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What to Look For in a Dental Web Design Company

Like most big decisions, choosing a website company for your dental practice can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  Your website is the foundation of your online presence, so selecting the right dental website company is key. To help you get started with the selection process, we’ve outlined three critical components to address up front.

Expertise – This is foundational. Remember, there’s a reason beauty schools offer free haircuts (let’s just say these budding professionals are still mastering their craft).  While we’re not against giving people a chance, we are strongly suggesting not to roll the dice on an unknown entity when it comes to your dental website.

Your dental website company should have deep knowledge of both marketing and the dental industry itself. Dentistry isn’t e-commerce. You’re not selling widgets. You don’t treat clients; you treat patients – and this requires a different approach.

Design Capabilities – Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to website design than aesthetics. Effective websites employ a combination of art and science to deliver an ideal user experience. For optimum performance, define the types of designs you like while also identifying the goals of your website – is it to attract new patients? Focus on educating existing patients? Appear higher in search results? Note – this should be one of the first questions a potential provider asks, as it will guide the entire process.

Once your goals are defined, what’s next? Is it ok to use a website template? Should you invest in a custom site? The answer often depends on who you talk to, but for most dental practices, the sweet spot is somewhere in between. When designing a dental website, most dentists want a degree of custom personalization (i.e. ability to use their logo, photos of the team, etc.) but don’t necessarily need a website built from the ground up. Be wary of companies that try to make it sound like a 100% custom site is the only way to go, as they may just be trying to upsell you.

Content – It’s easy to get lost in the razzle dazzle of website design – from color palettes and font libraries to layout selections, button options, and more. The key is to not get so sidetracked in choosing images and color schemes that you neglect the actual dental website content.

A dental-specific website company gives you ultimate advantage in this area. Unless you have time to write web copy (which is an art of its own), it’s helpful to choose a company that provides both design and content. In addition to custom dental content, which is written specifically for your website, companies may also offer a library of pre-written core content that can be modified to reflect your practice’s personality and align with your offerings. The main benefit of core content is that it helps you save time and money – enabling you to build your online presence in days instead of weeks.

Is core content the same as duplicate content? Technically speaking, yes. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”[1] Essentially, this means that if your site has content that matches another site, it is considered duplicate.

Will my site be penalized if it has duplicate content? Google treats duplicate content differently based on intent.[2] Yes, it’s that smart!  If duplicate content is being used to be deceptive or manipulate search engine performance, it will negatively impact your ranking. Auto-generated content is an example of such manipulation; it is comprised of paragraphs of random text that include keywords, but don’t make sense. Another example of this type of manipulation is having multiple pages dedicated to the same topic with similar copy on one website. That said, if you’re not trying to game the system you can relax. Google notes that the presence of duplicate content alone is not grounds for action on their part[3]. The takeaway is that while custom content may be necessary in certain instances, the decision should be based on your specific practice goals and not the fear of being penalized.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Dental Website Company:

Hiring a new website company is a big decision; and one that can cost a lot of time and money. Make the right choice and ask the questions below to help suss out a legitimate dental website company:

  1. What services do you offer?
    1. Today, simply having a website is not enough. In addition to having a website, your practice will likely need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and/or PPC and social media services. Depending on your needs, ask them what other services they provide so you can cut-down on third party companies.
  2. Can you provide examples and testimonials of your clients?
    1. Whether you’re getting a template website design or fully custom design, you’ll want to see examples of the company’s work. Testimonials and case studies are also helpful, as they allow you to see how their services have impacted other practices.
  3. Can I make updates to the website on my own?
    1. The ability to make minor edits and updates to your site is helpful, as it allows you to make changes on your own timeframe. Closed for an upcoming holiday? If you have access to an easy-to-use content management system, you can update your website in a few minutes. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a queue of other client requests. The importance of this feature really depends on your technological aptitude and how much control you want. Ask a potential provider to see their CMS and ensure it is easy-to-use.
  4. Is there a contract?
    1. Be wary of providers that require a lengthy website contract. Technology and online trends change at the speed of light, and if your provider can’t keep up, you don’t want to find yourself stuck in a contract.
  5. How can you ensure that I will stay up-to-date? Will I need to pay more for updates?
    1. Your website reflects your practice and ensuring it stays current comes down to more than convenience. A website that’s outdated in terms of appearance and/or functionality sends a message to visitors that your practice could be too.
    2. It’s also a good idea to discuss what keeping your website updated could potentially cost. Will future features be included or are they generally available for an additional fee?
  6. Will my website be mobile-friendly?
    1. Having a website that provides the same level of functionality across devices is essential because most patients will visit your site from their mobile phones. In the United States, over 70% of time spent online is done so from a mobile device[4]. If you’re website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s likely that your turning prospective patients away every day.
  7. What is included with my monthly hosting/software and support fees?
    1. Knowing what is and is not included in your monthly fees is important. Does it include access to tech support? If so, are you limited to the number of times you can reach out each month? How about domain management (i.e. ensuring your domain registration doesn’t lapse)? Digging into the details upfront will help avoid being caught off guard later.
  8. What design options are available?
    1. The right website company should be able to fit your needs, whether through a customizable template or a completely custom website. Steer clear of any provider that approaches web design with a one size fits all attitude.
  9. Is there a way I can track results from my website?
    1. There are many ways to measure your website ROI. From visits to time-on-page, to call tracking and conversion rates, make sure you understand the tools available to ultimately track your website’s success.

