De Blogs Ugly Truths

7 ugly truths a pretty dental website can’t hide

Feb. 21, 2023
You may not have the outstanding dental website you think you do. Here's what you should check for to make sure it's up to date, compliant, and inviting.

It’s time to realize that no number of dazzling visuals and smooth designs can hide what your dental website is doing wrong. Even if it looks pretty on the outside, you may have some unsavory flaws lurking beneath that can greatly impact your brand, marketing, and new-patient outreach. Here are some not-so-pretty realities that your practice needs to confront to improve patient experience on your website.

You have lackluster and old online reviews

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best ways to attract new patients, but online reviews can be just as powerful. Thanks to Google, Facebook, and other review sites, both negative and positive opinions of your practice are out there for the world to see. If potential patients read bad or outdated reviews, they likely won’t even make it to your drop-dead gorgeous website. 

Plan to run at least one review acquisition campaign each year (if not more often) to refresh and recharge your review profile. If you’re wondering how to get more dental reviews, keep three things in mind: 

  1. Make the process as easy as possible.
  2. Focus on patients who are most likely to leave a positive review.
  3. Remember that if you want positive reviews, you have to ask! (Unhappy patients are unfortunately likely to leave unsolicited reviews.) 

Whether the reviews are positive or negative, it’s paramount that you respond in a HIPAA-compliant manner. If you mishandle your responses, you and your practice could face heavy fines and corrective action. Remember, reviews are vital to practice growth. If you want your practice to outshine others, have more and better reviews than them. This can be the key to converting casual Google searchers into new patients. Jumpstart your review acquisition with our complimentary patient Google review campaign.

More helpful articles from Adrian Lefler

Dentists now allowed to use Google Local Service Ads
The dentists’ guide to HIPAA-compliant websites

Your content sucks (and it’s plagiarized)

It can be difficult to make oral health interesting, but original content is where you can infuse some personality while sharing your expertise. Drop the hyper-technical jargon, and deliver easy-to-digest, enjoyable content that your patients will want to read. 

If you look closely as most dental websites, you get the odd sense that they’re trying to sell you dentistry. Does anyone need to be sold dentistry? Instead, your website should subtly sell an experience. The art of storytelling applies even to oral health. Show and connect to emotions so patients know what to expect when coming into your practice. 

One overlooked space where you can improve your content is your team bios or About Us page. Skip the dry work history dialogue and write original and fun bios about yourself and your team. This gives patients something they can relate to before they even meet your team. Download this easy step-by-step About Us page and dentist bio update template. 

Another easy way to update your content is to take great team photos. Download this free set of social media signs to help prompt photo opportunities. This can also give you the opportunity to encourage patients to post and tag your practice on social media—a perfect referral! 

As I said, your dental blog has a powerful role in helping your practice show up on Google Search. The content needs to be original, readable, and valuable. Avoid the urge to slap up content that’s copied from other sources. Plagiarism can be both intentional and unintentional. Cite your sources, if needed, and use these seven free blog templates to update your blog articles. 

When words have done their due diligence, incorporate video content. Website and social media audiences love video content. This could be virtual tours of the practice or talking head tips about dentistry. It can be awkward at first to create dental videos, but there’s a clear advantage to leaning into this skill. A trending strategy is to embed TikTok videos into your website. TikTok has a super simple editing model and embedding videos is easy. Follow these TikTok dentists to get great ideas.Your website doesn’t rank in organic search or in maps

What’s the point of a stunning website if no one can find you on search? The purpose of your website is to attract and convert visitors into patients, so don’t be afraid to put in the work to make sure your dental practice climbs to the top of the first page of Google and Google maps. Start by checking how well your website is ranking in search results. This will give you an idea of what areas you might need to focus on. Don’t forget to see how you’re doing on Google maps as well. 

A lot goes into the development of a website and tactics to correctly apply the latest SEO strategies. Without the correct development, a dental website may not have a chance to rank well. You may want to research strategies related to SEO for dentists to ensure that your website is doing some of the heavy lifting on its own. 

For example, if your photos are not updated to Webp format, or they’re missing the right meta keywords, they serve no purpose other than esthetics. They could be doing so much more. Search engines use this image data to understand what your website is about, which will push you farther up in results.

A solid blog strategy is also key to improving your rankings on Google. Often, dental practices are either missing a blog on their website entirely, or the one they have is half full of noncustom, plagiarized articles from years ago. 

The keywords that you find during your SEO strategy sessions can be put to work on your blog. Make sure your blog is rich and full of original content that patients actually want to read. You can then repurpose the content in newsletters, emails, and social media.

Take it one step further and offer to write guest blog posts for local businesses. The best companies to approach are those that serve the types of customers you want as patients. Guest blog posting helps you reach new audiences, build links back to your website, and establish community support.

