Your website is a combination of the explanation of your culture, your business card, an old Yellow Pages ad. Review sites have now become a new and powerful “word of mouth” referral source, with many turning to such sites before choosing a new practice.
Just like your office projects your culture and image, so too should your website. Larger DSOs have figured this out and invest heavily in their digital presence.
What if you are not a DSO and want to compete on their level digitally? DSO News caught up with Andre Riley, Chief Revenue Officer at DoctorLogic, a company focused on building and optimizing healthcare websites, to learn more about how solo-practices, small groups, emerging groups and even mid-size DSOs can compete with even the biggest players online.
JB: Hello Andre, thank you for taking the time to sit down with DSO News. As more patients arrive through digital channels, I thought it important to break down online marketing basics and help everyone, so that they can better compete online. What important features should be incorporated in every dental practice website?
AR: Your website is a direct reflection of your business, representing a combination of your culture, mission, and image. Just like a business card, it serves to inform, direct, and create a powerful first impression. With the instant ability to educate your key audience and inform them of your offerings, a strategically-designed website can deliver compelling information, including credible reviews and photo galleries, which allows your audience to scour such sites before choosing a new practice. Larger DSOs have figured this out and invest heavily in their digital presence.
When it comes to the basics of your website, it’s important to think like a consumer. Your website should tell who you are, what you do, and what separates you from the others. If you have an outdated, old, and hard to navigate website, consumers may question your ability to keep up with technology, which can then pass into questioning your skills and techniques. Remember you are educating and informing patients about your services, so the way your content is written needs to focus on answering questions and educating the consumer. Websites and technology are always changing. It’s important you have a website that can adapt to the market. Adaptability is key to winning in digital space.
JB: What are the three top features popular today that you would say the majority of dental websites are not delivering?
AR: By far the most underutilized solution are Smile Galleries. Smile Galleries play an important role in adding fresh, unique, relevant content to a dentist’s website. Most web vendors simply add blogs, which is one way, but a Smile Gallery case gives you a detailed example of your exact patient. Detailing, the condition, treatment, age, gender, a timeline of results, and more.
Another solution is Video designs. Adding video to the design of your website is one of the top trending design features we get several requests for. We have found a lot of other websites out there don’t incorporate this, but it’s considered a brand differentiator.
And last but not least, incorporating reviews from across the web directly to their website. This is a feature some try to do, but it doesn’t get implemented correctly that helps for SEO. Some will use 3rd party plugins that will iframe the reviews, but it’s not actually built into the website. Creating a single place to have all your reviews and testimonials from across the web all in one place is very valuable and missing on several websites today.
JB: Search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important. It has been for years and will continue to be so for the years to come. Exactly what is dental specific and local SEO and explain how it is different, than say, if you were selling widgets nationwide.
AR: We agree that SEO will continue to be an important strategy on the Digital Marketing landscape, but how you achieve good SEO will always continue to be a moving target. However, there are certain truths that remain constant and are especially important for Dental SEO.
Dental patients want to find local providers that can serve them, which makes local SEO extremely important. Localized SEO efforts should focus on providing information like location, facilities, procedures, Doctors, reviews, etc. all while putting an emphasis on “in your backyard”. Also, since a majority of potential patients are using mobile devices for their searches, geo-located information and services are exponentially important.
SEO is SEO, right? Well not exactly. Dental SEO differs because of the 3 main factors. It must be medically accurate, it must be consumer consumable, and it must be personal. The way you achieve that is by writing content that is medical focused but can easily be understood by your average consumer. And it must be in a format that is easy to read and comprehend. You must take the technical and make it relatable, plus you must take the common and make it unique. And since Dental procedures are by nature a personal experience, it is important to combine your content with elements of social proof like “smile galleries” and “local reviews”. People will often search for images, reviews, etc. before they search for more information. They want validation first. All of these items make Dental SEO tactics unique and require an SEO practitioner/platform to be well versed in the industry and not just SEO alone.
JB: One tool that I always recommend to practices is Moz Local. What I like about the tool is that it helps ensure that practice information is correct on all of the big and important directory and review sites, of which many other websites then use the data of. The user can update addresses, phone numbers, website URLs, and mostly anything else. They have a tool for the solo business, as well as enterprises with 100+ locations. How important is it that these directories always have the correct information?