 Selecting a website company is an important decision that shouldn’t be rushed. Overall, you need to be confident in a provider’s abilities and comfortable working with them. Remember, you’re not just looking for a vendor – you’re searching for a partner that can bring your dental practice to the next level.

Questions? Reach out to a ProSites Internet Marketing Advisor at (888) 932-3644 to discuss the right website and online marketing options to help you meet your practice goals.

Website Design

Patient Experience: A New Competitive Battleground for Dentists

In today’s consumer-driven environment, it seems that everyone expects an “experience” and not just of the find-yourself variety (a.k.a. that gap year trip across Europe).  Perhaps it’s because busy schedules make time more valuable than ever, or that younger generations have simply become conditioned to expect more – the jury is still out on if realty TV or helicopter parents are to blame – either way the bar has been raised and patient experience is the new competitive battleground.

Website Design

5 Reasons Why Mobile Site Speed is Essential to Your Dental Website’s Online Visibility

It’s no secret that we are now at a point where we constantly connect to the world using devices in our back pockets. As consumers, when we’re searching for local services, we are more likely to use our phones versus a desktop computer. Your current and prospective patients are no different. This change in consumer behavior has made mobile friendliness of dental website a top priority for search engines, particularly Google.

Over the years Google has made changes to their search results algorithm to push small to medium businesses (SMBs) into adopting mobile-friendly websites. That comes as no surprise since mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic back in 2014. In August of 2015, Google updated their algorithm (known as Mobilegeddon) so mobile-friendly websites were more likely to rank higher than non-mobile friendly websites.

Despite search behavior moving to mobile devices, many SMBs (including dental practices) have yet to prioritize mobile-friendliness of their website. Industry thought-leaders believe that “47.3% of SMBs do not have mobile-ready sites.” Meanwhile, nearly half of non-mobile-friendly web pages lost ranking after Google’s Mobilegeddon update.

Fast-forward to the present, it’s no longer enough to just have a mobile-friendly dental website – you now need a fast, mobile-friendly site.

Below are five reasons why:

1. Consumers Want Speed

They don’t just want it, they demand it. More often than not, potential patients are researching dental services like yours while multitasking. This means your dental website has to get their attention in a fraction of a second because they’re attention is likely focused elsewhere. Dental websites that take longer than three seconds to load are more likely to be abandoned by potential patients.

2. Google is Making Speed a Ranking Factor

Google wants to create the best search experience for users by giving them what they want. If searchers demand faster load times, it’s only logical that Google would write that into their ranking algorithm to incentivize SMBs like dental practices to make it a priority.

A year after Mobilegeddon and several research studies later, experts found that that there is a strong correlation between website load times and rankings. Google announced shortly after that it does, in fact, favor faster websites.

3. Google Sets the Standard

With over 60% of the market share, Google’s competitive advantage continues to be its knowledge of their consumer market. Therefore, they will also do whatever they can to enhance the searcher’s experience by giving them what they want beyond their expectations. Although some studies suggest that users are less likely to abandon a website when load times are shorter than three seconds, Google’s idea of an optimal load time is actually less than one second.

4. Other Platforms Are Embracing Faster Mobile Website Speed Too

Did you know that Facebook recently introduced a new way to upload content so links from Facebook show up quickly on mobile devices? It’s true! They’re called instant articles because the software they are built on loads content in under a second when opened on a mobile device.

5. Local Business’ Websites are Affected by Consumer Expectations

Potential patients’ expectations of their mobile online experience with your website will change based on their experience with other websites. As mobile becomes exponentially more popular, users will come to expect a mobile-friendly website from all businesses. That means that dental practices like yours have to adapt now by prioritizing your website for a mobile-friendly experience.

