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March 2014

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Website Design

Keep Your Website Updated with This Trick

Countless professionals fail to update their websites, and this can be a poor reflection on a practice. However, there are simple tools you can add to your site that will help keep pace with technology. The best part is that many of these tools are free, and one of the most appreciated by viewers is a dynamic driving directions feature. This helps potential clients or patients get a great sense of your location, and how to navigate there.

While most websites include an address on their contact page, adding driving directions gives greater ease to people trying to find your practice. Utilizing Google, explicit driving directions can now be easily added to your website, allowing potential clients to simply type in their starting address and generate turn by turn directions.

How to Add the Driving Directions Feature:

First, visit the ‘Google Driving Directions’ gadget page here

Once at this page, click on the button that says, “Add to your webpage”. A new page will open with a short form that you can fill out to modify your gadget. For the most part the default settings are fine, but you can customize the title to be the name of your practice, select different colors to use, and even change the size of the gadget. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Modify the “destination” field in the ‘Gadget Settings’ area, and change it to the address of your practice. Now click on the ‘Preview Changes’ button to see how your gadget will appear.

Once you have the gadget looking the way you want it to, click the button that says “Get the Code”. A form window will appear at the bottom of the page. All you need to do is copy and paste this code onto your website.

Place the code on your “Contact Us” page. You can put it just about anywhere you want, although directly below your address is most desirable.

Most of us use content management systems with WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), or “rich text” editors. You won’t be able to paste this code into a rich text editor, but here’s a cool trick: Open the WYSIWYG editor for the contact page and mark the position where you want to place the widget by typing “XXXXXXXXXXXX”. The trick here is that even if you have no coding skills at all, you can still find a bunch of “X”’s in the source code. Most editors will allow you to view and edit the source code. Look for a button or link that says “plain text”, “html”, “source”, or “code”. Press this and the window of your editor will change to show the actual source code for your page. Find the string of “X”s you placed in the code. Paste the gadget code over the “X”s and save the page. That’s all there is to it.

Now with the driving instructions on your website you have made it simple for your clients and prospects to find you.

If you are a current client, feel free to give your member services representative a call and we will be happy to place Google’s driving directions on your website for you!

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Website Design

Maintaining Fresh Content

How often do you adjust your website content? Most website owners don’t grasp how crucial this is to the long-term success of their sites. Refreshing your content periodically keeps your site up-to-date, and also helps maintain your search engine rankings, which is a critical element in helping potential clients find your website.

The most important reason to change content is to maintain relevancy. An outdated website affects everything from your number of visitors, the amount of time they stay on your website (bounce rate), your site’s ranking in the search engines, and ultimately your bottom line.

A common problem caused by an outdated site is losing traction in search rank. A well-designed website that has enjoyed good placement in Google can suddenly drop off the first few pages, just from being neglected. The function of a search engine is to point users to high-quality relevant sites for their search inquiries. Websites that are constantly updating and offering up new content are, by nature, considered more important than a site that hasn’t been updated in some time.

So . . . How do you avoid this trap? It’s simple, update your site regularly. You don’t need to make radical changes; a few simple changes every few weeks or even months will be enough. Here are some tricks you should know:

Blog. This is a great way to keep your content dynamic and lure visitors to your website. Nobody expects a novel from you each day. A blog can easily be a few short paragraphs once or twice a week. If you can keep posting entries regularly, you can build a habit for visitors to keep coming back to the site to read your new posts, all while reminding the search engines that you have new content.

A news or newsletter page is a great way to keep your site fresh without needing to spend much time coming up with new content. A newsletter is a great way to keep your clients informed on changes that may affect them, but keep it personal. Include information about your firm and community. If you have a newsletter provided by someone else that updates on your site automatically, that’s a lot of new content every month that you don’t have to supply at all.

Also, try adding new verbiage to pages that have existed on your website since day one. Believe it or not, the search engines take notice and these small updates can go a long way.

Generating new content and maintaining a site relevant to your clientele are simple, essential ways to garner more positive attention from the search engines and your clients. Even the best website becomes irrelevant in a short period of time, so keep it fresh!

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Website Design

Branding Medical and Dental Websites

In today’s world of online marketing, having a web presence is more important than ever. People are browsing the internet and using their smart phones to look for doctors and book their appointments. For a dental or medical office to be successful, quality online branding is essential. The look of your website, and the persona it conveys, are vital parts of building your business.