AR: Local SEO is very important to the overall SEO strategy. When it comes to local SEO the accuracy of your local listings will have an impact. When you think of local listings, picture them as the new modern version of the yellow pages. The listings are ways the search engines know who you are, where you’re located, what you offer, and the times that you are open. When it comes to local ranking factors Google looks at relevance, distance, and prominence. If your address is incorrect, it’s hard for Google to showcase your distance from the search. If your business description is wrong, this can impact your relevance to what the person is searching for. If your information is not accurate or consistent across these different sources, then you won’t rank or rank as high.
JB: I cannot state enough the importance of generating positive online reviews for any practice. Please tell our readers some of the benefits of generating positive online reviews.
AR: 72% of patients say their first step in finding a new provider is checking online reviews. With 7 out 10 patients checking reviews to select a provider, its critical you know what those patients are seeing about you. Increasing the number of positive online reviews will have significant impact on moving those patients further down the buying journey. While it’s important to get positive reviews, it’s even more important those reviews are recent. Patients are reading the review but also looking at the date this review was posted. If you want to be in front of those patients at the early stages of the buying cycle, then you should have an ongoing review strategy implemented into your practice.
JB: Being able to generate and nurture online leads should be incorporated into the marketing plan of any dental practice. HIPAA compliance is super important here. Please explain how a practice or group can achieve HIPAA compliance with their website while safely generating and nurturing leads.
AR: Protecting patient information should always be priority number 1 in your marketing. One of the first steps in doing so is making sure your website is HTTPS secure. DoctorLogic did a study of 813 dental websites and found that 84% of the websites were not secure. This was staggering because this opens the opportunity for information to be stolen through your website. While practices would like to gain as much information about the patient when they submit a lead, you have to make sure you are protecting that information as its transmitted from your website to your practice.
When you’re laying the groundwork for your site, these are the major points you need to remember for HIPAA compliance.
- Secure sockets layer (SSL) protection
- Full data encryption (especially during transfers)
- Full data backup with encryption
- Permanent deletion options for all data
- Restricted, specific access for admins and users
- Regular password changes
- Data breach protocol
- Appointed HIPAA compliance officer
- Prominent, published HIPAA policy on site
- HIPAA business associate agreement with site host and other vendors
There are more precautions you need to take for a HIPAA-compliant site, but these 10 are the most important starting points. Google stresses the importance of a secure website, so much so they give a ranking boost secure sites. If your website is not HTTPS secure you should really question who you are using as your website provider.
JB: And to be clear, since HIPAA is such a murky subject for so many dental practices and groups, are DoctorLogic solutions HIPAA compliant and do you sign a business associate agreement?
AR: Yes and yes! DoctorLogic has been providing HIPAA secure websites since we started. We take protecting patient information very seriously. So much so, every DoctorLogic employee goes through HIPAA compliance training every year. We also provide business associate agreements as well, which can easily be found on our website, doctorlogic.com
JB: Every dental website should have a blog. The big question is how often should a new blog post be published and what should it include? For instance, if I were writing a new blog post, I’d pick and highlight a problem, describe the solution, financing options, appointment availability and focus local SEO with city/town name(s) and zip code(s). Is there anything I am leaving out?
AR: Those are great topics but also keep in mind consider producing content relevant to the consumer. To elaborate, I would produce more content around problems patients face and the solutions your practice provides. The best practice when it comes to producing blogs is producing content based on how consumers search. For example, “5 ways to whiten your teeth” or “How much does Invisalign cost?” Financing is a great topic to write about because most consumers may not know it’s an available option. This will help from an SEO and keyword standpoint as well.
Another way to look at your blog strategy is by a method called “Topic Clusters”. Topic clusters are a collection of interlinked articles around one umbrella topic. They ultimately allow you to provide greater visibility for search engines to identify your content. So, for example, let’s take financing as the umbrella topic or also known as main topic. Your cluster topics can be “How much does X cost” “How do I get financing for smile makeover” “How do I apply for financing”. This overall strategy is strong because it allows you to produce strong relevant content rather than trying to create one single large blog.
You should post a new blog once per week. Some people will say 3 times, but what we have found at DoctorLogic is our most effective results and strategies have been producing one post per week. We do offer an option for 2 posts per week, which is sometimes a better fit for a practice who offers a large number of different services and buyer personas.
JB: How important is design in 2019? I ask because I am one of those people who does their research online. I initially start with the review sites and end up on the company’s website. If I am not impressed by their website, then I do not put much faith in their business. I figure they either do not have enough business to invest in a website refresh or that they have not adapted to modern times. For instance, if I were looking for a dentist and it looks like their website was last refreshed in 2008, I am going to wonder when everything was last refreshed, too. I know I am not alone. Do you have statistics from recent website refreshes that validate my own conclusions?
