At the CDA this year in San Francisco, I met more than one dentist who had built a custom website a few years ago and paid dearly–more than $10,000–only to discover that the website is now essentially worthless. But like many of us, when we pay a lot for something, we hang onto it even though its utility has long been replaced by something better and cheaper.
I’ve bought dozens of video cameras over the years, starting with one that recorded onto video tape. (That thing was heavy!) One of the last ones I purchased had a terrific lens on it, tons of memory, and I bought all sorts of accessories for it, including additional lenses. I had more than $12,000 invested in it. Unfortunately, it didn’t record in HiD! In other words, it’s junk. My iPhone records better videos. I can’t even dump it on Ebay.
Sometimes changes occur quickly in the digital world, and products that seem valuable become obsolete much more quickly than we anticipated. This is true of websites right now. It’s not because of something you did or didn’t do. It’s what Google does, which is change how it decides what websites are relevant, and what elements it uses to determine that relevance. And it’s made some radical changes in the past two years, rendering many websites invisible in search results.
And websites are more important than ever. In just one year, the number of people who’ve searched for a doctor or dentist online in the past has jumped from 25% to 35% (BrightLocal Survey).
So how do you know about your own website? Here’s a simple test. Grab a smartphone and open Safari or Chrome and put in your domain name. What does it look like? Do you have to scroll from side to side to see the contents of the front page, and stretch it to read the type? Does it take three seconds or longer to load? If you answered yes to either or both questions, your website is DOA.
Why? Because people expect mobile websites to be clear and simple, with buttons that allow you to get to key information easily. And if it takes a long time to load, people abandon the site (we have SHORT attention spans online!) But to make matters worse, how fast your mobile version loads affects the ranking of your entire website, Google has told us. And, according to Google, more than 65% of internet searches begin on a mobile phone. I go into more detail on what should be in your mobile version in this blog.
There are other critical changes that have occurred. For example, if your site uses flash animation, this won’t play on any Apple product. And in terms of relevance, Google wants to see content changing all the time–pictures, video, reviews–and if you have to go to your webmaster and pay to have this happen, it gets expensive fast, and you’re less likely to do it as often as you should. Your website needs to be something you can change yourself, easily, almost like a Facebook page.
Because of this, you don’t really need a custom website anymore, because your content is changing (or should be) on a regular basis. And it doesn’t have to be that expensive. Also, if you use PatientActivator, the reviews can load to the right kind of website automatically, giving you ever-changing content.
Take a minute and do the mobile phone test of your website. And if your website is more than 3 years old, it’s almost certain to be obsolete, sadly. There are a few good companies that can build you a dynamic website. We’re one of them, and at 1-800-DENTIST we have more experience in websites (ours get more than 10 million hits a year) than almost anyone. Our WebDirector product is dynamic, affordable, and comes with unlimited customer service. To get an analysis of your current website and a demo of WebDirector, call 855-234-6909.
All your practice marketing now revolves around your website, and people are used to seeing good websites everywhere. And I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again, people are making a judgment about the quality of your dentistry based on the quality of your website. It isn’t logical, I know. But since when have people behaved rationally? 😉
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Great post! I love the two questions – Do you have to scroll from side to side to see the contents of the front page, and stretch it to read the type? Does it take three seconds or longer to load? EASY AND SIMPLE TO FIX, BUT VERY IMPORTANT!
Overall, I agree…..except the comment about a website over 3 years old being almost automatically obsolete. I’m sure Mike Barr would disagree with that, and mine is also over 3 years old but still generating a very steady flow of NPs. Of course, I add content myself on a semi-regular basis, which keeps it up-to-date. And yes, we’re doing a redesign of it right now. But only because we want to make it better than it already is. 😀
Thanks, Chip. I’d actually be interested to hear if Mike thought three years applied as a general rule. (There will always be exceptions.) Clearly your site was built dynamically and has no flash animation, but some of the larger website builders were still using flash in 2011.
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