In our previous post, we started looking at digital marketing and using social media to engage with patients with the aim of creating content which encouraged patients to find out more about undertaking orthodontic treatment at your practice. Another important aspect of digital marketing is your website and in this article, we will help you to identify where changes can be made to your existing site to improve engagement with patients.

Let’s start searching

If you type the name of your practice into one of the search engines, your site should appear fairly high on the list of results. If it doesn’t, you are going to need to have a fairly urgent conversation with your web developer to explore the reasons why. On the assumption that it does appear, take a look at the other results produced and start exploring why these competing practices were listed. In all likelihood, they would be located close to you but sometimes other factors help to favour their ranking.

Next, repeat the search but this time using words patients may use to help find orthodontic treatment such as ‘adult braces in [your town]’. How well did you rank this time? Keep a note of your page ranking (don’t scroll past page three as it’s unlikely patients will either) and keep repeating this exercise for all the terms you can think of that patients may use. You should now be building up a map of how well you rank against competitors. If you are not well ranked for search terms such as ‘hidden braces’, it’s probably because you do not use these words or do not have relevant content relating to this on your website, something which is easily resolved by reviewing how you describe your services.

First impressions count

When first opening your website, what is the first thing patients see? What is the compelling message you are sending to them that will make them want to explore treatment further? Don’t underestimate the importance of getting this right and taking time to find the right words and images to convey the appropriate message to prospective patients. In the same way, an attractively decorated shop will entice you inside, your landing page needs to showcase the patient experience and range of treatments offered to encourage patients to spend time exploring your site further.

When reviewing the content of your website, it is essential that you do so from a patient’s perspective. If you were a patient worried about the appearance of your teeth and looking for orthodontic treatment, what would you like to see on the landing page and how would this encourage you to spend more time exploring the site? Messages about the treatment experience can be conveyed in text, images, styling, layout, typefaces, and colour and if you can achieve some consistency between your social media and your website this also helps to reinforce your branding.

For inspiration, take a look at other well performing dental websites and give some thought to what is it about the landing page that gains your interest. You do not have to restrict your research to dental sites, look at other professions and well-known brands and you should soon start to see some common themes emerging. I would expect in many instances, the compelling message will be crafted around something you can relate to. This may be aspirational or something addressing an issue that the product or service can resolve for you. Either way, the message will gain your interest and encourage you to scroll down the page or to click for further information.

Developing your content

When reviewing your web pages, you need to keep several things in mind. From a patient’s perspective, does the content engage them sufficiently well and encourage them to the next stage in the process (or other pages on your site) and does the content address the questions they are likely to have?

It is quite easy to describe what you do, the team you have and the services you provide but does this really engage with the patient in the best way? Patients are seeking your services because they have identified you can potentially provide a solution to an issue that they have. They are looking to make sure what you offer is aligned to what they are seeking whether that be the type of braces offered, your prices, opening hours or the ethos of the practice and the experience of having treatment there. If your website does not address these points, you risk the patient continuing their research elsewhere.

When planning to develop a website, one area often overlooked is holding a focus group with a group of patients where they get the opportunity to describe their experiences at the practice and to tell their story about how they found you and why they decided to undertake treatment with you. Valuable information can be gained in a short period of time and you might be surprised by what they say.

Another area well worth considering is including a blog on your website where you talk about issues and answers to questions patients may have. This is particularly relevant as it will have an impact on how well your page is ranked by search engines. Many patients search by asking questions and if the question is answered on your website, you are more likely to appear in the search results. Some of the best orthodontic websites have great patient focussed blogs with well-written content which gently encourages a patient to take the next step towards treatment.

What’s next?

The aim of your website is to encourage a patient to make contact with the practice so make sure there are plenty of calls to action on the majority of pages. You also need to ensure the experience the patient has when they contact the practice is aligned to the expectations you have created through social media and your website so in the next article, we will be looking at this important next step in the process.

This article appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Orthodontic Practice