Your dental practice website is the hub of your entire marketing wheel. Almost every single marketing effort you undertake will lead people back to this core, foundational piece of your dental marketing plan. Having an incredible practice website designed and built will do nothing for you if it is not visible to your market. This is where hosting comes in.
In this Dental Website Hosting Guide you will learn what hosting is, why it matters, what types of hosting are available, and what you should look for when choosing a hosting service.
What is Dental Website Hosting?
What Is Domain Hosting?
Simply put, a domain is your practice’s “address” that people can visit online. Similarly, your physical house may be located at 123 Cougar Way. Someone can visit your house by plugging “123 Cougar Way” into their maps app and then navigating to it. Likewise, if someone wishes to visit your website (CougarDental(dot)com), they must either type the domain into a website navigator search bar, or click on a link that does the same thing for them.
Domains can be purchased through a variety of “registrars,” which are companies that sell you the rights to use a domain for a defined amount of time. Usually people have these companies also “host” the domain for them so that it can be used. GoDaddy is an example domain registrar.
What is Website Hosting?
Whereas your domain is like your house’s physical address, your website is like your actual house. A website is digital real estate people can enter and visit (hence web “site”). The digital home is constructed using coded files, and the collection of these files together is what makes up your website.
Website hosting is the term used to describe the making of website files viewable on the internet. This is done by storing your website files on a computer called a server, that “serves” up your website when someone navigates to your domain. There are different website architectures that offer different benefits. WordPress is an example of a website software that is well known and used.
Why Quality Hosting Matters?
Impacts Your SEO
Search engines constantly refine their ranking system (algorithm) to best meet the needs and preferences of their users. As technology and usage trends change, so must search engines.
Website searchers usually don’t want to visit slow-loading websites that have security vulnerabilities and unreliable uptime. Therefore these exact elements are important factors in your website’s ranking. Utilizing a fast, secure, and reliable server will improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
Impacts Your Visitor’s Experience
As mentioned above, the speed, security, and reliability of your website hosting impacts how well you rank in search engine results. This is because search engines, like Google, understand what kind of experience consumers want when they visit a site.
If your website loads extremely fast every time and for every page, it makes a more enjoyable experience for your potential patients. If your site looks and feels secure, you are communicating that you offer a more trustworthy experience across every interaction a patient may have with you. If your website is always ready and available for visitors, patients will think you will always be there for them too.
All of these benefits of great website hosting work together to make you an attractive option for searching potential patients. This will help you convert more potential patients who visit your website to scheduled patients that visit your practice.
Critical for Your Marketing
Whether you run PPC ads, radio ads, mailers, PR campaigns, or have a billboard, you will most likely be driving that traffic to your practice’s website. The dental marketing efforts represent a hefty investment. Don’t waste that investment by offering a bad-to-mediocre website experience when a potential patient decides to act on your ad. Make sure every step of your new patient funnel is seamless and polished — including your website and the hosting behind it!
Types of Website Hosting?
Some hosting companies offer an inexpensive hosting option called “shared” hosting. This means that instead of having a whole server to oneself, it is shared amongst many other businesses. For a small website with little traffic, this may be a tempting option. However, people using a shared hosting plan are always at the mercy of another business on their server blowing up or bogging down their own website. Think of it like sharing a water heater in a house with a large family. It only takes that one person taking a long, hot shower to leave everybody else with a less-than-ideal bathing experience later.
Dedicated Hosting (in house)
If you don’t want to ever worry about someone else’s website causing yours issues, you can move into a dedicated server hosting solution. Some businesses have their own server onsite for this, and some use a data center.
The obvious advantage of a dedicated server for hosting your practice website is the independence from other people’s server issues. Unfortunately a dedicated server comes with it’s own issues. They are more expensive for one. If you want to manage your own server then you will need the know how and resources to run it. You also have the potential to reach the capacity of your machine. Meaning you might have a particularly busy website day and max out the machine’s capabilities.
Virtualized and cloud servers enable a website to handle as much traffic as the internet can throw at it while being independent of other sites. Because the servers are managed, you don’t have to worry about acquiring the technical expertise needed to run a server yourself. You don’t have to worry about reaching the capacity of your machine and then needing to purchase expensive upgrades.
What You Should Look for When Choosing a Dental Website Host?
Unless you really have an itch to become a systems admin and develop your server management game, you will want to hire a group to host and maintain your practice website for you. When choosing between the available options, consider the below criteria-
Every potential patient that visits your website represents a precious opportunity. If your dental practice website experiences any downtime, those clicks to your website will be wasted during that window.
Not only do you lose the immediate opportunity, but if search engines pick up on inconsistent uptime from your website, they may slide you down the rankings. This means even fewer potential patients hitting your website. That’s a double whammy.
Content Delivery (Geographic concerns)
Many practices invest in beautiful and effective custom dental practice videos and photos. The only downside to this is that larger files might slow down your website’s load speeds, negating the benefit of compelling content. The solution to this is using a website hosting company that leverages a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare. A CDN hosts the larger content assets for your website and the closest possible data center to your website visitors. This ensures the fastest load speeds (and most pleasurable viewing experience) for your website visitors.
Online security is vital to being trusted by search engines and internet users alike. Any sniff of malicious malware and your site can be red flagged. Make sure that the hosting companies you consider take internet security seriously and put defenses in place to keep your reputation pristine. Regular security patches, software updates, SSL certificates, and unhackable passwords should be part of your website hosting security plan.
Consumers’ patience is decreasing. An extra second of load time is two seconds too much. USe a hosting company that provides the fastest server speeds possible. This adds to the delightful experience you are trying to create for your potential patients.
Think about it from your perspective, when you are shopping or researching, do you enjoy visiting a site that takes four seconds to load each page? Most likely after two or three of those pages you will bounce to a different option.
With the above Dental Website Hosting Guide you are equipped to make a great decision for your practice. As with many elements of your marketing, consider your decision from your ideal patient’s perspective, then make the move that would most appeal to them.
Now learn about Dental Website Maintenance