your site, or simply reject your submission completely.

Be patient!

It may take some time (sometimes 6 months or longer) before your website shows up in the Open Directory Project. However, do not resubmit your site during the waiting period as this can only result in a longer delay or get your website rejected. Be patient, and regularly check the status of your submission by doing an appropriate search on DMOZ. If your website does not get listed for a long period of time, or gets rejected, you can also check on the status of the submission or request reasons for rejection by contacting the editors for the subcategory that you selected.

The bottom line: In the end, it’s well worth the time!

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5 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Published on May 2, 2012

Everyone knows that content is king. But there are other details that can make or break an SEO campaign. Below are five common SEO mistakes to avoid while building your campaign.

Title Tags with No Keywords: How many times have you seen web page titles with just a company name or some other inappropriate text with no relevance to the actual content of the page? A title tag is meant to educate both search engines and human visitors about the theme of the webpage. Title tags can be one of the most important on-page factors that determine your ranking in search results.

Improper URLs: Long URLs with parameters can be incomprehensible for both a site visitor and a search engine spider. Descriptive file names with appropriate keywords not only assist a website visitor, but may also aid in achieving better search results. A word of caution, however: Don’t give in to the temptation to overuse keywords in file names.

Poor Navigation & No Sitemap(s): Search engine spiders often rely on navigation and sitemaps to index pages. Menus made in Flash, JavaScript or images are largely unreadable to most spiders, and they may choose to ignore them. Sitemaps – both HTML and XML – allow search engine spiders to crawl a website quickly and efficiently. Avoid menus made in Flash and JavaScript, and always provide a sitemap (preferably HTML and XML) for ease of navigation.

Inappropriate Anchor Text: Use descriptive anchor text such as “Tampa FL Dentist” which includes your keywords and also relates to the page being linked to. Don’t use anchor text which has no relation to the linked page.

Disallowing a Search Engine: The robots.txt file is kept in the website’s root folder and instructs search engine spiders which pages and directories they can crawl – or not. “Toying” with a robots.txt file is not for the novice. Far too many inexperienced webmasters have inadvertently banned search engines from accessing relevant content on a website.  Mistakenly disallowing a search engine spider may result in some – or in extreme cases, all – of your website content not being indexed by the search engine. What does it mean if your site’s pages are banned from indexing? Your site will not appear in search results!

Most of the mistakes mentioned above can be easily avoided. Such mistakes can be typically found in websites that have been optimized by an inexperienced SEO consultant or a webmaster with little or no knowledge of SEO. Thus, it is recommended that your website be reviewed by an experienced SEO consultant. An experienced SEO consultant not only avoids such mistakes but has also in-depth knowledge of the SEO industry and SEO principles which can give your website an edge over your competition.

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Valuable Tips to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

Published on May 2, 2012

So you have a website. Great! Having a website for your practice is a great first step in getting noticed and generating more new patients. But, the real question is this: “Is anyone finding my website?” One of the biggest challenges faced by most dentists and medical professionals is a shortage of website traffic. If your website isn’t getting adequate traffic, the practice probably isn’t generating many new patient appointments. Generating new patient traffic is an ongoing process, but with a little time and dedication you can ensure that you’re being found when patients do a search in your local area.

Make your website engaging and keep the content fresh!

If you want patients to truly explore your website and, most importantly, request an appointment, you need to make sure that your design and content are fresh, informative, and attention-grabbing. For starters, look for old copy, images and news. Ridding your site of content that is no longer relative is a great first step. You should also make sure that your bios, services and contact information are all up-to-date. Think about it – what could be worse than a new patient attempting to contact you with an outdated phone number, or sending a request to an email address that’s no longer checked? That scenario is quite possibly worse than the patient never having found you at all! The bottom line is that if your site is not up-to-date you will most likely lose credibility and visitors will look elsewhere.

Once you’ve “cleaned house” you should dedicate time to make sure that you’re properly conveying your practice message. New patients want to know about you – who you are, your level of experience, what services you offer. They also want to feel welcome and have a feeling that they know you before they ever even pick up the phone. Make sure that you’re making your visitors feel like a part of your practice “family” and not like just another patient who comes in and out of the door. Share success stories through patient reviews, include tidbits of personal information about your staff, and most importantly, include photos of your staff and office. Take care, however, to publish photos that are clear, colorful and accurately represent your practice and its team. Grainy, poor quality images will most likely hurt more than they help!

 Be Social!

Social networks are no longer just toys for teens! If you’re not leveraging the power of social networking (social media) then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus, to name a few, are great tools to keep you connected with your patients, and generate new patient traffic. However, much like your practice website itself, you need to make sure that you’re keeping your social networking content fresh and engaging. If you have a blog, make sure that you’re publishing new information frequently.

Once you’ve established a social networking presence, make certain that you tie those profiles into your practice website. Let visitors know where you can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and encourage them to follow (or join) you. Make sure that visitors can easily find your blog. Your blog gives you the opportunity to broadcast your image as an expert in your field and, much like other social networking resources, gives patients a chance to interact with you via comments and questions.

 Make sure your practice is visible on the search engines!

You can have the best website in the world, but it won’t do you much good if patients can’t find you on the major search engines. To generate new patient traffic you need to make sure that you’re found when a search is done in your local area.

Search engine optimization can be a daunting and confusing task. But with the aid of a professional search engine specialist you can often achieve results that go far beyond those you might achieve with a minimum effort. A search engine specialist can help you to identify relevant search terms for your practice and design a link-building strategy that will put your practice in direct view of patients searching for a dentist or medical professional in your area. Depending upon how competitive your geographical area is, your search engine specialist may also advise you to take part in a pay-per-click campaign. Pay-per-click campaigns (search engine marketing) can also offer more immediate results for placement for specific keywords and services. Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that search engine optimization and search marketing are an ongoing effort.

Generate quality, relevant patient reviews!

One of the first things a potential new patient will want to know is how others view your practice, and how well they rate their experience with you. By keeping your reviews in a controlled environment such as your practice website or your Google Places profile (where reviews can be monitored and approved or disapproved) you can protect your reputation and project a positive image all at the same time. While negative reviews from disgruntled patients can be a fact of life, you at least have the ability to control and protect your image. Most third-party sites don’t offer this type of control.

Encourage your patients to review your practice at the conclusion of each visit. Send them a follow-up email that includes a link where they can rave about their experience. Or encourage them to visit your website to do the same. Having a catalog of positive experiences from patients is sure to aid in generating new ones! And having a nice collection of reviews is also a great way to boost traffic to your website.

Encourage word-of-mouth referrals!

The best referral you can get is one from a current, satisfied patient. Use your practice website to give patients the option of referring you to a friend. Be diligent in your email follow-ups and include an option for referral. If you make it easy, more often than not a patient will take the time to pass along your name to friends and family members.

Some of these ideas seem to fall into the “no-brainer” variety. However, it’s amazing how many practices neglect many of the aforementioned tips. Generating new patients will always be an ongoing process. But with a little time and effort you can set your practice apart from your competition and increase your new patient conversion considerably!

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