Tips to improve mobile site speed:

  • Avoid overloading your page with video or images
  • Rework copy on pages so less is necessary, without losing important keywords for SEO
  • Test your mobile site speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool
  • Update your current dental website design to a responsive design, now available for free to ProSites Members.

Want to learn more about other factors that can impact your dental website’s online visibility? Download your guide to 10 Best Practices for Dental Website Design.

Website Design

Web Design Best Practices – The Don’ts

Effective web design is a bit like dating. You want to put your best foot forward, but there are so many decisions to be made. Some are obvious – parachute pants are NOT flattering – and others are more difficult – should my practice address be on every page? For detailed information on the do’s and don’ts of website design download ProSites’ latest whitepaper, 10 Best Practices for Creating Great Dental Websites.  If you’re looking for a shortcut check out the suggestions below.

Irrelevant – don’t be it. Like a waiter asking how you’d like your steak tartar, a cover image that doesn’t immediately resonate with your audience is irrelevant. If your practice is located in a metro area an image of rolling fields on your website doesn’t provide context. While lovely, it doesn’t reflect your practice or speak to your target audience.

Now’s not the time to be allusive. Unlike some potential dates, most website visitors have a pretty straight forward agenda. They want to know:

  • Location
  • Hours
  • Contact information
  • Practice expertise

Don’t bury this information on a secondary page. Make sure it’s on your home page or clearly identified in the primary navigation.

Don’t be shy. Sometimes it’s ok to be bold – this is one of those times. Highlight patient testimonials in prominent locations throughout your website. Don’t relegate them to a separate page. Patient reviews are powerful, so make it easy for visitors to see them.

But don’t be too much either. Like the guy at the bar wearing a neon sweat suit, too many aesthetics will turn visitors off. While you may feel artistic creating a website with multiple colors and fonts, chances are visitors won’t share your enthusiasm. Remember that colors should be complementary and fonts need to be easy to read.

Time is of the essence. Some experiences, like waiting for the speed dating bell to ring or a website to load, seem to slow time. While you want to engage visitors, over doing it with animation or videos has the opposite effect. Everyone is busy and 40% of visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Not being mobile-friendly is rude. Scanning your Facebook feed during dinner may be a faux pas, but having a website that isn’t optimized for mobile viewing is worse. Aside from not being easily accessible to current and prospective patients, non-responsive sites (i.e. not adaptive to mobile device screens) rank lower in search results, making it harder for your practice to be found. Guarantee an easy user experience across devices by ensuring your website is responsive.

Website design isn’t easy; there are a lot of components that need to work well together. Download 10 Best Practices for Creating Great Dental Websites from ProSites to see if your site is on track.

Website Design

What Are The Top 3 Dental Website Design Best Practices? Find Out.

More than ever before, information about healthcare is going digital. According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 72% of Internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.

Many dentists want to improve their web presence, but the process of going about it can be overwhelming. Not to worry. We’ve identified the Top 3 Best Practices for making your dental website your best marketing tool.

Interested in downloading the complete guide to dental website best practices now? Download the free guide, 10 Best Practices for Creating Great Dental Websites here.

No. 1: Select Photos that Speak to Your Audience

Photos speak louder than words. More than any other messaging, the right photos can immediately convey to the viewer that “the practice treats people just like me.” If you’re using a generic stock photo, you may be missing an opportunity to connect with potential and existing patients.

For example, a practice located in New York City may opt for a photo that incorporates city landmarks or a scene in a crowded coffee shop. An office in Colorado would do better to incorporate mountains in the background. Patients have come to expect personalized, authentic marketing, and they interpret carefully curated images as an indication that the practice will treat them as an individual as well.

Before choosing any old stock photo, consider your target market. Are you speaking to parents of urban teenagers who need braces? Does your practice specialize in aesthetic dentistry for the patient who has everything? It can take hours of searching to find the right stock photo, but the payoff is well worth it.

Takeaway: Make sure your photos reflect your patients’ age, ethnicity, location, and treatment needs.

No. 2: Create a Site that Converts

You’ll often hear designers talk about conversion – the art and science of prompting a website visitor to take action. At its most literal, conversion means making a sale or turning a dental website visitor into a patient.

Before starting the web design process, you should first take a good hard look at what you want to accomplish by presenting yourself online. What’s the action you want your prospective or existing patients to take when they visit your dental website?

“Usually, we want the patient to go to the contact page and contact the doctor, whether by phone, email or a custom form. That’s the call to action,” says ProSites Design Director Joseph Smith.

