This guide on dental website maintenance will explain the difference between hosting and maintenance and will lay out the needed criteria to pick an excellent website maintenance group for your practice.
What is Dental Website Maintenance?
Dental Website hosting is the service needed to keep your practice’s website up and visible for the internet to see. At its most basic level, hosting is keeping your website files on a server that runs all day long and allows people to view said website files when they navigate to your domain.
Dental website maintenance are the efforts to keep your website running smoothly and securely. This includes things like –
- updating your website software and making sure the update didn’t introduce any glitches.
- scanning for security vulnerabilities and then patching those up.
- making website content updates as needed (like removing a team member from the site who no longer works there or updating your hours of operation).
- adding plugins for 3rd party services (like chat or patient forms)
In short, hosting is making sure the site is accessible. Maintenance is making sure the site is secure, stable, and up-to-date.
Why Quality Maintenance Matters?
Impacts Your SEO
Your website can still be “live” (meaning the website files are accessible when someone enters your domain) but flagged as dangerous. Websites are often tagged with a warning that the site may have malicious code and encourage visitors to not visit it. These flags are noted by Google and will impact your ability to get found online via search results. If your site hasn’t been updated in several years, this can also indicate to search engines that the site is neglected and therefore not as desirable of a website for searchers.
Impacts Your Visitor’s Experience
Many dental practice websites have been hacked, with malicious code and/or foreign porn being injected into their sites. Obviously this is a bad look for the practice that can hurt their chances of landing the potential patient trying to access the site, and it will eventually hurt the practice’s reputation on a broader scale. If technical glitches are introduced without being fixed, your website visitor might not even be able to navigate or read your site!
The above mentioned items are more on the security/technical side of things. Now how about just looking up-to-date. If your site is ten years old and your site’s design and visual content look it, you are signaling to your market that your PRACTICE is out of date too. It’s harsh… but it’s true.
Critical for Your Marketing
Almost every single potential patient who is considering visiting your practice will funnel through your website. Are you proud of the experience they will encounter? Do you feel your website user experience matches the exceptional in person experience they will have when visiting your physical practice?
Your website should be your very best salesperson. Your website should always be current with design trends and web technology. It should have your most current information. Have you moved into a new location but haven’t updated your practice tour photos. ALERT! ALERT! That’s not going to serve you well or help you meet your practice goals.
What You Should Look for When Choosing a Website Maintenance Firm?
Hackers are constantly looking for website vulnerabilities in order to exploit them for their own nefarious purposes. Many business owners have even run up against extortion schemers who were able to hack into a website, take control of it, and not release control of it until a ransom is paid. Seriously!
A good website maintenance company is able to stay current with the most current threats and safeguard your site against the majority of attacks with security patches. No one is immune from hacks (even Facebook, Google, and Amazon get hacked), but limiting and responding to those attacks is where you want to have help.
Think of a good maintenance group like a watchdog that can sense when a bad guy is trying to force their way into your house. The dog can rush to that point and prevent their entering, giving you time to reinforce that vulnerability.
Almost every adult has had the experience of working with an old, buggy software. It’s slow, it breaks, it has to be restarted, and you have to develop workarounds to even remotely get it to function the way it was intended. Website software is no different. It needs to be updated. And then your site needs to be checked and adjusted to make sure the updates didn’t inadvertently break anything.
If you just set your site software to auto update and then you never check it, don’t be surprised if you pull it up one day (if it even pulls up) and have it by a minefield of formatting and navigation issues that is fairly expensive to tidy up.
Did you used to only stay open Monday through Wednesday but with the addition of an associate now work Monday through Friday? How will your market know that? If you never updated your website you may be missing out on many opportunities because people think you’re not open.
Did you used to employ a felon that became a local scandal but still have their name, photo, and untrue bio on your website? Do you really want that bad news associated with your practice forever? You need to get that person, name, and association off your website, stat!
Did you post a new patient special on your website years ago that offers a deep discount on Invisalign but now you still have people coming in asking for that discount? Get it updated ASAP.
These are a few examples of things a reliable website maintenance team can help you with quickly. What’s better, stressing about making the change and accidentally breaking something yourself, or requesting it from a trusted partner and having that update done within one business day?
Backups Created and Stored
Reputable website maintenance companies will make regular backups of your website “just in case.” Sometimes crazy things happen. Maybe a natural disaster wipes out the data center your site is stored at. Maybe a disgruntled employee accesses your site and cusses and smears you on every page. Maybe your SEO company does a big no no in your code that might get your site dinged in search results.
Whatever the case may be, it’s wise to always maintain a recent backup that you can immediately relaunch should your live site ever have a major issue.
Every few years there is a big advancement in web technology that requires an overhaul of your site. This happened when mobile phones started taking over desktop in search traffic. Later it happened with code being formatted optimally for “voice first” searching. Load speeds have been a big push by search engines lately.
Your dental website maintenance company should be keeping their ear to the ground so they can pass along any trends that you need to get on top of. It’s a LOT easier to play from ahead, and a LOT more expensive to play from behind when it comes to keeping your site current with trends.
Great website maintenance is like great oral hygiene and maintenance. Regular scheduled cleanings help identify issues and keep things clean. If the regular hygiene visits are skipped, much bigger (and more expensive!) issues can surface.