Visitors ought to find your site easily navigable and informative. Your website needs to have a unique quality that represents you.

Make Design a Priority

Take some time to think about the image you want the site to project. Chances are that competence and professionalism are high on the list of things you want to convey. Extravagant animations, an excessive amount of pictures, and cluttered looking webpages are unlikely to help you with that. Keep it simple and avoid anything that might distract visitors from the intent of your page.

Mind your palette! Poor color choices can send the wrong message or make a site look unprofessional, while over-reliance on flashy features can convey lack of substance.

Tailor Your Style

A great way to get a working concept for a practice website is to imagine what your office lobby space might look like if you were to extend it into the virtual world. Note the layout and colors that suit your brand.

Keeping things simple does not mean making your website drab or dull. It means reflecting your business positively and accurately without distractions. The emphasis should be on important aspects of your services. The design should engage your visitors while representing your brand.

Function Over Form

You can have the most elegant office front on the street. You can have a perfectly manicured lawn with a meticulously tended flower garden, and squeaky clean tinted glass windows that reflect the sunny day like a mirror, but if nobody can find the door you aren’t going to get any patients. It’s the same with your website. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is if people can’t find their way around. Clear focused webpages and calls to action are vital to turning your web browsers into patients.

Writing some of your own content or hiring someone to create unique focused content helps patients understand what to expect if they were to make an appointment with you. Additionally, it can benefit your online visibility (move your website up in search results) as it will likely appear more credible to the search engines than other websites full of stock.

When launching or re-launching your website, the key to remember is that a brand is not just a logo or a color scheme. A brand should represent your personality and encourage clients to call. If success in today’s online marketing world is the goal, make sure to have a uniquely branded web presence that allows clients to get to know you while showing them a clear path to your physical door.

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Website Design

8 Tips for Business Bloggers

One of the most distressing things about blogging is building a regular fan base. There aren’t any cheats; it simply takes time to solidify your reputation as a blogger. As most bloggers already know, good content is essential. This means you need to keep it interesting and fresh. Since we already touched on content in “9 Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them,” this time we are going to focus on getting traffic to your blog.

So, how do you promote your blog so that readers know you exist?

1. Use your blog to communicate with employees, prospects and clients.

It’s easy to get your employees to read and comment on your blog, especially if it’s relevant and interesting, but your blog can be a great place to keep clients up-to-date on changes and other news too. Try to make sure they know your blog is out there- email them links to your most recent posts to keep them in the loop. Also try sharing your posts on social media.

2. Make your blog easy to find on your site.

Don’t make visitors search for your blog. Display the link prominently on your website. Put it on the top level of your navigation menu, and add a banner link to your home page.

If at all possible, try to host the blog on your domain rather than hosting it on a third party URL, like Blogger or Word Press. In the long run, it will give you an advantage when it comes to search engine rankings.

3. Circulate your website address wherever and whenever you get the chance.

It’s quite simple really. The more places you post your web address the more opportunities people will have to find your blog. Business cards, stationery, email signatures, yellow pages, and other ads are all natural places to post your URL. Posting your URL on blogs or forums that you participate in can also give you a boost. Avoid the temptation to point all your links to your website home page. In some cases it’s much more appropriate to map the link straight to the blog. If someone clicks on a link to read a blog article, they’re going to want that link to go straight there.

4. Make use of guest bloggers.

Helping out other bloggers isn’t just important, it’s absolutely necessary! In fact, it’s really the ONLY way to get your name on other industry blogs and get some established exposure to your content. As a rule, you’ll get a link back to your website or blog for your trouble. Not only is this a great way to drive visitors to your site, the search engines also look at these links as adding authority to your domain.

Conversely, remember to return the favor by inviting guest bloggers of your own.

5. Take advantage of social networking.

Make some friends!

The online world is not as fragmented and impersonal as it might appear to the casual observer. In fact, it’s composed of many tight knit communities, and if you want to succeed you need to find and engage the communities that are relevant to your market. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are a good place to start. Find and engage groups that are related to your target audience. Don’t just promote your website. Put a link in your profile and cite your blog when the opportunity arises.

