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When I hear dentists say that they don’t have a website (or even use e-mail!), I cringe. In these modern times, patients are more Web-savvy than ever — especially the new patients you want to bring into your practice. In fact, studies indicate that 80% of Internet users go online to find health-related information; this, of course, includes dentistry! Practices that don’t have a website look less professional than their competitors. Like it or not, these days, it’s hard for would-be patients to trust service providers who don’t incorporate newer technology into their marketing communications.

So first, get a website. Just because you need a website, though, does not mean you should build one yourself. In fact, I highly discourage this. Instead, hire a professional to design your site and keep it current by updating it every 18-24 months. Not only will a professional Web developer design your site better, but they’ll optimize it to make sure that your site shows up when patients search for dentists in your area.

Website development is handled by highly skilled individuals who use a variety of very technical “tricks” to ensure that your site is relevant and that it’s listed prominently in the results section of major search engines (think Google). The most decked-out site in the world doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t show up at or very near the top of the list when potential patients attempt to find you.

It’s important that you don’t lose touch with what’s going on in our technologically-advanced society, but when you leave website design and optimization to the professionals, you’re left with more time to practice dentistry, rather than marketing.

Don’t forget to promote your website, though — you should ensure that your staff understands that the purpose of the site is to grow your practice. And with this in mind, you should make sure that your staff is recommending that potential (and existing) patients visit your site and that they’re handing out your business card — with your website and e-mail address — to everyone they meet.

The bottom line is this: You don’t need to be scared of newer technology. It can be a great friend. Better yet, used correctly, it can be one of your best sources of attracting new patients, while keeping and informing the ones you have.

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