Friday, January 25, 2008

Ten Tips for Building a Successful Dental Website

by Nicole McCullum

Dentists, who previously relied primarily on the Yellow Pages for promotion, are learning the advantages of building a website for their dental practice. They understand that by having a dental service website, they are expanding their options to grow their practice. This is because over 70% of U.S Residents now turn to the Internet as a key resource for finding professional service providers such as dentists. Dentists now have a variety of new tools at their disposal, such as being able to submit their website to thousands of online directories and search engines that link back to the dental website, increasing awareness of their dental practice and increasing the possibility of acquiring new patients through the Web.

But how do you capitalize on such a vast opportunity? The first thing to keep in mind is that your website must be carefully designed and positioned to provide your prospective patients with the information that they need to make a well-informed decision. Following are some things that should always be included when designing and building a website for a dental practice:

1. Biography of Each Dentist - Unlike the Yellow Pages, a website gives you the opportunity to list your credentials and work experience, helping a prospective client to be more comfortable in choosing your practice. Make your site more personable by adding a photo of each dentist next to his or her biography.

2. Areas of Practice - Always highlight your specialties so prospective patients can determine whether or not you're a good fit for their specific needs.

3. Before and After Images - They say "the proof is in the pudding." If you're a cosmetic dentist, be sure to include before and after images of successful work that you have done.

4. Testimonials - Going to the dentist has long been a fear of many, from toddlers to adults. Be sure to include testimonials that emphasize a good "bedside manner" with your patients.

5. Request an Appointment Link - One of the greatest things about having a website is that it markets your business 24 / 7 / 365. Busy parents or adults can research new dentists in their free time, most likely after they put the kids to bed or in the late evening. That can make it difficult for them to call to set up an appointment with a dentist's office when their available time doesn't coincide with office hours. Having a "request an appointment" link will alleviate that concern by making it convenient for a prospective client to contact the office with an appointment request, leaving their contact information for a confirmation.

6. Hours of Operation - Your website should answer all questions that a prospective patient might ask, and your hours of operation are a significant and common question. If you offer alternative appointment arrangements, be sure to include it as well.

7. Payment - List all of the insurance providers that you accept, including credit cards, cash, and other payment methods.

8. MapQuest - Technology now makes it so easy to get directions. Why not make it easy for your patients by linking your address to MapQuest so that your new patients can find directions to your office (including an approximate travel time and distance). This will be especially helpful for new movers - a great target market for a dentist looking to grow their practice.

9. A Dental Blog - A blog is a great avenue to highlight your expertise and develop a rapport with your patients and prospective patients. You will be able to provide answers to questions as well as update your audience on the latest developments and dental technology being used in your office.

10. Print Page Option - Having a website can save you a lot of time and money. Take advantage of it by directing prospective patients to your dental practice website rather than sending out brochures. Ensure that visitors can print the pages so that they have the option to learn more about your practice and what it offers when they're on the go. The print page option should offer the ability to print content without complicated formatting or extraneous images.

About the Author

Nicole McCullum, is the Director of Business Development for Captivate Designs ( www.CaptivateBusinessWebDesign.com ) a leading Web Desigm and Graphic Design and Internet Marketing firm dedicated to helping small and mid-size businesses achieve online success. You may reach her at Nicole@CaptivateDesigns.com