6. Mention your influencers.

Large media and content providers set up vanity tracking so they know when their name is mentioned. This will get you noticed. If you help them, it’s more likely they will help you.

7. Host a contest.

People love free stuff; the prize doesn’t need to be extraordinary. Hosting a contest can be as simple as sharing your blog link or posting the most comments. If you want to get even more comments you could offer something valuable in exchange.

8. Keep your site fresh.

Eventually every blogger gets stuck in a rut. Once you succumb to a formula, it can be hard to get past it. By the time you feel yourself starting to drift into limbo, it’s a pretty safe bet it’s already happened. Do something different. Tell a joke, post a funny picture, or post a viewpoint that differs from your own. Keep your readers guessing. Videos work great and have added benefits. When you upload a video to YouTube you get even more exposure which can lure traffic who might never have found you otherwise.

Bloggers who apply these strategies often see a significant following. So in addition to keeping your content fresh and relevant, take some time to promote your blog-this will have a big influence on your returning visitor base.

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Social Media

A Brief for Newbies on Social Media

The growth of social networking outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube has changed how people interact with businesses. Social networking sites have become such an integral part of our lives that very few of us can go a even single day without checking in on them.

This is great news for dentists and physicians who are looking to grow their practices.

Social media websites allow professionals like yourself to interact with their customers. It allows a very personal connection without being intrusive. There is actually no good reason not to set up a social media profile for your practice. It is economical, easy and quick.

Social media has already become central to most business models. It can help you market your practice and attract people to your office. Social media is easy to learn and even fun.

The power of social networking in marketing professional firms like dental practices can only be ignored at your own peril. In today’s business environment virtually nothing will help circulate awareness of your business like social media. It has an unbelievable range and everybody is utilizing it.

Keep in mind, social networking is only as persuasive as the person using it. You must apply certain procedures in order to effectively market your business.

Get familiar with the various social media sites on the net and how they can benefit Dental practices. Right now the big names in social marketing are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and newcomer Pinterest. Keep an eye out for changes, though. Even as we speak users are starting to adopt other networks. Google’s G+ and Instagram are growing in influence.

Utilize social networking websites that are suitable for promoting your practice. For most dentists and physicians I’d recommend Facebook and Twitter, but every firm serves a unique market. A concierge doctor, for example, might find his time well spent on LinkedIn.

Concentrate on social media sites that will let you join up and talk with the greatest concentration of fitting prospective customers. There is no point spending your valuable time on networks that are inappropriate to good prospects.

Opt for quality when joining social networking sites. If you can just be active on some sites, then only join carefully chosen sites. You will do a lot more harm than good if you join a site and cannot commit the time required to interact with other members.

Make sure your profiles seem professional and pertinent to your specialty. Choose your messages wisely so as to not aggravate others who may not hold with your political or religious positions.

Social media is all about sharing data and ideas. Share something interesting with people in your social media networks. It’s often tempting to merely sell your practice. This is a mistake. Avoid overt sales messages.

Make a sincere attempt to engage people. Not everything needs to relate directly to health and dentistry, although in the long run it’s important that your posts position you as a serious medical professional. You can be serious, though, and still be a real person.

Post material that will inform and entertain friends. Others will interact with your practice and develop a level of trust merely due to the valued ideas that you offer. If folks like your ideas and are fond of your posts they are exceedingly more likely to pass them on to followers.

Keep it frank. Web savvy people can make out Insincerity with ease. There is no more efficient way to lose business than by being false. Yes… you need to link back to your website or blog from time to time, but you also need to be human, endearing, welcoming… and sometimes the best way to do that is to just go ahead and share a cute kitten video video you found particularly charming.

Never treat social networking as a one way street. You can’t just log on for three minutes a day and throw out a quick tweet if you want people to actually follow you. You need to engage with them. When people comment on your posts take the time to reply, and when you see a post you like take the time to comment on it or share it.

People need to see you as someone who cares about them, and in return they will respond with a sense of reciprocity.

Remember to pay attention to your social networking accounts. Social media users are expecting a swift response. Due to advanced technology, your social media contacts will want a quick reply to their questions. Popping into your accounts daily isn’t adequate.

Social media isn’t just a fad. It’s redefining the way people interact with each other. Facebook has become the new Village Square. You might as well take advantage this to help advertise your practice.

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