Could your website actually be turning patients away?

Today, a website is one of the best investments a practice can make. It's a 24/7 calling card, meaning that even when your office is closed for the day, your website keeps working - marketing, educating, and communicating your practice to online users.

BY Glenn Lombardi

Today, a website is one of the best investments a practice can make. It's a 24/7 calling card, meaning that even when your office is closed for the day, your website keeps working - marketing, educating, and communicating your practice to online users.

A well-designed and carefully planned website can help a practice in many ways, reflecting your services and staff positively to first-time visitors and keeping existing patients connected through a variety of educational resources. But there is also such a thing as a poorly designed site.

An unattractive, unorganized website offers little value for visitors and can actually turn them back to the search results to look for another provider with more appealing, easy to navigate, and useful Web pages.

Is your website repelling patients rather than attracting and retaining them? Here are some common reasons it might be:

Dated appearance

New visitors will judge your practice based on the appearance of your website. If your home page looks old and outdated, visitors will make negative assumptions about the ability of your practice and staff to provide the quality services they're seeking, and they will search for dental care elsewhere. Assess your site's appearance and do not cut corners on design since your website is often the first impression potential patients have of your office.

It was free

Building a quality website for your practice takes the time and skill of a website developer who understands the evolving challenges of your industry. It is a complex process that should not be undermined if you want your site to improve your practice's productiveness and secure new patient appointments.

While not always the case, if didn't pay to have your website developed, there is a very good chance that you got what you paid for. In other words, investing a few extra dollars upfront to build a dynamic, tailored website for your practice will pay for itself in new leads in as little as a year.

If your current site has obvious design issues, consider a website redesign, or completely start over with a new website built by a company that specializes in customizable websites for dentists.

It hasn't been touched in years

One of the most common marketing mistakes practices make is neglecting their websites. More often than not we see dentists go live with their websites, and then one, two, and even five years down the road, there sits the site, untouched, unseen, and unproductive.

Not only will an outdated site hurt your search rankings, it will also be a turnoff to patients who will believe you do not offer the latest in modern dentistry. Modify, adjust, and fine-tune your website regularly by updating old content, uploading new photos, and blogging to engage your visitors and keep them coming back.

It's difficult to use

When new visitors come to your site, you have only a few seconds to capture their attention and guide them to take action, such as contact your office for more information or request an appointment. If your website information is hard to navigate, they will move on to another site without a second thought. It's critical that you create a layout and organize your content so that visitors can quickly and easily find the important information they want about your practice.

Today, a website is the first place that existing and potential patients go to find information about a practice and services. The impression they come away with can be the deciding factor on whether or not they contact you for an appointment. From design to ease of use, your site must send a clear message about your services and standard of care while creating a unique and enjoyable experience for your visitors.

Take a few minutes to evaluate your current website's design and ease of use, and if necessary, consider a new, updated look and layout to maximize the number of new appointments you receive from the website traffic.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, such as social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than half a million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

More in Practice