Common Dental Web Design and SEO Mistakes
With the explosion in mobile internet usage, effective websites and SEO are becoming increasingly important to dental practices for attracting new patients, retaining current patients, and selling new services to current patients. Avoid these common mistakes, and more people will find you on Google — and when visitors come to your website, they will have a great experience and schedule appointments.
- Not having a mobile-friendly website. This is the big one. Lots of people use mobile phones to search dentists and schedule appointments. In 2014, mobile internet usage exceeded desktop usage for the first time, and the gap will widen. Without a mobile-friendly website, you could be writing off over half of your potential website traffic.
- Delivering a poor user experience (UX). UX is a critical web design discipline that makes websites easy for users to navigate, consume information, and take action (eg, scheduling appointments, requesting insurance information). If patients become frustrated and confused on your website, they may call to schedule an appointment — or they may find a dental website that is easier to use. It’s not a risk worth taking. For more insight, read this article about UX for lead generation a colleague recently published.
- Using outdated design techniques. Today’s internet users are sophisticated: they know an outdated website when they see one. An outdated website communicates a dental practice that is behind the times, out of step — it will repel rather than attract patients. Telltale signs of outdated web design include dull stock photography, overly complex design features, lots of information crammed into the top half of the web page, sidebars loaded with links, and content that reads like it was written by a robot.
Bottom Line: Get a professional, custom website. Just as you would not advise a patient to perform a root canal on himself, it is not advisable for dentists to perform website design without professional help! It’s just too complex, and there is too much at stake. Furthermore, DIY websites and templated, cookie-cutter dental websites are fraught with defects that undermine SEO.
- Using a DIY or templated website solution. As I just mentioned, these simple websites usually have multiple issues that hamper SEO performance, including poor keyword targeting, poor URL structure, poor title tag composition, poor Meta descriptions, poor internal linking structure, thin content and duplicate content. A custom web designer with SEO skills can create a website for your practice that will serve as a strong foundation for SEO campaigns, enabling you to maximize your SEO investment rather than waste it.
- Hiring the wrong SEO firm. Unfortunately, the SEO industry has a lot of shady practitioners that promise great results for a small monthly expense. Beware: if an offer is too good to be true, it usually is — and in SEO, it always You can use this SEO checklist to help you vet agencies like a professional internet marketer.
- Not using best practices for local SEO. SEO best practices change continually, and local SEO best practices have been evolving at lightning speed over the last couple of years. Today, things like user reviews, local citations (mentions of your practice on local websites, with or without links), and strategic directory listings are extremely important, as well as a host of on-site features such as proper display of NAP (name, address, and phone number). Make sure your SEO provider is conducting an up-to-date campaign.
Again, the bottom line is to hire a competent pro. Trying to do SEO on the cheap, or dabble at it internally, will not bear fruit, because for better or worse, SEO for local businesses has become exceedingly complex. Don’t believe me? Here is an authoritative checklist of the top 2015 local search ranking factors — judge for yourself.
Is a Great Website and SEO Campaign Worth It?
First of all, having a custom website and professionally managed SEO campaign needn’t break the bank. It’s possible to get a very nice, customized website for an affordable price, and SEO campaigns can be targeted in scope to fit just about any monthly budget.
The real value of a great website and SEO campaign are what I mentioned at the outset:
- More new patients
- Better patient retention
- Better ability to sell new services to patients
The real question is: What are these three things worth to your dental practice? Businesses that do a great job of calculating the lifetime value of their customers are the most successful in setting the proper budgets for their internet marketing activities. Failing to do this well could be the biggest mistake of all — and correcting it will lead to the substantial growth for your practice.