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Is Your Dental Website Holding You Back?

Nov 08, 2019

Have you ever been to the Apple Firth Avenue store off Central Park in New York City? It’s pretty impressive. Approaching the striking 32-foot cube glass structure sets the stage for your experience. Once inside, the sleek—and recently redesigned—interior is consistently on-brand with the shiny new products you’ll inevitably play with and test out.

Apple has changed the game for retail experiences—which says a lot about a company that dabbles in digital products. While many people consider Apple a product-first company, they’re selling more than smartphones and tablets. Sure, their stores are a place for commerce. But as this Forbes article claims, they’re seamlessly packing their products and services into a holistic experience and selling it through a completely reimagined retail model.

This is the modern retail experience.

Dental practices combine a physical location with an online presence. While you’re providing a much different service and outcome than a smartphone or tablet, you can learn a thing or two from Apple about modernizing the brand experience. Consumers expect a fast, secure, and clean interaction (much like the aforementioned Apple store experience). This manifests itself across your physical location. But it can also translate into the way your prospects see you for the first time: your website.

So, what characteristics are shared by top-ranking dental practice websites? What website qualities deliver a modern experience? And how can you align your online and offline patient experiences? Here are some must-haves for your dental practice website.

Mobile Friendliness

It’s imperative that your practice’s website is optimized around mobile. According to Google, your mobile site should help visitors accomplish their goals and make it easier to complete simple tasks. And as we wrote last week, your website should utilize responsive design. Responsive sites utilize one URL and automatically respond to the size of a devices. Plus, they feature optimized content and offer engaging experiences to patients.

According to Google as of July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for new websites. For older ones, however, Google claims that following best practices can help prepare sites for mobile-first indexing. For example, mobile sites should contain the same content and utilize structured data and metadata on both versions. Ultimately, responsive, optimized mobile pages ensure that your audience is getting the right information about your practice—no matter the device.

Schema Markup for Dentists

As we’ve written about before, schema, in the context of search marketing, is code markup that’s added to a site to enable search engines to understand the context of data. Also known as structured data or markup, schema can be leveraged to improve your chances of gaining search features like rich results or knowledge graph cards. In essence, it can make search engines smarter by breaking down the components of a web page and explaining its pieces.

As Google claims, structured data is basically a “standardized format for providing information about a page.” More specifically, JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) are multi-dimensional arrays that annotate elements on a page and structure data. This extra code on the page isn't seen my users, but exists so that search engines can better understand these pages.

Most schema markup for dentists uses vocabulary. In fact, one of the most popular types of structured data is literally called "Dentist" and highlights office location, business hours, and phone number. In the context of dental marketing, JSON-LD markup enables users to search for your practice based on things like business hours and payments accepted. While there's no conclusive evidence whether structured data affects rankings, there’s some indication that rich snippets created using schema may have a better click-through rate.

Ultimately, it’s highly recommended that dental practices use schema markup when appropriate. For more information on structured data, I advise you to check out our previous post.

Code Bloat

For us non-developers, this one is a little more straightforward. Simply put, code bloat refers to source code that’s excessively long and impacts your site’s load time. According to Search Engine Land, in general, it’s recommended to reduce CSS, Javascript, and code bloat on existing sites.

What this boils down to is that overloading your website can only lead to consequences down the line—and working with your development team or agency to simplify your site can only improve its performance.

Page Speed

Like Keanu Reeves piloting a bus barreling down a city street, speed matters when it comes to your website. Often confused with site speed, page speed can be described in terms of load time (how long it takes to fully display your content) or time to first byte (how long it takes for a browser to receive information for a web server) according to Moz.

Faster websites create better user experiences. Not only does speed matter to prospective patients, it helps websites rank better across search engines. Speed has been a long-standing confirmed Google ranking factor. There are many factors that roll up under page speed optimization. For example, optimizing and compressing all your images ensures they aren’t causing unnecessary lag.

Ultimately, Google Analytics can provide important insight into site performance. By assessing page load times, you can uncover factors that impact page speed—and opportunities for improving performance across search engines.

What’s the health of your dental website?

Our guide discusses ways to make your dental practice stand out from the competition.

Where does your dental practice website stand?

Contact us today to find out.

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Trenton Reed