AR: You hit the nail on the head. This is absolutely right! Your website is the first visual impression you give someone when they visit. Google did a study in less than 50 milliseconds, users build an initial “gut feeling” that helps them decide whether they’ll stay or leave. If the website is outdated and doesn’t look similar to other modern websites consumers visit (e.g., Amazon, Zilllow, Apple, Target, Nordstrom, etc.) in their everyday lives, then they will pass judgement immediately on you. Most practices put emphasis on the decor and design inside the practice, but never put the same emphasis on their website. Patients will visit your website first before they ever step foot in your practice. In order to increase the number leads your website produces one key step is creating a web design that reaches new levels of interaction with your audience. There are 3 core things to think about when it comes to the look of your website and your audience. You must: Design for Humans, Design for Emotions, and Design to Tell a Story.
JB: Let’s talk white space. How great is it? Through our professional relationship, I know that you are fans of white space, too. Why is white space important? What message does it send to the visitor?
AR: More and more designers (and clients) are moving toward the direction of giving white space the appreciation it deserves and it’s with good reason.
White space plays an important role and serves a purpose for both design and user-experience. Though white is the common choice or color for white space, it’s not limited to just white. It can be a solid color or a blurred background.
Not only does white space give websites the simple, clean, minimalist look and feel that is so desired in current design aesthetics, but it also allows content to be more digestible and accessible to users.
With website layouts, sometimes the old saying “less is more” can be your best friend.
JB: The human brain is predominantly right or left “sided.” This means that two people are able to differently interpret the same thing while both being correct based on how their brain processes it. How important is it to address both right and left side minded people in both design and written content?
AR: It’s very important to make sure your website appeals to both types of audience. Everyone has different marketing styles. Some people prefer colorful, expressive pieces and others prefer to focus on fact and reason. When it comes to marketing your practice there’s no magic formula that states leaning towards one method is more effective than the other. The ideal method depends on the product and the intended consumer base. 65% of the population are visual learners so with our websites, we include large images, videos and Smile Galleries, but we also write copy that tells your practice’s story for the other 35%. Your website should speak loudly as well as speak visually.
JB: I greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken to speak with me on behalf of our readers. I reached out for an interview because I was reviewing your site before we did an email campaign. Since I am right side mind dominant, I was immediately drawn in by the designs in your portfolio. Then, as I was researching more, I realized that you can help practices of all sizes establish a big online presence at a reasonable price. So, in exchange for your time today, please tell our readers how DoctorLogic specifically can help them up their digital game.
AR: Thank you for the compliment on our designs. Our team puts a lot of effort into designing sites that are highly appealing, follow all online best practices, and convert browsers to patients at a very high rate.
There are 4 important areas that all practices must consider when looking to enhance their digital footprint, and DoctorLogic is the leader in helping Doctor’s win online by focusing on these areas.
1. Content, Content, Content. All content on site must be 100% unique per location. Unique content would (most importantly) include ALL procedures done at each location. The content should be medically accurate, but consumer focused. The content should also include procedure specific reviews, and robust before/after galleries of the Practice’s work. This would always be my #1 focus and highest priority. Our software can create up to 100X more Google-friendly content than a traditional agency website and we are able to target up to 50,000 keywords whereas most agencies target 50, 100 or maybe 300 keywords at a time.
2. Conversion and Tracking. DoctorLogic designs sites that are focused on converting browsers into patients. This ties in directly with content and how the story is told on the site. All DoctorLogic sites have call tracking, email forms, and many have chat. The more avenues of communication available to consumers the higher conversion opportunity. And finally, you must track each lead all the way down to source and page specific conversion and provide reporting per location and in any rollup format needed.
3. Best Practices. DoctorLogic uses all web best practices like responsive design, https pages, fast loading pages (especially on mobile), A/B testing, semantic markup, before and after galleries, reviews, etc. DoctorLogic does Not use a free CMS solution like Wordpress, we invented our own healthcare specific platform with all HIPAA compliance etc.
4. Future-proofing. At DoctorLogic, updates are FREE and happen frequently. We never want our Doctor Partners to be behind online. Online best practices and tactics change a lot, so we want to give our Practices an advantage in their local market.
These are the key areas to digital success, and DoctorLogic is laser-focused on helping our Practices dominate online.
JB: Great. And if a solo-practice dentist or even a large DSO wanted to get in touch, who should they contact?