My Web site makeover

Through the years, I have written many columns about the Internet. I have always thought that every dental practice needs a Web site ...

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For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Web site makeover, redesign, search engine optimization, Internet, Dr. Jeff Dalin.

Through the years, I have written many columns about the Internet. I have always thought that every dental practice needs a Web site, and a few years ago I wrote a four-part series on Web site design.

I also have covered important related subjects, such as search engine optimization, how to use Google, patient communication tools, blogging, marketing your Web site, and social media sites. I encourage you to visit www.dentaleconomics.com and type in "dalin" in the site’s search area to find links to these and other columns I have written.

Your Web site exists as a way to get information about you and your practice out to potential, and existing patients. If you do not have a Web site, you are missing these opportunities and it is time that you produced one.

If you do have a Web site, you have to take the time to make sure that it is functioning effectively. Just because you have a Web site does not mean that your work is complete. Most of us are guilty of getting complacent in this matter.

I have had a Web site for my practice for a number of years now. Periodically, I have added content, articles, and photographs. I thought that doing this had kept things somewhat fresh and up-to-date. In retrospect, I now realize that this was not the case. I did list new products and services for our practice but that was not enough. The Internet is a constantly evolving field and you need to stay up to date if you want to be effective. I now realize that it is mandatory to regularly do a complete "re-skin" or redesign of your site.

One reason to do this is to give things a facelift and make your site more visually appealing and exciting. This is something that will keep visitors returning for more.

Why would someone keep visiting a site that exhibits no changes?

A second and even more important reason to stay current is to take advantage of new search engine optimization techniques and programming that continues to change daily.

You need an experienced designer to work in concepts such as key words, metatags, title tags, site map optimization, search friendly URLs, linkable and shareable content, image descriptions, robot.txt files, checklists and validators, optimized headings and subheadings, and more.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn when it comes to search engine optimization. There are a lot of good designers out there. Many work with a lot of dental practices and this familiarity with dentistry gives them an advantage. Here are a few names to check out:

I believe strongly in "walking the walk" and not just "talking the talk." I want to show what it means to do a complete re-skin of a Web site.

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Site after complete makeover

I decided a few months ago that I needed to redesign my Web site. I had been working with a local designer for several years. He helped me add content as new technologies and products were introduced at my office. We also added some new cosmetic before-and-after images. In addition, we did some minor search engine optimization reprogramming.

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Site before makeover

But a complete redesign was long overdue. My site was stale. Newer search engine optimization techniques required better, up-to-date programming. Believing that your site can stay the same is a great way to have it stagnate and not attract new patients, and it will not invigorate existing patients. I called Tim at TNT Dental and had him give my Web site a complete makeover (see Fig. 1 below).

In contrast, see the pre-makeover site (Fig. 2 next page).

Not only is the new site more visually exciting, but TNT programmed numerous search engine optimization key words, metatags, and title tags into the site.

Most of my practice’s existing content was moved to the new site and much new, relevant information was added. TNT also optimized my site into a format that will work on smartphones (e.g., iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid).

Many patients love using these devices. Optimized your site so it can be displayed quicker and be more complete for patients. Images of our mobile site for the iPhone are seen in Fig. 3.

Over time, I will write a follow-up column, complete with Google analytics, to show how effective our newly designed site is working. I think that I have succeeded with the first step: making the site more visually appealing.

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Optimized site for iPhone images

The next step will be analyzing to see if the site is working well. This means improved search engine optimization. Finally, I want to see existing patients reenergized and excited about my practice, and I want to be able to convert Internet leads into new patients. After all, this is what it’s really about.

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