Some dentists prefer a contact form that routes to the office staff to follow up. Other practices prefer real-time phone calls so they can answer patient questions and schedule appointments on the spot. Once you define your call to action, you can then build your website to meet those goals.

Takeaway: By establishing your goals upfront and designing specific to your needs, you can create a site that converts.

No. 3: Access Is Everything: Go Mobile

These days, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In order to retain the traffic you’ve attracted, your site needs to look good on any browser and any device. Designers call this responsive design.

“Consumers, particularly on mobile devices, now have higher expectations than ever before – they want everything right, and they want everything right away,” says Google’s official blog. “This requires that marketers answer their needs in the moment, whenever and wherever they are.”

Responsive design is a must have. It’s so valuable because it can “interpret” the device in use and automatically scale to the user’s smartphone (iPhones, Androids), laptop, desktop, or tablet.

Mobile-friendly design is also important if you want to rank well in Google searches.

Takeaway: Your website should function just as well on a smartphone as a computer. Incorporate responsive design for the best user experience and Google ranking.

Want to know more?  We’ve put together a free e-book that details the Top 10 Best Design Practices. The tips above just scratch the surface of how to create a site that wins patients. Download the full report today by filling out the form below!

Website Design

What’s Mobile-Friendly and Does It Matter?

In basic terms, ‘mobile-friendly’ means a site can be as easily viewed on a small smartphone or tablet screen as it can on a traditional laptop or desktop screen.

In technical terms, your site needs to have three basic functions that make it easy to read across both large and small formats:

  • It must avoid 3rd party software plug-ins that most mobile devices can’t handle, like Flash, Silverlight or Java.

  • Its text and graphics must be viewable without needing to scroll or zoom.

  • Links must be spaced far enough apart so they can easily be tapped.

These three functions are easier said than done. For most site platforms, there’s not a “mobile” switch you can just flip.  

I’ll go over your options on how to “mobilize” your site in a minute. But first… why should you care?

Here’s why it matters

Search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) want people to be able to see and interact with your site on all types of devices. 

That’s because search engines know that if something is searched for, there’s a good chance the follow-up will be some kind of financial transaction. 

For local businesses (like a dental practice) a mobile search yields an in-person visit about 50% of the time. That’s really incredible!

And it makes sense if you think about it. Why else would you search for a business on your mobile phone unless you were en-route or already looking for it? 

Are people searching for your practice for fun or out of boredom? Not likely. They’re searching for you to call you to schedule an appointment or to verify your address to visit in-person. 

So, these types of searches are valuable to Google because they’re valuable to you (and visa-versa).

Moreover, mobile devices aren’t just a small segment of internet use anymore…

in early 2014, mobile internet traffic overtook desktop traffic. 

And that trend isn’t likely to reverse. More people are using mobile devices to interact online, and Google is taking steps to ensure mobile-friendly sites get better visibility. 

In February, Google formally announced it would start giving preferential treatment to mobile-friendly sites starting April 21, 2015. 

You should care because mobile sites will get better rankings, more page views and ultimately, lower costs.

Okay, so if mobile is so important, how can you make sure your site passes muster for Google?

How to get mobile

There are basically two ways to make your site mobile friendly. 

Make your site responsive. Responsive sites have dynamic graphical elements that scale and adapt to fit the page they’re in – so they can be easily viewed in just about any format. 

Have a dedicated mobile site. Dedicated mobile sites are designed and laid out to fit mobile devices. It’s the same website address, but they “know” when they’re being viewed on a phone or tablet, and are programmed to load the correct version. 

Neither solution is necessarily better than the other, and all different kinds of businesses choose one fix over the other. 

For instance, almost every large retailer or consumer brand like Home Depot, Wal*Mart or Coca-Cola has a dedicated mobile site in addition to their regular desktop site. 

Blogs platforms and social media sites tend to be responsive. 

There are exceptions to both rules, and there are endless debates over which is better. 

The answer is: it depends. 

Responsive sites, even though they usually satisfy all of Google’s three rules, can sometimes be hard to use or unattractive on mobile devices if they’re not thoughtfully implemented. 

And to have a whole new standalone mobile site built can be overkill/unnecessary for many types of businesses.

For dental sites, it’s important that components don’t get lost in the “flow” of responsive design. 

Some designs that look really nice on a full-sized screen don’t convert well to a small screen. 

The important thing for Google is that sites are correctly displayed on mobile devices, so it’s something dental practices need to be on top of – especially going into Google’s April 21st deadline.

At ProSites, we offer a standalone solution, because we find it fits best with our different site designs. We can make the mobile version as attractive and functional as possible, and we don’t have to worry about things looking strange on the screen. 