Your website isn’t HIPAA compliant

Yes, HIPAA compliance applies to your website. Anywhere you store or share patient information needs to be HIPAA compliant or you could be in a heap of trouble. Check whether your website is HIPAA compliant as quickly as possible. Start by asking these questions:

Do we have signed authorization forms from patients who are on our website? This includes patients whose photos or reviews are shared on your dental practice website. You’ll need to get signed HIPAA consent forms from your patients if you want to highlight them on your website.

Is our website secure? Are our contact forms end-to-end encrypted? Website intake forms can be helpful for processing new leads and gathering patient information. However, you may not have all the right securities in place to keep things HIPAA compliant. End-to-end encryption reduces the risk of data breaches and is vital when handling patient information, even for things as simple as their name, address, and phone number.

One red flag that your website is not secure is if your URL starts with http instead of https. The “s” stands for secure. This indicates that your website is using the most recent Secure Sockets Layer Certificate. This shows users that any data shared or communications on your website are encrypted.  

Are our Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) easy to find and properly written? Your NPP needs to be easily accessible on your website. This is a required document that tells your patients how you’ll handle their ePHI (electronic protected health information). It’s a big deal for dental HIPAA compliance. Your NPP serves three purposes:

  1. Tells patients how you might use their PHI.
  2. Explains your practice’s legal responsibilities and privacy practices to protect patients’ PHI.
  3. Lists your patients’ rights to their PHI and how they can exercise those rights. 

Once things are secure, avoid some of the huge dental website HIPAA mistakes that can bring a gorgeous and modern website under severe scrutiny.

Nothing changes on your site

There is no plug-and-play solution to a website. It needs to be a living, breathing extension of your dental practice. Watch for these signs of a dusty, abandoned website:

  • Blog updates that are more than one year old
  • No new services page
  • No social media feed integrations
  • Outdated information 

These updates are not only important for patient experience, but they also keep your website ranking well on Search and in Google maps. 

If your creative brain cells are running dry, look at some of the highest-rated dental websites and dental website design examples for inspiration. Not only do these sites look stunning, but they also check all the boxes for function, HIPAA compliance, and user experience. Keep an eye out for things you can put your own spin on or design elements that you might want to incorporate. 

If you’re scratching your head for ideas on what else to update, start with a fresh update to your dentist bio and About Us page. From there, make a schedule of new blogs to publish at least monthly. One creative way to get some great content is to get involved in a local charity. We’ve developed a complimentary campaign to run your own whiten for a charity day event. There are blog post templates in the download that you can use to write blogs quickly.

You’re using stock photos

If you really want to improve your website you need to cool it on the stiff, staged stock photos. While some of those photos may have their place, new and current patients want to connect with your practice and your team, not smiling strangers. Update your photos with a mix of professional and candid pictures. If it’s been a while since you and your team have had professional pictures taken, hire a photographer for fresh headshots and team pictures.  

You can also use the resources you have on site: smartphones, photo editing apps, and employees. Capture candid moments with your patients and team, as well as photos of inside and outside the practice. If you want to add something fun and unique without taking new photos, update your site with custom graphic design.

Your website’s not up to date with the latest tech

Nothing turns patients away quicker than a website that doesn’t function properly. In fact, 53% of visitors will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Additionally, 60% of all website visits take place on mobile devices, which means that an outdated website designed for desktop isn’t going to cut it anymore. 

In addition to making sure your website is optimized for mobile, make sure your developer makes your site responsive to screens of all sizes. This ensures that viewers always have the best visual experience, whether they’re viewing on a 14-inch laptop or a 34-inch monitor. 

In some cases, a website is so old, dysfunctional, or not developed correctly that it’s not been indexed by Google, which means it’s not searchable. There’s a chance your website needs to be submitted for an index request, which gives Google the green light to crawl your website and properly categorize everything for search. By indexing your site, all the hard work you put into your blog, photos, and content will show up when people search for dentists in the area. 

Finally, it’s important to make sure your website is firing on all cylinders. A broken website is about as useful to you as an empty fluoride tray. Static pages or pages that no longer exist can give users that dreaded “404 error. Page not found.” If you remove website pages, be sure you include a 404 redirect so if someone organically comes across that page on Google, they’re directed to a better, more helpful page. 

An error message is a surefire way to have someone see your website and run in the other direction. If you can keep your website tech as clean and organized as your dental tools, you’ll be in great shape. If technology is not your strong suit, you can check the technical aspects of your dental website with a tech deep dive website audit. 

All these fixes come together to deliver a website that is not only engaging and esthetically pleasing, but does in the heavy lifting to get your practice in front of new patients. Brush off the dust and create a dental website that you and your practice can be proud to share.

This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that willelevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field.Subscribe here.

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