If you’d like to see how a mobile version of your site might look, give one of our consultants a call at (888) 932-3644. 

Website Design

5 Reasons You Need a Mobile Website

As mobile browser usage continues to skyrocket, having a mobile website is shifting from being a luxury to a necessity, and if you don’t have a mobile website, you’re letting potential patients slip away! Here are the 5 major reasons why you need a mobile website now:

1. Like mobile phones, mobile websites are not a fad or trend – they’re here to stay.  With the advent of Wi-Fi, Facebook, and numerous emerging technologies, nearly every new phone is equipped with Internet accessibility and a mobile browser, enabling cell phone users to have the Internet constantly at their fingertips.  Over the past year, Google research shows the number of Internet users searching on a mobile device has quadrupled(!) – and that number continues to multiply.

2. Mobile phones outnumber PCs 4:1.  Here’s a little insight… your targeted audience is already searching for you via mobile browsers.  83% of the population has a mobile phone.  If that statistic alone doesn’t astound you, how about this; 4.8 billion people have a mobile phone, while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush!  The mobile revolution is here, and if you aren’t marketing your practice accordingly, you may be missing out on new patients!

3. Mobile users are even less patient than PC users.  When searching, most mobile users are on-the-go, with 80% of searches inquiring about the nearest business or service.  Because of this urgency, mobile users want their information fast.  A mobile website has compressed images and less fluff, so download times are much faster than a mobile-compatible website.  Faster page-load times = happier prospects.

4. Google’s Smartphone Crawler is a search bot that crawls and ranks mobile sites differently than mobile-compatible websites within Google’s mobile search results.  As more search engines debut new algorithms to account for mobile websites, a non-mobile or mobile-compatible website is sure to be left in the dust.  Additionally, Google will naturally begin to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in the search results for mobile users in order to deliver a better search experience.

5. Improve a mobile Internet user’s experience.  Any good business puts their customers first and meets their demands.  A mobile website is really an improvement in customer service, allowing clients and prospects to quickly access the information they desire.  A mobile-compatible website will leave your clients squinting at the screen or will require them to constantly zoom in and out to find what they’re looking for.  Mobile websites have thumb-friendly navigation and larger fonts for optimal viewing.

Will a mobile website benefit your practice?

Absolutely!  Contemplate the fact that 1 in 3 searches conducted from a mobile device is for a local business or service, and that number increases every day.  Get a head-start on your competition and get a mobile website.

To find out more about reaching on-the-go patients with a mobile website for your practice, contact us at (888) 932-3644.

Check out our other blog post to learn more about reaching the thriving mobile market here.

Website Design

Tapping into the Thriving Mobile Market

With the word “mobile” flying around the web design world, it is easy to get confused about what is and what isn’t a true mobile website. As mobile website usage continues to increase exponentially, it’s important to respond to these consumer trends to effectively reach your on-the-go audience.

You may have heard people refer to mobile websites as either “mobile-compatible” or “mobile-friendly.” While similar in wording, these terms represent significantly different outcomes.

Mobile-compatible essentially means that your desktop website loads on mobile devices as a shrunken version of itself. These sites are often slow to load, difficult to navigate, and hard to read, quickly causing frustration among mobile users. According to a recent Google study, frustrated mobile users are 5 times more likely to leave your website and search for another site that meets their needs.

Mobile-friendly websites are optimized for mobile devices and include thumb-friendly buttons, easy-to-read text, and super streamlined navigation. Seeing that mobile Internet search is expected to surpass desktop search in the next couple of years, it’s important to be marketing accordingly, and mobile-friendly websites can provide countless benefits for your practice:

• A recent Google study shows that 67% of mobile users are more likely to buy a product or use a service from businesses that have a mobile-friendly site.

• 74% of mobile users are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly website. More returning visitors = more repeat patients.

• We, as humans, are impatient. Mobile-friendly websites load in 5 seconds or less. This makes mobile visitors happy, as you have (indirectly) provided them with great customer service.

• Mobile websites encourage immediate action. With prominent “click-to-call” and “click-to-map” icons, patients can find and contact your practice – instantly.

• Users can easily navigate through your website with thumb-friendly buttons, reducing the need to zoom in and out and increasing the chance that they will find what they’re looking for.

• Enlarged text and resized images give users a seamless, optimal viewing experience on your mobile website.

Start Reaching New, On-the-Go Patients Today!

Seeing that mobile Internet search is estimated to surpass desktop search within the next couple of years, there’s no better time to start reaching your mobile audience.

To learn more about ProSites mobile website solutions, call (888) 932-3644 for a free consultation.

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